Friday, 26 May 2017

Two more anniversaries

Not sure whether to post about the 50th anniversary of Sergeant Pepper or the 120th anniversary of Dracula. Kenneth Hite would probably find some way to connect them. Maybe through Wilde, Poe and Crowley on the album cover... or an attempt to explain the 1974 film Son Of Dracula which Ringo Starr produced and co-starred in as, er, Merlin.

The Batman animated universe is back

Maybe just for one night only, but it’s something!

Batman And Harley Quinn, coming soon.

Home.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Star Wars at 40

Forty years ago, Star Wars opened in thirty-two US cinemas to an initial lack of fanfare.

It came here around Christmas... I might have seen it then, at three and a half. If not, I believe it was shown again, with “Episode IV” added to the opening crawl, a year later. I certainly have early issues of the UK reprint Star Wars comics, giant green rabbit and all, though they may have been handed down from my brother. And the toys, and... if I recall correctly... wallpaper.

I had definitely seen it before The Empire Strikes Back, which I remember seeing pretty clearly (with Black Angel in front of it, which I was relieved to discover really existed) while we were on holiday in the Highlands at my aunt Evelyn’s and spotted it was on in Aberdeen. (My mum went to the Beechgrove Garden instead.) I am similarly puzzled that the first ESB figure I got was a US import of Leia in her Bespin outfit.

I saw it again in a double bill with my dad a year or so later. By then I knew to close my eyes for the carbonite scene.

And then we saw Return Of The Jedi in the USA, which was a bit of an adventure in itself, as part of the summer I got appendicitis twenty feet from Mexico and a hundred and fifty miles from a hospital....

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Need some lost civilisations? 3855 artists offer ideas

ArtStation delivers the goods once again, with a competition to illustrate ancient or mysterious civilisations in game-friendly ways. The examples Kotaku picked out include evocative settings, characters and action scenes.

My last Star Wars game ran with a lot of ArtStation contest visuals, and I could pick a lot of these for fantasy or SF settings. I’ve already earmarked a few for Adventure! and Cavaliers Of Mars.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Sir Roger Moore

I can think of no higher compliment than passing on this story from Marc Haynes:

As an seven year old in about 1983, in the days before First Class Lounges at airports, I was with my grandad in Nice Airport and saw Roger Moore sitting at the departure gate, reading a paper. I told my granddad I'd just seen James Bond and asked if we could go over so I could get his autograph. My grandad had no idea who James Bond or Roger Moore were, so we walked over and he popped me in front of Roger Moore, with the words "my grandson says you're famous. Can you sign this?" As charming as you'd expect, Roger asks my name and duly signs the back of my plane ticket, a fulsome note full of best wishes. I'm ecstatic, but as we head back to our seats, I glance down at the signature. It's hard to decipher it but it definitely doesn't say 'James Bond'. My grandad looks at it, half figures out it says 'Roger Moore' - I have absolutely no idea who that is, and my hearts sinks. I tell my grandad he's signed it wrong, that he's put someone else's name - so my grandad heads back to Roger Moore, holding the ticket which he's only just signed. I remember staying by our seats and my grandad saying "he says you've signed the wrong name. He says your name is James Bond."

Roger Moore's face crinkled up with realisation and he beckoned me over. When I was by his knee, he leant over, looked from side to side, raised an eyebrow and in a hushed voice said to me, "I have to sign my name as 'Roger Moore' because otherwise...Blofeld might find out I was here." He asked me not to tell anyone that I'd just seen James Bond, and he thanked me for keeping his secret. I went back to our seats, my nerves absolutely jangling with delight. My grandad asked me if he'd signed 'James Bond.' No, I said. I'd got it wrong. I was working with James Bond now.

Many, many years later, I was working as a scriptwriter on a recording that involved UNICEF, and Roger Moore was doing a piece to camera as an ambassador. He was completely lovely and while the cameramen were setting up, I told him in passing the story of when I met him in Nice Airport. He was happy to hear it, and he had a chuckle and said "Well, I don't remember but I'm glad you got to meet James Bond." So that was lovely.

 And then he did something so brilliant. After the filming, he walked past me in the corridor, heading out to his car - but as he got level, he paused, looked both ways, raised an eyebrow and in a hushed voice said, "Of course I remember our meeting in Nice. But I didn't say anything in there, because those cameramen - any one of them could be working for Blofeld." I was as delighted at 30 as I had been at 7. What a man. What a tremendous man.
I donated to the Manchester fundraiser.

Twitter joke becomes film, sounds awesome

An observation about a photo of Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o at a fashion show looking like a high-class con artist and her hacker tech support is set to actually become a movie next year. SOLD.

Monday, 22 May 2017

DARK UNIVERSE

The official name for the new Universal Monsters Cinematic Universal... er, Universe, is DARK UNIVERSE.

When just one World Of Darkness isn't enough?

And after the new version of The Mummy this summer, it rolls out with Bride Of Frankenstein (directed by Boll Condon, of Gods And Monsters) around Valentine’s Day 2019, then Johnny Depp as The Invisible Man some time later. Dracula Untold is back to being standalone, after having been talked up as a provisional inclusion. So presumably we’ll see a new Dracula down the line, and this may be the end for FIST OF BATS. Boo.

Still, the trailer showing the original Universal Monsters before the title drop is great.

Happy World Goth Day!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Demon: Trilogy

Demon: The Descent three-shot ended tonight. Keeping Demonic Form back from the rest of character generation speeded it up a bit, I think. The option to do more is there.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Heartless

Heartless, the Danish not-quite-vampire drama, is the best Monsterhearts game I’ve ever seen.

I see something I don’t recognise in your eyes...

(Amusingly, Godric from True Blood plays one of the clueless humans.)

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Star Trek Discovery Trailer

You can’t set a course without a star...

UK-friendly Twitter trailer.

They really should have gone with uniforms for the first photo from the series, not those desert outfits that look Wrath of Khan but also more than a little like Rey’s outfit when it was new... even if the uniforms are a tad Mass Effect.

Grand hall of Klingons!

Unknown objects in space!

Spacesuits!

Doug Jones in alien makeup!

Snooty Vulcan!

Fighting!

Lens flare!

They’re hitting quite a few familiar beats here.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Person Of Interest

I have now seen the last episode of Person Of Interest.

I’m fine.

(sniff)

I’ll be watching the first episode tonight.

The series really ran with the danger that its premise suggested, and the second half made it vitally important. It snuck a cyberpunk dystopia into the gimmick for a modern crime drama. The final battle gave the villains a genuinely compelling argument, and refuted it.

Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country, a new HBO series adapted from the Matt Ruff book by Jordan Peele and Misha Green (with JJ Abrams as executive producer) has its protagonist dealing with the real horrors of racism in 1950s America as well as horrors from the Mythos.

(Did Chaosium coin the phrase Lovecraft Country for their series of Call Of Cthulhu regional sourcebooks, or was it already in use?)

13th Age Bundle Of Holding

13th Age from Pelgrane on PDF, for a good price for the starter set, and spend a bit more to get a lot of stuff including the barnstorming dungeon deconstruction adventure Eyes Of The Stone Thief and an exclusive collection of the organised play adventures.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Sunday, 14 May 2017

World Of Darkness Berlin, Day Four

Last night was the quiet wind down evening, where I hopefully somewhat amused some other guests, and discovered that one of them is Vicki Earland, the creator of OneDice Raptors, a game that one of my friends ran at Conpulsion. It’s a small strange world...

Also hi Joe and family!

Saturday, 13 May 2017

World Of Darkness Berlin, Day Three

The Vampire: The Masquerade 5 playtest. Some info is out in the world already, and an alpha playtest will go out online in due course. It will probably lack the charmingly last-minute hand-drawn maps of the Berlin pre-alpha, though.

In the meantime, I can say that Hunger Dice are a pretty interesting concept, though the game will have to nail down what a Scene means...

And that the pre-alpha included Disciplines with a pretty MET feel and Virtues and Vices in a very Chronicles way.

And panels, Justin Achilli on why we play games and Mark Rein-Hagen on where these particular games came from.

Friday, 12 May 2017

World Of Darkness Berlin, Day Two

News!

Mostly on Vampire: The Masquerade Fifth Edition, announcing Ken Hite as lead designer as well as Karim Muammar on rules, and fashion designer and photographer Mary Lee as art director.

A first edition feel with isolated cities and tyrannical Princes inciting the War of Ages with the dispossessed anarchs and the Sabbat as some mysterious danger elsewhere, rather than global conspiracy sects fighting. And a mechanics focus on The Hunger.

Also revealed - The Storytellers’ Vault, like D&D Beyond for this system. Plans to support all four previous editions of VtM to begin with. Hmm. Tempted to write adventures...

GMing! Because by cracky, I will have tabletop gaming happen!

LARP! Enlightenment In Blood took over eleven locations in East Berlin, mostly around an artist’s colony with clubs, installations, and lots of graffiti. As another participant says, “The RAW Gelände looks like a Tim Bradstreet sketchbook.” Fantastic location, if rather too spaced out for my shins’ liking. Interesting game too, though I deliberately stayed on the periphery and got the picaresque found-footage experience rather than driving much story. (Though one of the groups may have survived the night because I said hello to someone...)

Thursday, 11 May 2017

World Of Darkness Berlin, Day One

Greetings from a hotel somewhere in Berlin.

So far I've attended the screening of the World Of Darkness documentary, which is less “before White Wolf, RPGs were for neeeeerds!” than some feared, while still focusing on some areas and skipping over others. Lots of good stuff from Tim Bradstreet about the art, for one thing.

Relics

From Steve D of Tin Star Games, Relics, a game of fallen angels who don’t know why they fell. Hopefully a couple years out.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Judge Dredd on TV?

I am hopeful about the announcement of Judge Dredd: Mega-City One from Rebellion and IM Global, a newish company started by a producer with SyFy and with a lot of licences on the roster. Hopeful, but will wait and see...

Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow, the TV series, is to end after four seasons. And I just finished catching up on the first season and a half.

I was advised that the mid-season break there is the point to stop for those who want closure as the show goes downhill after season one. Which looks to be true from that half-season already.

When I started up after the fun pilot, I was expecting it to run at a higher consistent Weird Level than it did, more like Angel than mid-season The X Files, considering it’s about...

Ichabod Crane being a Revolutionary War hero mortally injured in 1781 while fighting the Headless Horseman (and indeed making him headless), put into suspended animation by his wife Katrina who is a witch and revived in the present to fight the Horseman, who is actually one of the Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse, teaming up with an understandably sceptical police officer, Lieutenant Abbie Mills, who has her own issues with demons and madness plaguing her family and the town.

I was a bit let down right from the first regular episode, when the two regular cops who backed Abbie’s story after getting halfway through trying to get the Horseman to put his hands on his head were written out and didn’t become recurring characters. The precinct captain joined the crusade, so having a couple of comic relief guys on the team too would have worked for me.

Another group seemed to be set up as potential allies and got murdered offscreen the next episode. It helped emphasise the danger of the battle against evil... but made the setup episode feel a tad wasted.

And some the real-world occult history was clearly dropped in a blender. (Druids are Greek?)

To be fair, the Weird Level ramped up quite a bit. Fighting monsters on horseback! Zombie Redcoats! Portals made of fragmented reality! Animated suits of armour with flaming swords! This is what I was after!

Though the “more like Angel” thing went a bit too far...

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Playing a family

The Gifted, the new X-Men spinoff TV series, is about a family with mutant children. Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker play the parents, making it seem like they're the main characters.

Having kids is a big issue for protagonists to deal with. I've hardly ever done it or seen it done. It would need the right players.

A Hellboy reboot?

I think Guillermo Del Toro’s first film of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy was great, and the second was a good Del Toro film that Hellboy was also in. A third or more might have balanced things out nicely, because Hellboy Vs. Elric In Faerieland is a fine setup for one of three or four movies about him rather than one of two, but it was not to be.

Now, it looks like we’re getting a new Hellboy movie, starring David Harbour, directed by Neil Marshall. I am okay with this. Harbour isn’t the “of course!” casting level of Ron Perlman but seems like he could pull it off. Marshall’s a good bloke. He brought Dog Soldiers and Doomsday to my local horror festival, The Descent to the same cinema for a preview, and came to the festival another year just to hang out and watch some movies.

Hoping it learns from the previous films and doesn’t keep all their changes. Hellboy being secret didn’t add all that much to the first film, and being revealed took up time in the second, for example.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Local Superheroes

Having mentioned Cool French Comics earlier, I thought I’d highlight Photonik and friends, superheroes created to join French reprints of Marvel comics.

So are they part of the Marvel Universe? Apparently not.

Still, they’re a good example of borrowing characters from local fiction rather than creating them as needed. Although you’ll note that Photonik is set in New York...

See also International Hero.

And Superhero Girl Vs. Canadian-ness.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

France as a setting

Another nation that could provide a rich variety of adventures.

Paris has cropped up a few times in my games as a highly recognisable location for tourist-y adventures, much like its role in many world-spanning movies. In this it’s a bit like London, but not as familiar to players based in Britain.

My first run of a straight spy game started in Paris, inspired by The Bourne Identity and featuring the subway and district divisions as well as more touristy backdrops. I also had a more cinematic spy game feature a car and boat chase along the east bank of the Seine, though I resisted the temptation to include the Eiffel Tower.

It’s also been a setting for adventures like a Doctor Who game fighting Nazis and dinosaurs in the early 1940s, Arthurian knights and Crusade-era vampires wandering all over western Europe, globetrotting adventurers and superheroes with a tendency to get into fights at or around famous landmarks, and Buffy being teleported away from Sunnydale by a monster trying to open the Hellmouth and having to get back without a passport.

I’ve never used it as a location for more than a single adventure or arc in any games, but I have considered it at times, like a supers or SF game mining Cool French Comics for characters and setups, or fantasy or horror cribbing from this thread about The Guide To Mysterious France.

I’ve also played the American translation of a French RPG, In Nomine. The adventure wasn’t set in France, however.

There are also supplements for France (or just Paris) for various real-world-based RPGs, and sections in Europe sourcebooks as well. I’ve seen Dreamhounds Of Paris for Trail of Cthulhu in action too. (Paris is a crater in Trinity. Sorry...)

Swashbuckling RPGs often feature Musketeers or analogues. The Revolution may or may not be an issue.

Likewise, Bretonnia in Warhammer started as just before the Revolution in WFRP 1 and then slid back to Arthurian High Middle Ages in the later wargame setting, while the Empire stayed early Renaissance throughout...

Saturday, 6 May 2017

A Grim And Perilous Lego Minifigure

The Battle Dwarf from the new Lego Minifigures set is absolutely not a Troll Slayer from Warhammer. Not at all. Nope.
“Five angry trolls and a rock giant? Hah, what else d’ya got?”
Okay, maybe a little.


The Battle Dwarf is a fierce warrior of the Boar Clan, a brave and proud family renowned throughout the land for their expert iron-forging. He carries the axe Gougetusk, crafted by his own hand, and the legendary war hammer Snoutsmasher, famed for its ability to flatten enemies with the force of a charging razorback.
The Battle Dwarf is as loyal a friend as he is ferocious an opponent, though his hearty back-slaps of comradery are almost as likely to knock you over as a blow from his hammer. The tattoo on his shoulder recounts the tale of how he once faced a fire-breathing sea dragon. He didn’t manage to slay it or anything, but just getting away in one piece was considered a great heroic achievement – and the encounter left him with his magnificent new hairstyle, too!
Possibly more than a little.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Mexico as a setting

Today is Cinco de Mayo, the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, where a Mexican force held off the invading French army who outnumbered them two to one. It’s become a general event celebrating Mexican culture at home and abroad, especially in the U.S. One of the Mexican restaurants in town has a tequila promotion and face painting...

I nearly visited Mexico as a child, but I got appendicitis the night before. I insisted on being carried out to see the Rio Grande before we left the campsite to drive a hundred miles to a hospital.

I don’t think I’ve ever run or played an adventure set in Mexico. The closest I’ve come is the border, as it was in real life. I’ve had a few Mexican NPCs in U.S.-set games.

My first thought when I notice something like this is to look at a country’s history and find a good event to use for a Doctor Who adventure, or dropping a modern adventure in there. Since they’re mobile and facing an international threat, maybe I’ll send my current game to Mexico City for a session or two...

There aren’t very many sourcebooks or adventures for the country. There’s South O’ The Border for Deadlands, Mexico City By Night for Vampire: The Masquerade and Shadows Over Mexico for Chronicles Of Darkness, some Call Of Cthulhu adventures and at least one for Trail of Cthulhu as well... and for the Mexican wrestling action movie subgenre there’s Lucha Libre HERO and Luchador; Way Of The Mask, and probably more.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

God Mode

The moment where you use a rare power-up. Trusting the Force in D6 Star Wars, Apocalyptic Form in Demon: The Fallen, Going Loud in Demon: The Descent and more.

In Person Of Interest, the Machine rarely guides the heroes directly, and the results of God Mode are awesome in both the modern and traditional meanings. (Spoiler: I just saw 5.13, where it happens again in a new way, and it’s quietly terrifying.)

Which games have something like this, where you can occasionally drop a massive bonus or hit an I Win button?

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Scrappers from Osprey

Scrappers is a post-apocalypse squad skirmish wargame, with mutants, robots, cultists and the like, a pretty Gamma World setup all round. It doesn’t appear to have vehicle rules which I really associate with PA gaming going back to Dark Future because of the Mad Max connection, but still looks fun.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 was fun, but not as good overall as the first, I think. It overplayed some of the jokes, and I’m not entirely happy about the developments required to defeat the villain.

Also, so many cameos, some of them distracting from the film itself. I was amused by some, puzzled by others. Looks like some of them will go on to matter in later films.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Your writing prompt for the day


“Passage” (2007) by German land artist Cornelia Konrads

Thanks to Alistair Stuart for the link from Women’s Art on Twitter.

Demon: The Descent

I decided to go for Descent.

Now I just have to figure out why a canning plant was closed six months ago by industrial waste leaking upriver and reopened overnight as a computer factory, why the workers sleepwalk through their shifts, why a local human with insight into angels and demons was struck blind when she investigated, and why the overseer is an angel that one of the Unchained characters last saw at the battle of Stalingrad...

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Bringing in the summer

The Beltane Fire Festival reaches its thirtieth anniversary tonight. By dawn it will be May, and some folk I know will be spending the night up a hill setting things on fire and making noise.

What kinds of cyclical rituals do your settings have? And do they work?

Saturday, 29 April 2017

How to get hundreds of people to pay to be stranded

So the big internet trainwreck news of the day was Fyre Festival, an extravagantly expensive music and art festival in the Bahamas ($450 for a day pass that would mean leaving before dark and missing the day’s headline act, up to $3,995 for a full pass with “curated tented accommodation”) which delivered on none of its wild or even reasonable promises, was clearly doomed ahead of time, and now has people sheltering in the FEMA emergency tents supplied instead of those luxury tent-cabins, all flights cancelled, one of the organisers apparently under arrest and governments stepping in to retrieve those stranded.

Twitter, of all things, is describing it as “the luxury party that turned into the Hunger Games.” This is something of an exaggeration, as nobody has been killed with a bow and arrow. As far as I know.

A disaster like this sounds like the perfect setup for a Fiasco playset, the perfect end to a con caper, or the perfect start to a horror story about mass human sacrifice. I can’t decide which I prefer.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Enlightenment In Blood character creation

I just made my character for the big LARP at World Of Darkness Berlin, picking a group that let me (a) explore solo and (b) not have a smartphone. Being an outsider who was staked in the heart and left for a couple years excuses a lot...

The process was quite interesting - take a faction, then an archetype, then a character type, then an agenda, then answer some questions about what you want to see.

In my case it wasn’t helped by leaving it a couple weeks, so a number of the twenty available factions were already full. (And it seemed there was one faction with unlimited slots, but all the character archetypes in it were taken.) This left me with a dramatic intro, though it limited some of my options like an agenda I probably won’t play too much. I’ll share some more details after the event.

Light a flamethrower

Today is Sir Terry Pratchett’s 69th birthday. A toast!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

But whichever Demon game happens...

Either the sessions or the supernatural characters the PCs meet will be named after VNV Nation songs.

“To the darkened skies once more - and ever onward!”

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Demon: The Something

Currently debating with myself and talking with potential players about a summer game of either Demon: The Fallen or Demon: The Descent.

Fallen is more straightforward in both setting and rules, and I’ve never had a chance to do anything with it in almost fifteen years. But Descent is more complicated in interesting ways, and lets me do spies...

The Venn diagram of material likely to feature in both is really pretty small despite both being games about demons passing for human in the present, and I could swipe a few ideas from one for the other. They both favour differing approaches above all. Fallen PCs have much less reason to be subtle than Descent ones, for one obvious example. For instance, both Unchained and Fallen have an option to drop the mask and Hulk out, but it’s much more of a last resort for the Unchained, because it (a) sets off every demon-detector the Angels have and (b) destroys that cover. Various other decisions encourages sneakiness rather than might.

I’m probably dwelling on the differences. The Fallen can be subtle, as future Descent creator and co-developer Rose Bailey’s Fallen game Strange As Angels demonstrates, and there’s a Translation Guide for switching or merging the two. A version of Descent without the biotech wouldn’t even need it, for instance - call the God-Machine the Demiurge and you’re halfway there.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Monday, 24 April 2017

Scheduling issues

I was not at the Nationals this weekend, I was at Dead By Dawn instead. I hope to find out a bit about the games played in the former and write about the films shown in the latter, so more on both later.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

FOR SCIENCE!

For Earth Day, a March For Science. Resisting the temptation to go with a Proton Pack.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Footage Assemble!

Finally saw some Avengers filming. Not that I actually saw anything more than a lighting rig, but hey...

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Dark Signal

Dark Signal, out this summer, looks at what happens when a haunting goes public...

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Cloak And Dagger trailer

Since the series is about a year out, a trailer for Marvel’s Cloak And Dagger this early is surprising. As a potential flagship show for a teen drama network, it looks like it’s going to balance angst and romance with issues in a grounded way, especially considering the duo’s pretty weird powers.

“I’m afraid that if you do everything right, I’ll still lose you!”

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Uncertain Times

Another election? What is this, a Vampire LARP?

When I run games where political situations change, the PCs are in the middle of it and have a significant effect on the outcome. I’ve never had a new Prince take over without warning, for example. Might be interesting, but likely frustrating. I’m happy to be unrealistic here.

Space Opera Comics

As James Gunn announces Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 before 2 has even come out, I remain amazed that the holders of the X-Men movie licence haven’t tried to make Starjammers yet.

And that nobody’s tried to make Star Slammers either, which is not the same thing. Or Six From Sirius.

Alien Legion, Dreadstar and Strikeforce: Morituri have all been optioned at various times.

And that’s just Marvel.

DC integrated space opera a bit deeper with Krypton and Green Lantern, but still has non-super-universe outliers like Atari Force.

French comic Valerian is getting a movie decades after Star Wars took, er, some influence from it.

What I’m saying is there are a lot of spaceships in trouble in comics. (Especially from 1977 to the early 80s for some reason. Ahem.) Superhero universes pull in space opera pretty casually, as well as there being dedicated SF comics.

After all, Star Wars started with George Lucas not getting the rights to Flash Gordon...

Monday, 17 April 2017

Knights And Castles

For Easter, my mum got me a Chocolate Orange egg. My first taste of Chocolate Orange was also an Easter egg, which had a box design showing a castle with cut-out knights and other characters. The kind of thing that sticks with you. And which I may still have somewhere in mum’s attic.

Knights and castles are among the archetypal images in the UK, and in fantasy. I’ve often avoided the classic fantasy style because of its familiarity, but sometimes I want to run with it...

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Easter Adventures

A currently rather short thread of Easter adventure ideas with a request that they not stomp on beliefs. I included a tournament in Camelot, and an Adventure!-friendly hook about an Imperial Fabergé egg in 1920s Paris that could prove or disprove the claims of various Anastasias.

Steve D made The Easter Bunny kinda terrifying in Buffy. What do they need such good eyesight for anyway?

Also currently active, Easter Eggs in gaming is a current example of the most common use of Easter in RPG.net thread titles. The Twister reference I put in my Trinity Continuum artefacts is pretty easy to spot, I think...

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Last Jedi: The First Teaser

(gulp)

In other Star Wars Celebration news, we have a new series of animated shorts focusing on female characters, a tribute to Carrie Fisher, a Battlefront II trailer introducing an Imperial single player campaign (eww) and space battles and Rey vs. Ren, a non-Marvel all ages anthology comic, the end of Rebels, and a possible replacement for a joke placeholder name Iain Lowson created for an extra in Return Of The Jedi...

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The Sad Pop Cover Of Your Trailer

Something else to take away from Ghost In The Shell: of six trailers in front of it, four had Sad Pop Covers. And one of them was over Trans-flippin-formers!

And Ghost In The Shell had one for its trailer!

Truly, Sad Pop Cover is the new Inception BRRRMMMM.

But at least it lets GMs come up with jokey suggestions for trailers for game.

(The one that had a regular cheery pop song was, of course, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2. Wonder Woman had normal score music.)

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Ghost In The Shell (2017)

Ghost In The Shell (2017) is marred by casting, though addressing it in the story was an, er, interesting decision.

Other than that, it looks fantastic and riffs heavily on specific images from the original film as well as plot points from Innocence and Stand Alone Complex, while coming to a different conclusion in a central debate and bringing in a standard-issue villain.

I was also distracted by trying to remember which real-world cyberpunk futurescape uses those black Jason Voorhees masks for its armed police. It’s Taiwan.

Does it leave me wanting to run cyberpunk? Not really. If I did, it would have to have a Big Idea... hmm...

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The Conpulsion Battleground Quiz Answers

Because you would probably demand these too...

The Conpulsion Battlegrounds Quiz

Because you demanded it! (Well, because Stew requested it!)

First, the Picture Round. Which apparently I did wrong because Mantic recycled a figure. Damn it.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Ragnarok And (Inevitably) Roll

The teaser trailer for Thor: Ragnarok looks huge fun. They went there with Hela’s crown. And there’s a moment at 1.03 that will make some Thor comics fans gulp...

Sunday, 9 April 2017

The Conpulsion 2017 Quiz

Question and answer sheets printed, one typo corrected, I think the Conpulsion 2017 quiz is ready to go.

There are questions about Buffy, Galavant, Fiends Of The Eastern Front, Shakespeare, cooking and nearby pubs.

I am unashamed.

And now: 
Questions
Answers

Friday, 7 April 2017

The Rousing Speech

The Rousing Speech is not as easy for most people as heroes tend to make it look, as this comedy short demonstrates.

Public speaking is a common fear at the best of times, and improv public speaking doesn’t make it any easier.

I could have actually gone further than I did with my Banquo Award speech in 2013, but I figured a quick joke and running away was a safe bet.

In gaming, a player who would rather not be put on the spot despite playing an eloquent character has some options. They can describe the gist of the speech, make notes ahead of time, plagiarise like crazy...

Prompts for something like this are available, such as Adventure! giving the option to script lines and responses in advance for characters with high Wits.

The best example I’ve seen in a video game is near the end of Mass Effect, which uses the existing gist-based dialogue wheel so that the player picks from a series of dialogue options about the point they want the speech to make and the writing, voice acting, reactions shots and music sell it.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Mr. Higgins Comes Home, Mr. Mignola Comes Back To Comics

Mike Mignola. Vampires. Comedy. Out in time for Hallowe’en.

How many of the 100 are left? Not many.

The 100 is back, and everything is terrible again. Yay!

After the mind-controlly chips last year, looks like we’re going back to basics with horrible broken technology potentially painfully killing everyone, which is how the series started so it feels right to do so.

And we have the awkward aftermath of mind control, crucifixions and some well-deserved murders to deal with too.

And a bit of spear-to-the-face action too!

(Bonus yay: Lindsay Morgan, Raven, is the rumoured frontrunner for Joss Whedon’s Batgirl movie. If that happens.)

(Partial yay: Hey, has anyone made figures for this? Apparently a fan did but seems to have gone no further than Clarke. And, of course, there are those Funko Pops things. Un-yay.)

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

"You would have my soul... if I had a soul..."

We may have accidentally illustrated a The Silver Kiss Of The Magical Twilight Of The Full Moon LARP. It was a glorious thing.

I did not technically play a role, but my hat did. A vital role. VITAL.
I also provided rain for people looking out of windows.

(Hashtag One Crush)

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Morgue Is Pretty Awesome

Happy birthday to sometime Ruminator and original Banquo Award winner Morgan Davie, without whom TWH might be a very different thing.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

When pages fall off the web

I was sorry to hear about ComicsAlliance going under. I’ve linked to it a few times here with news, interviews and other articles about RPG-related or otherwise interesting geek news.

I recently helped someone find a video interview from an education site that was since merged using the Wayback Machine. It doesn’t have everything in internet history, of course, but it’s always worth checking.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Thursday, 30 March 2017

D&D and Pathfinder new official plastic miniatures

New unpainted plastic miniatures from WizKids for D&D and Pathfinder, with generic scenery planned as well, and quite cheap too, including transparent and translucent ones. This video review was how I discovered them when it was posted on Lead Adventure.

I kinda want the clear Hell Hounds, after the time I used ice sculpture wolves as a Doctor Who monster...

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

KONG

Kong: Skull Island is alright. It was a bit long due to having one too many scattered group of survivors, though not compared to the Peter Jackson King Kong, and I liked the widescreen-ness and switching out who died when from various obvious setups. (Also, giant spider, which I liked rather less.)

The Apocalypse Now style “ragged end of the Vietnam war with added Heart Of Darkness references” setting for a monster adventure reminded me of The Fall Of Delta Green, once a setting detail which I got to play in and soon to be its own standalone game, more than previous King Kong films being more Adventure!-y.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Slayer

A new series of YA books about a newly called Vampire Slayer post-Chosen, by Kiersten White, who I have never previously heard of but she wrote a trilogy called Paranormalcy so I’m prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt just for that.

A new slayer is a solid call for a first spinoff series - I’ve certainly run enough games about them.

Will it be set immediately post-Chosen or nowish? Will it reference the comic seasons, break from their setup or studiously avoid the subject?

(I would guess that it it’ll go for the classic “pulled out of a normal life so the audience can relate” style of the early TV series, and won’t make the new slayer part of the army from Season Eight which also avoids retelling an existing story. Paranormalcy features a teenage girl in a monster-hunting agency and wishing she could be normal, so I would expect her to avoid sticking the new slayer in a big organisation as a result.)

Will it be funny? Signs are good, based on Ms. White’s blog subtitle and the reveal on her Twitter.

We’ll see in a few months.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Fighting Fantasy Returns!

A new launch with a new publisher for the 35th anniversary of Fighting Fantasy! With a new book by Ian Livingstone, The Port Of Peril, as well as reissues in the first run.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Happy birthday Cat, co-owner of Pelgrane Press, author, game designer, and star of TWH.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Prince's Gambit

The new deception and intrigue card game set in the world of Vampire: The Masquerade is now on Kickstarter and funded in three hours. Even if I never play it, the cards could be used for characetr portraits and the like.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

In other news, cyberpunk

Sheriff Full of Blessings Part 2 by Baltic Fleet started playing as I was discussing Ghost In The Shell while travelling in a car at around midnight. This was at the end of the album so the previous track might have put me in the mood already, but not to such an extent. (Hello Chris!)

Monday, 20 March 2017

The Avengers are coming here!

Or something to do with them anyway. Waverley Station lit for drone and crane filming inside and outside, fake signage and coffee shop, and a fake kebab shop around the corner on Cockburn Street with a local phone number...

Looks like Edinburgh will be playing the role of Edinburgh!

As a geek I’m rather excited. If I lived in the MCU I’d be very worried.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Bernie Wrightson

Bernie Wrightson, co-creator of Swamp Thing among many other works in comics and illustration, has died.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter

Hammer have announced a new comic series for Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, from Dan Abnett and Tom Mandrake.

He’s kind of like a monosyllabic 19th Century Blade with a cavalry sabre instead of a jian, created by Brian Clemens, who made The Avengers (the TV series) what it was.

Friday, 17 March 2017

St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to Irish and Irish-descent friends. Your conventions are the envy of the world.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Small, isolated, threatening locations

Unsound, a horror comics series set around a psychiatric hospital, has me thinking about how locations like that could work for ongoing rather than short-term stories. Some expansion of the location itself would probably be required, giving the characters somewhere else to go in either normal or supernatural terms.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The big moments are gonna come...

Looks like we’re on our way to another big vote. Ever had a broad sweeping change in national governance in game? With the PCs involved, or in the background?

Monday, 13 March 2017

Evil Dead II

Another anniversary, thirty years of Evil Dead II! It casts a long shadow over horror and particularly horror comedy, and for me personally seeing it a few years before I was legally supposed to was a wake-up all for my tastes in the genre.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

A rural superhero

An RPGnet Other Media thread and a Tabletop Open spinoff about rural superheroes.

I cited Buffy and Wynonna Earp as the threads are mostly US-based, but I imagine a UK country hero would be different again, maybe steeped in old magical traditions or a highwayman or smuggler type like Doctor Syn.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Atomic Blonde

Charlize Theron is a superspy with one of the directors of John Wick choreographing the beatdowns. You have my attention.

Kinda NSFW trailer, which doesn’t give away that it’s adapted from a comic series (The Coldest City by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart) or its late Cold War setting. So still plenty to discover...

Friday, 10 March 2017

Buffy at 20

Joss Whedon looks back on Buffy at 20 at Empire.

Not counting the film. Or that it started on terrestrial TV here at the end of 1998. ;)

This is, as you may know, kind of a big thing for me. She saved the world a lot. And made mine a better place.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

There are so many ways to get in trouble nowadays

Uncharted-style modern adventure hooks.

For my “Torn From The Headlines” example I cited the not-actually-Templar underground grotto discovery because it’s a fun story. There are, sadly, plenty of news stories which would invite games as revenge fantasies.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

StarTrekker 40,000

Ideas for how to mix and match two wildly disparate space opera settings. The poster doesn’t really want to deal with Chaos, which rules out my first idea of the Federation representing the positive aspects of Tzeentch, god of change including hope and creativity.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Riding into the sunset

Logan is not the end of the X-Men film universe, there’s a TV series on the way as well as the maybe-connected spin-off Legion, but it is a last hurrah for Wolverine as played by Hugh Jackman, a story set a decade ahead of the last near-future time we saw him and possibly in a parallel universe just in case.

It’s the Unforgiven for his Man With No Name, a story about age in a genre where heroes usually just get replaced by younger actors.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Will Eisner

Today is Will Eisner’s centenary. He is best known for The Spirit, a pulp action comic series with a cover pages on a par with film noir poster art. The influence of his design can be seen in comics from the 1940s onwards. (Among various exaggerated heroes and villains, The Spirit also features Ebony White, a racially caricatured character who can be seen in some of the example pages. Eisner introduced less caricatured characters as the series continued.)

He went on to write and draw experimental graphic novels such as A Contract With God and Last Day In Vietnam, and the Eisner Awards that bear his name are among the most prestigious in comics.

Expanding a one-shot

John Wick Chapter 2 (still not about the game designer) is a decent example of expanding a one-shot adventure into a campaign. It introduces new enemies and allies, new complications in the setting and John’s backstory, and new spins on some popular beats from the original.

It all makes sense because John has a sketched-in past that’s easy to add more villainous types to, but I’d say it’s a decent example rather than a good one because the way it works is pretty obvious. It also sets up Chapter 3, which looks like it might put John in a less familiar situation, which could help a lot.

(It also runs with the gold coins from the original to suggest various props for Vampire-style boons and debts. Assassins don’t worry about the Masquerade quite as much. And it also takes the setting’s Weird Level just a bit too high for me with one detail of the hitman network it shows, but hey.)

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Loud As Hell Volume Two

Wednesday evening Buffy game is back on. Currently with three players - the Slayer, the Frankenstein monster, and the piano player.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Mysteries And Secrets

A thread about the Inconnu in Vampire: The Masquerade made the point that they were designed to be a mystery - the name is French for “unknown”!

See also VII in Vampire: The Requiem, whose sourcebook has three mutually exclusive versions of the group and suggestions for making more. VII is a mystery with answers available, not a definitive secret answer.

When should a game line reveal a secret?

Friday, 24 February 2017

Thursday, 23 February 2017

We found a new solar system to be new Earths

Trappist-1 is an important scientific discovery. (A big enough deal that it got a Google Doodle in less than 24 hours!)

And also a ready-made setting for new space opera.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Fantasy Heartbreaker is back

Rose Bailey on representation and marginalised characters becoming about their marginalisation.

2000 A.D. at 40 in 2017

Today sees the 40th anniversary special for 2000 A.D., The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic. So many stories, worlds, occasional childhood trauma (thanks, Dark Judges!) and other fires for the imagination. Here’s to many more - we made it past 2000 A.D. already, so lets keep on going.

I do not currently have money for a concept artist...

If I did, I would consider Leesha Hannigan while she is between jobs.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

10 Vampire: The Requiem ideas from Nirvana single titles

As we just saw Kurt Cobain’s fiftieth birthday yesterday, a few ideas from the singles Nirvana brought out.

Love Buzz
A new drug on the market has an interesting side effect. Vampires that drink from users “catch” their emotional state for as long as they have that blood in their system. The vamp who discovered this while biting someone who enjoyed it barely came down in time to miss a sunrise. The one who discovered this while terrifying her victim was last seen fleeing the scene at superhuman speed. So where is this thing coming from? Did somebody create this on purpose?

Sliver
You just slept through a whole night. And now you have a crystal clear memory of the first time you saw your sire before the Embrace. And there was another vampire there... one you thought your sire hated.

Smells Like Teen Spirit
A vampire Embraced in her teens decides to try the Twilight thing and use a high school as her herd. And she misjudges how much blood a teen can safely lose and drained her boyfriend dry, then turned him in a fit of remorse. So now there are two vampires in the school. How long until one of them makes another mistake?

Come As You Are
Why is the Prince hosting a gathering at that new nightclub? Does he want it to succeed? Or does he want it to get wrecked by too many vampires in a crowded room with a lot of drugs and alcohol readily available?

Lithium
Dr. Land, an Ordo Dracul chemist, has come up with a treatment for the Hunger. You still need to hunt, but you will never frenzy from lack of blood. Assuming you don’t mind the treatment being extracted from the brain blood of people on antidepressants.

In Bloom
The city cemetery’s gardens have never looked more beautiful. Which is worrying to a group of elders who murdered a Circle witch who claimed to be able to speak with plants and dumped her body in an open grave there sixty years ago.

Heart-Shaped Box
The heart of an ancient vampire, cut out centuries ago, has been stolen from the collection of an old Mekhet hoarder who sought to use it to filter blood and gain the elder’s memories. Who took it, who has it, and who would kill to acquire it?

(Alternatively, Valentine’s Day, and one of your herd asks you to marry him...)

All Apologies
An elder claims that you have wronged her. Nobody at court can verify that you haven’t, and she’s old enough that it doesn’t matter what you can prove. She demands compensation or punishment. How can you get out of serving her for years to come?

Pennyroyal Tea
Dr. Land asks for a favour dealing a rival, a former member of the Circle who is now working as a New Age herbalist... with a sideline as a poisoner.

About A Girl
Jack has been a vampire for a few years now, and he had to leave Caitlyn when he died. So how does he cope when he sees her again? With a child who has his eyes?

Scaling your campaign

Elementary season one has popped up on Freeview. Comparisons to Sherlock are inevitable as it’s a modern version of Sherlock Holmes that started very soon after - and stars Johnny Lee Miller, who had recently traded parts from one night to the next with Benedict Cumberbatch in Danny Boyle’s National Theatre production of Frankenstein - but that’s not what I want to talk about.

The smaller cases and much longer run time lets it be more casual - it doesn’t have to have a season opener and finale within two weeks of each other. Sherlock is a series of one-shots and long “event” sessions, Elementary is a weekly campaign. Miss one session and you can catch up pretty easily.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain would have been fifty today. He was never comfortable with being the voice of a generation, but there we are.

Ash Vs. Evil Dead

Ash Vs. Evil Dead is quite an odd TV show. A sequel to The Evil Dead and mostly Evil Dead II, with Army Of Darkness not really referenced (due to its two wildly conflicting endings) it could prooooobably be watched by people unfamiliar with the originals, but what would they make of a spectacularly gory horror-comedy adventure in sitcom-length episodes? Especially if they came in after the pretty-damn-serious remake a couple years earlier...

For those in the know, it’s still quite odd. The worldbuilding is pretty casual, as it always has been. Some episodes and some subplots lean more or less on the comedy and the evisceration - one of the stars gets such a serious plot for the first half-season that she asked her agent if the audition sheet’s “comedy” description was a typo!

Still, as an Evil Dead II fan specifically, I had a lot of fun with it. When it’s on, it’s really on, and there’s a fair amount of grue and fun to be had, with Bruce Campbell charming as ever as the over-the-hill not-great-anyway monster hunter.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

New vague game plan

Vampire: The Masquerade due to familiarity, probably Camarilla clans, with me using a chunk of Requiem ideas like the second edition expanded Humanity system and some character and plot points.

Episodic and occasional, so aiming for a relatively small number of subplots and NPCs to track.

Probably using my last games as source material.

Planning to give the coterie a good reason to work together and not run off to play three personal games.

Already said “don’t betray the party, there are only three of you.”

And plots. Hm. That’s the real trick...

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Friday, 17 February 2017

Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures

A new Star Wars animated series set near the classic trilogy, a new band of heroes, a new Force-related mystery... but unlike Rebels, I’m pretty sure Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures ain’t canon.

Aimed more at kids and played more for laughs, particularly the Emperor, while the main villain of the piece is played pretty straight. Most of the laughs for me were the back references - there’s some nice repurposing of prequel trilogy stuff and a lot of plays on familiar lines.

“I have a bad feeling about this - ”
No you don’t!

There’s some more serious One To Grow On stuff in there too - the need to protect those you love when you put yourself in danger - but not much.

It uses its Lego stylings somewhat inconsistently. The Freemaker family are experts in building and customising technology so some of the DIY ship part of Lego play is always there, but The Lego Movie “master builder” level Lego customisation only happens with the Force. And sometimes when ships and vehicles explode bits of Lego come off, but sometimes they just explode in flames.

Gameable? As a rules-light and no-real-danger game, maybe with Lego on the table and options to rebuild vehicles, and a system for building with the Force.

The central group, a family of three siblings and their Battle Droid trying to make their way in a galaxy at war,, could definitely work. So could one of the early plot twists...

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Loren Wiseman

Loren Wiseman, co-founder of Games Designers’ Workshop and one of the creators of Traveller, has died.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

A poem

Roses are available in a variety of colours.
Violets are violet.
I’ll start again.

Collegeling: The Lost

Coexisting With The Fair Folk Who Have Taken Up Residence In/Around/Beneath Your University: A How-To Guide

Thanks to Morgan A. McLaughlin McFarland for the link

Thieves steal £2,000,000 worth of rare books

Thieves steal £2m of rare books by abseiling into warehouse

“Gang avoid motion-sensor alarms in west London to make off with 160 items, some dating to 15th and 16th centuries.”

For Valentine’s Day, the gift of a perfect plot hook.

Happy Simon Pegg Day!

It’s also the tenth anniversary of Hot Fuzz.

Unkar Plutt still has both arms canonically.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Humble Freedom Bundle

$600 worth of video games, audiobooks, comics and other stuff for $30, all going to the ACLU, the International Rescue Committee, and Medecins Sans Frontieres, with Humble matching up to $300,000.

A wild gaming group appears!

Just inadvertently stumbled across a wild RPG group downstairs from GEAS in one of the rooms we regularly sneak into.

(For the record, they were playing Star Wars: Force And Destiny. And the GM had a Darth Vader novelty mug.)

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Peaceful Protest

Ever had a peaceful protest in your games? And had it stay peaceful, despite the presence of player characters?

Saturday, 11 February 2017

The Official Handbook Of The Bowieverse

The Official Handbook Of The Bowieverse is a play on the Marvel Universe handbooks for the work of David Bowie, complete with obscure one-line references like the Hand Reaching Down For Me from O You Pretty Things as well as more developed characters like Major Tom and Ziggy Stardust.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Behind the scenes of Deep Space Nine

A new documentary from Adam Nimoy looks at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, including the writers discussing what might have happened in an eighth season. It raised $150,000 fan funding in a day.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

One-shot recommendations

An RPG.net It’s My Birthday thread asking for published one-shots. These are always worth checking out.

Monday, 6 February 2017

The Big Game Of Your Game

The Superbowl has come again, bringing exclusive film trailers and expensive adverts, Hamilton pre-game and Lady Gaga halftime shows, huge ratings for the shows running after it and more. We have nothing even close in the UK, it’s like the FA Cup Final and the Christmas episodes of Doctor Who and Coronation Street happening on the same Sunday evening in late winter.

Does your setting have a single cultural event that big?

A royal tournament in the high Middle Ages, Roman gladiatorial games sponsored and attended by the Emperor himself, that kind of thing...

The rulers of the Forgotten Realms send their champions to a great tourney. How did you get on the billet?

Vampires host a Conclave in their city, with elders and foreign Princes in attendance. How do you prepare for that, what kinds of events do the Camarilla authorities put on, and what do the anarchs and other outsiders do in protest?

The Federation welcomes a new sentient species, and Starfleet has sent your ship to transport one of the diplomatic envoys and her entourage. Can you make sure they get there safely with a Romulan assassin tracking them?

Empire Day - what are the Rebels going to do about it?

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Runaways

And more teen live-action Marvels, on the even stranger platform of Hulu. In this case, every member of the group has a different power origin...

Friday, 3 February 2017

You got your ghost story in my vampire story!

I went into American Horror Story: Hotel expecting the vampires to be more important. They were edged out by the ghosts, who may or may not be the same kind of ghosts seen in season one, aka Murder House. The Murder House makes a guest appearance, in fact. Best not to think about all the cross-season casting issues that flags up.

And then they bring in a character from Coven for two scenes. And a character from Murder House played by one of the stars of this season.

And don’t get me started on the real life serial killers...

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Image Comics

Image Comics launched twenty-five years ago, creating a new sort-of-connected superhero universe of creator-owned characters. Some of the characters looked somewhat familiar from the creators’ work at other comics companies, and it being the early 90s several were into covert ops that didn’t quite mesh with charging around in costumes shooting lasers.

Some series ran smoothly, some paused and stuttered and some never appeared. Several creators went back to Marvel and DC, others came in, the company began to publish standalone and non-superhero comics, and these days the company’s biggest series is The Walking Dead, not part of their superhero setup.

Along the way we got some shakeups in how comics creator ownership works, a pretty revolutionary toy company, some animated series, a Spawn movie, and lots of comics, highlights including Alan Moore getting free rein to rewrite Silver Age Superman in Supreme and Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch making The Authority the biggest superhero action movie on the page.

The Authority also got its own RPG, though the rest of the Image universe wasn’t invited along for the ride, with only the WildStorm subsection it was part of getting coverage. (That section was later folded into the DC Universe with the New 52, and Warren Ellis is back on a new version of it...)

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Cloak And Dagger and recurring origins

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has found its fifth live-action outlet after movies, short films, ABC and Netflix, with Cloak And Dagger coming to Freeform, formerly ABC Family.

It sounds like they may not keep the secret illegal drug trial that kickstarted their powers in the comics. For one thing, it puts them a bit too close to the experiments that created both Captain America and Luke Cage, the chemical accidents that empowered Spider-Man, Daredevil and Jessica Jones and the power cocktail given to pre-cyborg Deathlok in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Then again, we already have some similar origin stories across the setting, sometimes interconnected in the adaptations and sometimes just because similar origins crop up in the source material over the decades - ABC, the films and Netflix will all have different heroes who learned to use different ancient powers in different hidden temples somewhere in Asia once Iron Fist starts.

It would be much simpler if they could make them mutants. Making them Inhumans doesn’t really make things simpler, as everyone who followed the ancient alien genetic manipulation and temples in that S.H.I.E.L.D. storyline can attest.

If you’re building a universe from the ground up, a consistent origin can help ground it, but do you leave room for wizards in a sci-fi-based superhero setting?

Monday, 30 January 2017

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Sir John Hurt

When people told themselves their past with stories, explained the present with stories, foretold the future with stories, the best place by the fire was kept for the Storyteller.

Friday, 27 January 2017

WFRP 4?

Looks like Cubicle 7 have the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay licence. No word yet on what they plan to do with it.

Important safety tip for vampires

From American Horror Story: Hotel:

Thursday, 26 January 2017

The horror... the horror...

Apocalypse Now: The Video Game.

Okay, sure, if it’s by the people that made The Last of Us or Gone Home or something. It isn’t.

Though one of the writers attached worked on the Far Cry series, which at least has the crazy picaresque angle going for it. As well as Gears Of War. Which does not.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Humanity spreads into the stars

With a new season on the way and, yes, it being available on Netflix, caught up on The Expanse. There’s a lot to like, although I also started an SF game about conflicting human colonial nations by borrowing the same subplot from Alien. ;)

And the title sequence feels way too epic and upbeat.

And the Mars uniforms gave me a real “are we the baddies?” moment.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Borrowing from borrowers

When Law Abiding Citizen came out in 2009, I jokingly observed that it was the Punisher. And to an extent, yeah, a vigilante targeting specific people for vengeance over the murder of his family and the failings of the system in dealing with it, just using drones and other traps instead of straight-up violence, and told from an outside POV.

So now rewatching it after Daredevil season two... the MCU take on the Punisher narrows his scope from an all-out war on crime to a specific vendetta against those who killed his family, and tries to justify himself to the viewpoint character. It’s a nice tightening-up of a serial character for a miniseries and potential later use rather than ongoing adventures - which ends up a bit like Law Abiding Citizen.

There’s probably talk online comparing and contrasting the two, but it’s hard to find because Googling both names together mostly turns up... that Law Abiding Citizen and the Thomas Jane version of The Punisher sold as a DVD double pack.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Sunday result...

I managed to avoid Emergency Backup GMing, and am now playing The Comics Code and Vampire: The Masquerade.

Specifically:

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Stranger Things

Netflix, caught up, etc. Maybe the hype killed it for me but...

Stranger Things, well, kind of worked for me. I was there for the actual early 80s so I appreciated the effort (and winced when the agents picked up MP5s from a locker in the future - seriously, nothing says early 80s like the Uzi 9mm) but I’m not sure a hybrid Spielberg / King homage (with music riffing on John Carpenter for added tonal dissonance) really worked.

And it was really three shows that met in episode seven.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

The rich and powerful take what they want.

We steal it back for you.

Back from marching, back to game prep. And Emergency Backup GM game prep for tomorrow just in case. Tomorrow, if necessary, Leverage,

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Loud As Hell

We have a Slayer playing drums (played by Judith, who played at the Nationals last year but not as the Slayer) and a Frankenstein monster guitarist and an occultist keyboard/tech as Heroes, and a meathead bass player, snobby pianist and disinterested singer as White Hats.

So that’s action, mystery, band squabbles and a few healthy opportunities for angst - “I’m a monster!

We’ll see how it goes.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Back at it

Tonight, the local gaming society returns...

Sundays are more my day, but I was there as Emergency Backup GM... so am now running a Buffy game about a college band again. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Frightening Futures

We just came third out of twelve teams (38 out of 43) in the Cameo film quiz on this topic. Somewhat better than tenth (of ten) for the Christmas special last month...

The only picture question none of us got was a still from a 1998 Canadian end-of-the-world film called Last Night. So now obviously I have to watch it.

Looks fun...
On this topic gaming-wise I’ve run a fair number of pessimistic SF games, cyberpunk dystopia and post-apocalypse wasteland. Never for very long, though. My longest is probably The Stars On Fire, one academic year of military SF with warring human nations more or less coming together against an alien threat, and that still had humanity surviving the 21st century and colonising space in the 22nd.

I’ve dropped PCs into their own potential futures (not counting games where time travel is standard) in The Watch House, with a psychic PC getting a vision that went full-contact Days Of Future Past style. One hero was dead (best absent player excuse ever!), another was mad, another had a character-building scar, and the receiver of the vision found her future self was a leading vampire. It’s a spin on The One Where Everyone Acts Out Of Character, not playing for laughs for a change.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Blue Monday

Today is supposedly Blue Monday, the spuriously theorised “most depressing day of the year”. It’s already the target of groups organising upbeat fun activities in some areas, aiming to take it back from the advertisers who created it to sell holidays. I approve of this development.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Going sane with the power

From frequent poster Entropic Angel:

Fellow gaming types (most of my friends list, I guess) I have a question. If your players play characters with quite a high amount of power and influence do their characters act with more restraint, morality and thought than they would do otherwise?

My answer would be “sometimes”. It would discourage the lashing out that players sometimes entertain with “nobody” PCs, and it gives them a connection to the setting and something to lose. Of course, sometimes players given power will want to simply use it...

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Print The Legend

A new Tarzan movie seemed like an odd choice last summer, and it kind of is. One which contains the origin in a few flashbacks and then sends him on a new adventure mixed up with late 19th century European imperialism in the Congo definitely is.

Samuel L. Jackson plays George Washington Williams as a somewhat badass comedy sidekick, and Léon Rom dies a lot younger in the Tarzan universe than in ours. Its history is as revisionist as Inglourious Basterds, it’s just that the history it’s revising isn’t as well known. I guess the title being The Legend Of Tarzan evokes the quote I named this post for...

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Harlem Unbound

Last day of the Kickstarter for Harlem Unbound, a Call Of Cthulhu and GUMSHOE sourcebook about the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Weta Workshop's Wargame

Giant Killer Robots, figures by Weta Workshop (the design studio behind Lord Of The Rings, District 9, Planet Of The Apes, and more) and game design by Cryptozoic. Unsurprisingly, the figures look great. On the D9 side of things - industrial, clunky, with sample paint schemes favouring heavy plant and graffiti.

Who you gonna call? Airstrikes!

Originally to be released in cinemas last summer, Spectral premiered on Netflix a month ago. Described as Black Hawk Down Vs. Ghostbusters, and yeah... with a smidge of Doctor Who in there too as equipment is jury-rigged at great speed and at one point the Hero Scientist actually explains one of his tricks as reversing the polarity of a camera. The ghosts and the gear are clearly the stars here, in what could make a pretty good one-shot... maybe for Orpheus.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Sunday, 8 January 2017

King Mordred Of Camelot

Rose Bailey proposes a setting riff with Mordred taking and keeping the throne, sending the land into a dark age as he clings to power.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Taboo

Taboo, a new series on BBC One, from the creator of Peaky Blinders and its star Tom Hardy, about a man returning from a decade supposed dead to claim a politically problematic inheritance in 1814 London, setting him on a collision course with the East India Trading Company.

He may also have come back from the dead, or he may just be traumatised and seeing things. From the atmosphere so far, could go either way.

He’s bad news for all concerned either way, not just the villainous Company, having abandoned his own son and having some ominous secret with his sister, and stalking around the city in a Bill The Butcher hat and Nosferatu coat...

Friday, 6 January 2017

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night marks the traditional end of the Christmas period, but by now most things are back to whatever constitutes normal so it is mostly time to take the decorations down. I feel it should be more... another excuse for a big meal at least.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

iZombie

Also all caught up in iZombie. (Expect a few “all caught up” posts in the next month because of the free Netflix.)

Verrrrry loosely adapted from a Vertigo comic, it keeps the main character’s look and the hook but that’s about it. The comic is a pop culture monster rally, while the show has two grades of zombie and that’s basically it. Functioning zombies are more like vampires with brains instead of blood, and zombies who starve and rot are your basic Romero style.

Most of the episodes are a mix of funny-horrible procedural, interpersonal drama and ongoing plot with recurring threats. Our hero receives memories and (usually funny) personality quirks from the brains she eats, getting them by working as a medical examiner for the police and using them to solve their previous owner’s murders. All pretty doable in Bubblegumshoe probably, like series showrunner Rob Thomas’s non-fantastical previous series Veronica Mars. The interpersonal stuff is perhaps more Cortex +-y, and the ongoing Big Bads and Liv’s occasional use of zombie strength and rage swing more to Buffy.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Suddenly, Ninjas!

I got a free month of Netflix and so am all caught up with Daredevil season two.

There’s a lot of good stuff, a scary yet sympathetic take on the Punisher, Foggy and Karen have a lot to do...

And yeah... ninjas. Do they really make everything better?

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

J.R.R. Tolkien at 125

Today marks J.R.R. Tolkien’s 125th birthday. There had been fantasy fiction set on imagined words before, but the genre can easily be divided into pre- and post-Tolkien, and the RPG industry is post-Tolkien from its roots.


I am post-Tolkien from my roots as well, with early memories of having The Hobbit read to me and my brother. Along with Star Wars in the cinema, Doctor Who and Star Trek on TV, The Lord Of The Rings is one of my foundational myths. You’ll find his adaptations of Arthur and Beowulf on my bookshelves. And a I fondly remember the year we received a letter from Father Christmas in his style.


The first map of Middle-Earth, from a selection in Wired on The Art Of The Lord Of The Rings.

His influence is everywhere in gaming. My first choice of boxed game was for Middle-Earth, Citadel Halflings were even trickier to paint than human-sized characters, I had a hand in playtesting The One Ring for Cubicle 7, and even in Scotland you will sometimes hear terrible Scottish accents when people play Dwarves.


Despite this, as I have said before I’ve hardly ever run any Middle-Earth games or directly reflecting it since my formative gaming years, because it has a much stronger authorial voice than even something like Star Wars when George Lucas owned it completely, it always had authorised spinoffs and the like. And with it being literary I’d want to catch the authorial voice and I doubt I could sustain it. I think he would have made a great GM.

Monday, 2 January 2017

First idea of the year...

Rewatching Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol made me want to run a spy-fi game again.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

New Year

Happy New Year! Let’s make it a good one.

Gaming-publication-wise I’m hoping to see Trinity Continuum, Scion 2, Wraith 20, Cthulhu Confidential hardcopy, The Fall Of Delta Green, the Vampire: The Masquerade 5 playtest at World Of Darkness: Berlin, Secrets Of The Covenants, Deviant...