Saturday, December 28, 2013

Elvis the Son Of Kronos

Here it is the season of Saturn and I am already behind. Well, as anyone might've noticed, I am always behind. And on thing that being a David Bowie fan has taught me is that making classics is easy, but making gems requires a special angle. As in 1996, when Ziggy Stardust was the memory of a torch song while the murder mystery surrounding Nathan Alder, presented on the album Outside, was revving up the "alternative" rock artists of the day, an author needs to know when to work with strengths not glory.

Well when I am not shooting glory straight into my vein (vain glorious), I happen to be typing up a couple bits of composition. 

And Spacers (TM) has turned into Spacers: Universe. I am at about 35 pages of alien species after a dozen pages of "ship rules." I am proud of my reconstructions of popular media science fiction. From Tom Corbin: Space Cadet to Far Scape,  I think my notes have helped me craft a pretty comprehensive sci-fi RPG.

For all the brevity, the next rendition of my "role-playing game for Spacers" has like 49 alien species, random world and inhabitant generators, as well as space-navigating battleships.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

One Night In Parma

Well actually it was a noon until about midnight in Parma, but the effect was the same.

For some two years now, despite friends like Rook and JerryTel being there I have been unable to attend the Holiday Game Bash, which is sponsored by our North Coast Gamers--Cleveland Chapter every year in earlier December. Actually two years I did attend for a couple hours before having to go to work that night, I remember something a large picture of Christ looming over my shoulder and having to sit in a toddler-sized chair while playing in a play-test of early Qalidar. And last year, Pery and I met JerryTel for a brew and late dinner at Applebees after my then new day shift. This year, I resolved to just go ahead and take the day off of work and have someone cover my first 4 hours the next day, to allow for so real game day festivities.

Despite having bad dreams the night before of a homeless hippie wanting to look in my diaper, the 2013 Holiday Game Bash was a pretty awesome game festival. It started at 11am, but we arrived around 11:30 because my game went first at noon. After parking up the road a bit, we didn't see the big parking lot across the street for the Rock City Music Hall where the event was being held, we made our way. Staring as I walked in was an advertisement for my game Crawlspace 13 with a lovely picture of me chugging beer out of a pitcher from GenCon 2012 (actually one of my favorites). Wow, I've never been so promoted before, and I didn't even pay for the honor. We found JerryTel setting up for his run of the board game called Rheinlander, his kraut envy surprises me often. We talked him into having a quick beer, actually he might've had a coke, before things got started.

I set up for "Corporate Raiders" which is my introduction mostly for myself into the cross genre world of time and dimension travel role-playing. I use Robin's (Peryton's) Qalidar: Resistance setting as the scenarios excuse, and this time I even tried to know some of those darn D20 rules of hers. A friend of a friend, JohnM. came over and after a few minutes talked me into running the game that I was there to run. I was reluctant because he was the only player, but Pery jumped in as a Character as well a rules coach. And what a great time it was, I finished Raiders, finally after a false start moths earlier. And that false start has been bugging me because I've never did a time/space travel RPG before. I think everyone else in the game was bored, but I was having a ball. Finally my Pyramid-heads, Glam World special forces, and Sewer Monkeys were able to sing out in their own voices!

After the game we found JerryTel at the bar drowning his sorrows at having successfully sold five more poor souls on the game Rheinlander, who'd probably never be the same again. Actually he was having a coke and checking on English Premier League scores and checking out Trollhalla on his tablet. I was in a celebratory mood so I made everyone, JerryTel and Peryton, have a fermented sugar beverage with me. We had a couple hours to hang out and be dorky gamers, and game designers, as well get to know the bartenders who jumped right in on the fun.

My favorite moment of that afternoon is when I think the owner, or one of them, saw us and the staff having too much fun, so she felt she had to come over and tell the bartenders that "The Game was supposed to be on TV because everyone here are gamers." Everyone in the place had come from the game festival from next door, and no one cared about any of the college football games on the flat screens, though a couple folk had a penchant for heavy metal on the juke box-- the Ohio State game wouldn't be on until 7pm or so.

Robin's Qalidar scenario, "The Typhon Project" drew myself, a fellow who I believe is Ken, not Ben, and the late arriver JerryTel. Robin after getting the basic plot out where we the players had to figure things out, decided she was bored and threw antroids into the adventure just for laughs. I could tell she was improvising, but we still figured out what was going on and everyone at the table was still kind of awestruck.

My "late night" session, starting at 8:30 filled up before 8:10pm, and I had to make sure all minors, all one of them, were ready for r-rated role-playing, meaning his dad was playing as well. And with technicalities finished, my official "non-playtest" of Crawlspace 13's "Party Nights" was underway. It was a very good group of role-players, but to date, I can't say that I've had anything but when it comes to Crawlspace. One of my players, Mary had to slip out early because of family necessity, but I hope she shows at later sessions because she was as strong role-playing as the strongest characters there. Before I knew it, it was 11:30 and time to wrap things up. So things didn't get as gory horror movie-like as they were supposed to, but the players had done a great job. They'll have to see what what the Apogee story-arc for Crawlspace is going to be like.

We closed the evening with a late dinner with JerryTel at Applebees once again. I had a great time and though 14 hours straight and having to be at work the next day is kind of tough, this has to become a yearly tradition. Good job North Coast Gamers. Good job.

Monday, December 02, 2013

On Silly Comic Book Material And Our Current Media Dilemmas

I was hanging with Mik44 and Peryton last Saturday night, always one of the better moments in life to be sure, and we started to pass the time with discussion on superhero movies. We all smiled about the second Thor movie, which didn't mind being a Sphere Fantasy mixed into a Dr. Who season. And then we talked about the Iron Man movies, which are doing so great at showing how billionaires can be likeable guys as well being heavily-armored war machines when they feel threatened. A little tired with this line of thought (is there really going to be a second Avengers movie?), I brought up Batman movies.

The problem that DC (National Comics, err Time-Warner Communications) has is that they hired directors and writers of too much vision.

And while Zach Snyder and D.S. Goyer are most likely bristling at this statement, every reader here knows that both of them are regular subscribers to my blog-- I just know that Putin, Obama, and Danny Woodburn have sock puppets monitoring me-- we all know that Christopher Nolan is taking notes.

Marvel cranks out movies like they're video games, using video game technology anyway, and the producers are as astute throwing in "nods" to the fan boys, and Chinese viewers, as they are about making sure a couple different formula of popular movies are followed. which Marvel's writers and Stan Lee himself already wrote into their scripts of yesteryear. Boy lives at home, Boy meets girl, Boy loses girl, Smart Girls have to be killed... et al. But the folks working on the films like to add their own touches as well. Thor 2 got downright goofy and full of weird sci-fi, that the actual plot was something of a distraction. So much so that the movies makers had to throw in a minute of Chris Evans, to remind everyone that was an Avengers spin-off, not just a chick flik for the wives of Monty Python/Red Dwarf fans.

DC's vision has been much more experimental, with the exception of Superman Returns, which for all its homage to the 70s-80s Superman flix did not go anywhere. They tried Cat Woman as a non-Batman spin off. They did the Watchmen which was anti-hero perspective on the superhero take on things. They even went with Jonah Hex, which still just strikes me as a bad idea to the point I haven't been able to watch it. And Christopher Nolan was encouraged to work in epic-proportions of scale with his Batman works as he made the franchise shake off a score of TV writers and directors and Tim Burton to re-teach an old a trick it already knew. I am not sure who or what was behind the Green Lantern movie, but for some reason its makers decided that special effects and space opera should be toned down and its villains look like something from bad 50 movies.

Okay, I loved the latest incarnation of the Bat-man, Christopher Nolan's one. It was darkness reflected my views about the corruption of the society that I sometimes glimpse around me. It's grittiness has brought many characters from the comic books to life in a world that I can imagine being my own. But the "epicness" had a little more than enough room. The villains become too omniscient and too powerful.

The Dark Knight is my favorite superhero movie to date. But it had the two ferries moral dilemma which was supposed to be a tribute to The Killing Joke story line, but did nothing but put people to sleep by being way too preachy. The hostages and captors turnabout would've been a much better place to leave things at for the Joker and then watching the last bit could have wrapped up the horror of Two-Face as a villain and we can kick and scream for the next "gritty" Batman. From there The Dark Knight Rises only got more preachy while paying less and less tribute to the Aftermath and the ultimately pointless "Bane" subplots in the many pages of the Batman comics.

The latest Superman flik, Man of Steel, was Nolan's attempt at getting beyond the cheesiness of Superman to the real stuff. And once the real stuff was gotten to, he wanted to kill it so that the franchise could begin anew. Ummm... I liked the movie, but Superman doesn't kill. This movie is not going to be the basis for DC to start coming into the limelight of real actors in front of cameras silverscreen movie-going phenomena that the Marvels have been.

The folks at DC and the movie production companies wanting to make their movies should not be thinking about the Justice League movie just yet. They should be focusing on the name sakes getting movies that prep the audience watching not to be looking at DC's version of the Avengers movie.

Batman can use a couple "krimi flx" under his belt, maybe introducing Nightwing and the Huntress, facing against Poison Ivy and Hugo Strange. The comic series Gotham Underground, the comic series that showed me that Dr Freeze was a felon not a fop, should be airing on AMC right after the Walking Dead.

Superman could take a break after the predestined World's Finest, it's kind of Superman fits into the whole superhero picture anyway. Or heck, Superman facing off against the AI behind the Terminator movies would fill up space.

Green Lantern could re-start with science, space opera, as well as his love of Carol Ferris instead of Top Gun-meets-the Muppets.

Wonder Woman and her sisters actually won WII, and she's never lost her femininity. And her transistion into the modern age wouldn't have to be followed by as many apologies to everyone not in the Republican Party in 1957 as a certain captain that we all know of.

If nothing else the Flash and the Green Arrow can show in the AMC TV show.

Hawkman and Hawk Woman, come on. Does Thor get all the chick flik/sphere fantasy writers in the world? I don't think so. The first Thor should've been a web-series anyway, so this project could be the best meeting of Harry Potter and Wuthering Heights online to date.

There is just so much more to be done before the Justice League movie gets made. DC has always had better rounded characters and earth-shattering problems than Marvel. The latter was always more about friends fighting, then first kisses, then smart chicks dying, and then relatives in the hospital. DC had all the great archetypes and dilemmas and worked things out from there.

And don't get me started about getting a decent Shazam movie in there one of these days.