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.

*squee*

The very rich, having fundamentally missed the point of urban living, have long been frustrated by the fact that it’s impossible to squeeze the amenities of of a country mansion – car showroom, swiming pool, servant’s quarters etc – into the floor space of your average London terrace. Those without access to trans-dimensional engineering, a key Time Lord discovery, have had to resort to extending their houses into the ground. Thus proving that all that stands between your average rich person and a career in Bond villany is access to an extinct volcano.
Ben Aaronovitch – The Hanging Tree

Why yes, I am excited to have this book* – I didn’t realise it was out yet. For those who’ve no idea what I’m talking about, it’s the latest in the Peter Grant series, about a young London policeman who winds up working for the last Wizard in the Metropolitan Police. You could say it’s CSI: Hogwarts or a British Dresden Files, but those are terrible comparisons, even more so cause I’ve not read any of the Potter books to compare them to. So yes, between that and the trade of Vader Down (Which has dialogue I’d pay good money to hear James Earl Jones recite), I’m a happy reader at the moment.

*The author wrote two of my favorite 7th Doctor stories, Remembrance of the Daleks and Battlefield, so I might be somewhat biased.

It’s a battery commercial

So why am I looking around my house wanting to yell WHO KEEPS CUTTING ALL THE ONIONS AROUND HERE?

It hit me even harder than last year’s one did but neither of them can compare to this one… That one didn’t just hit my paternal instinct, it smacked into it at light speed with the weight of several million tons. It’s why I was so damn nervous showing A New Hope to Niece, Then Age 7. I didn’t used to feel this way. Perhaps age has bought something worthwhile with it, something more than grey hair and the impulse to yell “Get the hell off my lawn!” at people?

Back to normality. Or as close as I get.

First off, many thanks to those who read and commented on my recent post on mental health. The comments have been much appreciated.It wasn’t easy, but I got that far into it that not writing it would have felt worse. Again, you have my thanks.

Before I forget, I was meaning to post a writeup of a performance of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf I saw recently, and I’m still struggling to decide how to sum it up, with the closest thing that comes to mind being Apocalypse Now. Before you commence throwing things, let me explain. Both are overly long, begin with things seeming not to be going well, and that feeling of dread and unease only intensifying throughout, wih a last act that’s a cavalcade of WTF. This is possibly why I shouldn’t be reviewing theatre. Though in my defence, Margaret Pomeranz and I both quoted the same piece of Shakespeare* when we reviewed Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which I choose as a mark in my favour. I’m also 2 episodes into The 100, which I’m enjoying, though I think I’m between 10-15 years too old for it’s primary audience.

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It was the second session of my D&D game last night, and didn’t go too badly. I’m not as great as I’d like to be at running social encounters and there was a bit of railroading (And I regret it), but the players still seemed to enjoy things and that’s what counts. We learn by doing after all. The Wizard spents more time stealing cheese than doing anything magical, the Rangers are drunks with the Rogue not far behind, the Paladin has a secret identity as a masked vigilante and the Fighter is seemingly keener on theatre tickets than cracking heads. They’re an interesting bunch and I’m really enjoying devising adventures for them. I’ve a few plans for them in motion – they still have no idea who their mysterious benefactor is (I’m attempting to play him like Raymond Reddington crossed with Mr Morden) after all. They’ve also levelled up for the first time, so it’s almost time to UNLEASH THE OWLBEARS!

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Moving on, this will likely be the last update on the post apoc game for a while, as I have to delve back into the Hyborian Age to finish my Sydcon event. Been trying to write factions (Settlers, Scavengers, Ambos etc) and work out background stuff for it, but it’s both getting to the stage where I want to bring other people in and am having the dip in the initial enthusiasm. I love the idea of the settlement police being an in-character faction (Working name: The Boy’s in Blue) and have been trying to come up with Boons and Flaws instead of stats. I’m not proud, but I laughed at the idea of calling the sneak boon ‘Where the Bloody Hell are You?’ patching people up is ‘Band Aid’ and catching and returning thrown weapons had to be ‘Classic Catch’. I’m writing it, I’m allowed to be the only one amused. Trying to put an actual rules system together is one of the things I’m planning on leaving till last, as it’s not something I’ve done before, but there’s ideas I want to make sure I’ve put down incase I forget them. Background and overly purple flavour text? I’ve got that covered. Anyhow, the Hyborian game – 6 PC’s, 4 of them female and (mostly) wearing sensible armour. I’m kinda pleased with that. Pirates, savages, darkest sorcery, bloody combat, Northern barbarians, Southern decadence, the treasure of a long forgotten kingdom and candles that burn with a wierd green flame… It’s been fun to write. 🙂

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What else is up soon? Zedtown’s up in a few couple of weeks and I’m crewing that. I don’t know what role I’ll have yet, but I’m sure I can costume it with minimum effort. Should be a blast. Anyhow, time to return to the days of high adventure!

“I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom’s realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer’s Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.”
Robert E Howard – Queen of the Black Coast

*Work out which bit and there might be a prize for you!

Pondering…

So, my players have been coming up with character ideas for the 5th Ed game, and there’s been some doozys (Paladin of Sune, God of Beauty – part vigilante, part dating consultant). Still haven’t got a plot yet, but I’m waiting till they’ve confirmed their characters before I confirm that.

As for the post apoc game, I’ve another skill tree idea.

BUSHMAN – Basically a D&D Ranger crossed with Les Hiddins. Has a higher chance to find supplies in the wild and knows about the local wildlife. (“Fresh dropbear tracks. When I say run, run…”) Possibly even making friends some of the local critters.

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As for inspiration, there’s numerous sources out there: Nuclear Snail have some fascinating tutorials, though the name strikes fear in my heart*. The games Sunfall:Metro, Wasteland UK and The World Went Dark have some stunning imagery. Given the lack of desert location near me, I’m aiming for a more forestpunk style (Which mixes in with the forests reclaming background I’m bashing out), but the standard levels of dirt, grime and blood will be present.

The world died. Cities fell, and the wilderness reclaimed them. People tried to survive, to carry on, but when their numbers grew too few, it collapsed. Some had hidden underground, in vast shelters built by the government, riding out the chaos in air conditioned splendour. Others unable to pay their way inside suffered and struggled, dying but for want of a few coins. When they emerged, the world had changed. The forests had grown over the cities of man, the once gleaming towers of glass and steel now overgrown with forest, a land filled with scavengers, monsters and other horrors. The animals had, changed, growing larger and more dangerous. The virus that had slaughtered the humans had mutated them and they had grown strong for lack of humanity. Now the wildlife is as much a threat as starvation, disease or raiders.

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Some have surrendered to their darker instincts, plundering the ashes of the old world. Some seek to learn from it, to reconstruct what was, or just to survive. I’m trying to give a number of options for possible PC’s, as large as I can, rather than ‘good guy or bad’ options.

The start: we start at a small settlement. Supplies can be found nearby, and there’s shelter. Possibly a small sporting arena for Blood Bowl or Jugger. What happens next, well, that is another story…

*I hate snails, and slugs for that matter – they scare the living hell out of me. Have since I was a kid.

Trailers.

So,a bunch of trailers got released at Comic Con over the weekend. My thoughts are as follows:

Doctor Strange – So, the second trailer finally show’s us some magic.It has helped cement my issue with the film (Outside of the piss poor attempt at defending the whitewashing), namely that Benedict Cumberbatch is playing Strange and not Chiwitel Eigofor. It’s not that I think Cumberbatch will do a bad job, far from it, and he sure looks the part, but it’s by far the obvious choice. At the time of casting I tweeted that the MCU could use less white guys (and got called racist more than once), and I stand by that. That mght be why the announcement that Brie Larson is playing Captain Marvel and who’s playing who in Black Panther has me nervous. Well, not nervous, but hopeful. The further the MCU goes along, the higher the chance is they’ll screw something up (And I mean a Green Lantern-esque level of screw up, as opposed to the Iron Man 2 and Thor: The Dark World) and I don’t want that to happen to those two films. It’s not that I’m a huge fan of either character, but I really don’t want the first female led and mainly black cast movies to be shit.

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Justice League – In short, Bruce Wayne interviews people. Seems to have added more jokes (Perhaps all the ones that were missing from BvS…) and a lot lighter tone. Cast look good, though more Cyborg would have been nice. Badass Aquaman is cool. Still not Brave and the Bold Aquaman, but that’s what YouTube is for.

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Wonder Woman – Please DC, don’t screw this up. The actons looks great, though I’m hoping the slow-mo is for the trailer, Chris Pine seems to be playing Steve Trevor like Kirk and Diana’s line “What I do is not up to you” is fantastic. Plus the evening gown and sword combo  works surprisingly well. 🙂

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King:Skull Island – They appear to have learnt from the Tripod song and got to the fucking monkey. Smart.

Suicide Squad – How many trailers, clips and sneak peeks can they release before it’s possible to assemble the entire movie? Still, the more they show that isn’t Harley, the more interested I get. Also, the more I see of Viola Davis as Amanda Waller the better – she’s not CCH Pounder, but I think she’ll do well.

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Star Trek: Discovery – It’s really not much, just the ship (Which we now know is clled Discovery) leaving spacedock. Reminds me of sketches I saw from the abandoned Phase 2 series. It’s Star Trek, so I’ll watch, but I’m still waiting for casting news to get really keen.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – A Guy Ritchie film, which is both good and bad. At first glance looks Excalibur crossed with Lock Stock. Points for trying something different, but adding some LOTR to the mix enthuses me even less. Sword looks nice though.

American Gods – Ian McShane as Mr Wednesday. Do I need to say more? Well, how about Gillian Anderson?

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The Lego Batman Movie – If you say something, anything, bad about this (At least that isn’t a variant on ‘We have to wait how long?’), we can no longer be friends.

I’m sure there’s more I’ve missed, but that’ll do for the moment. Also this:
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Many Bothans died, to bring us this trailer.

So, the Rogue One trailer. Leaving aside my burning hatred for teasers for trailers, or two minute trailers with 25 seconds of that taken up by rating info and stuff for other videos on the channel, it looks pretty damn good.

HELL YES MON MOTHMA – SUCK IT MRA’S AND SUCK IT HARD.
A female lead with a good amount of non-white people in the main cast, nice to see.
It’ll be slightly odd to have a definitive story of how the Death Star plans were stolen, given how many different stories and versions of it in the old EU.
Very little spoilery material, even better. One of the things I enjoyed the most about The Force Awakens was how little I knew going into it, a refreshing feeling in this day and age of leaks and endless teaser clips.
Seeing Yavin Base and T-65B X-Wings again – *swoon*
I’m sure the 501st are already going nuts over Ben Mendlheson’s outfit, whic is fair as that’s a rocking cape. That cape rocks so much I’m pretty sure Lando is jealous.
No Bothans though. Boooo. Also, would a nod to Kyle Katarn kill you? (Yes, I know the Bothans helped steal the plans to the second Death Star, but still. Seeing one on screen would be nice, at some point. Damn human-centric movies.)
Could have done without the nostalgia piano at the end, but I understand that’s the hip thing at the moment. Damn kids.
Part of me does think it’s going a bit dark, or at least Star Wars dark, but we’ve had that and it worked out OK, so yeah. Besides, I’m cool with them experimenting

Roll on December.