Thursday, September 24, 2015

Mary Sue Monsters - why it should be avoided in game design.

I created this term a while back in 3.5 and  I was using that in context of mechanics of dnd.

in my humble opinion, monster types should be treated as classes, and cr like levels.

if that's the case, all types should be equally viable from 1 to 20.

when you compare dragons (and outsiders) they are overpowered for their cr and often are the majority of high cr creatures..

it is why I called them "mary sue" monsters because they get this power increase, not because of the cr, but because they are dragons (and outsiders).

This bugs me a great deal.

I should be able to make a cr 20 animal, aberation, monstrous humanoid or hell even fey of a similar level while still following the rules that should scare the bejesus out of the characters with the same feel as a cr 20 dragon or outsider.

Instead we got vast discrepancies between creatures of the same type, let alone "mary sue" monsters (outsiders and dragons) that are hideously more powerful then other creatures of the same cr.

the monster shouldn't be scary because it's a dragon, but because it's a high cr encounter.

I asked a simple question on

Namely how could you make a cr 20 animal that would be an epic threat.

and honestly, we were all grasping at straws.

It's one of the reasons why I created the megafauna template in Dark Revelations - The Role Playing Game.

It now gave an ordinary animal an edge by being naturally resistant to magic.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

If I Controlled The Scifi Channel

honestly your best bet is as follows

1. do nights based on themes. Make one night trek night, an alien night, a conspiracy night, one night urban fantasy night, etc.

2. show the old stuff side with side with new stuff. See how much you can get cheaply. I'd love to see alien nation run back on side to side with farscape.

3. get into a deal with rifftrax so they can have a night where they can overlay their jokes on a movie. They do this every Saturday.

4. create the scifi equivalent of "shark week" and have a particular theme based on season. Have one each quarter to push stuff.

examples include

i. Circuits of Spring: Robots and other wondrous devices.
ii. Superhero summer.
iii. Distopian fall: post apocalypse week.
iv. Christmas scifi :p.

5. add a show not unlike "prophets of science fiction" that shows the real life effect of great imagineers in any particular medium.

6. bring back children's cartoons on Saturdays, but show the older science fiction.

7. If you absolutely must have a reality show, make it a scifi reality show:
my base concept is "captain proton and the heroes of the future" - basically a reality show where you have to dress in spandex and mug for the camera in a way that would make flash gordon proud ;p.

it would be hosted by Brian Blessed :p.

8. create a scifi "soap" for the morning and/or afternoon, so you don't keep repeating the same stuff 4-5 times a day  ;). These could possibly be the winners from the reality show and if they suck, they get booted and replaced by the next candidates :p.

they can then pull on this pool of relative names to create real scifi ;).

tentative title "up your asteroid.'

9. make a morning show with a scifi feel. I recommend some sort of scifi cooking show just to break up the tedium. :p

10. freely offer to shill the hell out of any and all new scifi movies for free, with the veiled threat that if bad they will be hosted by mike and/or joel and the boys/girls if they suck :D

This will give stuff the advertising they need (such as john carter, serenity).

11. this also includes a "make a better trailer" tutorial where you show fan made ads that are awesome.

12. I want nerd wars: a show where you get a great and lively debate over the scifi issues of the day :p.
this could potentially turn into jerry springer, but if it does, make it awesome :cool:

13. give web support to scifi related stuff that you can put on occasionally for the "muggles" :D

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Star Trek Voyager - Making it better

I wrote this a long time ago so it has changed over time.

Let's start with one simple change.

Instead of Voyager, make the Maquis ship be the one that survived.

Suddenly it's Janeway screaming for Chakotay's help and showing what a bumbling nincompoop she was.

Now if that's not possible, let's start with some basics.

1. Did anybody know where the ship was week after week. I didn't. There was no way to show how far they had to go, and what they had to travel to. A web page would have been a nice touch, and a descent map would have seriously help show how @#$#@$ the team was.

2. Make Chakotay the Robert E. Lee character he was supposed to be. Polite, charming, but completely ruthless when his family is at stake (take a page from Garek will ya).

3. Neelix should have been a true rogue, instead of our friendly martian. There was a TNG episode that had a true friendly rogue that they should have patterned Neelix off to add conflict to the crew (by trying to get into the uniform of every female member of the crew, and every so often succeeding)

4. Janeway could be left the same (If they won't follow my editing), but she should have died during mid season, passing the torch instead of always being the most incompetant member of the crew.

5. The Kazon were bad Klingons with afros. They should have looked totally different, and made more, tribal.

Also The Trabe should have been made more then an one episode wonder and became as much a threat to voyager as the Kazon were. Perhaps a little chamber music, while they systematically kidnap and experiment on many of the voyager's crew, altering them forever.

6. The ocompa could be written out without batting an eye. Kes was a concept that never quite worked. They should have made her age more drastically in the series, and when cut, should have keep getting revenge on the crew, instead of during a one hour episode.

7. Seska was a cool concept, but being put with the Kazon, just didn't work.

8. The Borg did not deserve to be pussy whipped!!! I can't believe after being in the best star trek two parter of all time (the best of both worlds), and the only next gen movie that didn't suck (first contact), they would destroy one of their best villains in the name of the worst ship in the federation.

9. A forum should have been setup to throw ideas and give input on what voyager had learned about the races. Races should have been as distinctive as that one race that collects organs to survive (never remember their name).

10. They should have spent a season away from the federation, but in the alpha quadrant. I was so looking to watching the voyager crew getting humbled by Garek (in charge of the Cardassian empire) or Martok and Worf.

Good chance to bring back some classic trek races like the Andorians and gorn, and put a new twist on the information to put some original story telling in place.

11. More of a mixture of low tech/high tech. Voyager seemed to be the love boat with virtually no scarse resources (except for that multi-parted episode), unless it was convenient for a plot device. Show them pulling true macgyvers and using low technology in ingenious way to compensate for their lack of resources. show that the federation education works beyond reversing the polarities, and make the ship feel grittier. Also have the ship go through serious appearance changes as they cannibalize their own technology and integrate alien technology. Use this integration as a benchmark to determine where they are on their trip.

12. Kim should have been the voyager equivalent of Bashir, not very liked at first, but evolves into a cool character (perhaps due to Paris'influences). This would be so much better then having him be the "honorary red shirt".

13. Tuvok had potential, but his biggest flaw was that he didn't contrast with the rest of the crew. Show his fighting prowess and his inner conflict. Make him a tad "logically paranoid" and have a touch of fear from the rest of the crew of having a powerful psychic on board. He should have shown his fighting prowess more and showed his extreme training with martial arts he mentioned from time to time. Also, he was the infiltrator of the Marquis. Make him hated and feared by those members of the crew, and give it enough of a justification to make the ship interesting.

14. Races should be cool. Other then the organ races (edit: Vidiian: I love these guys and they have serious potential), I can only remember a couple of the races that weren't used as a convenient plot device. Make the new races mean something and make fans seriously regret not having them in the alpha quadrant.

14. That federation officer that had become a serial killer, would have been so much cooler, if they would have been showing his rehabilitation, instead of poof, your rehabilitated.
Perhaps developing a "silence of the lambs" relationship with one of the female members of the crew.

15. and finally when they finally go back and return to their people, there should have been at least an inquiry and/or a court marshal into the actions in the delta quadrant.

And throw Janeway in the brig for her actions.

Even if she could rationalize her actions, it would make for a last bit of storytelling.

How trek doesn't always mean living happily ever after.

The things I liked about Voyager consist of the following:

1. The Doctor

2, Seven:  originally I used to make the joke that it was seven's breasts, but honestly, she was a descent actor who managed to steal the thunder of the characters around her on acting alone.

3. Captain Proton.

4. Leonardo Davinci (played by John Rhys-Davis...if there was ever a character that should have pulled a Professor James Moriarty, it should have been him.)

...and have him get into bitter arguments with the doc :D

That is my two cents

since I originally wrote this, I've calmed down on Janeway considerably. Kate Mulgrew is a damn good actor with a character that stunk.

I would have made her more of a nerd and played off her rationalization to Chakotay's passion.

edit: The more I think about it. Chakotay would have been better if they have switched actors.

My choice would have been Lorne Cardinal

He can do silly and he can do scary, plus being Cree, he would have pushed back a bit from the new age garbage that voyager pushed as being native american.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

What If Wonder Woman was Gotham's premier Hero?

This question was asked to me on a forum and here's my response:

I would also pull up the lovecraftean overtones of gotham that rear it's heads from time to time.

Afterall, Wonder Woman vs Cthulhu is guaranteed to put butts in seat, especially if she puts together a team of Nightwing, Spoiler, Batgirl (Cassandra Cain), Oracle (you could use the temptation of walking as a major plot point), Bane (the things he'll do for love as he's become the Catwoman analogue), Mr. Freeze, Jason Blood and Zatanna.


a Lovecraftean Joker (he became it's avatar as a joke and the Joker gangs are his acolytes, led by the mad priestess Harley Quinn), Maxie Zeus (it's a father always loved her best issue), Scarecrow (he loves the fear as he's a Phobos bastard), Clayface, Doctor Psycho (because that horrid little man is one of her best villains, and a mad psychic fits the tropes), Killer Croc (mostly going along for the ride, but he's been infused with dark stuff and is Bane's personal enemy after what he did to the batclan and his own personal honor).

Monsters used: Animated dead, Byakhee, Color out of Space, Deep Ones (in gotham harbor), Dhole (because a big ass worm fight in the middle of Gotham would put butts in seats), Ghouls (they have been feeding in the cemetary, the streets and the asylum), Gugs, Hound of Tindalos, Nightgaunt, Shoggoth, Leng Spider, Star Vampires.

Neutrals: Penguin (he just wants to make money), Poison Ivy (she could very easily go either way), Maxima (she has her own agenda and I've always believed she would make an awesome foil for Wonder Woman). Veronica Cale (while she hates wonder woman, she's her own woman), Raj Al Ghul (he wants Gotham to burn, but it's to put out the Lovecraftean horror before it reaches full power and he's the most aware of what they are up against, plus Bane/Raj interaction always is a draw). Two-face (he's been chosen as the avatar of Janus after his disorder and it's a total coin flip whether he helps or harms).

Nora redone as a lovecraftean horror after being "save" would give mr freeze a spatterhouse feel to the character that has it's own ability to draw stories.

and of course Ares is thriving on the violence as he feeds the flames.

Plus I would take a page from the Grimm TV show and make a few classically Greek races and monsters and hide them in plain site. The two big ones are Gorgans and Minotaurs, but I'm sure there are others. Besides dealing with eldritch horrors, wonder woman and co would also have to deal with "the monstrous in everyday life" as they act as mediators between the various factions that are just trying to live their lives within the city.

Plus the Asylum is where we get to see both the heroes and the villains at their worst. Just about everybody gets a breakdown now and then and while it's their best hope for keeping their sanity, it's not pretty.

I think such an environment could drive stories for decades. :)