Showing posts from December, 2016

Fearful Rebels in Rogue One [Spoilers]

Bran thought about it. 'Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?' 'That is the only time a man can be brave,' his father told him. George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
I've just returned from a New Year's Eve viewing of Rogue One, taking my eleven year old daughter and her friend to see it.

This time around I was able to notice quite a bit more subtlety. These thoughts will be full of spoilers so let's let K-2SO keep us clear of spoilers.

Remembering Carrie Fisher

"To me, she's royalty."
- Lor San Tekka, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It's hard to believe Carrie Fisher passed away this week, taken from us at the far too young age of 60. Like nearly everyone, I was first introduced to her through Star Wars though I've grown to greatly enjoy and admire the way in which she redefined herself after the popularity of Star Wars faded - as a novelist, a script doctor, a brutally honest advocate for mental health. And a totally engaging personality whenever she was interviewed.

Her role of Princess (and later General) Leia Organa defined for me - and probably my generation - a bad-ass princess. The story of the knight going to rescue the princess is an ancient one. But Star Wars gave us a new take on this story. Though captured by the bad guys at the start of the film, our princess was far from helpless. She hid the Death Star plans with R2-D2 and stood up to Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin. She refused to betray the Rebellion no…

Rogue One and Star Wars RPGs

As expected, recently seeing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story channeled that GM ADD fully into thinking about Star Wars games. Our Call of Cthulhu heroes are still alive for the time being, albeit trapped in a dimension with mutant dinosaurs...

[Note - discussion of Rogue One in this post will stay clear of spoiler territory.]

Rogue One takes us away from the dramas of the Skywalkers. While it's possible one or more of the heroes might be Force sensitive, if they are, they aren't aware of it. This is a story of fairly ordinary people doing rather extraordinary things - obtaining the plans to the Death Star.

The Empire we see in Rogue One is not the Empire that gets defeated by Ewoks. The Death Star is not a plot device to be destroyed but a terrifying weapon that has the potential to end all thoughts of resistance to the Empire.

Our heroes are not as pure or as certain as they ae in the main films. They're not bad people, but many of them are compromised and have done some bad…

Call of Cthulhu Actual Play: Reanimation in Greenland

Monday, June 3, 1889
The Gustav Ericsson arrived in the west Greenland port of Talluavik. On board her was the Rev. Seamus Murphy, sent by strange visions he'd been having, reuniting him with Ascott, Morton, and Pound.
With the Ericsson staying for two days to resupply a research station in the tiny port, they found an inn (the only inn - the town had maybe 20 buildings plus extensive mines) and drank the night away.
Tuesday, June 4, 1889
Drinking was a bad idea. The next morning the town was filled with reanimated corpses, many of which attacked the inn. The band fought their way out and saw the Ericsson was under attack, with the corpses being controlled by one of two British scientists performing research in the town -a Mister Travers.
The four went to the research station - an infirmity which had been giving immunizations.There they found Doctor Ian Chesterfield, a rather crazy mad scientist who had found ancient Hyperborean writings carved on metal disks in the mines - one of …

Thinking About Fate Accelerated Approaches

While I prep a dinosaur adventure for my Call of Cthulhu game, I've also been spending a lot of time going through Fate Accelerated - you can blame the recent prerelease of Dresden Files Accelerated for this. However, I've also been giving a lot of thought to how Fate Accelerated would handle Star Wars.

While Fate Core quantitatively stats out a character using skills, Fate Accelerated makes use of approaches. Approaches define how your character does things. The default approaches are Careful, Clever, Flashy, Forceful, Quick, and Sneaky. A character starts off with one at Good (+3), two at Fair (+2), two at Average (+1), and one at Mediocre (+0). When your character does something you use an approach. Now one might think you'd always use your best approach, but sometimes your best approach is not practical - for example, if you need to outrun a boulder chasing you down a tunnel (like in Raiders of the Lost Ark), you'd have a very tough time convincing a GM that you a…

Fiction Review: Storm Front

With the Dresden Files Accelerated RPG in preview release, I decided to take a break from the rather lengthy Alexander Hamilton audiobook to re-listen to Storm Front, the first novel of Jim Butcher's urban fantasy Dresden Files.
I've heard people suggest that the series really picks up in the third and fourth novel, with some people outright disliking Storm Front. I'll agree that the series greatly improves with time but to be honest, I really enjoyed the first book. In audiobook form the entire series is narrated by James Marsters, best known as Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He does a splendid job as the first person narrator. 
I'm not a major urban fantasy reader - I enjoy the genre but most of my reading is in other genres. In the 1990s I was a big fan of Charles de Lint's Newford series and I tend to enjoy most of Tim Powers' works (such as Declare, Last Call).
So with all that out of the way, what can you expect from Storm Front? It introduces us t…

Fiction Review: Journey to the Center of the Earth

I recently finished Journey to the Center of the Earth, written by Jules Verne and translated by Frederick Paul Walter. This translation can be found in the omnibus Amazing JourneysWhen reading Verne outside of the French he wrote his works in, it is vital to have a good translation. One of my most commonly hit posts (and one of my earliest), Jules Verne Translations That Don't Stink, provides a good overview of what is available in Verne translations. It could probably use a refresh - many of the books I listed as being available as print-only are now available in e-book form and there is some new material available. It is still what I would consider a good resource.

The novel is about the narrator, Axel, and his uncle,  Professor Otto Lidenbrock, a scholar of geology, on, well, a journey to the center of the Earth. Lidenbrock finds a manuscript which leads him to believe there is a tunnel from an Icelandic volcano that provides a rapid path to the center of the Earth. Lidenbr…

Dresden Files Accelerated Lives!

Much to my surprise I received a Kickstarter update for the Fate Core Kickstarter, completed and delivered years ago. It was a link to the near-final draft of Dresden Files Accelerated.
The Dresden Files RPG was, to the best of my knowledge, the final Evil Hat Fate release prior to Fate Core. After having read Fate Core I was, in some ways, a bit disappointed that Dresden Files came first - it is an awesome game but very much on the crunchy side. Fate Core simplified things greatly and Fate Accelerated even more so. I had initially questioned whether Fate Accelerated would work as a full game but the Young Centurions RPG showed what an amazing system it could be.
I've only just begun digesting Dresden Files Accelerated but my early impression is this the Fate game I've been waiting for. One of my favorite settings with a much lighter rules system than the original Dresden Files RPG. Don't misunderstand me on the original Dresden Files RPG - it is an amazingly well done pr…

Call of Cthulhu Actual Play: The Scuttling

Based on the adventure "The Scuttling" by Todd A. Woods and Kevin A. Ross from Chaosium's Sacraments of Evil

Friday March 15, 1889

Ascott, Morton, and Pound are hired by railroad tycoon by Nigel Stander to acquire a 16th century bust of Lady Jane Grey from Misters Weiman and DeMarco in New York City, with Ascott to work as his agent. Agent suspected his brother wanted to get him out of the city for a few months but a trip to America seemed entertaining. Mister Morton saw a potential story and Pound accompanied him to make sure he stayed alive.

Sunday, March 17, 1889

The characters travel to Liverpool and depart on the Christabel under Captain Dan Holley. There is some confusion when the Gustav Ericsson is in her berth but they make it aboard eventually. It is a long journey as the Christabel is an older ship without steam engines.

The crew tries to scare their passengers with tails of monsters (i.e. squid).

Monday, April 15, 1889

The Christabel glides into New York harbor,…

Other Things Distracting Me, Late 2016 Edition in a Galaxy Far, Far, Away

I noticed I've been flipping through my Star Wars books over the past few days, both the old West End Games resources and the newer Fantasy Flight Games ones.

Must be a new Star Wars movie coming out.

It's been about a year since I played a Star Wars game so the stars could be right for that this winter. But it seems I really need to be independently wealthy to have time for lots of campaigns. I'm a bit jealous of those people who are able to participate in or, in some cases, even run, multiple campaigns.

I've written about the original D6 Star Wars system a number of times and had a chance to explore its predecessor, Ghostbusters, this summer. It's far from a perfect system but it has the virtue of being incredibly easy to play. Fantasy Flight Games' versions of Star Wars is a lot more crunchie than the D6 incarnation - in my experience prepping takes a bit longer, though it does make for some rather interesting characters.

Oddly, while I played the numerous …

Remembering Joe Dever

Joe Dever's Lone Wolf gamebooks were incredibly popular among my circle of friends in the 1980s. The 1980s were a great time for gamebooks - I remember devouring Bantam's Choose Your Own Adventure series but the Lone Wolf books were my favorite by far. Throughout the series Dever revealed more and more of the world of Magnamund. A simple combat system added an element of randomness to the tales.

An amusing irony about the books is though they were for solo play, they encouraged a lot of socialization among my peers. We discussed the world, used elements of it in our D&D games, traded books with each other, etc.

Dever passed away this week, far too young at the age of 60. I'm glad he got to see his creation endure beyond the gamebooks fad of the 1980s. Cubicle 7 recently released a beautiful adaptation of Lone Wolf as a fully realized RPG. It's nice to think his words and his creations will live on. There are probably people adventuring in Magnamund as I write this…