So, I did a thing recently.

So, about a week and a half ago, I ran a LARP event. It went well. I’m very pleased by this.
Sorry, not sure why I’m talking like that. It’s one of those ‘Did I actually do that?’ kind of things. I’d been wanting to do this for about a decade, and to both have it happen and to have people keen for more, well, it’s a hell of a feeling.

There were more than a few nerves on my part and some teething issues (Mostly due to me not reminding people about Fear effects), but it was genuinely heartwarming to see how quickly people got into the spirit of the thing, both in attitudes (Over the top and scenery chewing) and combat (Giant swings that would get you laughed out of any HEMA conference). I’m fine having to explain the details of the setting to people, that I was expecting. But to see players and crew get the atmosphere I was hoping for, well, it made me immensely happy. I was nervous as hell pre-game, but they managed it beautifully.

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Our… heroes. Scoundrels, vagabonds and mercenaries all!

To recap: a group of mercenaries had been hired to recover a lost pay shipment, one that was vitally critical to the Aquilonian settlements along the Pictish Wilderness. There was savage battle, the theft of a dead mans boots (And teeth), glorious overacting and combat worthy of an 80’s sword and sorcery flick. There were moments I’d swear I could hear Manowar playing, and that was just what I wanted.

They seemed to do OK during the first skirmish (From what I heard – I was getting ready to play a captured NPC further down the trail), but the fight near the bridge nearly took them down. It took some very fancy footwork and a skin of wine from Josefina (Wine being part of the healing mechanic) to keep them standing, or stumbling and in the fight. Well, that and a rare moment of mercy from the NPC crew – we needed them alive for the final battle. Slowly making their way through the woods, tense and nervous at the sounds of chanting and drumming, they came across a Shaman in the middle of a ceremony, and battle was joined. The ceremony was interrupted, which meant the giant serpent that slithered up from hell wasn’t exactly under the shaman’s control, which meant the Pictish War Chief soon turned tail and ran. Honestly, good help is hard to find these days.

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Our Pictish Shaman, shortly before she was stabbed.

So, what’s next? We’re planning another one for July 15th, with details of the adventures we’re running to be confirmed soon. Join us, and welcome to the days of high adventure!

So, where were we?

So, it’s been a while since I updated on my Star Wars game. Well, strap in readers, cause it’s about to happen! Apologies to my players for any errors, as my note taking wasn’t as good that session.

Our heroes:
Twee Lek – Jawa, aspiring Force user, accompanied by his R2 unit Charlie, who speaks a mix of Binary and Doge.
Terpfen – Mon Calamari, Commando. Has more weapons than shirts.
Varlo Delste – Human, Saboteur by trade, Alderaanian by birth.
Savani Brewynn – Human, Ace Pilot and Occasional Voice of Reason.

When last we left our heroes, they’d hijacked an Imperial Bacta freighter, murdering most of the crew and running. A few calls to some local hospitals and they were in the Bacta selling trade! Terpfen and Varlo went to meet their last buyer, while Twee and Savani went looking for ‘Wizard Crystals’, which didn’t go well. Still, it went better than the meeting, which backfired somewhat when their last contact brought some friends along: a dozen Stormtroopers. Blaster fire was exchanged, as were grenades. Luckily Twee could sense his friends were in danger, arriving as Terpfen was badly wounded and Varlo unconcious. Twee continued to use his parlour trick of twisting troopers helmets around to surprising effect. Just how do they see in those helmets anyhow?

Their intervention was well timed, as Terpfen was almost killed as well. With the last of the troopers dead and the contact fled, it was decided to run as well, with the party taking shelter in the abandoned Rey’s Occult Books, hoping to find some way out of the mess. We returned, and with the party slighty better healed, they prepared. Terpfen did some tactical thinking, and concluded that making their way to the starport through the sewers (Which had a back entrance in the store was the more sensible option. Sure, there did turn out to be a Dianoga (As if I’m going to miss a chance for that!), but between the Stormtroopers they threw to it and my dice rolling, it wasn’t too much trouble.

Outside the spaceport, it was decided the Jawa would sneak in to the control room and unlock their ship (Doing the John McClane again) while the rest would sneak around to the ship itself. Some technical jiggery pokery (And another gun fight) ensued before the players made their escape, arriving back at base with a mostly undamaged super freighter of Bacta and the faint praise of their Commander. We ended with a brief hint at their next mission – an Imperial official who needs to be kidnapped! Based on the 30 second next time preview,  beautiful woman and some sort of high stakes card game may also involved. One of my players had earlier said he’d keen for a heist adventure, so I moved the idea forward a bit. I’m a kind and generous GM like that. 🙂

It’ll be another 3 weeks till we next play, owing to my wife and I’s 7th anniversary holiday and the Scion game we play in being back on. After the chaos of my fuck up with the Bacta/fuel ship, I’m feeling a lot better about the campaign. I think I know where I’m going, I have some important NPC’s to introduce soon and my players seems to be enjoying themselves more. It’s a good feeling.

He’ll save every one of us!

There are very few things I would change about my wedding.

For starters, I wouldn’t change the marriage. It’s been almost 7 years as I write this and it’s still the best thing I’ve ever done, better even than going to a neighbours to watch Return of the Jedi as a young child, or first hearing the likes of Iron Maiden and the Ramones. Wouldn’t change the date. Certainly wouldn’t change the toast I gave. I would change the soundtrack a tad, namely by making sure the DJ’s actually used some of the vast amount of music we gave them, rather than the small snippets they played after our dance, or making sure they played our entrance music and not the cutting the cake music as we walked in. Little things.

What I would change though, assuming my wife wouldn’t hit me for doing so, is arranging to have somewhere, whether as a banner or on the invite, the phrase “ALL CREATURES WILL MAKE MERRY, UNDER PAIN OF DEATH.” You know, to properly set the mood. And hey, were we to use the wedding march and not Anvil of Crom, why not have it played by Brian May? Why am I talking about this? Well, I just saw Flash Gordon on the big screen for the first time.

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Well, Flash Gordon – it’s in the lyrics of the theme tune!

I adore the film far more than I should. It’s a glorious, chaotic mess, one that makes a lot more sense when you realise it’s writer also wrote a lot of the 60’s Batman series. Add to that a lead actor who was dubbed over in post production (though by whom no-one knows), a retro futurist look that embraces 1930’s style special effects, complete with barely disguised action figures falling off spaceships, costuming that has to be seen to be believed (My wife has been trying to get me to cosplay as Vultan for years) and massive sets, all of which are chewed apart by the cast, mostly BRIAN BLESSED, who strides through the film with the air that he can’t quite believe he’s getting paid to have so much fun.  Meanwhile, Max Von Sydow is doing his thing, all suave and menacing in some truly impractical costuming, which is saying something given some of the elaborate nothings the female characters are wearing while Timothy Dalton takes things as seriously as a heart attack, a lone rock of drama awash in a sea of ham, much like Lalla Ward in the Doctor Who serial The Horns of Nimon.

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It’s the moustache that really sells it. That and the cape.

Finding out that it was a friend of mines first time seeing the film, well, that made the night even better. It’s not something you watch, more that you experience. It’s not quite in the same league as say, Big Trouble in Little China, but it’s sure up there. I’m also stunned the cinema didn’t echo with a resounding chorus of “Gordon’s alive?” Yes, you could nitpick the thing – Flash’s pickup technique was kinda creepy and what sort of insane regime executes people in leather hot pants? Dale’s action girl moment during her escape is completely out of character, though the picking up her shoes afterwards was some lovely comic business. And that’s without mentioning that Flash wears a shirt with his own name on it… But I’ve still not seen anything which so beaufitully matches the spirit of it’s source material, with the possible exception of The Rocketeer, also featuring Dalton. Granted, I’ve not read much of the original comics, but it win’s solely for the scene between the feds and gangsters, as both sides look at each other nervously, and then start shooting at the Nazis.

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And what the hell is up with the mirror inside the coffin?

If you’ve not seen the film and this hasn’t made you want to watch it, there might not be any hope for you. Harsh I know, but that sort of thing is how I judge if people are worth spending time with. Now all I need is to find a copy of the Blu-Ray with Blessed’s commentary track…

A recent thought.

I’m faily certain there are acceptable songs to sing to oneself when walking down a badly lit suburban street about 10 o’clock on a Saturday night.

I’m almost certain Penetration by the Stooges isn’t one of those. Luckily I managed to stop myself before the group of people coming the other way down the street were within earshot. At least, if they heard me, they didn’t say anything.

You know where you are? You’re in the dungeon baby!

Se, between writing for An Age Undreamed Of (The working title for the Conan game), work, my Star Wars game (Which I’ve been taking notes for and will update you on) and a few vists from the Black Dog, I’ve been a bit pre-occupied. Naturally, when I’m trying to write something, brain will try to write something else.So, having seen the card game Welcome to the Dungeon a few weeks ago, brain immediately thought of the Guns and Rose’s song followed by “That’s a good idea for a con one-shot.” Over the next few hours it evolved into a game show esque concept and I mentally filed the idea away. Bad move. It stuck. So, in order to get it out of my system, here’s a rough edit of the opening credits of Welcome to the Dungeon!

[OPENING ECHO PEDAL GUITAR BIT OF SONG] Camera swoops down through a huge mountain range, taking us to the entrance to DUNGEON STADIUM, a massive pair of bronze and iron doors in the side of the mountain. They open and the camera enters, revealing the stadium, a massive complex filled with traps and monsters flanked by rows of audience members cheering wildly and waving giant foam weapons excitedly.

[VOCALS KICK IN]
Welcome to the dungeon, we got the fun and games
We got everything you want, honey we know the names.
[SHOTS OF OUR HOSTS]
We are the people who can find, whatever you may need
[LOVING SHOTS OF ADVENTURERS GEAR – COILS OF ROPE, GLEAMING WEAPONS, HEALING POTIONS ETC]

If you got the money honey, we got your disease
[SHOTS OF ADVENTURERS BEING TURNED TO STONE, CONVULSING ETC. REAL JOHN HURT MOMENT TYPE STUFF]
Welcome to the dungeon, we take it day by day,
If you want it you’re gonna bleed, but that’s the price you pay.
[SHOTS OF COMBAT – BLOOD SPURTING, LIMBS SEVERING, THAT SORT OF THING]
Cause when you’re high you never, ever want to come down, suck down, suck down…
[ADVENTURERS FALLING FROM LEDGES, BEING GRABBED BY MONSTERS, FALLING INTO PIT TRAPS ETC]
[GUITAR SOLO]
[SHOTS OF SWIRLING AND MESSY MELEE COMBATS]
You know where you are? You’re in the dungeon baby, you’re gonna die!
[PAN AROUND SHOT OF BAND OF ADVENTURERS, ADVANCING MONSTERS ON ALL SIDES]
[AS SONG STARTS TO COME TO AN END, CAMERA MOVES BACK THROUGH DUNGEON STADIUM, GETTING FASTER AND FASTER, WITH THE FINAL SHOT OF THE DOORS SLAMMING CLOSED ON “It’s gonna bring you down huh!”

NPC’s:
OUR HOSTS: Let’s call them BOB and DAVE for the moment.
The IN DUNGEON CORRESPONDENT, a Valkyrie who’se constantly unhappy about the skimpy and impractical armour she’s forced to wear for the show.
THE SAGE: Who tells the audience what’s in the room the Adventurers are about to enter and the week’s themed Dungeon Rooms.
THE THIEF: Pops up from time to time to try to steal from the party and exchange terrible dad jokes wih OUR HOSTS.

So, the game itself. It’s currently a rather lethal game show, sort of The Running Man crossed with The Crystal Maze. I should also watch some Takeshi’s Castle and It’s a Knockout while I’m at it I guess. Sure, there’s the needing two GM’s (And I know two people who’d be magnificent at it) and I still can’t decide what GM’s would have to wear between the horrible neon suits you can find at Lowes or wizards robes made of fabric that’s cheaper than dirt.

Lastly, what system do I run it with? Or, for that matter, do I run it as a freeform, or even a LARP? *ponders* I should sleep now. G’night all!

Gimme Danger (2016)

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It’s one of the greatest opening lines in the history of rock and roll, delivered by a frontman perpetually on the edge of destruction and a band one step away from the abyss. The Stooges were there at the burth of punk and influence no small amount in the following decades. There’s been a lot written about thems over the years (From the Velvets to the Voidoids and Please Kill Me are both amazing reads, both for fans of the band and the American punk scene), but now longtime Stooge fan Jim Jarmusch has finished the doco he’s been working on for the least 8 or so years. Does it cut the mustard? Yep, but not without a few reservations.

First off, lightning strikes on the train network meant I missed the opening 25 mins. Not happy, but what can you do? What I saw I really enjoyed, but I left wanting more – details are glossed over or sometimes frustratingly short. I get it, you only have so much time, and with Iggy Pop now one of only two surviving band members, well, you take what can get. Fortunately, there’s a good amount of footage with the Asheton brothers (Ron and Scott) and saxophonist Steve McKay, but the bulk of the film is narrated by Pop and James Williamson, who’s post band career as an exec at Sony bringing much laughter from the audience.

It’s an oddly bloodless film – for all of the stories of debauchery, chemical indulgence and general bad behaviour concerning the band there’s precious little of it in the film. Sure, I’m happy that that’s not the sole content of the film*, but it struck me as somewhat sanitised, like an episode of Behind the Music. It’s almost too much a fan of it’s subject to be objective – treating them as the single greatest thing before and since sliced bread. I mean, I adore the Stooges, but they aren’t the Ramones.** There’s no mention of Pop’s solo career and a tiny mention of the Asheton’s various post Stooges bands, until the groups ‘reunification’ (As Pop calls it) in the early 2000’s for one of Pop’s solo albums, followed by a more formal reunion, ending with the death of the Asheton brothers, Ron in 2009 and Scott in 2014. Tragedy and triumph in equal measure.

On a side note, while the Golden Age cinema is lovely (From the little time I spent there), it really didn’t feel… me. It was dark, with pretty people having conversations over expensive looking cocktails. (The place I’ve felt most uncomfortable was still the Ivy Bar in Sydney, which I spent about an hour in after a work function and immediately wanted to burn to the ground and salt the Earth so nothing would grow there again. But I digress…) There was also the audience – there was the occasional chuckle at a joke or sad noise at an annoucement of a band member’s death, but little else. I’m reminded of seeing Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey at a film festival in Sydney, with the hilarious contrast of the audience being half tweed jacket wearing David Stratton wannabes and the other half looking like… well, me.

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What really got me was they barely seemed to move duing the film, outside of looking for the toilet. I don’t understand people who can listen to music and not be moved by it. Take the opening riff to ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ or the chaotic shrieking of ‘Funhouse’ – how are you not up and rocking out? Reminds me of seeing Metallica a few years ago where there was a guy sitting a few seats away who barely moved through the show, not even when The Four Horsemen kicked in. Not for Master of Puppets, Ride the Lightning, not even Seek and Destroy. There was a point there I wasn’t sure he was breathing… Look, I’m probably taking it too seriously, an accusation that’s been leveled at me before and to which I say guilty as charged m’lud. But this is some of the finest music comitted to tape and to sit down and not move while it’s playing is something that SHOULD NOT BE DONE.

If you’re  a Stooges fan, it’s well worth checking out. If you aren’t, buy the albums first and then check this out. Of course, you should have the albums already, but I’ve been known to judge people on how many Ramones albums they own, so I’m not exactly unbiased.

3.5 Street Walking Cheetahs out of 5.

*If I want that I’ll re-read Motley Crue’s The Dirt.
** A fact acknowledged by no less an authority on the matter than Lemmy himself.

*cue opening theme*

It is a time of hope in the galaxy. The Rebel Alliance has struck a mighty blow with the destruction of the Empires dread new weapon, the DEATH STAR, but even as the Rebels celebrate, the Empire is far from defeated. The spark of rebellion that was close to being extinguished now blazes brightly across the galaxy. In the remote Lesaan system, a brave band of Rebels seek to strike a blow to help end the Empire’s tyranny…

There was an animated discussion over how many fingers Mon Calamari have and how that impacts upon their ability to flip the bird. I should be expecting this sort of thing more from my players and yet…*

So, the game itself? Well, there’s the Mon Cal commando (Who unfortunately didn’t have time to watch the film leading up to the first session), the Jawa Force-User (Who might have read the journal that Obi-Wan left for Luke, but he made sure to put it back), and a pair of human saboteurs (Apologies for the lack of details, but they took their character sheets home with them), all hoping to blow stuff up in the name of the Rebel Alliance.

It started with them looking at an Imperial installation they’d been ordered to investigate, as Intel had word that something was being cooked up there. Blowing it up was the ifrst idea, with dropping a starship on it from orbit an early idea. (That was suggested in one of the player’s other games, though in that game the idea was to drop a capital ship on the base) This got switched to smashing a truck through the wall and hoping that blows up the fuel depot (I’m happy they chose that option, as the widespread ecological devastation that would have resulted was a little dark for the first session), a slightly more sensible plan (Especially as the Mon Cal was somewhat horrified by the idea of going in through the sewers). Team Alien went to steal a truck, while Team Human went to mug some Army Troopers for their uniforms. Both plans went relatively well (Even with the pickup line being incredibly close to “Hey, do you want to go to that alley so you can see my boobs and I can stab you?”), thankfully followed by a pair of stun bolts and a quick cut to party members changing clothes bit. The law was alerted to the theft, but I’ll admit to dropping the ball on that GM wise.

Hotwiring the truck had a bit of a delay, with the Jawa accidentally plugging his R2 unit into the wrong socket (NOTE: That was not a euphemism).  Team Alien then ran for the other side of the Imperial base while Team Human waited (With the fire extinguisher from the truck) for the explosion and planned to ingratiate themselves with the fire-fighting effort. The truck hit the fence, smashed partway through and went kaboom. Team Human raced to join the fire-fighting efforts, while Team Alien tried to sneak inside in the confusion. Some failed sneak rolls and an attempt at telekinesis later, Team Alien were busy getting shot at**. Meanwhile, Team Human had made their way inside and found themselves in R&D, which turned out to be a bio-weapons facility.

After changing into hazmat suits, they proceeded under cover of a surprise inspection, asking for a tour of the lab which the lead scientist was happy to give. He explained that they were developing a substance (Hey, I couldn’t resist trying to add a little enigma to it) that targeted non-humans,  though they hadn’t worked out all the issues yet, namely being that some humans were still affected. Team Human left, informing Team Alien of their discovery, with the party being happy they didn’t just drop a ship on it from orbit. Anyhow, they’re on route to try to bail out Team Alien and hopefully destroy the facility without releasing the substance. They might even rescue the test subjects in the lab while they’re at it! We shall see…

Things I need to do for next session:
Relearn the system, especially the different between the Persuasion and Con skills.Also, possibly fold some skills together.
Have more people shoot at the PC’s. There was an express lack of gunfire and for that I blame only myself.
Not worry so much. I don’t need as much opening flavour text, or detail, and while I thought I wouldn’t have enough plot, I’ve still got a fair bit left. It’ll need expanding for next session, but it’s good to know I’ve got a start.
Also, if I’m going to write an opening monologue (Like the intros to Clone Wars, not the text crawl from the films), then I should remember to deliver the bloody thing.

Lastly, damn it feels good to be running this game again. It’s been a long time, a long time…

*It was decided by the GM they have 5 fingers and can flip the bird.
** There was some fucking awful dice rolling that session. The surprise was it wasn’t just mine!

Changes…

So, Team (Almost All) Dual Wield  won a convincing (albeit slightly strange, even by their standards) victory over the forces of evil (Continuing to mightily sass the Watch as always) and now both laden down with cash and having (sadly inaccurate) street theatre made about their exploits are trying to decide what next. Sadly, that’ll have to wait – owing to a combination of one player’s looming unavailability, the fact we’re at a nice climactic point and my knack for crises of confidence, I’m putting that game on hold for the time being and switching to another. After some consultation with the group, we’re going old school. How old? A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

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That’s right, way back to the late 90’s with West End Games Star Wars RPG, aka ‘Bring a bucket of D6’s.” I spent a lot of time playing it as a kid, and it still gives me that warm glow of nostalgia. First thoughts are how retro the book looks (That now ancient 2 column format combined with the cheesily photoshopped advertisements), but that’s kinda charming these days. The system has it’s quirks and things that are of their time (I have vauge memories of trying to use the Force at higher levels and rolling huge numbers of dice), but I’ve still got a lot of love for it. It was the first RPG I purchased after all, with an almost complete set of books for it sitting on the shelf and those few I don’t have are at the D6 Holocron. I was contemplating messing with the skills slightly (Merging the combat and parry skills mostly), but I think I’ll leave alone for the time being and see how it goes in play.

I’m really looking forward to the game, having gotten the itch to play Star Wars again after Rogue One. Different reaction to Force Awakens, which left me both grieving and with a whole load of questions to be answered (What happened post Jedi? Whats the current political situation? Who are the Knights of Ren?) while Rogue One made me want to pick up the dice (And blow stuff up). Therefore, the campaign is based around Rebel Alliance Special Operations, or as one of my players put it, the A-Team in space. I’m starting to write up details and plan ahead, but really I’m just hoping I can avoid the mistakes that plauged the last game. Mind you, I’d settle for not being in a blind panic writing adventures at the last minute. Granted, some of my best work has resulted from that, but it’s an approach I try not to take too regularly.

So, another game on the way. A band of Rebel misfits, out to steal from, cause chaos for and bring down the Empire, preferably with a lot of explosions. By the Force I’m looking forward to this, even if one player’s character is a Force sensitive Jawa who’s learning from having read the journal Obi-Wan Kenobi left for Luke Skywalker (He didn’t steal it, just read it) and another’s is Arnold Schwazenegger’s character in Commando, but Mon Calamari. My players…

PARKOUR! The Movie.

AKA Assassin’s Creed. This is less a review, and more a collection of random thoughts concerning the film. Also, there be spoilers.

I came to the film not having played the games much outside of Black Flag (Cause you know, pirates.), but I know the basics. It seems to be represented pretty well, though I don’t know if the Templars grand council consisting entirely (As far as I saw) of old white people was a subtle political jab or a case of you work with the extras you have, not the ones you want. Cause you know, when have old white people ever wanted to stop people from having free will?

I’d say I was certain that gaming tables and LARPs will soon be deluged by players wanting to play good assassins, but I’m fairly sure that already happened about the time of the first game. Also, it’d have to be a much better film to have that sort of impact – there’s good reason cons were jam packed with Ledger Joker cosplayers for years after The Dark Knight. (There’s an urban myth floating around that at a UK LARP event following the release of Fellowship of the Ring there were no less than 9 characters named Legolas) Ahem. I digress.

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I continue to not be able to put aside the logic (or lack thereof) of a group of assassins who have a recognisable uniform and a signature weapon. Still, it’s far from the greatest logical leap needed for this film, which has the Knights Templar searching for an apple that contains humanity’s genetic code in order to ‘cure’ violence. Oh, and they have a magical device that let’s people live through their ancestors memories. It could be said that it’s Jeremy Iron’s best genre film, but that’s damning with very, very faint praise. That and it’s not that terrible. It’s still not great, but he’s done worse movies – one only has to look at him in Star Wars Episode IV Eragon. As for the film as a whole, it could have been far, far worse (See also Super Mario Brothers).

Characters don’t really get much to do – Fassbender glares stoicly and grunts his lines while bouncing around in a CG harness, Irons all but sleepwalks through it with his voice rarely being raised above a monotone (I think it’s meant to convey something about his lack of emotions showing his devotion to the cause, but it just seems like he’s heavily medicated) and Marion Cotilliard tries bravely, but seems more a plot device than a character (See also Natalie Portman in Thor: The Dark World). On the bright side, Brendan Gleeson is always lovely to see, though again he’s more plot device and exposition spouter than character.

It’s also an oddly bloodless film given it’s body count, with people getting stabbed, garotted and pierced with arrows, crossbow bolts and knives, but barely a drop of blood is shed, outside of a few major incidents involving characters with dialogue and even then there’s far less than could be expected. Speaking of knives, in the scene where Fassbender’s 15th century ancestor and his compardre (Who’s name I don’t recall being mentioned, despite her and said ancestor’s involvement) escape from the fires of the Inquisition and Grand Inquisitor Torquemada (Let’s face it, you can’t Torquemeda anything!), where the hell did all those knives they threw come from? Had they not been searched well enough, or where they magically picking up them from all the people they’d killed? It’s a mark against the film that I spent more time pondering that through the Ye Olde Jason Bourne style chase scene, along with the unintentionally hilarious moment when as they’re about to escape they dramatically draw their hoods up*. Speaking of that, I’ve a lot of respect for the CG and/or costume department wizardry that kept said hoods up while the cast were crashing, stabbing and bashing about the place.

So. Not the worst film I’ve seen (That title is currently held by The Smurfs 2 – we’re never letting my niece choose what movie we see again) and there’s some nice visual moments (The flyovers of medieval Madrid are lovely), but this isn’t the film to do for video game movies what X-Men did for comic book films. Especially given how much the ends screams sequel. I also can’t confirm an after-credits sequence, as I badly needed to pee and wasn’t willing to risk it. Still, it’s not a Marvel film, so I don’t think I missed anything.

2 and a half impractical wrist blades out of 5.

* Though not as funny as the dramatic “I’ll be back” in Terminator: Salvation, a moment that cause my wife to burst out laughing in the cinema.

A catch up of sorts.

Being introduced to someone who’s wearing nothing but ugg boots and shorts and holding a freshly sharpened machete, well that makes an impression. Sure, it’s the sort of impression that makes you think you’ll soon be buried under the patio, but I’m sure I’ve made people I know feel like that on occasion (At least I hope so). He turned out to be eccentric, but friendly (and mostly harmless) and we spent a good 45 minutes or so shooting bows and talking traditional archery. That’s what’ll stick with me the most about that trip. I also got to ride a horse for the first time in over 10 years, an experience that, while enjoyable, reaffirmed my belief that cavalry is not a job I’m suited for.

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Yes, I was quietly singing ‘Over the Misty Mountains Cold’ at that point.

Who? What? Oh, an explantion. I spent most of the Christmas season visiting in-laws in New Zealand, a land that continues to be utterly charming and not just cause we ate at a restaurant that had cats roaming the grounds. CATS ROAMING THE GROUNDS. Why more places haven’t cottoned on this I’ve no idea, but you’ll have me as a client from day 1. I like cats, in case you hadn’t guessed. It was up there with the place that advertised something called a ‘Caveman Platter’, which was one of the most amazing things I have, and will ever, eat. Still, there were no cats, which knocks half a star off.

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KITTIE!

I discovered the works of Joe Abercrombie, purchasing Half a King on a whim and reading it within a day. Apparrently it’s more young-adult that his usual “ALL THE GRIMDARK” fare, but I enjoyed it and plan to purchase more. I also picked up Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist, and while that was hilarious and well worth reading, it’s tinged with more than a bit of sadness now given her passing. While it’s an inevitability that the icons of our youth will pass, that didn’t make things any easier to bear. Many words have been written and tears have been shed in her name, and we shall linger no more in pain and grief.

fisherHell, I’d be happy to go out that way myself. Wife might complain though.

Staying in that universe, Rogue One was a delight. Grim and blood soaked by the standards of the Star Wars universe it’s true, but it was telling a different sort of story than the usual lightsaber wielding high adventure. To quote a friend of mine, ‘They went full Dirty Dozen.” and he wasn’t wrong in that regard. It’s not a take on the universe I’ve seen before, but I saw it described as ‘putting the war in Star Wars‘. At first glance that seems stupid, as Wars in in the title, and the first opening crawl we see begins with “It is a period of civil war.” But the more I thought on it, the more it seemed correct. The other films in the saga, yes, even Empire,  are space opera first and foremost, but this felt more like a war film than any other part of the saga, with the possible exception of certain episodes of The Clone Wars.

After The Force Awakens made stormtroopers seem effective again, to me, this restored Darth Vader to the terrifying figure he was pre “I hate sand.” We didn’t see him much, but when we did it meant something and that something was DO NOT FUCK WITH VADER. And points to the writers for that beautiful burn, one almost equal to the ones covering his body, a line so wonderful I’d kill to have written it. Seeing him rip through the Rebel troopers like an unstoppable machine, it was the Vader that was talked about, had been hinted at, but we’d never really seen. (See also the recent run of Darth Vader comics, which show Vader taking levels in Scheming Bastard) All the more effective for it’s brevity – it’s very much the old saying of ‘the more effective the monster the less you see it.’

After having seen the film again, my initial hype lessened slightly, but that doesn’t mean I think it was any less good. I did spend more time looking out for scenes that were in the trailer that didn’t make the film (And the shout-outs to Rebels), but then K-2SO would say something awesome and/or snarky and all would be well again. Oh Alan Tudyk, bless you. Hopefully we’ll see that footage, or parts of it, at some point. The Blu-Ray better have the mother of all deleted/alternate scenes packages…

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What, too soon?

I’d say there was probably one or two too many shout outs to the OT (Red 5’s appearance ties with trying to work out just how did R2 and Threepio get onboard the Tantive IV in time?), but I can’t blame the filmakers for doing so. Mind you, if I said I didn’t immediately want to start playing Age of Rebellion, or any form of Star Wars RPG, well I’d be lying harder than Federal Parliament. It wasn’t a perfect film, but damn it was good. And for those keeping track of my film costume wish list, you can add Chirrut’s costume and several of the Rebel senator’s cloaks to that list. 🙂

Staying with gaming, more writing has been done for Hyborian Tales, for which I probably need a new title. I also went location scouting recently, and thanks to friends of mine now have a location for the game. Close to shops, public transport and with toilets nearby even! A test day is being planned, but that won’t be for another few weeks. Team (Almost all) Dual Wield recently confronted the mysterious mastermind who’s been concocting devilish deeds of a nefarious nature and may be able to defeat him, assuming they can stop sassing the City Watch. It’s building towards a big finale, which will take place next Monday night. No pressure…

Anyhow, it’s past half 11 and I should sleep now. Night all. Rest well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.