Kaiju, Mutants and Robots Oh My! – Godzilla & X-Men: Days of Future Past Reviews

I’m going to make this one quick. The last couple of days have been a drain, but I wanted to at least get a quick review of these movies done. I’m going to do them both in the one post, and they’re going to be short reviews compared to the essays that I normally write. That way I can devote time to some other updates I’ve got in the works without feeling like I’ve got something else I have to do first.

Fair warning, same as whenever I review stuff, there could be some spoilers in here. I’ll try to avoid anything major.

Continue reading

Professor Jimbles Presents! A Rant: Does anyone else die a lot?

Like, a real lot?

Hi! Jimbles here to ask a question of you: How often do you die in your games? All the time? Occasionally, but only because you make stupid decisions?

I can tell you that I die all the time in Pathfinder, but it’s generally my fault. Whenever I develop a high-concept character with tragic backstory and a good reason to set out adventuring, I often forget that ever so important stat keeping most of us alive… The armor class.

That, and I roll terribly when someone’s life depends on it.

Aside from the misadventures in the Crow (See earlier post for THAT particular embarrassing tale.) I’ve had characters die in the following ways:

  • Battle Toad (Boggard Barbarian Chieftain) exacted revenge with a warhammer for causing general chaos in the area and invading his shrine.
  • Lich fingered me to death in a oh-so-calm response to taking 38 damage from my surprise round greatsword attack.
  • Teleport mishap sent me to the Elemental Plane of PAIN. (Fire burns!)
  • Learned the hard way that Black Puddings are not delicious.
  • Felled by the Orc Hireling in a single strike.
  • Crushed by a brainwashed dragon after a Sudden Maximized disintegrate missed.

And that’s just in my Pathfinder and 3.5 games! Here, let me explain some of these stupid, stupid adventures…

Continue reading

Role-Playing 101: The Laundry RPG – Session 1

Hey guys,

I’m starting off a new feature for the blog today. Role-Playing 101 is going to document the trials and tribulations that I face as I teach a group of teenagers to role-play. There’ll be some funny moments, occasional glimpses of glory, and a not insignificant amount of frustration (mostly on my part), but also a hell of a lot of fun. It’ll be updated on a very irregular basis, as it generally require me to have actually run a session for the group recently, and it’s not often that we actually get to play. The actual content will be a combination of a session recap and brief discussions about the system (though more in-depth reviews may come later on).

How did I end up running introductory games for teenagers? It’s my attempt to continue the chain that my uncle started when he bought me my first role-playing book for my twelfth birthday, the Player’s Handbook for D&D 3rd Edition. A bit over a year ago, I offered to teach my cousin to play. It took a while to get started, as he needed to gather a group of friends to play with, but eventually we were ready to play. The first session I ran for them was Pathfinder, where I quickly learnt that running for bunch of fourteen year olds is far different to running a game for adults. They picked up the notion of “kill things and take their stuff” very quickly, but were having a bit of difficulty with the idea of “talking to things to see if we can avoid killing them”. Now, to be fair, D&D/Pathfinder is at its core, the game of “killing things and taking their stuff”, but Paizo’s work with Pathfinder has really started to move beyond that, often allowing for other means such as diplomacy or subterfuge to be just as effective as barreling in with swords drawn. Trying to get this concept across sparked an idea, that maybe I could help them learn that there are multiple approaches to these games by running a variety of systems for them, with the added benefit that they’d be able to pick a system they liked when they’re eventually ready to run their own games. So the group agreed that I would run each system for two to three sessions, then pick another one.

Continue reading

Review – Pathfinder Tales: The Redemption Engine

Alright guys, we’re back with another review.

As I mentioned last time, I’ll be reviewing the latest Pathfinder Tale’s novel, The Redemption Engine.  Please take this as your warning for potential minor spoilers for the novel, because damn it I have to talk about it to review it, now don’t I. Not much else to say really, so let’s just get straight to it.

The Redemption Engine

James L. Sutter

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Used under the Pathfinder Community Use Policy

Salim, Pathfinder’s answer to Captain Jack Harkness, faces off against an angel. Wait a second… aren’t angels the good guys? Like, by definition?  What gives?

From the Paizo.com blurb:

When murdered sinners fail to show up in Hell, it’s up to Salim Ghadafar, an atheist warrior forced to solve problems for the goddess of death, to track down the missing souls. In order to do so, Salim will need to descend into the anarchic city of Kaer Maga, following a trail that ranges from Hell’s iron cities to the gates of Heaven itself. Along the way, he’ll be aided by a host of otherworldly creatures, a streetwise teenager, and two warriors of the mysterious Iridian Fold. But when the missing souls are the scum of the earth, and the victims devils themselves, can anyone really be trusted?

From acclaimed author James L. Sutter comes a sequel to Death’s Heretic, ranked #3 on Barnes & Noble’s Best Fantasy Releases of 2011!

Continue reading

Review – Pathfinder Tales: Skinwalkers

Hey guys. There won’t be a recap of last night’s Reign of Winter session today, because I had to call it off at the last-minute.

My friend Edwin made a valiant effort at stopping a goal in hockey yesterday, but got a high-speed booted kick in the jaw for his trouble (not intentional, the guy was just running hard as he could, and ran straight through Eddie, taking a tumble himself in the process), and his wife is currently out-of-town. So I called Jimbles, let him know what had happened, picked up some Goodberry’s frozen custard and rolled around with a bag of DVDs to keep him company and make sure he was okay.  I think the rest of the group understands, when a friend is hurt and needs you, they take priority. He would have done the same for me if the roles had been reversed… Hell, over the years he’s done things like this for me countless times. The strangest thing about the whole situation though was the song I was listening to when I got his call… I’d been listening to various OSTs all day for inspiration while writing, and decided to swap over to Chevelle’s latest album, La Gárgola. Track 4 had just got through the intro when I got the call. The name of the track? Jawbreaker. Ah Synchronicity, your sense of humour is as gloriously dark as ever.

Anyway, he’s fine now, though still very sore. And I promised an update today, so even though I don’t have a session to recap (and won’t until June, at least not for Pathfinder, as the group have other commitments until then), I had to come up with something for you. Which is when I realised that this is the perfect opportunity to stop thinking about reviews, and actually write some. I’m going to start with something a bit easier to review than source books though, since that involves having to weigh up concepts of game balance, playability and so on. So my first review is going to be for one of the more recent Pathfinder Tales novels, Skinwalkers.

Continue reading

CIFF Reviews Round One: My Sweet Pepper Land, Ginger & Rosa, Mirage Men

Well, we’re long past due for the first batch of reviews for the films I saw at the Canberra International Film Festival. Unfortunately I’ve been ill again, and had some personal stuff going on that had essentially killed my motivation to work on anything that required more effort than sitting down on the couch and watching TV or reading a book. Well we’re past that now (not the being sick, I’ve once again got the flu and am also due for a minor medical procedure in a week or so… yay me!), so I’m back into writing. I’ve decided I’m going to do the reviews in order of viewing, so the first ones up are My Sweet Pepper LandGinger & Rosa, and Mirage Men. I’m aiming to get these smashed out of the way as quickly as I can, after which I may not post again until I get home from visiting the family at Christmas. All depends on how long it takes I suppose.

Just a reminder, when I do film reviews, I don’t tend to focus on the technical elements and quality of the cinematography (unless it’s a film that is being sold on those elements). I focus on how I felt about it, and the enjoyment I get out of it. I’m not a professional critic, and I’m giving an unabashedly biased review based entirely on my opinion.

Continue reading

So many films, so little time…

So, I’ve obviously been absent again for a while. As you might recall, my last post was related to the 17th Canberra International Film Festival, and I mentioned that I was seeing 18 or 19 films throughout it. I had planned to be posting my thoughts on each film as I saw them, and doing more in depth discussions on the ones I enjoyed the most, but it turns out that seeing that many films takes a huge amount of your time. Add that to the fact that I spent the weekend showing a colleague from Washington, D.C. around the city, and I’ve had practically no time to myself for the last week and a bit.

At this stage, I’m 13 films into my 19, and the last one will be showing on the 13th, so next Wednesday. While it’s been an enjoyable experience so far, I must admit that it can be hard to take in that much and process it all when I’m often walking out of one cinema and straight into another. Now that I have a little more space between films though, I’ll be starting to work through my thoughts on each one and posting about them. The next few weeks should see me posting some brief commentary on each film, followed by proper reviews of several of them. I do have a double feature tomorrow night, and another on Saturday, but if I can I’ll try to get something done on Saturday morning. Otherwise it will be Sunday. This means there won’t be any real gaming being posted about during this time, unless I can convince Jim to do some more guest posts or get another one of the players from my Pathfinder games to write something, so I hope you’ll bear with me while I get this out of the way.

To give an idea of what I’ve thought of the films so far though, I’ve listed them below along with what rating I gave each one in the festival voting.

Continue reading

Hollowpoint Playtest – Setting the Scene

NOTE: There’s been a bit of a change of plan on how this is going to work. This update is going to cover the basic rules and the setup of the session. That’s just so I can get something posted. The following update will involve a detailed report on the actual game, written as a report to the Board of Directors of the Firm (the organisation the player characters work for). My housemate suggested taking this different approach to it as a way to potentially work around my writer’s block. We’ll see how it goes. It’s a public holiday here tomorrow, so I’ll get up early, have some eggs benedict for breakfast and try to get cracking on it. Fingers crossed. .

Hey guys, thought it was time I get something posted. It’s been longer than I intended again, as recovery from my accident and sorting out insurance took far longer than I expected. At this stage I’m still going to be without my scooter for at least a couple of weeks, and it’s making life awkward as hell in the meantime. I do have a loaner, but it’s a tiny little 150cc, and has trouble cracking 80km/h, so I only really use it to get to and from work.

Anyway, I’m still working on the campaign journal and starting to realise it may be a long time coming, but it’ll get there eventually. In the mean time, I thought I’d share some details on a playtest we ran a couple of weeks ago for a game I picked up a month or so ago, Hollowpoint. It’s an indie RPG produced by VSCA, the same guys who made the hard science fiction FATE setting Diaspora. Rather than using the FATE or FATE Core system though, Hollowpoint uses its own system, based on building matching sets of d6s from a dice pool. It’s a fast paced, cinematic, brutal little system, and is specifically designed to emulate high violence movies, television series and comics. In fact, the book calls out some of my favourite films and graphic novels as inspiration, including Reservoir Dogs and 100 Bullets.

Continue reading

For a supposedly Final Fantasy, there sure are a lot of them…

So, I’m currently working on a campaign journal for the Reign of Winter game, but it’s taking me longer than expected to get used to writing in character again. So, it’s going to be a little while on that one.

In the mean time, I thought I’d talk about one of my favourite RPG video game series of all time. From the title, I’m assuming you guessed what it is, but just in case you missed it, I’m talking about Final Fantasy. I know a lot of my friends have made the obvious “It’s not really a final fantasy if there’s so many of them” joke over the years. I don’t know how true it is, but what I heard about the name was that the original creator of Final Fantasy had intended for it to be the last game he made, his literal “Final Fantasy” game. When the game was unbelievably successful, he decided to continue on.

Anyway, let’s have a retrospective look at the Final Fantasy games (at least the ones I’ve played).

Final Fantasy VII:

The cast of Final Fantasy VII

The cast of Final Fantasy VII

I grew up playing these games. Sure, not from the very first one, since my first gaming console (if you don’t count a Commodore 64) was the original PlayStation, which I got in 1997. So my initial introduction to the series was, as I’m sure it was for many others, Final Fantasy VII… and man, it blew my mind. Here was a Science Fantasy story that rivalled the novels I’d been reading for how sheer bloody epic it was, except that this time I was in control of the action and pacing. Sure, to actually complete the story you had to take a set path, but I was free to explore the world and hunt for secrets and mini-games to my hearts desire. When you did decide to finally get back on track, the game was a rollercoaster of action and story. There were moments of victory, like stopping the train before it destroyed the town of Corel; and there were incredibly sad moments as well. The fate of Barrett’s childhood friend Dyne, after he realises that his daughter is still alive and he’s too much of a monster to ever be her father again, was a shocking moment for me. Even more shocking was the end of Disc One, where you catch up to Aeris again (yes, I’m going with the original mistranslation of the name, because that’s what I’m used to), only to have her killed in front of you by Sephiroth/Jenova. I’m going to be honest. That’s the first time a video game has ever made me shed a tear. It’s happened on occasion since then, but it’s a rare thing. Even movies can’t manage it all that often, though books do it surprisingly regularly.

Since then, there’s been a number of spin-offs from Final Fantasy VII, including movies, books and games. The ones I’ve seen and played have been pretty good, including Crisis Core, an action-RPG for the PSP; Dirge of Cerberus, a third person shooter featuring everyone’s favourite optional character, Vincent Valentine; and Advent Children, the direct sequel film. Little hint with Advent Children, unless you’re watching the Complete Edition, don’t bother. It makes much more sense with the huge amount of extra footage. Sadly, the one thing we haven’t seen, and that I doubt we’ll ever see (though I’d love for Square Enix to prove me wrong) is a HD remake of Final Fantasy VII.

Continue reading

Quotes.

I keep a list of quotes on my phone. They’re gathered by me or my friends and added in one by one. They’re usually created during roleplaying sessions, as we have a tendency to say stupid or hilarious things.

I like this idea. Moments of hilarity can fly past. They cheer everyone, raise spirits and generally make lives better for a moment, but they’re fleeting. Transitory. Some could say all the more precious because of that. I prefer to think that moments like these can be re-celebrated! Sharing a list of hilarious statements can reignite this joy and share it to others who weren’t there in the first place.

Because of this, I have a few of my favourite moments to share. You may not know the names now, but you may know us a little bit better afterwards.

Adam: *creepy whisper* I broke Obfuscate to penetrate you.
Jim: Halp.

(Sigg had a bet that no-one would die.)
Jim: I’m eating a hot-dog.
Bill: Sigg or White will go upstairs and check the rooms.
Angus: Sigg can go upstairs, I’ll eat a hot-dog.
Jim: *sigh*. I get no successes. Too busy watching White eat my hot-dog.
Angus: it’s delicious.
Jim: I breathe on the window and write “I will kill you.”
Angus: I SMS him back “You will owe me $20.”

Michael: Did anyone bring a ten-foot-pole?
Evan: No, but I have rope and a wheel of cheese.

Jim: But the rule book is nice, has great art and stories, so it’s not a chore like others can be.
Ben: Like Deathwatch. Which is pretty, but so disjointed that you think you know what the rules are but can’t find them anywhere. Leading to the conclusion that what everyone thinks is a ruling is actually a shared hallucination about a book.

Ed: I punch him in the face.
Katie: Whyyyyyy?
Ed: Because I’m a very angry person who can only express myself through violence.

Kane: And I would have had the computer too if it weren’t for those meddling orbital lasers!

David: You have arrived into the astral plane of “All the porn on the Internet.”
Kane: Not my fault.

Chris: Battle plan!
1: Cast heart strings.
2: Cast friendly face.
3: Yell “Don’t kill me, I’m an orphan!”

Listening to: The rain on the deck, trying to sleep.