Friday, 31 May 2013

Byzantium

Byzantium is a smaller piece than Interview With The Vampire, but Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton are both, unsurprisingly, great.

In Diana Jones

The Diana Jones Award 2013 shortlist.

One of the most prestigious and varied of awards.

Although of course not as prestigious as the Banquo. (Ahem...)

This year’s shortlist features an RPG, a card game, a convention, a history book and a web series. And I’d only heard of the web series. Which I’m not proud of, but hey. just goes to show there’s so much good stuff out there.

The Early Bird

Aurornis Xui, beating Archaeopteryx to the title of world’s earliest known bird by a mere ten million years.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Kick Of Cthulhu

Call Of Cthulhu 7th Edition on Kickstarter. Aiming to unleash it upon the Earth in time for Hallowe’en. They don’t appear to be going for a deluxe Necronomicon style limited edition, which is a bit surprising in a Kickstarter horror RPG.

Monday, 27 May 2013

UK Games Expo 2013

I have now returned from my first UK Games Expo, tired but generally glad. I got to meet Mark Rein-Hagen and get my first and second edition Vampire: The Masquerade books and got to check out his I AM ZOMBIE playtest character cards, got to meet CA Suleiman and get Dark Ages Inquisitor signed (as Mummy: The Curse isn’t out physically yet), get a hardback of Squadron UK (signed, of course!) from Simon Burley, hang out with people (hello people!) and the likes.
For my 700th post here, happy birthday to Christopher Lee.

VTM MET KS

Vampire The Masquerade Mind's Eye Theatre Kickstarter

A long ways off the all Tim Bradstreet edition... but not that long after a couple days I suppose...

VTM: Rites Of The Blood

Open development begins on the new blood magic sourcebook, with the Tremere and the Camarilla in general.

Joss Whedon's commencement address to Wesleyan

You are all going to die. That’s our Joss.

Friday, 24 May 2013

The God-Machine: Coming soon to a major gallery space near you.

I saw this in the Guardian today, a preview of the National Gallery’s next big exhibition, Saints Alive.
Modelled in fibreglass, and lovingly recreated from the painted saints in the National’s collection, Landy’s characters and bodyparts look part-human and part-clunky robot, their mechanical elements cobbled together from pram wheels, crankshafts and rusted bits of salvaged engineering... See the saints come to life! Press a foot pedal and watch them suffer. A sword comes down on Peter’s head, again and again, with a hollow mechanical donk. Saint Michael's scales, with their diminutive cargo of cringing humans, go up and down, while the griddle that cooked Saint Lawrence glows like the bars of an electric fire.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Star Trek adventure ideas

A request was sent out, and answered.

By me, among others.

We Have Always Fought

Women have always fought - the unreality of “realism”, particularly as regards women and minorities in history.

Illustrated by paintings of badass female characters which are worth a look in and of themselves.

NSFW due to some language.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Buffy Games That I Have Known

As asked by prankster_dragon:

“Are there any obvious (or not-so-obvious) Cast set-ups for a Buffy game you’ve not used yet?”

So let’s see, from those I’ve done...

Watchers in training and other persons/things of interest in college.

A college band, where one of the members is a post-Chosen slayer or something like that. (Twice, and as the example for A Buffy Season! And it was in the list of options which lead to The Watch House too.)

Likewise, the growing-up metaphor shifted to the crappy first job - monster hunters working out of a pizza company.

A medium instead of a slayer as the focus of weirdness. Or someone finding a magic sword. Or...

Slightly combining the two above - a messenger service on a faultline between realities. Went a bit too high weird.

A reverse of the outsider vibe - a prep school, that like Hogwarts is full of secrets and dangers. Seeing how it has outsiders and strangeness as well.

First try, a purposely basic high school game about a slayer being called - but nobody has any idea why, because there’s a perfectly healthy slayer busy slaying somewhere else.

A group of people bound together by prophecy, because several generations ago their ancestors contained a great evil... but would you want to be defined by what your great-great-grandmother did?

A family of demon hunters (and in some cases demons...) so we get lots of awkward family rivalries on top of everything else.

A period slayer - the 50s in the case I used. Loses the immediacy of all this stuff happening NOW of course, while allowing more genre pastiches of retro B-movies and the like.

And as a player, I’ve wielded that magic sword, and played a post-Chosen slayer in a small and chaotic army of post-Chosen but pre-Season-Eight slayers.

I think that about covers it.

Chosen

The final episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer aired ten years ago today.

(And the final episode of Angel aired nine years ago last week.)

I started The Watch House a few months later, now having the whole series as a sourcebook, setting it five years back to set it before a pivotal event that changed a big bit of the setting - let alone the events of Chosen itself. So it’s gone a long way to defining my gaming as well as my fandom, my ideas of heroism, and my twenties in general. (And to at least some extent my speech patterns.)

Which is why this game blog has such a not-connected-to-gaming-y name.

I’ve run and played a few games in the post-Chosen Buffyverse as well, although I’ve never run something as ambitious as Season Eight or Nine. Of course, when the comic seasons started in 2007, I joke about being tempted to carry on The Watch House as a comic after seven seasons. And then seven seasons happened, and I used that first pivotal event, and yes, at times I’m tempted to look for an artist...

And now, right now, I’m tempted to start another Buffy game...

Second Star To The Right...

Star Trek and Cortex+ from Rose Bailey. Specifically the Abrams era of action and personal stakes, as well as the more general tone of optimistic exploration and heroic adventure.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

I have the power!

Due to more gamers coming in during a gap in game planning, at the point I looked at Matt and said "so, Time Police" and he said "yes, I'll run that this summer!" I have started a belief that, as Spirit Of Scottish Gaming, I have the power to point at GMs, say a game idea, and they will want to run it. 

I must use this power wisely...

Monday, 13 May 2013

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Friday, 10 May 2013

Portents Of The God-Machine

Do you want to know? Think carefully now.

The Greatest Superhero Of All Time

... is the current SFX poll with 177 options.

Comics-based, so no Buffy or Kirk or Luke or The Doctor. But Captain Midlands is in!

These Are/Were/Will Be The Voyages...

Star Trek Prebooted

70s Spock totally works.

Every now and then SFX sets a writer and artist loose on reimaginings that never happened. One I recall took the idea that Buffy is about your teens and Angel about your twenties and imagined new urban fantasy series about being in your thirties, forties and on. (The 30s and 40s ones could totally work IIRC.)

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Ray Harryhausen celebration: how to make skeletons cool

I applaud the Ray Harryhausen blogfest - statting up some of his creations for RPGs. Mostly old school, and WFRP 1 is about as old school as I get.

So here’s some general advice on making that classic, the animated skeleton, more like the skeletons that he animated. Which are probably the ones we’re thinking of anyway.

1: Take a Skeleton statblock. WFRP skeletons are slow, mindless and not much trouble. That’s not good enough.

2: Boost it a little. Particularly in speed and smarts. In the case of WFRP 2, remove the Mindless and Slow special rules and give them 25 Int, as well as a sword and shield or a spear. Maybe add the Intimidation skill for when they advance in lockstep and then shriek and charge, +10 to their first attempt to cause Fear? Kick it up from Routine to Average in Slaughter Margin.

3: Play it smart. Like a swordfighting opponent, not a machine. They’ll flank you, corner you, jump after you, chase you at a run, blindside you.

4: To be fair, add a weakness. They think like skilled living warriors, so they respond to threats like the living, and take actions their skeletal bodies can’t sustain. Note the failed attempt to block polearms with their ribcages, or diving off cliffs after the Argonauts which causes them to fall apart. The one who got his skull knocked off was still stumbling around, “blind”, but the one with the cut on his arm cradled it like he was wounded, not wanting said arm to come off. They’ll fight to the (return to) death, but they’ll fight smart while they do and sometimes fight defensively even though they’re in no real danger.

5: Make these faster, smarter, generally more badass skeletons rare. But hey, animated skeletons should be rare anyway, unless you’re playing a fantasy wargame. One was plenty to freak Sinbad out, he just brought his friends because the Argonauts came along en masse.

6: Consider what else they can do. You don’t set these guys to guard a tomb, you send them out to hunt down your enemies. They might be able to pop off their arms and send them scuttling off by themselves. And they probably aren’t great conversationalists, but I bet they play a mean game of chess.

If the PCs have met bog-standard animated skeletons before, give them a hint of what they’re up against this time. No puppet-like shuffling but a determined march, skulls tilted so they’re obviously looking right at you - and then the charge. This isn’t some zombie-level mook. This is a battle worthy of a hero.


Skeleton Warrior (WFRP 1)

Psychological Traits: immune to the psychology rules, but can be forced to leave combat. Cause fear in living creatures, with a -10 modifier to the resistance roll if they take an action to intimidate.

Special Rules: Skeleton Warriors are subject to instability beyond a 20’ range of their summoning. They need not be controlled. Hits from a Skeleton Warrior have a 35% chance of causing infected wounds. Removed bones become inactive, but the body will continue to act without them - this includes the skull.

M  WS  BS  S  T  W   I   A  Dex  Ld  Int  Cl  WP  Fel
4    33   17   3   3   6  25   1   18    29  29   29  29    ---
Games for good deeds from Stew Wilson.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Ray Harryhausen

I was lucky enough to meet Ray Harryhausen, just once, at an Edinburgh Film Festival talk and signing, and so I had a chance to thank him for all the stories, and to shake the hand that made them.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Thing On The Mantelpiece

Cthulhu props are a category of fan art that often produces... interesting work...

The Conpulsion 2013 Gryphon Figure(s)

Now on deviantArt and in the hands of Phil - who bought the original at the charity auction before all the parts had arrived!

DriveThru Cards

is now open!

POD card games! I look forward to seeing how the cards are meself.

Including Giant Brain's Revenge Of The B-Movie in its initial selection.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

"I love you." "I know."

Some of Lawrence Kasdan's handwritten draft of The Empire Strikes Back shows what might have been there instead.

The Giant Robot Spider

The Giant Robot Spider is one of the legendary bad ideas from Superman Lives, the legendary bad idea superhero movie to end all legendary bad idea superhero movies. The one with Nicolas Cage as Superman who dies and comes back wearing black and silver super-tech armour and wielding a laser gun, with no cape because capes are silly. That one.

But... the Giant Robot Spider could have looked pretty cool. And while the plot and Superman designs were indeed not my cup of tea, I could stand to watch Superman fight a Giant Robot Spider.

The Avengers fought a giant flying armoured eel. And it was TOTALLY AWESOME.

Something to consider next time you want a big fight in a game. (Not any game, obviously, but some games...)

666

For my 666th post here, a look back at a previous post of some relevance... How do you fight the Devil?

“How do you shoot the Devil in the back? What if you miss?”

But 666 is more the Antichrist’s mark than the Devil’s Itself, so what place does a prophesied Destroyer have in your game?

Something for the PCs to stop? An obvious classic, the question is at what point they confront him. Cute seven-year-old Damien is emotionally harder to pull a sacred dagger on than fully-clued-in corporate overlord Sam Neill Damien. They might need another way to stop him.

Something for the PCs to be tricked by? Careful this doesn’t come across as a bait and switch, but finding out an ally or employer is Evil Incarnate could be quite a shock. Give them enough time to right the mistakes they made and stop him, of course.

Something for a PC to be? Good Omens is a place to start, of course. Reaper was basically “a Buffy show about a possible Antichrist” - there was a similar RPGnet thread back in Ought-Six. The hero had some demonic powers, but he also had free will. And he had competition, because the Devil isn’t the type to have just one vitally important half-human spawn, is he?

See also the more serious (but soapy) version Point Pleasant. I believe a classic CRPG, possibly Diablo, had the default PC as one of these.

And Hellboy and Marvel’s Son Of Satan for a heroic rebellious Antichrist. (Where’s my reprint of the Warren Ellis run, eh? Grrr.) In a superhero-y or urban fantasy universe, being the spawn of Lucifer is just another way to have powers if you’re part of a team, and might lead to a big event storyline if you’re important enough.

An entire party of Antichrists is possible too - all the PCs are devil spawn of one kind or another. Tieflings in D&D have this, and the demonic Houses from Demon: The Fallen could provide ideas as well. The snarling warrior, the silver-tongued negotiator and the creepy scholar could share parents or grandparents, like Ray Bradbury’s Elliott family. It would certainly be an interesting shared origin for a hero team...

Friday, 3 May 2013

The Chronicle Books explained by Rich Thomas.

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong

The comics adaptation of Prudence Shen’s novel illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks is now complete, and readable as a webcomic until the print edition comes out on the 7th, so find a spare couple of hours this weekend!  And then consider buying it!

It has robots. And evil cheerleaders. In high school.

And the following exchange on page 56:

“This isn’t my fault.”
“I will kill and eat you.”
“But you’re lactose intolerant! I had milk this morning!”
I’ll risk it!