Watch how I soar…

So what’s been up with me since last we spoke? Not much, but it’s been good.

I made it back to rapier on Tuesday night, and while my arms aren’t happy with me, my brain is. I never thought I’d say it, but I enjoy the exercise. I despise the idea of gyms, but exercise while actually doing something I’m ok with. Look, it’s good to have fitness goals, and I have some: to be better at swords, last longer in a mosh pit and to be able to keep beating Godson in arm wrestling for a while longer. And, to quote John Rogers, I need to live long enough to piss on a lot of graves.

Speaking of Rogers work, the first table read for the Leverage sequel series happened this week, and I’m not sure how to feel. I love the show and am more than happy to have the characters, well most of them, back but I don’t know how to feel. I mean, it’s 2020 and I keep expecting to have the rug pulled out from under me you know? I guess I’m just nervous that it won’t be as good as the original, and that Timothy Hutton’s absence will cast too long a shadow over things. Still, I’m taking the show’s return as good news and hanging onto that. (There’s also the hope that we’ll get a fresh source book for the RPG.)

Had my latest session with the brain doctor Wednesday and I seem to be making progress. I’ve been modifying my coping mechanisms an I think it’s starting to show results. She also mentioned the Serenity prayer at one point, and for a second all I could think of was Alan Tudyk…

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Yes, I’m extremely proud of that joke. Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

The Crimson Skies brainstorming has continued. I don’t have an arc idea yet, but I have a vision in my head of someone with a cocktail in one hand and a gun in the other and Miss Phryne Fisher came to mind. Sure, there’s the obvious issues of that series being set around 15 years before the time period I’m writing in, but historical accuracy has always been more of a bug than a feature in my events, as those who’ve played my swashbucklers can attest to. An opening scenario is being bashed around as well. Mostly I’m trying not to overthink my approach to this, as well as my nerves about trying another campaign and running it online.

The brain does like sweating the small stuff, such as what planes will the PC’s start with, what should the squadron be named and what’s their colour scheme? You know, the small stuff that by rights most of which the players should be deciding. Not that I have any of them yet, though there’s been some interest. I should also start compiling all this into a Google Doc – I’ve been jotting down notes on the trip to and from work, but it’s time to start putting some order to things I’m going to take it any further.

Lastly, it’s been a long day but it ended well. The Stooges: Live at Goose Lake was released today. I made it in to Red Eye Records about 5 minutes before closing and got the last copy they had. It is, a wonderful thing and by that I mean it’s messy as all hell, but when everything clicks, it’s incredible.

Time for sleep. Be seeing you.

Revving up the engine…

Postmodern Jukebox don’t appear to have done a version of Kenny Loggins Danger Zone. This is something of a shame, as I reckon it would make a damn near perfect theme tune for this game.  Sure, the main theme to Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow works wonderfully and is standing in for the moment, while the country version from Archer is close, but it’s not quite what I’m after.

Well, the adventure seeds I posted seem to have gone over well, with my wife saying she could link at least 4 of them together, based on who the PC’s are. Are they blue bloods who’ve only known the high life, or are they scrappy working class kids who’ve poured every cent they had into aviation? That affects things a surprising amount – throwing rich kids into a society party versus putting working class yobs into it. Think of it like the episode of Brooklyn 99 where the characters go to Captain Holt’s party – if Jake and co knew how to act properly the episode wouldn’t have been anywhere near as funny.  Obviously, I wouldn’t do that every time, but keeping your players on their toes isn’t a bad thing.

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That followed on some chatter with her about the adventure ideas themselves, with me being pleased at how varied they seemed, but still the chance that each could end in flying. I mean, while piloting should be the focus, that shouldn’t be all you’re doing. If every adventure is ‘fly around and shoot something’ that’ll get dull, both to play and run. Yes, you’re at a swanky party now, but there’s every chance that things will go south and you’ll have to hijack an aerotaxi to escape. So, while you may not have expected to need a parachute tonight, it’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. (Said adventures should also have an appropriately pulp name – Cargo of Doom, Night of Fire, Wings of Honour etc.)

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Moving to character gen, I’d prefer to do that in a Session 0 rather than scattered about. Since the characters are spending so much time together, I’d prefer to get all the players in one place (Or as close as we can given Covid) and hash that out together. Shared backgrounds, establishing bits of history and working out who does what best so people each have their own role to play. But I think a Session 0 for any game is damn near essential.

Now for the tone of the whole thing. Look, it’s not tricky to establish – lighthearted pulp theatrics. Think The Rocketeer, Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Mummy. There’s danger and action at every turn, and few problems can’t be solved with a solid right hook. Comedy, but not farce, with snappy quips flying back and forth. Plus, who can resist shouting an enemy’s name as they escape? I have fond memories of a Gear Krieg campaign where more than one session ended with one of us yelling “SKORZENY!” at the sky.

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That’s what I don’t have yet: an arc. A recurring nemesis that drives the plot, or a story to wrap the adventures around. I may not really need one, or need one to be immediately introduced, but I like the idea of there being a say, phantom menace. You know, the sort of thing that could lead people into a zone… of danger. (Yes, that joke is what prompted looking for Danger Zone covers) More than that, I want a reason for these adventures to happen, some connecting tissue that can be referenced later, or gives hints as to what’s coming.

What’s next? Ponder a story arc and a villain and re-read the Savage Worlds rules. Follow that with some more research, looking for maps and reference photos, while seeing if there’s enough interest for me to properly write this up and run it. Also, telling myself I don’t have the money to afford one of these to wear while I GM. My tax refund is earmarked towards a new PC, but cosplay has caught my eye more than once over the years.

Be seeing you…

Fly the Crimson Skies!

So yes, my head has still been in the clouds so to speak. I’ve needed the distraction shall we say. I’ve also been meaning to dig out the Crimson Skies Clix planes I have (I think I had all the squadrons bar the Hollywood Knights and some of the Ace packs). I have fond memories of the game, though I remember it had a knack for planes to fly to the center of the board and then desperately try not to crash into each other. I always meant to build a zeppelin for it, or add more terrain. I also never lost the joy of picking up the planes and making “Neeeeeeoooooow, DAKKA DAKKA* noises with them. I grow old, but i refuse to grow up.

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Right, so in the last installment I said I’d be talking about NPC’s and adventure seeds. Thoughts on that follow.

NPC’s. We’re talking quite a few here. The unit’s benefactor, local politicians and business moguls for starters. A squadron needs a base, so that means repair techs (Yes, I’d give one the nickname Ratchet), ground crew and the like. I’d say they wouldn’t need a medic but accidents do happen. They’re in Hollywood, so there’s bar owners, celebrities and journalists, both reputable and muck raking. Any success brings enemies, and the PC’s need a pirate or two who’s surname they can yell at the sky as they escape. We can’t go without mentioning fellow pilots, both on their side and against them, both pirate and civilian. And for flavour, there’s hangers on, family, possible romantic partners and the kid who sells newspapers on the corner of the base. Most of them deserve to be cast, and have quirks and accents. Also, a whole lot of them will be happy to see the PC’s, something I’d had… issues with in past campaigns. I could also do with remembering to keep a list of names close by for random NPC’s. Names are a bit of an Achilles heel of mine.

As for adventures, just because the campaign is set around a squadron of pilots doesn’t every adventure should include flight. True, if you’ve put a bunch of XP into Pilot skills, you want to use them, but surely that’s not all you can do, right? I had an idea of a group loosely inspired by Wraith Squadron (In short, half commando unit, half fighter squadron), but they might work better as antagonists.

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So, adventure seeds:
The press launch, and the first flight of the new squadron. Their benefactor has laid out a solid amount of dough to finance this op and wants results. Said shindig will almost certainly be interrupted by something.
Hollywood isn’t all about flying – it’s also about being seen. Time for a night on the town!
The PC’s are hired to act as consultants on Errol Flynn’s latest picture. Not everyone wants the picture to succeed though, as the notorious pirate that Flynn is portraying is alive and angry about it.
Their exploits have attracted a lot of press attention and a studio is planning a (hilariously inaccurate) movie about them
A society heiress has been kidnapped by pirates! (Actually, she’s fallen in love with one of them and it’s a secret elopement)
Local hot shots have challenged one (or all) of the PC’s to an air race to determine who’s the better pilot. The fact that the race is highly illegal and stupidly dangerous has nothing to do with it.
Pirates! How do the PC’s deal with them – do they try to blast them out of the air, follow them back to their base or pretend to go rogue and infiltrate them?
Local cargo zeppelins have been getting hit hard – how have the pirates been getting a hold of the shipping times?
The bigwigs at Hughes Aviation need some new planes tested.
The neighbours are getting cranky – tensions between nearby states are flaring again. Are the PC’s on bodyguard duty for the peace talks, or are they the diplomats?
The Hollywood Knights see themselves as the protectors of Hollywood and aren’t happy about the new upstarts on the block – how do we mend the fence, so to speak?
A local pirate outfit is suspiciously well supplied – just where are the new planes and munitions coming from?

I’m enjoying this, it’s helping keep the brain ticking over and occupied. As for how long this goes on for, who knows what the future will bring?

Time for sleep. Be seeing you.

From hell’s heart I stab at thee…

So, 2020’s knack for cancelling everything has continued, with Pheno announcing they’ve had to cancel. It’s a good decision, and I can’t blame them at all, but it’s another blow. I’m just hoping Victoria will be OK by November, as my sister’s getting married then. Plus, I’d really like to see Herbert, AKA Nephew again. Sure, he’s a Schnauzer and not a cat (Ordinarily a deal breaker), but he’s growing on me.

A successful RPG campaign, it’s my white whale. The Kirk to my Khan, the Borg to my Picard, the competent film making to my Ed Wood. I’m aware that my skill lies in one-shots, and yet I continue to try. I’m not sure what that makes me, eternally optimistic? I’ve long been somewhat jealous of the GM’s who can keep a campaign going and I’d like to hope that I’m learning from past mistakes. Mostly, it’s an itch I just need to scratch. I love entertaining people around the gaming table, it’s an addiction, and GM’ing provides that.

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So, Crimson Skies. Let’s do some more work on this, as a hypothetical exercise. A creative outlet if you will. I’ve had pulp on the brain of late, sitting down Saturday night and watching Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (Which is under rated IMO) and The Rocketeer (Which is damn near perfect as pulp films go).

What’s the hook for the setting? In short, it’s a pulp setting. The year is 1937 and the once United States has splintered into numerous smaller nations. Disputes over prohibition and a deadly strain of influenza and new nations have risen in it’s place – California is now the nation of Hollywood, while New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey have merged to form the Empire State. Cross border travel has slowed, and in place of road or rail air travel is now the preeminent mode of transport. With that, has come a new spin on an old menace – sky piracy!

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The new nations have formed militia squadrons of their own to combat the pirates, with several said to be funded by rich patrons. The nations squabble with each other, while the pirates move between them seeking fortune and glory. The tech level is very much ‘Rule of Cool’, and not just cause there’s zeppelins (Though that helps). It’s very much the golden age of piracy, but with planes. The villains twirl their moustaches dramatically, the good guys are incorruptible stalwarts (or charming rogues)  and smart alec quips are exchanged as often as bullets.

So, here’s a campaign idea: a patron has announced they’re forming a new militia squadron and the PC’s are it. Who their patron is, that’s to be decided. Maybe they’re a rival of Howard Hughes (Who’s said to bankroll the Hollywood Knights, a squadron comprised of the children of the wealthy elite), a politician who’s seeking to help his run for office, or a wealthy dilettante who fancies their own air force. Don’t know yet.

Being Hollywood, there’s all manner of drama among the wealthy. Add a new pirate threat, searching for hidden treasures, testing new planes (I hear Nikola Tesla has been cooking something up) and daredevil hi-jinks. There’s also the temptation to have cameos from other pulp heroes of the era.
“So, who’s the guy we’re flying escort for today??
“Some big shot archeologist, something Jones I think his name was.”

Savage Worlds is the obvious fit rules wise, though I’ll certainly need to brush up on the vehicle and chase rules. I’ve a PDF of the latest edition, though it might be worth it picking up the dead tree version. There may also be some rules I can port over from the Savage Worlds Flash Gordon RPG, especially the Cliffhanger rules. I’ll have to do do some more reading on this.

Next time, thoughts on adventure seeds and NPC’s.

Be seeing you, in the skies…

All I need is an idea…

As a continuation of my previous post, here goes. So, I said there’s no point running something without an idea. Correct? Well, I’m writing this so I say I am. (My wife would be pleased with that.) I’ll try to elaborate a little on that. I might even stay on topic…

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In the past I’ve been guilty of getting too caught up in loving a setting. The swashbucklers I’ve run, Conan and when I’ve run Star Wars especially. I’ve somehow managed to dodge that with Doctor Who, mostly cause that universe is massive and laughs at continuity. Also, there’s that many different eras of the show to play around in, but I’m starting to get sidetracked. I’ve played in a few games over the years where the GM’s love of the setting comes over louder than a Motorhead show. Hell, I’ve been that GM more than once. It’s not a bad thing. but what I’m trying to get at here is I think that more is needed. What sort of story are you telling, what will your PC’s be doing? Do you have a reason for using this setting more than just ‘Well, I think it’s cool’?

Looking back at a lot of my events over the years, I haven’t. That doesn’t mean the games were bad (Though I cringe at a few of them), but the fact a lot of them were convention one-shots rather than campaigns my have helped as well. There’s less worry about world building when you’ve got three hours, though in games past I’ve spent a lot of that side tracked telling stories. I try not to, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. It’s something I’m working on with my GM’ing, trying to avoid distractions and keep everyone entertained. For a campaign though, I think more is needed. Normally for a con game I have an idea or an end scenario – badass Ewoks, Orc rockers etc. And in the past when I’ve tried to run campaigns, that’s also been about what I’ve had. I’ve gotten too excited about an idea or a setting, and dove in feet first without stopping to think about what I’m actually going to do.  A framework for things, a plan, authority figure NPC’s who are happy to see the PC’s.

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There’s also been plenty of times when people seem to be having fun and I’ve let them go on far too long, when I should have let them have a couple of minutes and then gently bring them back to the plot. I enjoy seeing people having fun in my events, it’s basically the primary reason I do this, but I’m the first to admit I get a bit too caught up in it from time to time. I love seeing happy people at my table, what can I say?

So, the two settings that have had me keen of late have been Crimson Skies and Torchwood. I’d been discussing the Torchwood game a while back as a short campaign and as previously noted, I’m currently awash in a dose of Crimson Skies nostalgia. So, what ideas do I have for them?

Crimson Skies
Air piracy, whether for or against is still not decided
Being recruited as consultants on Errol Flynn’s latest picture.
Sky Haven, a modern day Tortuga.
High stakes gambling.
A death defying air duel in and around Chicago skyscrapers.
Zeppelins. Some large and heavily armed, some small and speedy, some worthy of Bond villains.

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So, that’s some interesting ideas, but nothing quite enough to base a campaign around. I’ve also had a lot of temptation to hunt down a pilots jacket to wear while I GM. I’ve costumed to GM at cons before, and while I generally cringe seeing GM’s who wear cloaks and what not (Generally cause it’s only used for joke value), I can understand the appeal. It’s like a uniform. Heck, I remember seeing a guy in Dragon magazine years back who GM’d while wearing a referee’s jersey and used a whistle when his players got out of line. That’s a bit too intense for me, but I can understand a want to keep players in line. Getting back to the point…

Torchwood: Sydney
The arc was going to be someone from Torchwood’s past who still bore a grudge. Possibly an alien stuck on Earth who wanted to get away and didn’t care if the planet burned in the process.
A Silurian hive underneath Sydney Harbour.
Time travel to visit an earlier version of Torchwood, possibly located in Razorhurst.
A surprise visit from the Corsair.
Alien hallucinogens being sold as party drugs.
Tensions with the local UNIT branch.
How many local celebrities are actually aliens?
SIDE NOTE: I was also planning to blow up the Ivy Bar at some point, but that’s cause I had to go there once after a team building work event and immediately wanted to set fire to the place. I have never felt so uncomfortable and out of place in a venue and hope never to again.

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Where am I going with this? Not sure. Putting things down helps sort them in my head for one thing. To work out why I want to run something, to have a plan I guess. I’m a better GM for my mistakes, but I still have plenty to learn. That’s not a bad thing, as uncomfortable as it can be to admit.

To any GM’s out there reading this, what approach do you take?

Be seeing you…

Expectations, revelations and… air piracy?

What’s been going on of late? Let me fill you in.

Unsurprisingly, Niece did not take to Babylon 5. According to her, the 1st ep was dull and while there were a couple of bits she liked in Parliament of Dreams, by her face she’d checked out halfway through. A friend on Twitter suggested I try In The Beginning, but that’s both A: full of spoilers and B: I’m not sure she’d manage that right now. With some fairly heavy pancake based bribery I might be able to get another episode or two past her (I’m hoping that will be Signs and Portents), but it won’t be for a while.

To make it worse, I arrived home late on the Friday night, having made my first accidental trip to Woy Woy in about 20 years and walked in on her steadfastly refusing to watch Muppet Treasure Island, as in her words ‘puppets aren’t funny.’ Look, she’s 12, and admitting you’re wrong at that age isn’t easy. She’d convinced herself that she wouldn’t enjoy B5 and she didn’t. But not liking the Muppets? It’s like being a heavy metal fan and not liking Maiden. Or, to put it another way, INCONCEIVABLE!

Going back to B5, watching the early eps again reminded me of the vast amounts of world building in the show, and also of how much I want a cape like G’Kar’s. There’s parts of that show’s wardrobe I’ve long wanted – I’m still tempted to put a tax return into getting the lapels taken off a jacket to look like Sheridan’s S5 wardrobe or a replica of Marcus’s Ranger outfit. Again with the swashbuckling. Cape wise, I’ve wanted one for a long, long time, something like this or maybe one of these. I’ve put them off, by dint of not being in stock, not in Australia or not having events to wear them at. Thanks Covid 19! A friend suggested buying one as a belated birthday present and having just made some extra cash from selling an old Warhammer 40K book, I may well take the plunge. I do enjoy swashing my buckle, if you know what I mean…

Rapier will hopefully be starting again soon on Tuesday nights and while the plan for Saturday class has changed, I’m still hoping to make it back there as well. Before the break, the plan for term 4 in Saturday class was sword and shield followed by sword and buckler and I’m a bit sad to miss that. Maybe next year.

Switching topics, for nostalgia’s sake I fired up Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge on the Xbox last night for a couple of hours and gods, I love that game. I’d also finally realized that the voice of the main character is Timothy ‘Lassie from Psych‘ Omundson. I loved the clicky game from the early 2000’s (I still have a bunch of planes for it) and the PC game which I own but don’t have a system that can run. GOG.com, hurry up please? It reminded me of how much I dig the world, both the more slightly more grounded clicky and PC versions and the batshit nuts mecha zeppelins with lightning guns of the Xbox game.

It also reminded me of how much I’d love to play in the universe in RPG terms and while there was a board game version, there’s not been an official RPG. Savage Worlds seems a natural fit, which has the added benefit of me not having to learn a new system. Possibly Spirit of the Century or Atomic Robo, or do I go all out and write a convention freeform? I do enjoy dressing up for that sort of thing… There’s no shortage of anti-heroes and out and out villains, swashbuckling, zeppelins and pulp whackiness. As that feeling started to wave over me, filled with promise and ideas I smacked myself upside the head and reminded myself that I already have a game to write, one that has a deadline. There’s been progress on that, but also a lot of fiddling and research. I’m getting closer to when my head starts to work and the words really start to flow, thankfully.

Still, there’s been a revelation, that should not be a surprise to those who know me.
Ideas, I have them. Out the waazoo. Constantly. My brain and Google Drive is stuffed with ideas and part written concepts.
The drive to actually have them completed? That’s not so much there.
And that’s been the way, for as long as I can remember. Other people harassing me to get stuff done sometimes works, but can lead to resentment. Deadlines help, in some cases. But generally panic. there’s times when things will click and start to work, but it’s the matter of trying to get stuff down on the page that can be a struggle.

The second not a revelation is thus: I can love a setting to bits, but there’s no point in running something in it unless I have an idea for what to do within it. My short lived Conan LARP fell over cause I’m very possessive over the setting, as we’ve previously discussed. I need an idea for it, otherwise it’s just me going “I love this thing, why don’t you love it as much as I do” but without demonstrating why it’s actually fun. That’s been a failing of mine for a long time and while I’m sure I’ll fall victim to it again, at least if I recognize it I can try to guard against it.

More to follow. Be seeing you…

*smouldering glance across a crowded room*

So, Pride and Prejudice is done, I have watched all 6 episodes.

Thoughts follow:
Every time Julia Sawalha was on screen, I kept hoping they’d sneak in Dexter Fletcher somewhere in the background.
I kinda want a spin off of Mr Bennett giving no fucks for any stupidity, in the same way I want one for Foggy and Stick from Daredevil.
Colin Firth has a damn good line in brooding. There were points where I wondering if he was being paid by brood rather than by line. He’s not exactly my type, but I can certainly understand why he’d inspire such a dedicated following.
I am very much looking forward to viewing Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, if only to see the fight between Elizabeth and Lady Catherine my wife let slip happens near the end. Lordy, the verbal smack the lady in that scene delivered deserved to be met with a glove slap and words of challenge.
My wife continues to be amused at how much I was heckling the screen at various points. Ordinarily I’m one of those “You talk during a show, you can die alone” kind of people, but I couldn’t help myself getting caught up in it. It also helps that I’m fairly certain my wife can recite it from memory, so I wasn’t interrupting things. And now, my soon to be brother in law (Who hasn’t seen it yet) has no excuse!

In other news, I have my first brain doctor appointment in a couple of months on Wednesday, and by Crom, I’ll have some stuff to talk about. Some good, some bad and some ugly. You know, the usual. The brain has been up and down, but I’m trying to keep it together. I was amused to find that my wife is the only one of the 4 of us in the house that isn’t going to the same psychologist’s practice. I’m in agreement with a housemate that she should go for a few sessions, if only to go “Augh, those fuckers I live with!”*

Operation: Indoctrinate Niece Further into Geekdom (I should have had something that makes an acronym really) is progressing well.
ME: Do you know the price for your next visit?
HER: *sighs* Babylon 5…
I’ve told her it’s OK if she doesn’t like it. It’s not that OK, but it’s OK. I also may have joked last time we saw her that when next we meet it’ll be the dawn of the third age of mankind…  The stories of her D&D campaign continue to be inspiring, notably in her enthusiasm and love for the game, and I’m told her dice collection is growing at great speed. I’m very, very proud.

The plan, as much as I have one, is to show her the first episode (Midnight on the Firing Line) then skip straight to The Parliament of Dreams. Because, while they have their moments, Soul Hunter and Born to the Purple aren’t exactly blockbusters and can be skipped for the moment. If things go well, we can easily go back to them. As for Infection, it’s less bad than I remember, but still not exactly great. Parliament, on the other hand, is where we first meet Lennier and Na’Toth, and it gives up this wonderful moment:

I’ve had that song stuck in my head the better part of the last few weeks, so if I can spread it further I’ll be amused.  Plus, there’s also this just as wonderful moment:

I’m not expecting her to like it, but I can hope, right? I’m also hoping to find time to introduce her properly to the Muppets, likely with Treasure Island. It’s that or show her highlight clips on YouTube, from Miss Piggy’s Karate chops to Waldorf and Statler heckling. Gods, I adore those two.

That’s enough for tonight. I shall return soon, where if you’re unlucky, I’ll tell you about the characters I’m playing in my current RPG sessions

Be seeing you…

*Whether she means the humans or possums she shares a house with is still unclear.

*sigh*

My phone’s battery is draining faster than normal, there’s a small crack in the screen in one corner and it needs a new case. That’s also how I feel at the moment. Tired, easily drained and battered. I dented my head on the flap of a cardboard box this afternoon, something I’d been paranoid about doing for basically all my time at my current workplace. Less about denting my head, but more about taking out an eye. For context, the dent is above my right eyebrow so close, but no cybernetic eye required. On that note, it’s 2020 – where are my easily available cybernetics? R TALSORIAN GAMES, YOU LIED TO ME!

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Stupid bag of flesh I cart around. There’s been random aches, almost as if every day a different part of me has chosen to go wrong. Not to break, but irritate. The flesh is weak. Not to mention what I think is a massive mouth ulcer somewhere near the back of my top jaw. I can’t find a specific spot to numb it, which likely means the cure involves either less stress or a lot of Vegemite toast. Things haven’t been great brain wise the last few days on top of that, and I’m just aching for the week to be over.

There’s been bright spots mind you. Hearing that Godson, Aged 2 and a Half saw Keanu Reeves on the telly and went “Uncle Gavin?” was delightful. I don’t see the resemblance, but I’m flattered all the same. Secondly, my anniversary gift for my wife arrived late last week, and I’m still floored by the result. All praise to Leigh of Pen and Inkcap (Who also took the photo below) for her gorgeous work! I’m already contemplating commissioning further work from her, both involving Londo Mollari dialogue*. Surprise, surprise I know.

Screenshot_2020-06-25 Pen and Inkcap ( pen_and_inkcap) • Instagram photos and videos

Mind you, that also brought about the horrific discovery that Niece, Age 12 hasn’t seen the Muppets and THIS WILL NOT STAND, SO LONG AS THERE IS BREATH IN MY BODY. Alas I didn’t get time to show her Muppet Bohemian Rhapsody but soon. I also continue take great delight in the stories of her D&D campaign, even if they do occasionally make me feel inadequate as a GM. She’s running 5-6 players, everyone with 2 characters and doing stuff like writing epic songs for slain PC’s. Geez kiddo, leave some awesome for the rest of us OK?

I’m also hatching plans with my wife to introduce her to Babylon 5. I think the introduction will be tricky (We don’t get much time with her, the show’s from the mid 90’s and likely very slow for a modern 12 year old), but I think she’ll dig the epic scope of things. What I want for most, even more than her liking the show, is the chance to see it afresh through her eyes. To see her reactions to events, without expectations or spoilers. What does she think of Londo and G’Kar? How will she react to the first sight of a Shadow vessel? Will she squee mightily at Sheridan and Delenn’s romance? I DON’T KNOW. But I really hope I get the chance to find out. If I see her this weekend I’ll try to sound her out about it.

Sleep soon, hopefully. My next brain doctor appointment is in a couple of weeks, and by Crom will I have some things to talk about. It’s good to talk. With what she’s taught me I’m working through my junk better, or at least not being hammered into the ground for quite as long, but I always look forward for the chance to talk with her. Therapy is good, and I recommend it to all, even if you think you don’t need it.

I want Covid to be over, to see other people in person, and at the same time to be alone. I’m reminded of a gag I saw about how quarantine must be great for introverts and how it’s not, cause there’s all these people in my house and they won’t leave. I love my wife dearly, adore my housemates, but I miss having the house to myself. Not for too long, as that does other things to my head, but I miss it.

Be seeing you…

PS: No, we aren’t any further in Pride and Prejudice. Just in case you were wondering.

* I’m torn between “This is like being nibbled to death, by cats!” or “But in purple, I’m stunning!

Pride and S-foils to attack positions!

So, I’m going to start with what I assume you’re all raring to see: a update on my progress through the BBC Pride and Prejudice. Well, we’re through episode 3 and while I haven’t seen any further Doctor Who alumni, Mr Collins later played Cicero in Rome. a show that deserved more airtime damnit. The accent caught my ear, and a quick Google confirmed it. I also can’t help but think that the lady playing Mrs Bennett played Mrs Miggins in Blackadder the Third. She didn’t (I checked), but I can’t help but think it whenever she starts to speak. I really hope I’m not alone in that…

Mr Bennett’s dry gives no fucks attitude is a refreshing contrast, and I’m curious to see how he’s represented in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I’m also slightly kicking myself for not comparing Mr Darcy’s time brooding to his time spent speaking – I was half expecting him to make it through all of episode 2 without speaking. Still, Firth broods really well. It’s the sort of brood I’d expect to see on a gargoyle in Gotham City, quality stuff. It takes work and skill to do that sort of thing and the further I get into the show, the more I can understand the cult that built up around the performance.

Moving on, let’s analyze some recent trailers! First off, the announcement trailer for Star Wars: Squadrons, EA’s latest multiplayer game.

I can sum up my initial feelings in two words:

Danger. Zone.


To give some more detail, this is the sort of game I’m after. I spent a lot (and I mean a lot) of my teens playing through X:Wing and TIE Fighter and the idea of a modern version of those games has long been a dream of mine. While the Battlefront games (both old and new) had their moments, they didn’t scratch the itch enough for my tastes. The trailer looks mighty spiffy, both sides have female pilots (Representation, fuck yeah!) and we get a quick look at Hera Syndulla and Wedge Antilles. Though TIE Bombers having a beam weapon (as seen at 1:08) – where the hell was that? I’m not as up on Star Wars canon as I used to be, but if someone can explain that I’d appreciate it.

Screen-Shot-2015-02-09-at-3.38.16-PM-1536x864-500277671124
Cars, sports, beer? Nahhh, this was my Friday nights as a teen.

I’m still not quite sold on multiplayer gaming (Outside of Destiny 2 my biggest stint was playing Battlefield 1942 back in the day) and was very pleased by the inclusion of  a single player campaign, but I’m certainly looking forward to trying to shoot down friends. Mostly, I just want the experience of being in a massive skirmish and not having to be the main character. Let me fly in the Battle of Endor or Jakku and let me go. If friends can heckle me as I get shot down constantly, all the better. Hey, I love the games but I’ve never claimed to actually be good at them.

The mix of ships seems standard, though I eagerly await the complaining about bringing in EU ships, or trying to balance the TIE Defender against everything else. I’m biased – the X:Wing is one of my favorite fictional ships, matched only by the Earth Alliance Starfury and I’m always keen for the chance to sit behind the controls. I may have spent more time playing TIE Fighter and the Empire does have a snappier theme tune, but to lock S-foils in attack position is a childhood dream.

Starfury
It’s just gorgeous and NASA want to adopt the design.

Moving on, we also got the first trailer for the long in development hell Bill and Ted Face the Music.

I don’t know what to think. I have a lot of love for those movies, though I’m the first to admit that parts haven’t aged all at well. The story idea seems strong, at least workable, we don’t see enough of the cast to really get an image, but Reeves and Winter sure look like they never left the roles. Granted, Reeves is more well known these days for murdering his way through most of New York’s underworld in the John Wick movies, so seeing him as the lovable slacker we met him as mostly makes nostalgic for my youth and feel very old.

Mostly, I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping it doesn’t suck, you know? Belated sequels aren’t a good starting point, so I’m hoping this works. Better representation, hopefully giving the princesses and their offspring something to do and telling a good story. Isn’t that too much to ask? I’d just be happy of 2020 gave us some good news, something to enjoy you know? Surely we can get that, can’t we?

Calling from the Funhouse, with my song

I am ‘the excite’, as I was informed the millennials say. (I thought it was the kids, but I’m even more out of touch than I thought.) The news I found today was something of a bolt out of the blue, and to call it a welcome surprise is putting it midly.

Tapes have been found of the last show of the Stooges original lineup, apparently found in a Michigan farmhouse’s basement of all places. The show was at the Goose Lake Festival, August 8 1970, and is a full run through of the album Funhouse from go to whoa. To fans, this is massive. I spent most of the afternoon after getting the news in a state best described as a quivering mass of excitement. A far more eloquent writer than I described it as the ‘Rosetta Stone of punk’, and I can’t dispute that.

There’s been myths for decades about professionally recorded Stooges shows. Yes, there’s the legendary Metallic KO album (The only live album I know of where the singer keeps track of what’s being hurled at the band from the audience), but as performances go it’s far from optimal. There’s been dozens, if not hundreds, of bootlegs and rehearsal tapes issued and most of those from the bands later, more destructive days or from the mid 2000’s reunion. So to find tape like this, let alone in such quality is rare as hen’s teeth.

How can I describe this to non-fans? It’s like finding a copy of  Loves Labours Won, or footage of Frank Oz performing Miss Piggy on Dagobah during the filming of The Empire Strikes Back. The band produced some of the most vital and influential music in their/all time and there are bare scraps of footage of them in their prime. One track has been uploaded to streaming services, with the full show to be released on August 7th. I can’t wait.

I have been accused (mostly by myself) of being evangelical about the music I like and on that charge I’m proudly guilty. I can’t help wanting to share this with people – it makes me so happy, so maybe it’ll have the same effect on others, right? Mostly it doesn’t, but from time to time things have worked. I got my wife into the New York Dolls, and she was very nervous when she told me she preferred them to the Ramones. Look, that’s OK, everyone has different opinions. It’s not that OK, but far from a deal breaker. But I can’t help wanting to share the things I love with people in the hope that I can share the love.

Digging around, whether through bargain bins or old interviews can produce amazing things. That’s how I discovered music in my early days. “So, this band said they liked these bands, so I’ll check them out.” That’s how I found about the New York scene centered around CBGB’s, and the Detroit scene of the late 60’s. Things can turn up in unexpected places – Mongolia or Central Australia for two examples. Look, this pandemic has made me realize I miss a lot of things. To go into the street and not worry, to play RPG’s face to face instead of over Discord, fencing practise and I really miss dressing up for LARP. But what I miss most of all is live music. The sweat, the excitement, the shared feeling of joy. Of a group of strangers coming together to share in something they all love.

I got reminded a few weeks back that I should have seen Iron Maiden by now, and they might not be back until 2022. As much as I want people to be safe, and I do, I miss the shared atmosphere of a concert, whether the intimacy of a tiny room or a stadium filled with people. A life without live music, you might as well remove a limb, it’d be less painful.  Stay safe people, and take care of each other. Remember to be kind, even, especially when this is over.

Be seeing you.