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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fun Television

Its weird to say it, but FUN is my number one qualification for a good show. Gripping is nice, Thrilling is also good, but Fun is what'll bring me back.
Its why so many of my favorite shows are comedies. Sure, they're sometimes pretty black or bleak comedies, but its almost always got this sense of fun.
Two of my favorite shows on TV are about this aforementioned word: Leverage and Burn Notice.
Leverage stars Timothy Hutton as an ex-insurance agent that leads a team of thieves to help folks. I like that there's layers to each job, the characters are great, and you can tell there's a great time to be had just making the show.
Burn Notice, starring Jeffery Donovan and geek media staple Bruce Campbell, well, its a great show about a burned spy. And, blah-de-blah, looks like a lot of fun to make and its great fun to watch.
I'm typing this and I realize that these shows have a lot in common with another show from a long long time ago that I loved and its for the same reasons. The show was the Rockford Files. Its available on Netflix streaming and I highly recommend it.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Third Edition

When FFG took over WFRPG from Black Industries last year, I was hopeful. I enjoy all of the boardgames I've ever purchased from Fantasy Flight Games and, as it looked like they were continuing the wonderful 2nd edition game products, this was going to be great.
Well, they produced two books and they were good.
Then, last week, I read about third edition.
Cards, custom dice, stances...
I was and am a bit scared that they are DnD 4e'ing my favorite game.
read a bit here
Today, I watched a video seminar about it. My opinion is more open than before. I don't like the game supplies limiting the number of players to three plus the GM or needing to buy an expansion to add a fourth one.
I also don't like that halflings are not in the basic game.
That said, it seems interesting and I do like that it seems to give focus and guides to roleplay through the mechanics. Whereas I've felt that the mechanics in DnD 4e are almost actively opposed to deep character interaction or story.
Link to the seminar
So, depending on finances, I might just pick it up. I hope the price point breaks down a bit cheaper than previous WFRP products and that the game doesn't become too larger than life. The darkness and everyman nature of the player characters is what always attracted me to the game before.

More Route 66 soon.

I have two more sessions in the can, just have to upload 'em to the site.
I don't do a lot of editing of the sessions. Heck, I don't know if I've ever done much to them. I don't know if its laziness or if I feel that editing them seems like cheating.
When I say cheating, I mean, well, another word for it would be produced. That you're not hearing the actual gameplay, warts and all, but an idealized version of it.
Anyway, the game gets more fun for me to run with each session and I'm firmly decided to keep the chip mechanic.
Its a work in progress but the way it works now is that at the beginning of each session, each player is given one black chip and three reds. The black chips are for plot points or direct statements that change what I've said about what they see or know, subject to GM approval. The red chips are used for rerolls.
At the end of the session, the chips become akin to experience points, with the red chips allowing rerolls on skill improvement checks and the black chips allowing the player to select a skill that wasn't used this session to attempt to improve it, even including skills they don't have, subject to GM approval. Well, except for Cthulhu Mythos, of course.
I still weep at the lack of new players, gnashing my teeth and despairing at finding folks that don't want to just play DnD 4e. Not that I am an ardent hater of it, just that its not something I want to run.
Dragoncon is just over a week away. I hope to meet a lot of new folks there and record some game audio as well as maybe get some interviews or audio spots for the podcast which I'm still trying to get off the ground.
Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mercury Man

I love Netflix, I really do.
Its an innovative idea that seems so simple in concept you wonder 'why didn't I think of that'.
But what makes my subscription great is the streaming content, especially in conjunction with my Xbox 360.
The movie I'm going to talk about came out last year and its a Thai film, an area of films I haven't been exposed to til very recently.
Brian and I sat down last week and started through a few. This one caught our interests because, well, I love superhero movies and Brian was willing to follow along as he rightly assumed that there would be tons of martial arts action.
Well, we were both satisfied with Mercury Man.
It was a big, fun train ride of an action film with the now somewhat common trope of the baddie being a middle-eastern terrorist. It was a bit of a twist, the film trying to make the viewer somewhat sympathetic to his cause.
I might have found it easier if he wasn't wearing eye-shadow and lipstick..
The hero's powers are somewhat vaguely defined and that's okay, because what its really about is the smackin' and whackin' and this movie has this in spades. Men fighting Men. Women fighting Women. Men fighting Women. And big explosions for all.
I don't want to give away too much so I'll end it here by saying its a fun thrill ride that any action fan will get a kick out of.
Three Stars of Five.

Dragoncon 2009

Whelp, here we are again and the only major convention I go every year.
Dragoncon in Atlanta.
Attendance is supposed to be at a record high this year and I believe it. When the economy gets bad, nerds need to commiserate and wear funny costumes.
I go for the gaming and, every year, its seemed to get a bit better.
When I first went, all gaming was in the grand ballroom of the Hyatt. Its a huge space, no barriers, and dozens of big round tables. It was loud, poorly arrranged, and drearily lit.
Then, we moved to the individual banquet rooms on the same floor. It was somewhat quieter but still poorly lit.
From there, it was the bottom level of the Mariott, where the vendor halls used to be. It was pretty nice; quiet, relaxed and none of the rooms were too crowded.
For the past two years, however, we've been in the Hilton, and its a great change.
Granted, gaming is now a bit off the beaten track to the rest of the con, except for autograph alley and a few panels, but its really nice, with the scheduled games in nice rooms with no overcrowding and the open gaming area downstairs in a large open area.
Gaming isn't all I go for, as I have a regular weekly group, but I found that when I tried to see everything, I missed most things.
So, gaming is a touchstone for me and the rest is catch as I can.
Last year I got to stay at one of the host hotels. And, while it was expensive, it was certainly worth it. Nothing like taking a two hour nap and going down to the con to take pictures of all the great costumes, fully alert.
This year, I'll be staying farther out, unfortunately. I just can't afford the host prices.
I just have to keep positive that it won't ruin the experience.
Hope to see some folks there!

Where does the time go?

Good googally moogally. I can't believe its been two months since my last post.
In that time there have been a few changes at work a lot of extra hours and a bit of wandering of the mental variety.
If you go to the site, you'll see that there's the start of a new game posted. This is a CoC adventure set around Route 66. Considering it started, the actual Route, that is, in 1926, I'm surprised I was the first to think of basing an adventure/campaign around them.
I didn't record the character generation session, because I had no idea if it would be interesting.
So, of course, it turned out to be one of the most interesting sessions yet.
Anyway, there's another session in the bag that I'll post tonight. Melinda's new work schedule is making it difficult to get everyone together. 3 to 11 is not conductive to social activities, even less so that 11 to 7!
Comics that I am reading that you should try!
It was a few years ago when, in a stroke of long overdue genius, that Marvel and DC decided to finally have the big crossover that every ten year old comic fan had been having on the schoolyard with his friends for the past thirty years. To kick it off, they had a big VS series where the readers would decide the outcome via a call-in number, much like the one that killed old Robin back in the day.
It was while I was thinking about my votes, as a man in my twenties, that I realized something that I didn't know about myself til then.
One, that I was and am a tremendous dork, not that I have a tremendous dork, its huge at best, and two; that I'm a DC fanboy.
I mean, when you pick notch-shaved head Superboy over Spiderman, there's no dancing around it.
This brings me back to my comic recommendations. I haven't purchased a lot of Marvel comics in recent years. Blame the Big Event mentality, blame BND, or just chalk it up to personal taste. Agents of Atlas is a definite must read for me. I'll talk about it and my particular love for it in another post but its a strong book.
Independants are what I read mostly and will probably make up the rest of this impromptu list.
Its my favorite solo-hero title, bar none. Even when the gore flies, the book still has me tightly in its grip. One of its strongest features, I find, is its willingness to kill any of the supporting cast if it fits the story. Nobody is safe. Heck, this last arc had me wondering if the main character was safe! The art by Ryan Ottley is jaw dropping at times and always pleasing. Robert Kirkman's scripts are tight and gripping.
Dynamo Five.
This is my favorite team book. The concept is fresh and the story is fantastic. Every issue continues to get stronger and stronger. No second-year slump for this title.

And, my biggest recent dissapointments:
Green Arrow/Black Canary. Bleh. The writing is horrid, the art is passable, and the characters are far from how they've ever been depicted before. If I decide to start giving stars this would be my first half-star title. Its on paper, there are pictures and words, and that is the extent of the good things I have to say about it.
I'm still pretty disgusted for how Birds of Prey, Nightwing, and Robin all got the bullet behind the woodshed to make way for the new 'status quo' in the bat-family. None more than BoP. If for no other reason than, in every other appearance of the characters from that book, they've been marginalized or greatly changed.
Enough of that rant.
My other big dissapointment title: JLA. After digging around a bit and finding out how Dwayne McDuffie's hands were tied while he tried to write a book about the greatest superhero team in the DCU, I feel for him. Its sad watching a writer whose work I love get chopped off at the kneess and then blamed when the product isn't interesting to readers.
Since his departure, the slide into mediocrity continues. I have seen solicits for a new line-up that will include variants of the Big Three that should always be available. What a great idea! Why couldn't they have given at least one or two of these to McDuffie a year ago?
Well, new comics come out tomorrow so here's hoping for a gem.