Sunday, December 18, 2016

Mecha-nations - episode 1 - a new game and a new system.

https://www.twitch.tv/rpglory/v/108416959
We tried a new game where we try a mecha game, with varying results.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Space Ninjas - the Holiday episode

https://www.twitch.tv/rpglory/v/105364342
Just in time for December 5th - the Day of the Ninja.


If you want to have a day of the ninja day of your own like the episode, it includes the following:
  • Ninja Fried Chicken
  • Ninja Tinsel- sharp edges
  • Ninja flashing lights
  • Bright green and red clothes
  • Finding ninjas means you get a cookie
  • Cherry blossom tree decorated as a christmas cheese. Mini bonsai
  • Sexy santa suit Mediator

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Urban Shadows - Episode 4 - We Got the Milk!

https://www.twitch.tv/rpglory/v/100945877
We conclude our epic campaign with getting the milk, and of course have an epic fight.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Of Minotaurs and Men


I like Minotaurs.

Not really a surprise for many.  I'm a large man and Minotaurs always struck a cord.  They have a mythological pedigree that many monsters simply don't.  While they are often portrayed as large, powerful and violent characters, their association with cattle make it not impossible to see them as peaceful either.  Whether as monster or PC, Minotaurs might fall outside the standard races, but not by much.

Mythological History


It all starts in Classical Greek Mythology.  Theseus has been written down many authors such as: Plutarch (46 – 120 AD), a Greek historian and biographer, Ovid (43BC – 17 AD), a Roman poet and Horace (65BC – 8BC), another Roman poet just to name a few.  The story is likely to be much older, having been passed down the generations via word of mouth.  In the epic tale Theseus and the Minotaur,  the first Minotaur was a response to an affair between Queen Pasiphae and a bull sent by Zeus.

She gave birth to Minotaur, a creature half man – half bull. While the King Minos was embarrassed, but did not want to kill the Minotaur, so he hid the monster in the Labyrinth constructed by Daedalus at the Minoan Palace of Knossos.  Despite being a bull, it craved flesh and the King demanded sacrifices on a yearly basis.

It was not until Theseus showed up and fell in favour with the daughter of the king that was able to defeat the mighty beast.

From a gaming perspective, it was arguably one of the 1st gaming dungeons and was also the first example of dungeon hack (the use of twine to trace your steps.  It's key theme was harnessing the beast, as the Minotaur is a symbol of masculinity and virility.  It also may have been an exaggerated tales of the archaeological evidence of bull dancers.  Namely people trained to be acrobatic off of bulls.

Dante's Inferno


This is the next major appearance and it's the same Minotaur from the original Greek myth.  In Circle seven of hell, he appears on the broken slop guardian and symbol of the entire circle of violence. Dante and Virgil were able to pass by unscathed by enraging it about it's death.

Narnia


One of the few fictional accounts I was able to find pre dungeons and dragon.  They were used as little more then a minion of the white queen.  However, in the movies, they underwent what could best be described as a heel / face turn in the modern retelling in the latest Prince Caspian Movie.

Dungeons and Dragons


Minotaurs were originally selected as one of the classical monsters of the past.  It appeared in the red box and the first edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual.  In fact, it's one of those races that has made it in the first monster manual in all editions.

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons - 1st Edition 


When it appeared in the monster manual, they had a mere 2 paragraphs, where it was emphasised the standard tropes of living in labryinth and cruel man-eaters.  They were listed without fear.

For a lot of people, their first picture of a Minotaur was the legendary module/sandbox "the keep of the borderlands" on page 20.    It also shows a degree of evil social interaction with it's neighbours where it agrees to help the bugbears, at the cost of one human slave for every 3 days of service.  It's main difference is that, unlike it's historical counterpart, it's a true monster, rather then a victim of circumstance.

It was in monster manual 2 of the 1st edition that Minotaurs were finally defined of having a patron of sorts.  The Demon Baphomet was made the lord of Minotaurs.  It also setup a rivalry between Gnolls and Minotaurs as their demon lords waged war against each other.

DragonLance


It's first appearance as a viable player character was in the Dragonlance saga, where the Minotaurs appeared as a race of honourable warriors that believe in might makes right.  They started as slaves to dwarves, ogres and then Istar. The great cataclysm freed them from the slavery and their homeland became an island.  However, much like many abused people, they have now become oppressors and their kingdom has declared one day to conquer the entire world till their leader becomes Emperor of all Ansalom.

Physically, they are shorter then their monster manual counterparts, reaching only a mere 7 foot on average.  They use a yearly contest known as the circus which acts as a Minotaur's rite of passage into adult society.  They are family orientated.  They were unusual in that they not only could get a 20 strength in 1st edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, but also had unlimited levels in fighter, at a time when other races were severely restricted.  This is the also the first time that I can recall that Minotaurs could be magic users, in this case a wizard of high sorcery.

The Southern Continent of Krynn is even more Minotaur Infested.  They have a League of the Minotaurs which consists of 5 provinces, each with their own personality and trait.

Stat wise it's hard to argue with a race that has +2 to strength, a potential maximum of strength of 20 and unlimited levels of fighter in 1st edition.  I would have problems chosing another race to act as your fighter.

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons - 2nd edition


The more conventional Minotaur became available as the from the complete book of humanoids where it was the brute of choice.  This creature was based on a curse or the offspring of humans and Minotaurs.  It also said that all Minotaurs were male.  However, it also brought up the possibility of rejecting that very evil.  They also had the possibility of playing a wizard and they even had a picture of one beside the outlaw magic kit.

3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons


In 3rd, it was the monster breakdown example in savage species.  It was presented as the example of how to use the savage species rules to allow a viable character race.  While the rules themselves usually resulted in "glass jaw" characters, the fact it was selected showed that 1. it didn't need a breakdown of it's culture and 2. it was a draw in it's own right.

Kryannian Minotaurs were also updated as a ecl 0 race in the Dragonlance campaign setting and honestly, way more playable because of it.

4th edition Dungeons and Dragons


In 4th, it was listed as a viable pc in the monster manual under racial traits.  Almost immediately after it was released a Hammer build was released on the character optimised forums.   It was mostly due to the mechanical benefit of oversized, that allowed the use of weapons one sized larger.

However, the race itself was fully fleshed out in the players handbook 3.  Here they were represented as a race that straddled the line between savagery and civilisation.  Baphomet is presented as the devil to them, what would happen if they gave into their deepest impulses.  They had a fascination with labyrinths and was used on everything from clothing and architecture.  They were also presented as clan-like and compensated from their aggressive nature by using order to reign in the beast.  However, what is particularly interesting is that Minotaurs were now allowed to be of both genders, which opens a wide range of Minotaur concepts and ideas.  They also favoured barbarian, fighter and warden class, which emphasised their physical prowess.  However the warden class was a fascinating fusion of nature's champion and wish it would have made the cut for 5e.  This class, more then any other, defined the Minotaur, a fusion of the natural and the martial.

5th edition Dungeons and Dragons


It has yet to appear in 5th as a viable character, but with Volo's guide to monsters coming up, I'd wouldn't be surprised if it appears when it's released.

There was an Unearthed Arcana article where the Krynnian Minotaur was fleshed out, so yet again, it shows the popularity of the race in dungeons and dragons.  It keeps being used as one of the 1st choices for an optional race.

Other Gaming Resources


World of Warcraft 

I would argue that one of the reasons that the Minotaur has reached predominance is under the name Tauren.  They are a stoic race that represents the honourable enemy to those of the alliance and an tempering ally of the horde.

http://wowwiki.wikia.com/wiki/Tauren

Midgard Campaign Setting


Minotaurs are a prominent race of the Midgard campaign setting done by Kobold Press.  They are a broken culture and now inhabit the countries of other people.  Their conflict between the civilised and savagery is brought to the forefront and they are portrayed as a race that is equal capacity for good and evil because of it. The savage first, an immortal Minotaur of immense brutality and the influence of the moon and sea, that gave them a civilisation on par with the greatest kingdoms, will forever control their destiny.  They are guided by family and the need to prove themselves as the Minotaurs of this setting are very competitive to be the best.  By showing a civilized option, it really opens up the options for Minotaur PCs.

http://www.gnomestew.com/reviews/midgard-campaign-setting-review/


Dark Revelations - the Role Playing Game

In this role playing game, Minotaurs come from the far flung future where the time of revelations drove them back to the current era.  They can be best described as Raiders of metal and more details are listed below.

http://www.drevrpg.com/2015/06/book-of-arrogance-sneak-peaks.html

Overall characteristics


I guess the reason they are relatively widespread as far as monsters go are the following characteristics:


  • They are a long running humanoid in mythology, running back to greek mythology. 
  • It's a race that's easy to define (bull man)
  • They are big and scary, but can be almost lovable in certain situations.  Heck my nickname for them are Chewbacca Cows.  They fit into the 'almost cuddly' monster race territory.
  • They have a legacy beyond the original myth, in first Dragonlance, and then eventually other settings, such as Warcraft.
  • They have that savage barbarian feel that all the pcs like.
  • There are a lot of cow related puns which can make for amusing character names. 


Famous Minotaurs


Minotaurs seem way more popular in gaming then other sources.  They are usually presented as either the obstacle to oppose or a villain to fight, a side character, or an interesting extra.  I think I will include a link to tvtropes to fill in most of the holes of these cameos.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ALoadOfBull

However, there are a few that require key emphasis in showing the potential of the characters

Cairne Bloodhoof (WoW):  The Tauren Chief that united the Tauren and had them join the horde.  His wierd combination of honor and racism made a truely fascinating character.  His son Baine was equally interesting in trying to run in his father's hoof steps and acts as a moderating effect on the horde as a whole.

http://wowwiki.wikia.com/wiki/Cairne_Bloodhoof

Ferdinand: Technically Ferdinand is a Minotaur (or rather, a Kythotaur as he's from Kythos) who serves as a chef at the Themysciran Embassy.  While more a fun concept then actually played out, I've always thought wonder woman should be a place where they play up the monsterous in everyday life and that's a fun quirk for a Minotaur PC.

http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Ferdinand_(New_Earth)

Ludo (Labyrinth):  This one might be stretching it, but a massive horned monster in a Labyrinth definately qualifies as a Minotaur.  He was monsterous, but gentle.  Plus his summoning of the rocks that are his friends gives him a primal element.

http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Ludo

Kaz the Minotaur (Dragonlance Chronicles): This is the Minotaur that justified all pcs. A renagade Minotaur that became a knight.

http://dragonlancenexus.com/lexicon/index.php?title=Kaz_the_Minotaur
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaz_the_Minotaur

Krunch (Looking for Group):  Acting as balence between his good and evil companions.  He is noteworthy in that he shown to be highly intelligent and his rage legendary.

http://lookingforgroup.wikia.com/wiki/Krunch_Bloodrage

Taurus (Mutants & Masterminds):  This is a unique spin on the original minotaur as he grew out of his primal age and became a mob boss.  The Tony Soprano of minotaurs.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/TabletopGame/FreedomCity

Rintrah (Marvel - Earth-616): this alien minotaur is fun that it's presenting a spellcasting minotaur outside of gaming.

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Rintrah_(Earth-616)

Personal Minotaur Characters


The following are some of my Minotaur characters in the past.

Kyle of Warrick:  He was the 2nd son of a local baron, cursed by a witch, but still a knight and required to do his duty for the family.  It was an interesting game where I was playing a cultured monster in a world of mostly human characters.

Angus McGuinness of the McGuinness Clan:  Granted a charter by the Rulers of Cormyr.  These brave clan of Minotaurs had sworn feality in the stonelands and kept the goblinoids at bay.  This was one of the older sons of the clan.  They were played somewhat scottish and presented how savagry could be developed.  His Sister, Ethel, was studying to become a wizard. In many ways, this was an expansion on Kyle of Warrick, but instead of an individual, you had a family.

Axel Thunderpipes:  From my world world, He is a legendary Minotaur in charge of the clan from Ed-town. His Clan controls the Colosseum and the musical scene in the area that would make Ozzy proud.  He wields two axes, one for fighting and one for jaming and he's a master of both.

Other Sources


The Minotaur Trilogy by Thomas Burnett Swann:   I have not read this series yet, but morbidly curious to see what it's about the Minotaur named Silver Bells.  If anybody has read this series, let me know.

Conclusion


Ultimately, I think we have barely scratched the surface of the raw potential ofthe Minotaur as a media figure.  Most gamers already see the potential and I bring out a call to tell me all about your own experiences with these mighty humanoids. :)

Forum Threads


https://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?610501-when-the-heck-did-the-minotaur-become-so-beloved-in-dnd&highlight=Minotaurs+Lewd+Beholder

https://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?790681-Famous-Minotaurs-of-Fiction

https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/minotaurs-in-fiction.437560/

Bibliography

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minotaur

Historical

http://www.storynory.com/2008/06/09/the-minotaur/
http://www.theoi.com/Ther/Minotauros.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minotaur

http://www.kundaliniawakeningsystems1.com/downloads/thomas-bulfinchs-mythology-age-of-fable-vols1%262.pdf

http://www.penn.museum/documents/publications/expedition/PDFs/53-3/McInerney.pdf

Dante's Inferno

http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/circle7.html

Narnia Minotaurs

http://narnia.wikia.com/wiki/Minotaur

Dragonlance wiki - Minotaurs

http://dragonlancenexus.com/rules/minotaur/


Dungeons and Dragons

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minotaur_(Dungeons_%26_Dragons)

3rd edition srd

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/minotaur.htm

4e Wiki 

http://dnd4.wikia.com/wiki/Minotaur

5e Links 

https://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Minotaur_(5e_Race)
https://media.wizards.com/2015/downloads/dnd/UA_Waterborne_v3.pdf

World of Warcraft

http://wowwiki.wikia.com/wiki/Tauren

Season 8 Episode 20 - Of Minotaurs and Skills
http://rpgcircus.com/node/274

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Saurials of the Lost Vale Coming out Next Week.

My latest Project is in the final stages, and should be out on Sept 29th, 2016 on the Dungeonmasters Guild:

Here is the Elevator Speech:

The Saurials of the Lost Vale






From the depths of time, The Saurials have descended upon the Forgotten Realms.  This ancient primal race has been quiet for at least 2 editions.   They are silent no more as their secrets have been unveiled from their Lost Vale at last.  

  • The History of the Saurials and what has happened to them since the Finder Stone trilogy.
  • The Saurials, now updated for 5e Dungeons and Dragons.
  • The Lost Vale - gateway to Anauroch.
  • The Saurial Homeworld - rediscovered and fleshed out.
  • New class options for Saurials.
  • New monsters revealed and old monsters redefined.
  • and much, much more.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Space Janitor's of Fate - Part 16 - Hallucinatory Donuts and Rocket Ships

https://www.twitch.tv/rpglory/v/88882781

 Due to lack of nurse, RD and Mike recruit a new buddy to help with the various schemes, and it goes about as well as expected. and a long forgotten secret rears it's ugly head.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Fighting Games and You.




I like fighting games.

I've been playing them for a long time.

I enjoy spending time on the couch challenging a good friend as we try to out fight one another.

Recently we got access to king of fighters XIV

We also rant and critique fighting games and it seemed like a good excuse to post this.

Here are my stipulations to assist in future fighting game design and  to explain what works and what doesn't:

1.     Couch co-op:  While multiplayer online can be fun, I honestly prefer to be in the same room as my opponent.
**JAY says:  We’re pretty old school that way.

2. kof's Controller Select:  While not a deal breaker, picking your characters in street fighter IV often required us to swap controllers.  King of Fighters still has the best select for controllers as you pick which side before you start the game.  All fighting games should have this.
**JAY says:  This is for couch co-op, when in SFIV playing vs. if you pushed start to soon you’d switch sides on the screen.  Strange, strange quirk.

3. A good random mode:  In my opinion, people who play a single character are essentially eating lucky charms and only eating the blue diamonds.  Part of the fun of fighting Games is rolling and having to fight with a character that you might not be familiar with.   However, this does mean...

4. All character's need to be balanced:  If any characters are broken, this will make point 3 really unfun.  
**JAY says:  Where SFV did get it right is re-balancing some weird quirks early on.  Good Job!  Each character feels pretty balanced.

5. Characters need personality.  part of the fun of fighting games is playing interesting characters.  While it isn't completely necessary. KOF XIII did it brilliantly by having not only custom final comments depending on whom was beat, but also included silly openers in the arcade mode that showed this interaction.  KOF XIV took this a step further by having comedy sketches with some of their characters when they interact.  I'd include both.  It should follow what I call "professional wrestling storytelling."  Namely setting up the reason for the fight to lay down better interaction and more emotional heft for the fight itself.

6. Online chaos mode: this is an extension of 3.  There should be a mode where you are tested, not on your skill with a single character, but on your ability to adapt to any character that is selected randomly.  Any bonuses obtained from normal tournament would be tripled.
**JAY says:  This is just probably us talking though 😊  However, out of all the chaotic and insane things MKX gave us, it didn’t really have this.

7. It should be easy to read:  A side effect of the improvement of screen is smaller and smaller text.  Make sure your game is easy to read, especially when it should contain move lists.
**JAY says:  WHY is HD mean your text is 2 point font, and even on the big 50’’ TV still blurry, small and neigh impossible to read without sticking your nose on the TV.  If the game is for the PC, I kind of understand this is something companies cheap out on changing.  But console only games have no excuse.  I miss 20 point bolded comic sans and sans serif from PS1.

What they shouldn't do is.

1.     make achievements controller dependent:  We tried the new Mortal Kombat and were immediately cheezed off by the need to unlock everything twice, unless we "payed to win."  Simply put, this is unacceptable.
**JAY says:  Way, way back during the ushering in of the new (now old) consoles, like PS3, I recall seeing an interview with some business reps saying that the era of the $100 game was just around the corner and that market would happily accept micro-transactions for virtually everything, including stuff that use to be standard features.  They totally called it.   Can’t find the original video, but here’s a newer one a lot of folks know about.  





2. Be too shiny?  Marvel vs Capcom 3 was one of the biggest disappointments involving fighting games, not only for the shabby game play, but also for the fact that the screen induced severe headaches in myself.  Other culprits include the Sony playstation game, Keep it toned down, and we'll play your game more.  
**JAY says: That would be Playstation All-Stars.   Both where trying too hard to be Smash Bros. which was a bit of lightning in the bottle.

3) Forget to make online stable:
**JAY says: OK after SFIV, MKX, DC: Injustice, KOFXIII, KOFXIV, and some other older figthers working just fine online, why does the SFV (the new pinnacle of tournament fighters, at least that’s how its selling itself) have such issues online?  I have frame dropoff, ghosting, input delays, screen jumping and just about anything else that makes it virtually impossible to play.  Testing my connection and ensuring everything was running smoothly didn’t fix the problem.

4) Forget the open architecture and stick with disk locks:
**JAY says: Yes I know many companies have started to limit on disk DLC locks after getting their knuckles wrapped a bit…though perhaps not hard enough.  But if your going to give us online unlocks they have to be meaningful and inexpensive.   Ensure you build your game to grow for at least 3-4 years without a full rebuy.  This really will make those seasons passes matter.

5) Make season passes that are as expensive as the game:
**JAY says:  This is for ALL GAMES, and not just fighting games.  But for fighting games, adding another $60 to $80 cnd for a 3 or 4 characters and some skins is NOT the same as getting entire new levels or kingdoms to play through in say a RPG.   So far, most have been smart is using micro-transactions so you don’t notice the build up.

6) Forget the new players:
**JAY says:  This does not mean you have to make the game easy mode.  But certain things need to be done to get new players into the property (which means more $$, duh).  There has to be happy balance of easy to use, but hard to master; its been essential for all good fighting games.  For online, make sure that rank matches make sense and are even as possible.  As for casual mode, well see Chaos mode above for a possible solution to a near perfect player walking over newbies in “causal” matches of horrid beat downs. 

What you as the consumer should do is…

1)    Wait:
**JAY says:  If you are buying a really established title that will most likely not be cycled off a server, wait 6 to 8 months for a price drop.  This is especially true of revamps or updates, and things with ridiculously priced season packs.  SFV is finally falling to around $45 cnd (from about $70) and with a reasonable season pass cost you can get virtually all the extra content…though some things you will either have to earn or pay for still….

2)    Limit:

**JAY says:  Yep, with not a lot of money to spend and too many things to get, I now limit myself to 2 triple A full priced games a year, max.  This means a lot of deserving, and probably good titles will be passed over, but that’s the way the market wants it.  So try to find the not so big players and support them first before the big serial titles.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Thursday, September 1, 2016

About Movies - When is a remake justified?

With special thanks for those people at Spacebattles.com
https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/examples-of-successful-reboots.422960/

These are a common thing that has happened since the beginning of time.

While people complain that it's gotten worse, the simple fact that we've been retelling stories for generations.

But what do you need for a successful remake to happen?

I've been stewing on it and come up with the following rules to have a successful remake.

1. It needs to justify why it's a remake. Robocop and Ghostbusters can't justify a remake because honestly, minimal issues with both in their proper context and remaking them means you'll always be comparing them to the original. That's a high bar that is virtually impossible to beat.  Do not try to remake these unless your incredibly sure it will succeed, and also don't come crying when it doesn't.

2. If they are full flops, unless there was an outside of the movie reason (ex. John Carter's exploding budget and crappy marketing campaign), it is probably a good idea to not do it.

3. They need a hook or be otherwise novel that makes it different. A current popular actor that would be perfect for a specific character, a distinctive director whose normal take would bring something new, or a new animation technique that brings something fictional to life (ex. the cgi balrog from fellowship). make sure it's there before you start. Heck a fad could justify it's remake if it really does tie into it.

It's often easier to do a lateral reboot so it has the name, but not the baggage.

4.  A remake that jumps between cultures has to be treaded lightly as it may lose what made it awesome in the first place.

5. Whom is your demographic?:  There will always be a balancing act between the original material and any remake of material.  Your remake needs to be able to draw in the original fans as well as open it up to a new generation.  If you start insulting either, you've already lost.

With that in mind, the best remake fodder are "near misses."

For me it is the borderline flops that you can honestly say "if they only did <insert action here> it would be way better" that should be your 1st choices for remakes.

It also gives you more wiggle room to make it your own.

Examples of great reboots: 

Examples of successful reboots (as far as movies go) include.

1.  Ben-Hur (1959 film): technically a remake of the 1925 silent movie.  It's the definitive version and is the high point of an era (that ended with a funny thing happened to the way to the forum).  It works because of it's era, the expense spent and it is a cultural touch point for a generation.

2. The Thing (1982):  A remake of Howard Hawks' 1951 film of the same name and a re-adaptation of the John W. Campbell Jr. story.  While it ultimately it was a flop and became a cult movie, it is an example  of the overall quality and is better remembered because of it.

3. Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992):  Bela Lugosi's Dracula defined the character for over 70 years, and while there have been many remakes of it, I'm bringing up this version as it was high budget, had a different feel then the original, and gave it its own spin.

4. Ocean's 11 (2001):  This one shouldn't have worked, but it does.  The original was the rat pack in their prime and honestly, it only worked because it was several generations later.

5. King Kong (2005):  The original is a stop animation classic, and I had my misgivings about this remake, but was very pleasantly surprised.  It was slow, but well defined and Peter Jackson obviously loved the original source material.

6. True Grit (2010):  The John Wayne classic is another one of those  "if there wasn't generations between the two"., it could have flopped hard.  Instead its one of the better western movies of the last 10 years.

7. Dredd (2012): Is both an overwhelming success and a cautionary tale at the same time.  It was a fantastic movie that was forced to compete with not only the 90's Sylvester Stallone movie in 1995, but an Indonesian action movie called the raid, that had a very similar plot.  While commercially a flop, it erased the stigma of the original movie and they have been lobbying hard to continue the franchise.  I wish them good fortune as it was much better that the 1995 version.

8. Batman Begins (2005):  Batman and Robin almost completely destroyed not only the character, but the entire superhero genre.  After the successes of Blade, X-men and Spiderman, they managed to successfully retool Batman for a new generation.

9. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015):  This movie was in developmental hell for almost a generation.  It almost became an animated movie and the original star of the movies was estranged from Hollywood.  Then it comes out and not only it was good, it is arguably the best of the franchise.  It is a very simple chase movie with a ton of personality.

10. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015):  While my opinion of the movie is mixed, it is an example of a movie reboot after bad prequels.  They even used another franchise to test out material (Guardians of the Galaxy) to test out the storytelling and stayed with a Conservative storytelling.  While only time will tell how good it is, the ground work has been laid.

11. My Fair Lady (1964):  This is a story that was told since ancient times and is an example of how a story changes from Pygmalion to Pretty Woman.

Other examples of successful movie reboots
A Fistful of Dollars (per un Pugno di Dollari)(1964), Assault on Precient 13 (1976), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), The Evil Dead (2013), Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995),
Invasion of the body snatchers (1978), Jurassic World (2015), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Scarface (1983), The Fly (1986),

TV Reboots

1. Battlestar Galactica:  The reboot of a cheesy early 80's scifi into a grim space survival story was amazing, even if the ending kinda stunk.

2. Buffy the Vampire Hunter: This one is unusual is that it is based on a silly movie and got redefined and ended up creating a successful tv show with amazing characters, excellent dialogue and even one equally good spin off series (angel)

3. Doctor Who:  The relaunch of doctor who in 2008 was the return of an old friend.  While I haven't agreed with every single change, I am impressed that it was returned with a vengeance, after a long hiatus.  In many ways, it is not so much a reboot as a continuation of the original series as they consider previous episodes are canon (as much as they ever get).

4. Star Trek: The Next Generation:  The original star trek could have been an anomaly that was easily forgotten.  It was beaten hard in the ratings by Lost in Space, a campy scifi comedy, to the point it was cancelled prematurely, but somehow it arose from the ashes to become the definitive scifi that all others are measured.  I consider the next generation more definitive a reboot then even the movies as 1. they had a completely new cast and 2. they were a continuation a generation later of the original series, thus giving them both material and freedom to do their own thing.   It started shaky and even cringeworthy, but it defined star trek for at least a decade, especially with it's sequal series.

5. Transformers: Beast Wars:  Transformers was dead as a concept when mainframe entertainment did this series and they breathed it new life with excellent characters and superior storytelling.

What Could be a Great Remake?


Blakes 7 (TV Series 1978–1981):  This series could be argued that it's been rebooted already.  It has had the influence on the following shows: Outlaw Star, Firefly, and more recently Dark Matter.  While nobody will be able to fill Avon's boots, it would be fun to see  where an official reboot would occur.

Damnation Alley (1977):  It's main reason for flopping hard is that it went head to head with Star Wars. Give it a cgi budget for monsters, make it a tad closer to the book, update the Landmaster and treat it like a road movie. hell Fury Road just cleared the way for it to jump on it's coat tails.

John Carter (2012):  Some movies end up in development hell. This one ended up in development hell for decades and was sabotaged at every step of the way.  I would recommend John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood for the full details.  It breaks my heart that the book series that all action movies are based on was sabotaged.  I think a solid reboot could vindicate how good a series this really is.

Robotech (1985):  For a generation, this defined anime, but it's star and controversal origins, have left it in limbo. If the robotech licence to be redone as it's own series and allowed macross to be released in north america, I think it would be awesome.

Runaway (1984):  This was requested by an associate and it would be fun to see a remake.  It's base premise could easily be updated with todays technology and it's not well known.

Tank Girl (1995):  With the success of fury road, this movie would be awesome remade in a similar manner.  It was a flop with potential.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thoughts about Gnomes

I like Gnomes.

I like the concept of a diminutive race with a beard and a silly hat that has magical abilities.  It has a pedigree greater then Hobbits or Kobolds and as long as Fairies.

However, when I was listening to an episode of Ken and Rob talk about stuff, they said an off hand comment about how Gnomes were redundant.

Metagamer's Anonymous followed it up with a similar response.

I thought it was time to flesh out the concept

I guess my question to anybody using Gnomes as either a pc or npc is to decide what sort of Gnome you wish to use.  Too often they are created as skinny dwarves or short elves, but they encapsulate a lot more concepts and ideas.

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History of Gnomes


Medieval Gnomes


The word originally comes from Renaissance Latin gnomus, which first appears in the works of 16th century Swiss alchemist Paracelsus,

It is possible it was derived from the term from Latin gēnomos (itself representing a Greek γη-νομος, literally "earth-dweller").

Auroieus Phillipus Theostrasus Bombastus von Hohenheim. better known as Paracelsus
"The type of gnome most frequently seen is the brownie, or elf, a mischievous and grotesque little creature from twelve to eighteen inches high, usually dressed in green or russet brown. Most of them appear as very aged, often with long white beards, and their figures are inclined to rotundity. They can be seen scampering out of holes in the stumps of trees and sometimes they vanish by actually dissolving into the tree itself." Paracelsus

Gnomes may be malicious or tricky when their trust is not earned, but loyal and nurturing if they are not in some manner betrayed. Their association with the direction North causes them to be, at times, despondent and melancholy.

The Garden Gnome


The garden gnome is called “Gartenzwerg” in German, which translates to “garden dwarf.”

Most people are familiar with  gnomes, not from literature, but as ornaments that appear on your lawn.

Garden statuary has been common in Europe at least since the Renaissance.  Among the figures depicted were gobbi (Italian for dwarfs or hunchbacks). In particular, Jacques Callot produced 21 designs for gobbi, engraved and printed in 1616.

mall gnome statues began appearing in Europe in the early 1600s, but the garden or lawn gnomes as we know them appeared in Germany in the mid- to late 1800s. The gnome was used because local myths suggested that underground gnomes came alive at night to work in the garden and protect the gardens from evil sorcery.

Garden gnomes were first introduced to the United Kingdom in 1847 by Sir Charles Isham, 10th Baronet, when he brought 21 terracotta figures back from a trip to Germany and placed them as ornaments in the garden.

While not gaming material, I will argue that this image is the default of gnomes in popular culture and has affected gaming to some degree.

From Dungeons and Dragons


The gnome first appeared in the original 1974 edition of Dungeons & Dragons (and thus gaming as a whole), and in its second supplement, Blackmoor (1975).
"Gnomes are an open and trusting people whose lives revolve around their work. While kind to each other and their patrons, gnomes are easily annoyed by individuals who needlessly  distract  them from their precious work.  You can see they really were skinny dwarves at this stage of development.  The only major change was the fact that gnomes were nomadic, in effect, wandering journeymen.  The thirst of knowledge, rather then gold, fueled their wanderlust."

This was the archetype until the fiend folio was released, where the Svirfneblin, or deep gnome was added to the equation.  It went back to their elemental roots and created an "under-race", to go with the drow and duragar of the elves and dwarves respectively.  It became a viable character in 1st edition adnd unearthed arcana where it proved fairly popular (and when combined with the dart rules before 3e, absolutely terrifying)

The next great archetype of gnomes was the Tinker Gnome. They are an overly inquisitive and curious race,that often leads into danger or trouble. They're always trying to tinker with the way things work or function. They will tinker with magical or mechanical devices just to see if there's a way to make them better or just to see how they work. Tinker gnomes have been known to put so much of their time and energy into research & development of new mechanical devices or new magics that they lose track of all time.  Unfortunately, Dragonlance was known as the land of annoying races, and is responsible for some of the most irritating qualities of Gnomes when they are considered distinct.

The 2e complete books of Gnomes and Halflings added the forest gnome to the mix.  This is a throwback concept to early interpretations in literature and various media at the time.  They went back to sneaky forest folk that often acted as animal guardians that sneaked really well.

Of particular of note is Zilargo is the Gnome civilisation in Eberron, the world created by dungeons and dragons for 3rd edition. The Zil are a people that thirst for knowledge. Everything from the smallest bit of gossip to the biggest of state secrets is ambrosia to a gnome of Zilargo. As a result it is a place of a communal secret police that is ingrained into their culture.

4e gnomes are funny when compared to their ill.  They were not in the 4e phb which is the first time they weren't in one.  In fact this was a common joke as shown by the following flash video.



They were defined in the monster manual with the following block of text

“Gnomes are sly tricksters who excel at avoiding notice as they move between the Feywild and the world, driven by curiosity and wanderlust. When they are noticed, they tend to use humor to deflect attention and hide their true thoughts.”

When they finally arrived as a viable pc, they were in the player's handbook 2 as they thematically fit the book better (it was the primal power source book).  In it they were defined as less mechanically inclined and more likely to be the sneaky folk. They are more fey then genius and a lot of there racial powers emphasized their mastery of illusions.

5e Gnomes feel like they are trying their darmdest to fill in the roles of previous editions.  Honestly, I think it's exasperating the issue of not defining them yet again, but there's a lot you can do with it because of the breadth.  However, the 5e PHB art of the small folk is simply horrendous which might deter future pcs.

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World of Warcraft


World of warcraft took the tinker gnome aspect from dragonlance, and played it much straighter, abet with tons of humor.  As a result, they (and goblins) are responsible for much of the innovation of that world.  They have been forced into exile when Gnomeregan was destroyed.  The Trogg invasion of their homeland still occurs to this day.



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Pathfinder Gnomes  


The First World, from which the gnomish race originally hails, is a land of wild imaginations and impossibility, where the Eldest of that plane have the power to reshape reality on a whim. Even though our own world has magic and other fantastical wonders, it is nevertheless based on a physical reality that is constant and unchanging. Because of their heritage, gnomes have difficulty coping with and accepting this reality, and must therefore constantly strive to innovate, dream, and take in new experiences.

As a result, Gnomes of Pathfinder have to keep themselves from being bored as they will die.

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Key Features


A buddy of mine said to reduce the gnome concept to it's absolute base.  After some thought, I've been able to reduce it to the following:
1. Brilliant.  Gnomes know things. Whether they are simply clever or masters of magic and technology, the fact is Gnomes are, as a rule, brilliant at learning.  Whether they are competent with the material is another matter entirely.
2. Short.  Gnomes are shorter then even Halflings.  In fact Gnomes have appeared in the literature as small as mouse sized.
3. Sneaky.  Gnomes are sneaky bastards.  Whether it's with word play or the ability to creep in and out of houses undetected, the fact is taking a gnome at face value is a risky proposition, even if they are on your side.
4. Their Nose.  They usually end up with a nose that is much larger then the rest of their face when compared to humans.  This also gives them a keen sense of smell when compared to other races.

Base Culture: The more I look at the literature of Gnomes that existed before gaming, they seem to be a personification of the German Volk (German for peasant).  This shows in their attire, their architecture, their association with animals and like peasants, they are unknowable.  This gives you a base to build your character as you see fit.

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Archetypes

As seen by the historical check, there are a number of archetypes for gnomes that are different drastically:

1. creepy sneaky people that steal valuables and children.
2. elementals tied to the planet earth.
3. mad geniuses of magic and technology.
4. lovable tricksters and rogues.
5. the forgotten folk, who are the fey you don't see.
6. homicidal psychotics that have infected your garden.
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Near Species 


There are number of species from various that are close enough to gnomes to be enveloped by them

Leperchaun: In many ways the traditional Leperchaun fits the gaming gnome archetype closer then traditional Gnome folklore. They are tricksters, and often away from house and home.  Heck, we even used it as a build for our st. Patrick's Day special in 2015.

http://www.drevrpg.com/2015/03/jays-builds-for-drev-st-paddys-special.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leprechaun

Redcap: A red cap or redcap, also known as a powrie or dunter, is a type of malevolent, murderous dwarf, goblin, elf or fairy found in Border Folklore. It is super easy to just use this to reinterpret this as a evil gnome and would also explain the red caps that seem to be favored by Gnomes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redcap

Smurfs: Smurfs seem to fill the same niche in literature as the standard gnomes.  It should be relatively easy to take one of their storylines and tweak it to be used by gnomes.

http://www.smurf.com/



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Examples of Gnomes

David the Gnome, Dungeon Master (Dungeons and Dragons animated cartoon), Geblin Mekkatorque (World of Warcraft), Gnomes of Zurich, Mechazod (World of Warcraft), Jan Jansen (Forgotten Realms) Rumplestilskin (Brother's Grimm), The Nomes of Oz (Ozma of Oz/Return to Oz), The Gnomes from Three Hearts and Three Lions, Tinker Gnomes (Dragonlance), Underpant Gnomes (South Park)

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References


Gnome Folklore
https://www.britannica.com/art/gnome

How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack
http://www.howtosurviveagardengnomeattack.com/

Our Gnomes Are Weirder
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OurGnomesAreWeirder

Ken and Rob talk about stuff
http://www.kenandrobintalkaboutstuff.com/index.php/episode-171-live-from-dragonmeet-2015/

Metagamers Anonymous - entire episode
http://www.prismatictsunami.com/archives/1476

Silly gnome names
https://www.reddit.com/r/DnD/comments/1j9al5/silly_gnome_names/

The History and Mythology of Garden Gnomes
http://www.balconycontainergardening.com/design/454-garden-gnomes

garden gnome - wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garden_gnome

Gnomes
http://www.mythicalcreaturesguide.com/page/Gnome

http://www.gnomesandfairies.com/mythology.html

Gnome D&D
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnome_(Dungeons_%26_Dragons)

Wow gnomes
http://wowwiki.wikia.com/wiki/Gnome

Gnome, Tinker (3.5e Race)
https://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Gnome,_Tinker_(3.5e_Race)

Pathfinder Gnomes
http://pathfinderwiki.com/wiki/Gnome

Eberon Gnomes
http://eberron.wikia.com/wiki/Gnome

Gnome
http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Gnome

Gnomes: Written by Wil Huygen, 1977 Edition, (New Edition) Publisher: Harry N. Abrams [Hardcover] Hardcover – May 16 1977, ISBN 9026949588

PHBR9 The Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings (2e), Wizards of the Coast; 2nd edition (March 9, 1993), ISBN-13: 978-1560765738

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Gotham - Season 02 - A Perspective.

I decided to do a marathon of Gotham recently.

I came to the conclusion it is theatre sports the show.

The acting is surprisingly good, but the storytelling is very disjointed.

It is vastly improved from season 1, but it's honestly trying to be game of thrones with better ethics.

The Good

Penguin:  The Penguin's actor continues to excel, but he was used as a theatre sports tool.  While it made sense in the storyline, it felt like we were getting a "penguin for all occasions."
It's amazing how much we sympathised with the Penguin despite he is pretty much a horrible, abet organised monster.

I hated how they fridged both parents because  One of the greatest what if's of this series we never got Paul Ruebin and Carol Kane on stage at the same time, because both were fantastic and I'd love to have watched them feed on each other.

He and Butch with the Rocket Launcher pretty much stole the entire series.

As sacrilegious as it might be, I would have had him disappear for a season after he got cured, and only show up twice.  1. with butch and the rocket launcher and 2. when fish mooney showed up later.


Riddler:  It broke my heart to see him fall down (because I think he really loved her), but he's now officially a full fledged supervillain.  It's kind of fascinating how, unlike penguin, he really is insane and it makes his actions all the more heartbreaking.  His saving of Penguin showed serious chemistry between both characters, and his scene with Catwoman in the ventilation shaft was brilliant.  I'm getting a serious vibe that Penguin, Riddle and Catwoman are most likely going to be one faction in the next season which will ultimately lead to the foundation of the rogues gallery when they decide to do batman (most likely after the series ends).

Catwoman:  I like where she is.  She's the most sociable of the characters able to cross the hero/villain line unlike just about anybody else.  I also love how they kept her as a thief with a heart of gold. She really is in a difficult position overall.

Captain Nathaniel Barnes:  I think this character was fantastic, but truth be told, I could watch Michael Chiklis read the phonebook.  He is, quite honestly, the last good cop in gotham that hasn't been corrupted in some fashion, which makes his contrast with Gordon all the more telling.  In many ways, he played the role, Harvey Dent and/or Jim Gordon should have played.  The white knight fighting againt an overwhelming force.  I hope he survived and will be back next season.

Harvey Bullock:  He was, along with Penguin, the main draw last season.  His abrasive but well meaning style still rocks, but I disliked him being sidelined somewhat.  Still, I'm looking forward to his new authority as police commissioner, a role he really doesn't want, but has help reduce his corruption significantly.

Getting There

Barbera Keane:  The fact she's being listed here should say a lot about her improvement as a character.  In season 1, I hated her character as a self righteous twit.  However, as a psychotic villain, she seems to have come into her own.  I'm still not sure where they are leading with it, but I look forward to the ride.

Hugo Strange:  This strange hybrid of Fu Manchu and William Shatner really grew on me.  I like how he's using Arkham to make monsters and will be responsible for why the freaks beat the mob.
He chewed the scenery like cardboard, but he was a good catalyst of things to come.

Victor Fries:  My favourite version of Fries  will always be the DCAU version and it always broke my heart when they made him a loathsome monster in the reboot. However, in gotham, it sort of works, and it's kind of funny how he was the catalyst for the era of freaks.  In many ways, his arc is how all of gotham's story arcs should have happened: 3 parts focus, with small consequences.

Firefly:  I felt for her hard in her own arc, and she's a living embodiment of why Catwoman doesn't trust adults.  After her Resurrection, she's even worse with the delusions of a goddess.  I'm not sure if her arc is done, but I kind of want more.

Leslie Thompkins:  It's annoying she had to be cut out part way during the season, but overall I liked the character.  I just wish she was more then "Gordon's woman."

The Meh

Alfred:  he's the closest to getting there or the good as you can get without actually being there. Sean Pertwee does a great job, but he really is the beta lead in this show, which means he doesn't get the girl, and gets beat up a lot.  If he wasn't so lovable, I'd probably be angry with his portrayal.

Lucius Fox:  Not a bad character per say, but he comes off as "that black friend" and a civilian rather then a main character.

Jerome:  I know a lot of people liked him as Joker Junior, and while he didn't irritate me, I thought he took away valuable screen time from other, more interesting characters.  I cheered when he died, and grew dismayed when he came back from the dead.

Jim Gordon:  He's better then last season, but I find him the least interesting character in this series made all the worse because he's a focal character.  I kind of want a season where Jim isn't there, just to see how bad it would go.

Young Bruce Wayne:  He managed to dig himself out of the bad character with a few solid scenes, but honestly, he annoys me on screen.  I'd rather have him, spend the rest of the series in europe. :p

Theo Galavan:  This character makes sense and annoys me at the same time.  Despite being a horrible monster in the name of revenge for the 1st part, he's technically in the right.  There is a council of families that have messed up Gotham and made it what it is today.  However, his methods are bonkers without being entertaining.  While it was kind of fun seeing him become Azrael in the 2nd act.  But honestly, he kinda felt like a waste of limited time.

Fish Mooney:  I can take or leave the character, and while her return made many rage, I am going to give her the benefit of the doubt ,as she is most likely to be the driver for the next season.

The Bad

I think ultimately this series has too many characters so it's becoming a muddled mass that is difficult to follow.  they almost need to cull the cast to get better storytelling.

What I want.

Honestly, I'm not sure.  I think it was more enjoyable as I caught up after the season was over and while I'd love to see most of the people listed under the good and getting there, I might do something similar for the next season as it seemed to have less stewing time to point out it's flaws.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Computer Hacking and Roleplaying

Note: The following is merely for tabletop role-playing purposes and not for actual hacking.

Overview


  • We are in a post cyber punk environment.
  • Hacking is pushing something to make it do something outside of the norm...an anomaly.
  • A motivated hacker will get in.
  • The Focus is act vs result
  • Result needs to be the focus for rpgs.
  • The act needs to be defined by the rule mechanics.


What does the act require?



1.  Skill
- while you need skill to perform the task, the main purpose of the skill is to be able to detect anomaly's that can be exploited.
- hacking is a slow with an occasional eureka moments.  It's best to treat most of it not unlike travelling in an rpg.

2. Tools
- tools are relatively cheap for the base usage
- however a lot of tools are for a single job (such as a bot net, security key, etc) and are effectively consumables.
- a lot of it can be automated, but it still requires a seasoned set of eyes to interpret the data.

3. Time
- your not going to be able to script during a battle situation.
- it also works in your flavor as there is a good chance you might not be detected until it's too late.

Cyber kill Chain


Reconnaissance: Intruder selects target, researches it, and attempts to identify vulnerabilities in the target network.
- not detectable, so much noise, social engineering, physical reconnaissance.
- reconnaissance is the real party endeavour. and the most group party interaction.
Weaponization: Intruder creates remote access malware weapon, such as a virus or worm, tailored to one or more vulnerabilities.
- not detectable, understand vulnerabilities.
Delivery: Intruder transmits weapon to target (e.g., via e-mail attachments, websites or USB drives)
Exploitation: Malware weapon's program code triggers, which takes action on target network to exploit vulnerability.
Installation: Malware weapon installs access point (e.g., "backdoor") usable by intruder.
Command and Control: Malware enables intruder to have "hands on the keyboard" persistent access to target network.
Actions on Objective: Intruder takes action to achieve their goals, such as data ex-filtration, data destruction, or encryption for ransom.

Gaming Basis


  • Ultimately it is easiest to treat hacking like spellcasting.
  • Treat hacking requirements like a magic item or artefact. - it's not so much having skill but the acquisition of info or data that allows it to go off.
  • This creates a fetch quest like feel to get the info and tools required as well as provides a means for the rest of the party to get involved.
  • It is time extensive action that acts in conjunction with the other action.
  • It also has material components as ablative resources.  new code has to be treated as crafting. - it will cost time,money and other sources.
  • The hacker needs to operate in real time with the party and whenever possible, endure the same threats.
  • The hacking skill should be used to setup the  killing blow not the entirety of the action.

Designing a target


I'm splitting it into four categories: Goal, People, Processes, and Technology.

Goal


1. What is the purpose of the Hack?
The Purpose of hacking is as follows:
i. Message - the act is the message, often for political purposes.
ii. Money
iii. Sabotage
iv. Secrets
2. How traceable is the data received?

People

Human nature is a flaw and weakest part of an organisation.
1. How computer savvy is the people involved overall
2. Which people are "loose ends" (such as a janitor, someone in the sales department, etc) due to apathy (ex. using password for password)
3. does anybody have a "grudge" against anybody else that can be exploited?
4. Is the average employee a faceless minion, or is it a place where everybody knows whose there.
5. Are their any scandals that can be exploited?
6. Whom within the company will be most affected by the hack?

Processes

1. how large is the company?
2. How serious do they take internet security.
2. how likely is security processes are to be circumvented for other reasons (ex. key purchasing times for a company)
3. do they have relationships with other companies that might be easier to exploit?
4. how long have the users been using the processes?

Technology

1. What is the life cycle of the equipment?  If it's based on a 10 year interval, it might be easier at the end of it's life cycle.
2. How accessible is the equipment via wireless connection?
3. How often is the equipment and related software updated for security vulnerabilities?
4. What are the flags that will be set-off if they don't cover their tracks?
5. How automated is the target?  Are the doors, lights, temperature control, or even the fridge accessible on the network?
6. How easy is the location able to intercept communication?  A key way to discover you've been detected is that your radio communicators have stopped working.
7. how "user friendly" is the equipment used by the location.
8. how specialised is the tools used?  are the clients using dumb drones that are limited or is it a more traditional network of standard computer equipment and some servers.

Examples for Openings

1. email entry
2. physical key
3. social engineering.
4. failed updates.

One Last Thing

When we discussed this brainstorm, one of the things is what game you would use to simulate this conceptual model.  I'm still stewing on it, but I could see this for an espionage heavy game, such as a  tweaked ninjas and super-spies as well as spycraft.  Feel free to suggest others in the comments.


Bibliography

http://rpgcircus.com/node/269
Season 8 Episode 15 - The Hacking the RPG

http://www.genesisoflegend.com/2015/03/episode50/
presented by Presented by Shane Harsch, Clark Valentine & Tim Rodriguez

http://www.jupiterbroadcasting.com/show/techsnap/
Techsnap by Jupiter Broadcasting

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Thursday, July 14, 2016

DC Arrowverse 2016 - a review - part 4 - The Flash


We now come to the final instalment of the arrow-verse: The Flash

Season 01 was amazing and even if it felt like they wrote themselves into a corner, it gave them the benefit of the doubt this season.

However, Season 02 is nowhere near as strong as the first season, but may have laid down the groundwork for a great Season 03.

The Good


Cisco:  Cisco remains one of the best characters in the arrow-verse.  His humour, crossed with exploring his evolution into a meta was a fun little side quest.  I can't say more then keep being awesome.

Jim West:  A buddy of mine once said that Jim West was currently the best dad on television, bad judgement aside.  I agree with him.  The actor brings a joy to the character that makes you feel with him. While I am not a fan of police procedurals, I would watch a show called "lance and west" as both actors always bring their a game and had extreme chemistry off each other last season.

King Shark!  For it's budget, King Shark looked great.  I kind of want a more jokey character, as my favourite version is the one that was involved in secret six, but I'm impressed they were able to bring him to the small screen in the first place.

Harrison Wells: Tom Cavannah knocked it out of the park while playing a completely different character.  While Reverse Flash was a better overall character, seeing the earth 2 Harry was still a descent character in it's own right and showed his breath of skill.  Keep this man employed as he's one of your greatest gems.


Getting There


Iris: She's easily the most improved character and the only reason she didn't make the good is because they had her go through an arc to accept Barry as a future mate and then Barry blew it all away.  In spite of this, she makes a better sister then lover to Barry, and her high point is when the kids confront jim west on his wife and unknown kid.

Professor Zoom:  He started strong, was built up well, but it always felt like it was supposed to be the Doppelganger for Barry's dad.   His reveal kind of ruined the character, as he appeared as petty as he appeared on the outside.  Reverse Flash honestly did a better job in the 1st season, but he was still pretty good.

The Speed Force: This is more giving it the benefit of the doubt.  Using a method of storytelling much like the prophets from star trek deep space nine worked well enough, but I'm not sure whether it's a good thing or bad thing.

The Villain Cameos: I liked a lot of the new villains.  A personal favourite was the turtle and it annoyed me they killed him off.  Zombie girder was kind of fun as well.  Black Siren better be a reoccurring character until Laurel comes back as I like her cartoony style.  The meta that aged when he used his powers was heart wrenching.

Amanda Pays:  We need more of her, end of story.  She is inherently awesome.

The Meh


Barry Allen: Barry Allen is an idiot.  A lovable idiot, but an idiot nonetheless.  This season's wb drama involved stringing along a fellow cop, and monologue against the big bad causing disaster to all.  Barry's last steps in undoing his mother's death sure as heck wasn't smart either.  In spite of this, I really do like Grant, but he showed way more common sense in the crossover, while still keeping his dorky charm.

Caitlin Snow:  after playing such a prominent role in the first season, I was somewhat disappointed with the change.  She was the poisoned woman that everybody she touched ended up dying, sidelined hard for most of the season, and then used as the victim for the remaining part.

As much as I loved her doing Killer Frost, her alter ego, it's not enough to compensate.  which stinks because when whenever the actor is allowed to actually act, Caitlin Snow is as good as Cisco as a character (as shown by when they were imitating their earth 2 counterpart).

Detective Patty Spivot:  I liked this character, even if her name seemed kinda silly, but she's a living embodiment of Barry's idiocy.  Her ark looking for her dad's killer was great, but as soon as it was done, she was put on a train and vaulted out of the story.

The Bad


Jay Garrick: I found him kind of annoying even before he was revealed to be Zoom.  I get what they were trying to do, but the same thing was done on agents of shield with ward and better.

The sidelining of Barry's Dad:  We get Barry's dad out this season in the first few episodes and he disappears until it was time to kill him off.  I'm just glad they found a way to use the actor for a different character, as I have faith he will be a blast in this role.

Wally West:  CW seems to have only one stereotype when it comes to young black male.  While Jefferson Jax grew over time, their version of Wally west seriously cheesed me off.  I grew up with the DCAU and Young Justice have some definite opinions on what the "Wal-man" should be.

They didn't just make him black, they made him racially offensive at the same time.

The thing is there is the perfect model for the character that has already been defined by our media

If your going to make wally jim west's son, he should have been based on the following character.



Carlton Banks from the fresh prince of bel-air.

If they took the aspects of this character, then put him in the ringer that was laid down by the season, make his tongue his self defence mechanism.

If they did this, I think I'd be a serious fan boy of the character.

The ethics:  Despite being one of the lighter shows, I'd argue that it has one of the worst ethics.  Flash has a tendency to kill their enemies or seal them off and it bugs me.  Especially if the earth 2 enemy is usually a hero (atom smasher).  hell they even pointed it out on the crossover when livewire and silver banshee were locked up in prison, rather then a supervault without due process.  last season had a meta-human gitmo, but the first episode has a kill on a character.

Jesse Quick:  the actor was flat in her acting and has hand's down the worst line in the show.  That being said, I wouldn't mind her coming back, but please see if you can give the character a more solid base.

What I want.


Caitlin Snow needs a bigger role.  She's a great character with great chemistry,  and while I'd hate her to be a meta-villain, I kinda want to see her dorky self with powers.

Leonard Snart needs to unionise the meta-villains in this season.  Yeah he's dead, but it was a temporal anomoly and it would change the entire theme of the show to have to deal with an ethical villain instead of yet another speedster.   I hope he's allowed to return as a major player in the arrowverse once prison break is done.

Flashpoint should be the foundation that the arrowverse is made on. Barry's decision could explain why supergirl is now part of this world and be a great way to resurrect good characters (ex. Laurel).

Wally needs a full personality change as expressed above.  I don't care about the ethnicity, but whomever he's acting as isn't the wal-man.    I will see how it goes.

Iris needs to keep her improvements.  I like her having her own arc that doesn't involve barry and have her play the lois lane role of discovering stuff that other people don't.  I think she works better as a sister then a lover and if they just reconnected it, give us a season where iris doesn't have it hang over her head.  Hell, make her a metahuman that can assist with her sleuthing.

Grodd: I haven't mentioned Grodd yet, but I kind of want to see earth 2 gorilla city, even if it would kill the budget. :p

and above all else, I want writers that are well coordinated and the stupid drama that seems for the sake of drama that is inflicted on all arrowverse tv shows.  Supergirl used it the best, but you can tell even there it's still an issue and makes people act dumb.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

DC Arrowverse 2016 - a review - part 3 - Arrow



I really have a mixed opinion about this years season of Arrow.

I think it had some serious high points, but made some really dumb and / or bizarre decisions throughout the season.

I liked how it began.  Olly and Felicity had more or less retired and the rest of the cast was picking up the slack.  and the season was dealing with the aftermath of the last 3 seasons and how a new villain had moved into the vacuum.


The Good

Quintin Lance:  Scruffy has been the most consistent piece of acting and quality throughout this season.  Now that we have discharged the "vendetta against Olly", it showed how awesome he is.  His desperation and fall from grace was for all the right reasons.  And his response to Laurel and Sara throughout the season show he really tried to be a great dad, even when he was falling apart.

Thea:  She is easily the best of the "fighting caste" this season.  Dealing with her killer urges (that were resolved by vamping out Daimen Darkh), her daddy issues (which she's more or less over the shock that Malcolm is an absolute monster), and thinking outside the box when things are outside the niche, this is one of the few characters that didn't feel nerfed this season.  Plus Thea is scrappy as all hell and it really adds to the character.

Curtis Holt:  He feels like he's always been there.  He's a big geek, knows his stuff and adds a freshness that is long overdue. Well done. :)

Damien Darkh:  I think the character did a grand job as big bad.  He was punchable to a point where I wanted to hit the actor.  His plan felt more like a comic Raj plot, but unlike Raj from last season (whom felt like a killer puppy, especially with those eyes), there was no doubt he was the villain.  However, the villain kept letting them get away, despite being outside his weight class.  I'm still not sure how arrow got out of their fight with them.  but he really was a throw back to the cackling villains of the 80's, complete with killing subordinates when they failed.

I liked the use of explosive arrows, but honestly, the problem felt like they had to pull out a magical countermeasure against him out of his ass and that's bad writing.

Cameos:  I didn't watch Constantine when he had his own series, but his cameo was spot on and made me want to see more.  I loved Vixen's limited animated series and it was great seeing her in live action.  I'm also glad we brought back Ray: He's a serious Favourite.  Honestly their crossovers in the arrowverse are often better then the show's regular arcs, and flash being there as well, helps a lot.  Heck, the two parter that launched Dcs legends of tomorrow was descent, even if Hawkman came off as a creep (however see that thread for details).

Hell I loved Jeri Ryan's cameo and wish she would have had a bigger part.  For all the jokes about a borg bimbo, she really was one of the better parts of voyager and love to see her integrated better into the arrowverse.

Heck TV Amanda Waller appeared in a scene and it didn't suck. That impressed me something fierce.

Best Line: "you have failed this omelette"

Getting There


Oliver Queen:  Oliver's evolution from arrow to the Green Arrow was pretty good.  While not at the trick arrow level, I like what the character has done.   This is the season where Oliver Queen became a Magical girl whom won with the power of love.

As he was named by a poster on another forum: Magical Hoodie Ollie-chan (feel free to get everybody to say this).  I want the writers to embrace it, use the tropes and define the magic used because this has serious potential.

I also loved how Olly ran for mayor. It did cheese me off that we always cut after the debates so we never knew his positions and it's kind of funny how he ended up there.  I really want more Olly and less Green Arrow in the new season.  rebuild the city in the light rather then fight in the dark.

Ultimately Stephen Amell wants arrow to be Angel from Buffy.  He's not quite there. David Boreanaz has both the angst and comedy down pat during that era and it is a hard act to follow.  Plus for all his faults, Josh Whedon can write well.  For example, I lol hard when everybody thought Angel was angsting again, and he was just playing hooky and watching hockey.  I think Stephen has the chops, he just needs better writing support.

John Diggle:  I like the character, and the actor did a fine job.  I like his new hero costume: Spartan. While the helmet looks like Magneto Junior, I think it suits him well.  The only reason it's not in the good is the character didn't flow well in the first part when he was mad at Olly.  However, the stuff with his brother was interesting and flowed well, and his interaction with his wife and child is pretty awesome.

The Resurrection of Sarah:  I'm glad they brought her back a lot and the episode that they did it was in character for everybody involved.  The Resurrection was both organic, characters were in character, and sealed off the Resurrection plot device.  Plus having Constantine get back her soul was a great use of the character.

The Meh


Laurel:  This is a sore contention from me.  Overall Laurel did a fantastic job this season, up until her death.  It felt like a bad setup with the gravestone and I'm seriously going to miss her if they don't bring her back next season (and Quentin's response the episode afterwards coming to terms with it was heart-wrenching).  If they bring back her doppelganger (Black Siren), I'd be okay with the change, but getting rid of her annoyed the heck out of me.

Malcolm Merlyn:  I like John Barrowman and his character would be enjoyable, if he wasn't a large scale terrorist with a sizeable body count.  His waffling without punishment kind of came to bite them in the hand as he lost his title he fought so hard for.  However, I'd be lying if I didn't get a kick when he didn't show up with a group of assassins to give helpful tips and they should have extended it within the Arrowverse and even have him crash a commercial or two.  Honestly, his idea of "kidnapping his daughter to save her" is completely in character, as is his falling out with Olly.  I'm honestly not sure what you can do with the character at this point.

Anarky:  I have serious mixed feelings for this character.  It's kinda hilarious it's him,  more so then Arrow and company, that did the most damage to Daimen Darkh, but he was also used as a means to make Felicity suffer yet again.  I think his story-arc is done, but if they can use him effectively next season, I don't have an issue with it.

The Bad


Magic:  Magic was easily the weakest problem with the show.  The use of a "kill statue" as the villains macguffin.  it wasn't well defined.  It doesn't have to be for the watchers, but the writers really didn't have a clue, which is why Olly became a magical girl. :p

Someone will Die: this was stupid as somebody would be upset the results.  either it's a surprise and really doesn't make sense, or you feel bad about losing a great character, and most likely both.  When Laurel was selected, it was not unexpected, but disappointing, as said above.

The Felicity


Felicity is such a polarising figure that I'm including her outside the normal good and bad.  I have heard people spit at her name, and also those that are raving fan boys/girls because of her.

I will say I like the character ultimately, even if she is a magic hacker, but she's suffering from love interest syndrome.  Laurel suffered from something similar in the first two seasons and it's a place which seriously messes up characters.   I hate it when she cry talks and shows the hypocrisy of her actions, but Oliver was equally as dumb in how he handled his illegitimate child.  It's like they had to setup a train wreck to act as a wedge and would be damned if it actually made sense.  Worse, that wedge needs to stay separated.  That ship has sailed, because the writers broke it and are now trying to glue it together with crazy glue.  Worse, the hypocrisy when she was giving her mother advice with Lance just annoyed me.

Worse, I would argue Felicity is made for suffering according to the writers.  she was paralyzed for quite a few episodes due to a revenge hit.  The same episode, she was thrown into a gas chamber (and she's Jewish, so seriously the poorest judgement in the entire Arrowverse).  She also needed to make a snap judgement to nuke a city to save a planet, to getting fired at Ceo.  It feels beyond the standard hero suffering and it's got to me over time.

In spite of this , I liked the usage of her parents.  Her Mom is irritating, but understandable (even if she destroyed Lance's career).  I generally like her, but I can see how and why they used her.  Her dad was in a similar boat.  He's a criminal, but you get the vibe he would have been there for his daughter in all ways if he'd been allowed to be. This is why his mom got out of there.  He wasn't a monster, he was a temptation.

What I Want 


I want to see Olly in a light place.  This season started light and became more crushing as the time progressed, and honestly it sucked a lot of the life out of the season.  I'd rather Olicity to be dead and buried, but if it's brought back, it needs to be kept light and not a dominant aspect of the series. Diggle and Thea need to return and Quentin Lance needs a role that plays to his strengths. Hell, I'd love him to essentially replay his Dresden character, but that's unlikely, but the ex-cop hard boiled detective would work as well.

A lot of people are saying Daredevil on Netflix is what they want.  I want a more lighthearted adventure with magical girl aspects because I think it would be more enjoyable.  However, don't skimp on the fight scenes.

Plus next time could lead to a lot of changes as we review Flash in the final installment of these blog entries.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Little Known Facts about Common Races


https://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?785127-Little-known-facts-about-common-races

Since we didn't do the twitch game on Sunday, here's a thread I started that should entertain you.

Feel Free to add your own obscure Knowledge. :)

Thursday, June 30, 2016

DC Arrowverse 2016 - a review - part 2 - Dc's Legends of Tomarrow.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow.


While it had it's setup in Arrow and Flash, ultimately, it is it's own beast, abet one best described as team-up the series.

The nickname of the series is power rangers in time, as it suffers from a lot of the same flaws.

The Good


Captain Cold:  My nickname for this series is Captain Cold and Friends and for good reason.  His thieving, calculating, but ethical ways really acts as a rebuttal to the rest of the characters (save one).  It breaks my heart he won't be in season 2, but hope this makes it because he has a bigger role in the arrowverse.  I'd love him to setup the rogue gallery, but be more of the rivals for the entire arrowverse, then actual enemies (in contrast to the actual big bad).  He should remain ethical enough to not be a person you need to kill, but criminal enough that you need to stop him, which is easier said then done, because he is the villainous batman.

I also loved how, despite how much of a crook he is and how much he berates his fellow heroes, you attack them, you go on his list because he is seriously a team player.

Heatwave:  I honestly thought heatwave would be the first person to fall, to motivate Captain Cold for the new series.  Instead he was one of the best things about the series.  He and Captain Cold had something the rest of the character team didn't had: teamwork. and Heatwaves story arc where a pyromaniac thug ended up being one of the best with temporal training was one of the better arcs.  The other point is his one liners, where the only person whom had better lines was Captain Cold and not always.

Plus its kinda awesome how the sidekick/henchman of Captain Cold becomes a badass temporal warrior.

White Canary:  Sara was already built up, but seeing her as a regular character was one of the better parts.  Because the actor had actual martial arts training, she was a hoot.  Hell, the way she bonded with the thugs added a certain element (and showed how this series would have been better by making it a time bandits-like series).  However, she had an angel and a devil on her shoulder (The Atom and Captain Cold), and neither was completely wrong or right that added to the dynamic.  She deserved to be captain and I hope they keep her as fearless leader.

The Atom:  If I had to cut back the cast, it would stop at the above three and the Atom, or as I like to call it, three crooks and an optimist.  Brandon Routh confirmed how foolish we were for rejecting him as Superman.  He's the screw-up, but he's also one of the smartest men on the planet. You can see how much this version of Ray Palmer is secretly Ted Kord.  He is slowly but surely becoming more competent, and often acts as the heart of the team.  It is really hard to hate Ray.  If I had to pick one point where it was awesome, it was when he grew and fought the giant death bot.  Silly as all heck, but a blast nevertheless.  and he wears his heart on his sleeve and it's one of the reason he keeps screwing up, but losing it would make him not Ray.

Getting There


Firestorm:  I think this one could very easily be put in the good, but I want to make sure they don't drop the ball and fix the flaws.  Doctor Stein is fantastic as a somewhat ethically challenged mad scientist, with a sense of justice.  It was Jefferson Jax that weighs down the concept.  This isn't against the actor at all, as his acting worked well enough, but there seems to be one model for young black males that I will go into more details when I do the Flash (such as the natural athletics line).  Still, Jefferson improved vastly as the series progresses with the high point is he was smart enough to study the temporal machinery to act as a repair guy, on top of his other powers.

However, there is an inherent problem with the character.  He is easily one of the most broken characters in the dc universe.  Now that he's figuring out his  transmutation ability, he is going to do a lot more then be a flying blaster.  How they treat this will remain to be scene.

Rip: "Time Rory" was a fun and descent character.  He came off as a man whom lost too much and became so desperate that he was in many ways, acting as a villain.  We understand why he's trying to change the past as we find out how much he didn't have as a child.  However, we also confirm how having Sara and/or Leonard in charge would reduce the problems significantly.   I like the character, but hope to love him in the next season.

The Concept:  While I have issues with the plot, I loved some of the set pieces that were done.  From the 70's bar room fight, to poor Jefferson Jax having to deal with bigotry in the 50's (and Stein having a very different opinion of the era), to Jonah <explicit remark> Hex (where both Ray as white hat and Snart as the insurance stoled the show at the same time), or when Ray and Kendra walk into a 50's house party and poor, stupid, lovable ray who doesn't have a bigoted bone in his body, doesn't get why an interracial couple in the 50's would be contentious.

The Meh


Vandal Savage:  This character was both nailed and failed.  The actor did a fantastic job playing a cartoony villain.  However, it's hard to take this as a main villain when he is so overwhelmingly weak when compared to his adversaries.   If it weren't for time patrol intervention (and the plot, see below) he would have been defeated a few episodes in.  This is especially contrasted with  Raj Al Ghul, who is a puppy dog whose seriously lawful evil, but with an emphasis on the lawful.  Vandal either needed his own team of metahumans or he needed better escape plans and pulled a Xanatos that didn't require the stupidity of the pcs.

Hawkgirl:  I feel bad for the actor.  The DCAU Hawkgirl is one of the best repackaging of any character ever.  Then instead of retreading a Thanagarian spy or something similar, they didn't only use the bizarre reencarnation theory, they mated her with two stalkers and make her the princess, which is annoying.  She was also used as a vector to jerk around Ray, which is like kicking around a puppy.

The Bad


Hawkman:  I will never dis the actor of a bad role and character, because it's been multiple times where I've seen the actor could have played the roll, but wasn't allowed too.  If Savage and Kendra were dissed hard.  Hawkman was by hard treated the worst by the arc.  Instead of coming off as Conan with Wings, he came off as a creepy stalker, whose sole purpose is to take away Hawkgirl's agency.  he died in the 1st episode and we cheered, and I feel bad for the actor because I believe he can do better.  Heck when he was discovered as a brainwashed villain, his acting improved dramatically.

The Plot:  It is easily was the weakest part of the series.  The problem with the premise is if the heroes succeed once, the show is over.  It wasn't tight enough to be a mini-series, but almost needed to have more "filler" if it was that easy.  Worse, I can name at least 3-4 times when Vandal should have been imprisoned and/or eliminated that our heroes retreated because...we need to stretch the plot.

Worse, the premise ruined three good characters (Vandal Savage and the Hawks).  By tying them together, they turn two great characters to victims and the third into a vampire that shouldn't have as much success as he does.  Two hawks should curb-stomp a Savage, and you throw in a master assassin, a master thief, a pyromaniac bruiser, and freaking firestorm, that should last about a second.

Ultimately the plot let them down.

The other is by using time travel as a base, they didn't even follow their own rules.  In one episode they were protecting themselves as children but had to be careful not to take them out of the timeline, or they would disappear.  so next episode, it was ignored (head slammed on desk)

What I Want


I was very enticed by the concept of the Justice Society of America, and hope it plays a big role in season 2.  I want to see the adventures of Heatwave, The Atom, and White Canary and hope they learned from the mistakes of the season.  I also look forward to seeing the change up in casts and hoping they pick and write characters up to the task.

I also want to see the Thanagarian invasion and where it heads.  With Vandal gone, there is a chance that the hawks can be improved significantly.