But do Dead Men Make More Sequels?

So, a fifth Pirates of the Carribbean film. Once again the Disney company have dragged a hungover Johnny Depp out of bed, dressed and put him on set and let him loose. Is it worth it?

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Well, sort of… They did keep that lovely main theme, so that’s something.  It tries, it really tries to recapture the sense of adventure that made the original film so much fun, and manages some wonderful moments, but doesn’t quite get over the line. Given the time between films 4 and 5 and the well documented issues during shooting (Barnaby…) that’s not really a surprise.

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For starters, we don’t get enough time with the new leads to really care about them, what with one of them being a cut rate Orlando Bloom and the other constantly being chased for witchcraft (In character that is), an element which seemed somewhat out of place for the time period. It reminded me a little of the way science and faith were treated in Jon Pertwee era Doctor Who, but that’s a discussion for another time. I guess some setup to the Carribbean witch trials would have been nice to help set the scene, but that might have meant cutting Depp, and I’m guessing they don’t want to anger their golden goose by limiting his screen time. (Me? I’d have cut it and blamed the Australian Government)

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Mercifully it’s closer to 2 hours in length than 3, which is a welcome relief given how numb my arse was getting halfway through the third film. I’d comment on the fourth, but I genuinely don’t remember enough about it to comment. As for the rest of the cast, a mostly CG Javier Bardem does a fine job (I kept thinking of him as his character from Skyfall), chewing at as much scenery as he can get his hands on, which isn’t much after Depp and Geoffrey Rush are done with it. On the bright side, there’s a small appearance from [NOT REALLY A SPOILER BUT I’M STILL KEEPING IT SECRET SQUIRREL] and one of the villains turned out to be [LOUD SQUEAL OF JOY FROM MY WIFE], which was lovely as I didn’t know they were in the film at all.

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Maybe there were a lot of deleted scenes, or maybe they tried from the outset to make the film shorter,* the stories that came from set don’t make it sound like a functional production. How much of that is down to Depp (Or his dogs) I’m not sure and am trying not to guess at, but I’m pretty sure there’s a far better film lurking in there. (I’m an optimist that way) It could be we’re blase about the supernatural elements, as opposed to the surprise they were in the first film, but the seeming need to go bigger and bigger with each film just hasn’t paid off. For an example; there’s a fight scene near the end that should be amazing (I can see how I’d run it in an RPG), but it swiftly become’s little more than Depp jumping around on a green screen, and while that’s not wholly unwelcome, it get’s old.

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Also, in barely related news, for a film that seems to be trying to wrap up the series, the after credits scene annoyingly hints at further films, and is in no way up to the Marvel standard. Maybe it’s finally time to sink the franchise down to Davey Jones?

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I give it 3 raised cutlasses out of 5.

PS: I also discovered I know someone who doesn’t know who Errol Flynn is. A double bill of Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood is in her future. 🙂

*An approach Peter Jackson could do well to remember.

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Zedtown: A Divided City

Neighbours. Arriving home late last night after a long (Of which I’ll speak more of later) I was confronted by an old nemesis: doof. Up the street were having a party, jumping by the number of cheap and tacky costumes people going to their cars were wearing and the number of empties on my front lawn today and there was doof playing. Or possibly untz. I’m not up with that scene – my preferred form of music is live. Hundreds of years of beautiful music, of the likes of Mozart, Mendelssohn or Motorhead, and people listen to doof. *sigh* Anyhow, it was bloody loud and I was cranky.

Also, I’d had a couple who’d been enthusiastically making out against a car glare angrily at me as I walked past. Don’t know why, but in the brief moment I saw them he did have his hand so far up her skirt he could have brushed her armpits.

Therefor, were I to have access to the following:
A: A time machine.
B: A directional speaker that could focus the sound on one house, or a giant Cone of Silence,
I would have dropped back to around 4AM and put Lou Reed’s ‘Metal Machine Music’ on loop.

Anyhow, enough about petty incidents with neighbours, yesterday was Zedtown, with several hundred people descending on UNSW for a giant game of zombie themed tag. As I was explaining to several onlookers, I grow old, but I refuse to grow up. 🙂 Starting at 9am for setup, with the game set to start at 1, it was a bloody long day, but stupid amounts of fun. Seeing the initial rush of players, all cocky and sure of themselves, and seeing that illusion punctured at the first scream of The Witch, this game dressed as Elsa. Fear is a wonderful thing.

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It was a Cold War themed event, with Red and Blue indulging in all manner of atrocious accents and wacky shenanigans. We were pretty zombie light for a lot of the game, but as far as I know no-one made it to the Evac point at end of game. It’s not uncommon for very few survivors – there was one guy who evacced out of the Mac Uni game, and that was by hiding under the corpses of other players at the final stand (One of which was me).

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It was a playtest for future events, as we had all manner of shiny new toys, such as spawners, upgrade cards and the payload (AKA an iron lung). It wasn’t without issues, mostly owing to the dance festival taking place, the preparations.rehearsals for which took up most of the central clearing near one of the bases, which meant I spent a lot of the game shouting at people not to shoot at/near civilians or for them to move away from the traffic. Yes, you can move through the square calmly, but please don’t race through screaming at the top of your lungs. If anyone has footage of when the Witch first went through there, accompanied by ‘Let It Go’, I’d love to see it – apparently the dancers lost their minds. Also, the parents and grand parents seemed enthralled and really keen about what we were doing – enthusiams wonderful.

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Absurd amounts of fun and I can’t wait for the next one – Melbournes June 24th and the next Sydney game is July 8th, with tickets on sale now! Hopefully I’ll get the chance to play again…

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.