Showing posts from November, 2015

Revisiting Star Wars: A New Hope

It's a little odd for me to think of this movie as "A New Hope" or "Episode IV". When I saw it in 1977 it was just "Star Wars". I was a few months away from my 6th birthday. I was living with my grandparents, uncle, and mother in Brooklyn while my father was settling into his new job in Connecticut, with my mother and I joining him later that summer. 
I'll open with some thoughts on the Special Editions vs the original releases. It is worth noting that Lucas constantly tweaked the original trilogy. For example, the subtitle "Episode IV - A New Hope" was added, to the best of my knowledge, in a 1981 re-release. C-3PO was given added dialogue in the Death Star explaining how to deactivate the tractor beam. Luke went from saying "Blast it Biggs where are you?" to "Blast it Wedge where are you?" I'm sure there's some web sites which list all the changes made but I'm bringing this up primarily to point out tha…

Revisiting Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

Generally speaking, Revenge of the Sith tends to be the best received of the Prequel Trilogy. In surely unrelated news, Jar Jar Binks was seen, but not heard, in this film.

Taking place some three years after the events of Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith opens with Chancellor Palpaitne having been kidnapped and Obi-Wan and Anakin leading a desperate mission to rescue him from Count Dooku. Of course we the audience know this is quite the sham with Palpatine being Count Dooku's Sith Master.

The relationship between Anakin, now a full Jedi Knight, and Obi-Wan, his former teacher, is far healthier than it was in the previous movie. Gone are the hurtful put-downs from Obi-Wan as is Anakin's unwillingness to ever listen to Obi-Wan. As their fighter squadron closes in on the Separatist flagship, Anakin wants to go back to help the clones that are protecting them and coming under heavy fire but yields to Obi-Wan's reminder that they are doing their job so the two of the…

Revisiting Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

Continuing our journey through the Star Wars movies, Attack of the Clones takes place a decade after its predecessor, The Phantom Menace. Anakin Skywalker is now training to be a Jedi, serving as Obi-Wan Kenobi's padawan.

As before, I'm assuming knowledge of the film and beyond points of discussion will be dispensing with a summary.

So, what is the movie about? We learn the Republic is dealing with a separatist movement, led by Count Dooku, a former Jedi Knight and once the late Qui-Gon Jinn's teacher. Given what we saw in The Phantom Menace it is not a huge surprise that systems are anxious to leave the Republic. With assassination plots against Padme Amidala, now senator from Naboo, Obi-Wan and Anakin are assigned to protect her. And Anakin is madly in love with her.

Let's look at the various plot threads. We'll begin with the separatist movement and the Clone Wars. Palpatine, still chancellor, clearly wants the separatist crisis. It militarizes the Republic, re…

Revisiting Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

With the new Star Wars film about to come out I’ve been revisiting the previous Star Wars movies. I’m going to go through them in chronological order if for no other reason than that’s how I randomly decided to watch them. I’m also not really “reviewing” them as it’s probably safe for me to assume that everyone has seen all of them. I’m also not hiding knowledge of other films in the series when I examine a given film. I know Anakin becomes Darth Vader (sorry, spoiler…)

Putting things into context. There was quite a bit of excitement with the news that new Star Wars movies were being made. 1997 saw the Star Wars Special Editions released - unfortunately introducing the term “Han shot first” to the world. It was a big deal with Return of the Jedi featuring our first peek at the prequel by showing the previously unseen planet of Coruscant as part of the celebrations. Moving ahead to 1998 brought us the first teaser trailer for The Phantom Menace. At the time I had only been in Massachu…

Gaming in the New Star Wars Canon

In 2014, Lucasfilm revised its determination of what made up the Star Wars canon. Effectively, all the material released prior to that point with the exception of the six Star Wars films and the Clone Wars animated series were classified as Legends and no longer a part of the canon. Out the door went novels, comic books, and RPGs.

There was quite the fan outcry - which is not all that shocking given the investment - mental or financial - that many fans had put into the Legends material. Officially, the Legends material is available to be mined for ideas. An example of this appeared in this week's Star Wars Rebels, with several of the characters traveling to Shantipole where a Mon Calamari engineer was developing the B-Wing Fighter prototype. In the old D6 RPG, the adventure Strikeforce: Shantipole also dealt with the development of the B-Wing Fighter. By Admiral Ackbar, whereas by a different Mon Calamari on Rebels and Shantipole was a research station in an asteroid field instead…

My Comic Game Changers

I've enjoyed reading comic books since the mid-1980's. I just finished reading Neil Gaiman's Sandman Overture, a series which featured Gaiman returning to his most famous creation to tell the story of what transpired before the events of Sandman #1. It reminded me of how much Sandman shook up the market and made me think about some of the comics that had a big impact on me, that made me say "whoa" and reconsider what was possible. I'll focus on both comics and stories.

Daredevil: Born Again - I caught pieces of this when they first came out in 1985 and 1986 but didn't get the full story until it was collected in the late 80's, one of the first collections I acquired. It was an amazing story of a superhero who had everything stripped from him. Who had to figure out who he was again, not in the space of one issue but over several months of story. Whole issues would pass without Matt Murdock appearing as Daredevil to the point when he finally suited up ag…

Star Wars: Dark Empire

"And now, my young apprentice... Your father is dead. Have you come to join me? Will you take the place that rightfully belongs to you–at my side."
- Emperor Palpatine

I first saw an advertisement for Star Wars: Dark Empire in a book previewing upcoming Marvel comics, either in 1989 or 1990. Marvel had  produced a Star Wars comic until 1986 and kept their Ewoks and Droids comics going until around 1987. And then nothing. So I was greatly looking forward to Marvel's Dark Empire. As it turned out, Marvel wound up not releasing Dark Empire and Dark Horse Comics gained the license to Star Wars. For the most part, they did some great stuff with it (along with a few misses). When Marvel and Lucasfilm both under the Disney corporate umbrella it was no surprise that the license went back to Marvel after over two decades at Dark Horse. Overall I think Marvel has done a good job with the license - the Darth Vader comic especially has been fantastic.

What about Dark Empire itself?…

Oota Goota?

"Han shot first!"

There's a considerable amount of fandom rage about the changes George Lucas made to the special editions of the Star Wars trilogy. None more than the cantina scene. In the original Greedo finds Han Solo, threatens him, and then gets shot. In the special edition Han and Greedo shoot their guns at each other. With Greedo somehow missing at point-blank range.

I'm probably among the youngest people to have seen the original Star Wars when it first came out in the theaters. Back when there was no "Episode IV". I don't believe the pre-Empire Strikes Back re-release had the Episode IV yet. While the Special Edition changes were the biggest, Lucas was always making tweaks. References to Biggs were changed to Wedge. C-3PO provided an explanation as to the power supplying the tractor beam. Little changes. Wookiepedia has a list of them.

It is the change 1997 change to the stand-off between Han and Greedo that generates the most anger. I think t…

Sporting Events in RPGs

With the World Series having just ended my mind is on baseball. I love baseball. Originally a New Yorker and having grown up primarily in Connecticut, I'm still a Mets fan despite having lived in   the Boston area for nearly twenty years now. And I'm in a little bit of mourning right now given the Mets lost to the Royals in the World Series. Though given the pain of the past few years, I'm really able to focus on "omigod we made it to the World Series!!!"

Off the top of my head, I don't think there's a lot of RPG adventures in which sporting events are featured prominently. I'm sure there are some but I don't think they're incredibly common. It's a pity because they're opportunities for all sorts of scenes. There is of course the possibility of battles in an arena. I did one of those in my Star Wars game - before Attack of the Clones featured one. It was a somewhat similar scene - some PCs had been captured by an Imperial Moff and were…

1970's Traveller Computers in the 2010's

The Traveller RPG first appeared in 1977. It's inspirations were many of the classics of science fiction such as Asimov's Foundation series, Piper's Space Viking, Niven's Known Space, etc. I've never had the chance to do a full game of Traveller - though I saw ads for it in Dragon Magazine throughout the 1980's, the first version of it I managed to get a copy of was Traveller: The New Era back in 1994. That probably wasn't the best version of the game to be introduced to Traveller with, given it's setting was an Imperium that had been shattered by a super computer virus. It seemed incredibly interesting to me, but also very much like you were walking into a party where everybody already knew each other.
I've seen a number of blog posts from people exploring how they would run a Traveller game. I'm not certain I'm likely to run a Traveller game to tell the truth - my inclination would probably be to use either Stars Without Number or Firefly.…