Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Star Trek Continues E01 "Pilgrim of Eternity"


This is nothing short of fantastic. The actor playing Scotty is remarkable and looks so much like the original Scotty because it is James Doohan's son Chris Doohan in the role. The cast list can be found here.

Chris Doohan's performance is flawless, he is Scotty on screen. I find myself wishing it had been him and not Simon Pegg who had taken the role to the big screen. There were other standouts as well. I loved Kim Stinger as Uhura. She was my favorite of the cast, giving a performance that was not an imitation of Nichelle Nichols, but a faithful and original interpretation of her character.

Vic Mignogna as Kirk grew on me. What at first seemed to be a parody of William Shatner became for me a genuine representation of James T. Kirk by the end. You can tell this is a labor of love, and that everyone involved is a fan of the original series.

The production value is amazing and I really loved this. God, I LOVED the space suits they wore for going outside the ship. All the costumes and classic hairstyles were perfect.




The story involves Apollo (of Greek myth) who appeared in the original series episode "Who Mourns for Adonais." Michael Forest returns to play Apollo, but aged 45+ years since their last encounter, a direct result of the action of Kirk and his crew. The story is smart and interesting and well presented. 

The presentation both visually and audibly is nothing short of perfection. The use of the original series incidental music, and the pacing of the story, including cliffhanger pauses in the action for "commercial breaks," makes this feel exactly like an episode of the original series.

This production is a master piece. And it's fun. From Kirk's chauvinistically casual dismissal of the new female doctor, (Dr. McKennah played delightfully by Michele Specht) to her later appearance in his quarters, when she barges in on him and Kirk is (of course) sans his shirt. The production successfully pokes fun at itself without becoming a parody. And it also has genuine charm. The moment when Uhura realizes that her singing ability has just been praised by the Greek God of Music is especially memorable.

I can't say enough, how much I loved this. I loved this.

Give the show a look. And your support. From the website:

"Of course, this production makes no money from their efforts as required by the copyright owners CBS/Paramount. But the sheer love they have for Trek shows in everything from the writing, directing and all the way to the rolling credits."

So, support them by watching the webisodes, visiting the website, and spreading the word.

The plan is to make an entire 4th and 5th season. I wish them all the best and plan to be along for the ride.

Live Long and Prosper.


Jeff Moore


Guest Post -- Five by Five


This is a guest post from someone who plays Five by Five. It's some house rules that he is using in his fantasy based campain!

Have you written some Five by Five house rules or other materials that you would like to share? Send me an email. I will be happy to share them!!


---- ---- ---- ----

Hi my name is Matt. I am a big fan of 5x5 and so I asked Jeff nicely and he agreed to let me put this post up on the 5x5 page. I have rewritten this post about 100 times and keep editorialising about a trend in RPGs for increased complexity that reduces utility and that the most valuable design writing around right now is in the video game space. You can harangue me about being a shameless promoter or about any other truth for that matter at http://quicktimevent.blogspot.com.au/.

Instead I decided to give something back. I have added a challenge based reward system for 5x5 that I use in my Drakkeil campaign. It works like this:

Whenever a player rolls doubles they score a point of Karma (I call it Fate). They can also choose to escalate the Doubles fail to a severe fail. I am a fan of the `fail forward’ school of GMing so in normal play a fail means the player does not immediately achieve the objective as planned. They probably still get something pretty close to the intended result. A severe fail means that it does not succeed in any way of all. The trade off is that they get to roll on the nifty CHALLENGE CHART!



I am playing a Fighter (top right) and I get to roll for a Challenge. (Note that this chart is only filled out for Fighter- time is my enemy). The player starts by deciding if they want a brief, moderate or extended challenge (rated 1,2 or 3 points).

I roll 2d6 with a red and green die, counting that number of points from the fighter corner. See that the Fighter has an A, B and C challenge, there is a border D and E Challenge and in the middle is the fearsome F Challenge. If he rolls high enough he will cross over into the B or C Challenge for the Wizard or Priest.

If the Player rolls Doubles, roll 1d6 and add this to the Challenge Score. Any Challenge of 4 or more is prolonged).

For example: I roll R4G6. This is result E: Hijack a companions Challenge. Part of emulating D&D is encoding rewards for players being dicks to other players. The GM notifies the Player about a Challenge one of the other Player has accepted. If they complete it first they will get the points.

Another example; R2G2 (not the droids you are looking for), result B. This is doubles so +1d6 is added to the challenge rating. “Implement a strategy and lead your men in battle.” This will probably be a prolonged challenge. The GM can think about this and provide the player with an opportunity to plan, prepare and embark on an epic battle, leading minions to arms. This could be a earth shattering war or a skirmish by a lake, it is up to the GM.

The Challenge Score sets the `scale’ of the challenge based on the assumption that in a normal session a player will complete 1 point if some time is spent on the challenge, 2 points if most of the time was spent on the challenge and 3 points if all of the time was spent on the challenge. As the player progresses through the Challenge the GM will award them challenge points to reinforce the feeling of progress.

When a Challenge is completed the player gains session points equal to the challenge rating. This means that points are gained in `batches’ giving the levelling up vibe of D&D. It also adds risk because points are only gained if and when a challenge is completed. Points achieved are lost if someone else completes an accepted challenge or circumstances annul the challenge (eg: the `kill the enemy giant’ challenge is annulled if someone else completes the `make allies with the giants’ challenge first.)

Challenges give the Players clearly defined goals and associated rewards.

I hope this Challenge Chart inspires you to take on 5x5 and use it to emulate the stories and style that you want to play.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game


Above Picture: "Old men playing X-Wing." I am the old man on the left in the Serenity t-shirt. My friend Greg is seated next to me. We are playing Fantasy Flight's, X-Wing miniatures battle game. I was controlling X-Wings and Greg was controlling TIE Fighters.

This game was a lot of fun. The game components are beautiful. The pre-painted plastic ships are the best I've seen. In the picture you will see several X-Wings and TIE fighters. We played with two Starter Sets and several expansion ships.

A starter set comes with only 1 X-Wing and 2 TIE Fighters. It also has some dice and various cardboard components. As I mentioned, all the components are of good quality. Even so, I wince a little at the $40 price tag for a game that contains only 3 ships. The expansion packs contain 1 ship and matching components for that ship for $15. It's an expensive game. Or maybe I'm just getting old.

Expense aside, the game has a number of brilliant bits. Each ship includes a movement dial which shows the legal moves for that ship. The moves on the dial are matched by card board movement guides which work wonderfully to measure movement without the need for a grid. I really liked the movement dial / movement tile mechanic.



Here Greg and Roger (red robot t-shirt on right) plan TIE fighter movement. You can see the little round disks (movement dials) face down behind the ships here. Also next to Roger's left hand are a bunch of the Movement tiles. Next to Greg's left and Roger's right hand are bowls of ice-cream (not included with the game.)

To move your ships you select your movement choice on the movement dial and then place it face down beside your ship. When its time to act, the worst pilots move their ships first and the best pilot moves his ship last. You are committed to your movement and can't change it so ships often end up in places you weren't expecting, and you have to try hard to anticipate the movement of your enemy. This is a fun strategic element and one of the best things about the game.

After a ship moves you can choose an "action" for that ship, which is something that can give you an advantage later on. One example is an action that puts your pilot on alert and turns "eyeballs" rolled on the special combat dice into either successful "hits" or "evades" as appropriate. If your pilot isn't on alert the "eyeballs" do nothing.

It was explained to me that the rule that allows a skilled pilot to move after the lesser skilled pilots is actually an advantage for the better pilots, but I am not sure how much so. Supposedly, because they can see how everything is playing out before choosing their action. But, our game at least seemed to keep everyone in pretty close proximity which resulted in more than a few "near collisions" and if someone else has moved into the space that you wanted to go, they get there and you are forced to stop short (no stacking ships in the same space.)

If you are forced to stop short (ending a move base to base with another ship) you lose your chance to choose an action. So getting to pick your action last loses its appeal when that action becomes no action at all. This happened a few times. It made me question the logic of the "best pilot moves last" rule, but really it didn't ruin the fun.

I wonder if the "best pilot moves last" rule was something written before they had the movement dials and plotted movement that all happens in secret. If you could choose your movement after you see where the other ships have gone, this would be a definite advantage.

After movement and selecting actions comes shooting. Now shooting allows the best pilots to shoot first. Except that if you were forced to stop short to avoid collision and are base to base with a ship, you can't shoot at each other ... but you can target other ships if they are within range of your firing arc. Again, a nifty cardboard range tile allows you to determine the range of a shot. Close range grants the attacker an extra die, while far range grants the defender an extra die.

The combat dice remind me a bit of Hero Quest. There are little explosion symbols to represent "hits," the "eyeballs" that I mentioned earlier, and some "blanks". The dice are D8 and I think the distribution was 2 blanks, 2 eyeballs, 4 hits ... with one of those hits being a special critical hit. The Defense dice have 3 evades that turn a hit into a miss, 2 eyeballs, and 3 blanks. The opposed rolls work well. Your ship description tells you how many dice to roll for attack and defense and it's super easy to play.

If your ship is hit you might lose a shield (being required to discard a shield token) or if your shields are gone you might take damage (requiring you to take a damage card.) The damage cards have critical effects on the flip side which add some variety to damage and allow the damage tokens to pull double duty. You suffer critical effects when that special critical hit symbol on the attack dice damages your ship. Evades on the defense dice must eliminate the normal hits first, so crits will happen often enough to keep things interesting.

The ships all have predefined point values and the X-Wings are more expensive then the TIE fighters. Our scenario saw 6 TIES vs 3 X-Wings and ultimately the superior numbers proved to be too much for the X-Wings. Multiple TIE Fighters were able to target a single X-Wing more often than the opposite was true and this advantage won the day for the evil Empire.

The nature of the plotted movement made coordinated attacks on a single target more difficult and the damage ended up being all spread out. Maybe this is more due to the inexperience of those playing the game, but it felt like the nature of the beast here. Ultimately, 5 TIES stood against 1 X-Wing with all ships only 1 hit away from destruction.

The rebels admitted defeat and a good time was had by all. I like this game. I don't know if I like it well enough to justify spending the big bucks on it ... especially when my friends are already doing that for me. As a collectible game, the ships are awesome, the components are solid and the game play is fast and enjoyable.

Regards,


Jeff


DC Nation Wonder Woman Short - Part 3





Part 3 of the "Mod" Wonder Woman Short from DC Nation.


Jeff

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Electra Woman and Dyna Girl 2000 series pilot


I've been on a video kick lately. I first saw this several years ago, but I actually thought that it was pretty awesome. Especially the performance of Markie Post as Electra Woman. It's campy fun and wrong on so many levels ... check it out.





Regards,


Jeff

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D - OFFICIAL TRAILER

Once again, I am late to the party ... but, if I hadn't seen this before then maybe you haven't either and it's very certainly worth sharing.



This looks awesome!!


Jeff

Monday, July 22, 2013

New DC Nation Wonder Woman Short

There is a second "70's Mod" Wonder Woman short from DC Nation. Here it is along with the original one. Please watch these to show support for Wonder Woman to let DC know that we would watch this if it were to become a full length series!

DC Nation Short - "Wonder Woman" Preview - Official [HD]

 

 DC Nation Short - "Wonder Woman" Preview Clip #2 - Official [HD]

 

I am going to continue to share these as they come out ... I think they're awesome!


Jeff

Friday, July 19, 2013

Doctor Who Fun Stuff ... had to share ...



Stumbled over this while searching the webs and I thought it was awesome ... a cartoonists look at Doctor Who ...

http://lucylou.livejournal.com/602504.html?


Pacific Rim Review



*** WARNING SPOILERS!! ***

I went to see Pacific Rim for my birthday. It was a good movie. It does have a few problems and it didn't reach the kid inside as much as I had hoped that it might ... but it was good.

The film is exactly what it advertises ... Giant Robots fighting Giant Monsters. It's there. It's presented competently and with much spectacle. So, why am I not turning cart wheels of joy? I honestly don't know. Maybe it's me. Maybe I need to go see the movie again.

The movie dumps us right into the middle of the action and doesn't let up. That said, time is made for some good character moments, and the movie avoids the mind-numbingly repetitive action sequences that plagued Man of Steel. All the action is fresh and interesting and manages to provide a few surprises.

But the action was all soooo serious. These monsters were more scary than fun, and the robots were more realistic than awesome. The character played by Ron Perlman (Hell Boy and Sons of Anarchy) as well as the scientists played by Burn Gorman (Torchwood) and Charlie Day (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) are presented with a bit of campy tongue-in-cheek spirit meant to lighten the film, but everything else was so serious that these characters seemed out of place.

I think the problem for me is that everything in Pacific Rim is done in a sort of Matter of Fact / Status Quo fashion. This serves the film's momentum well, losing no time is immersing us in the world, but it robs us of some of the sense of wonder and discovery. I felt like I was watching the third movie in a trilogy and that I had missed the other two.

I think that we have come to take some of the "spectacle" that film is able to give us in today's computer age for granted. It's become so common place that the film makers assume that we "expect" it. So, there's no need to take the time to ease us into it ... there was no "reveal" ... no sense of wonder shared through the eyes of the characters. The robots and monsters were there and in your face and the characters had been living in this world for awhile, so they didn't need to bring us into this reality and take the time to allow us to feel what should have been giddy kid-like joy.

Oh, it was take your breath away spectacular ... for me, especially the giant robots that seemed to have genuine weight behind their stature. They were awesome  I just wish I could have gotten that sense of wonder through an empathic character connection. Like you get the first time Rose steps into the TARDIS on Doctor Who. I know that the TARDIS is bigger on the inside ... I know what to expect ... I have seen the inside of the TARDIS thousands of times ... but that didn't diminish the shared feeling of awe that I got when the reveal happens and we get to see the TARDIS through Rose's eyes for the first time.

I think they tried to do some of this when Becket is shown the robots upon his return to the resistance after having been away for five years. It was there ... but it was more like finding an Easter egg than coming down to a tree full of presents on Christmas morning. This world is spectacular ... I wish that the main character had thought so. Farscape works ... Doctor Who works ... because normal people are brought into fantastic worlds and we get to see these worlds through their eyes. I wanted a little of this.

My favorite scene was the one where the monster is chasing the little girl, because I was finally able to connect with something emotionally ... first her fear ... and then when the robot ranger guy removes his helmet as her savior I felt that little girl's wonder and admiration. This was the connection to reality I needed ... and it was in a dream sequence ... LOL! Like I said, I want to see part 1 of this trilogy.

I liked Pacific Rim ... it was epic ... and it was monsters vs. robots ... what more could you ask for? Well, for me ... I would ask for a better human connection not between the characters and the audience, which was missing in MOS, but between the characters and their world. Also, if I really want to nit-pick, there were things that just didn't make sense. These would have been more forgivable if I had gotten the connection I was hoping for. As it is, these things all happen right at the end of the movie and so cause me to scratch my head as I am walking out of the theater ... not a good final impression.

How was the "clone" monster, that was manufactured for war, pregnant? Was this some kind of failed attempt to poke fun at the American Godzilla movie? How were they able to maintain radio communication on the other side of the portal? How did the escape pods make it back through the portal? Was the DNA lock only one way? Perhaps the portal had simply stayed open the whole time. If so, why didn't they tell us that? It seems completely unrealistic that both Becket and Mako made it out alive. Their inexplicable survival for me diminished the impact of the sacrifice of the father and son Australian team that blew themselves up. These were all little things that troubled my brain as I walked out of the theater.

Anyway ... I do want to see it again. It was fresh and original. It was wondrous and amazing. It was even a little bit fun. I'm just not sure that it was fun enough to get an A ... so, I give Pacific Rim an A- for almost getting it right and for trying damn hard.

Regards,


Jeff Moore

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Firefly Online Announced at Comicon

I think a lot of those people who heard this announcement are disappointed to hear it's a mobile app. I love my iPad and most of my gamer buddies have tablets so this looks super cool to me!

 

The official press release is copied below.

Firefly Online: Cult Hit Series to Get Officially Licensed Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game

LOS ANGELES — July 17, 2013 — Fox Digital Entertainment (FDE) and QMx Interactive Inc. (QMXi), a developer of mobile games and apps, are heading back to the Verse of the much beloved cult hit TV series Firefly, announcing today the first officially licensed video game, titled Firefly Online.

Firefly Online (FFO) is a multi-user, social online role-playing game that will initially be available for smartphones and tablets, including those based on iOS and Android operating systems.
Players take on the role of a ship captain as they hire a crew and lead missions, while trading with and competing against millions of other players like themselves. Much like the crew of Serenity, the Firefly-class transport ship featured in the original show, players must do whatever it takes to survive in the Verse: find a crew, find a job and keep flying.

Firefly Online is currently in development by QMXi and Spark Plug Games, an independent video game studio. The game is expected to be released during the summer of 2014.

At QMx, we know firsthand how great and powerful a franchise Firefly is and how mighty the Browncoats are,” said Andy Gore, CEO of QMXi and Quantum Mechanix Inc., which produces official collectibles and replicas for Firefly.

It has always been our mission to bring the Verse to life for our customers in every way possible. The idea of creating an interactive experience where fans can have their own Firefly adventures -- well, that’s just too shiny for words,” Gore said.

We are thrilled to be partnering with QMx on Firefly Online,” said Matt McMahon, VP of Mobile for Fox Digital Entertainment. “QMx has a long and successful history with Firefly and we couldn’t think of a better partner to make a truly innovative game that will stand up in the Verse and to its passionate fans.”

When we were first approached with this challenge, we realized that Firefly is unique among shows and movies, so only a unique game experience could do it justice,” said John O’Neill, President of Spark Plug Games.

Firefly Online, while having a lot of familiar game elements, will be like no game you’ve ever experienced,” added O’Neill.

Firefly Online players will play a captain in the Verse that’s struggling to get by, just like Capt. Mal Reynolds from the show, and dive in the following features:

  • Create a crew, customize a shiny ship and explore the Verse.
  • Aim to misbehave in space and planet-side adventures.
  • Pick-up and play anywhere with cross-platform, cross-device game play support.
  • Engage with unique social features connecting Firefly fans.

To sign up for more information or preregister for the game, please visit www.KeepFlying.com.
Savvy consumers and Firefly fans should keep an eye out for first-look game content, exclusive collectibles tied to the game, and more goodness yet to come by signing up for:

  • The QMx Insider newsletter http://insider.quantummechanix.com/
  • Firefly Online (FFO) on Twitter http://twitter.com/firefly_game/
  • Firefly Online (FFO) on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/fireflyonlinegame

FIREFLY & © 2013 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.


Zombie Sex Slaves from Mars



Jaax (Catholic Schoolgirl Samurai Warrior)

Attack: Expert Samurai Sword (6)
Weapon: Medium Samurai Sword (10) - Duh!
Armor: Unequipped tattered Schoolgirl Uniform (0)
Preferred Combat Style: All out attack - using sword two handed, weapon becomes: Heavy Samurai Sword (12)

Traits:
Expert Samurai Sword, Attack (6)
Adept Upskirt Distraction (with cute teddy bear face on panties,) Defend (5)
Journeyman Seduction (4)
Apprentice God's chosen warrior, Interrupt (3)
Novice Shuriken, ranged attack (2)
Trouble Driving motorized vehicles (Doubles)

Jaax is a Five by Five character for my new Planet Motherfucker campaign.


I considered editing "Motherfucker" above as "Motherf**ker" but decided that was silly. Tim Minchin talks about how the London Times got away with using the word "Fuck" in a headline by simply spelling it "F**k" and points out how ludicrous this is. Why is it that we see the asterisk character as less offensive when our mind simply does the job of translating the word anyway? Is it the word that is offensive or is it the letters? ( ... but I digress.) Besides, Planet Motherfucker is about attitude and it would be a disservice to the spirit of this product to water that down.

Planet Motherfucker is a RPG campaign setting concept by Jack W. Shear over at Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque. I just received my copy of the Planet Motherfucker booklet in the mail and immediately (the same day) ran a Five by Five game inspired by its content. There are some good reviews of Planet Motherfucker out there HERE and HERE.

I highly recommend buying Planet Motherfucker from LuLu. It's a 42 page booklet and it's a quick read. Most of what it contains (minus random tables) can be found for free by reading it from Jack's Blog. So, why buy the book? Because it puts all the attitude of the setting in one place and makes it quickly available to your players ... and that's important because Planet Motherfucker is a campaign setting that you are going to want to play! You will want to hand your players this book and say, "Wrap your head around this! This is what we are going to play!"

Above, I say that Planet Motherfucker is a "campaign setting concept." I think it's important to understand going in that this isn't a book about game rules and world setting cartography. It's broad strokes of a brush, really little more than a stream of disturbed consciousness. It's about communicating attitude. And Planet Motherfucker does that very well. Jack gives us a glimpse of a raunchy, rambling, zombie rockstar, drug overdose world, and leaves the particulars to us.

I call Five by Five an RPG toolkit. It's tools for playing a game that you build yourself. Planet Motherfucker is the same. And I feel the two are a perfect fit. So much so that I ran a game.

I had three players:

Taz: a Mechanic/Roadwarrior with a penchant for slapping things in the head with his crowbar.
Doc: a Mad Doctor/Plastic Surgeon to the Pornstars/Dual Wielding Gunslinger. 
and a Catholic Schoolgirl Samurai Warrior named Jaax. 

Planet Motherfucker provides some sample characters (stats for Savage World?) that offer plenty of inspiration and it was easy to convert these to Five by Five. Jaax (my girlfriend Mendi's character) is provided above for your review.

The players were in a raunchy nightclub in Lost Angels when cultists from Necro-Leans set off a zombie bomb nearby transforming everyone into Zombies. Unbeknownst to the players, being "drunk" provides a natural defense to the bomb, so they (the PC's) and many others in the night club prove immune to the effects.

Doc is a crack shot during the Zombie battle in the night club managing to hit and score critical damage three turns in a row with every shot of his dual wield heavy pistols. Eventually as a swarm of Zombies overtake the club, the group goes on the run and is picked up by a VW microbus, when an unnaturally buxom porn-starlet leans out the bus window declaring, "Hey, that's my Doctor!"

There was every chance that the porn starlet in question, along with her two porn star companions (one male; one female) might have bought it right there at the hands of the players. All three were decked out in Zombie makeup. The porn stars had just come from the set of "Zombie Sex Slaves from Mars!" This was the original title of my adventure for the evening, but in the hour prep time I had before the game, I just couldn't make that work!

But, the players role-played the encounter with the "zombie" porn stars and end up joining forces (later offering the porn stars as trade goods in exchange for supplies.) I love this "off the cuff" style of play and I think my favorite encounter happened as the players (having fled into the countryside) are attacked by a pack of zombie coyotes.

I got a pretty cool visual of the scene as Taz driving a dirt bike with Jaax riding "bitch" (she has driving as her trouble trait so she doesn't drive) strafe through the pack of zombie coyotes so Jaax can dice them up with her Samurai Sword.

The group had a blast. I had a blast! I plan to run Planet Motherfucker Five by Five again soon. When you get a chance check out Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque and Planet Motherfucker. You'll be glad you did!

Regards,


Jeff Moore

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. coming in September!!



Saw this on Google+ and had to share immediately!

http://geektyrant.com/news/2013/7/17/marvels-agents-of-shield-has-a-premiere-date

New serialized drama from Joss Whedon! I couldn't be happier. I mentioned in my review of the Simplicity RPG - the one by Dave Zajac not the one nominated for the Ennie (which I don't think is as good) that I considered this a "Golden Age" for RPG's. Well, I could probably say the same for Superhero movies and TV.

I am super excited about this announcement and really look forward to watching this. Today is my birthday, so this announcement makes an awesome gift ... now if the BBC would just announce the casting of the new Doctor  ...

Joss Whedon's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to premiere on
Tuesday, September 24 at 8 p.m. EST on ABC!


Regards,

Jeff

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Monday, July 15, 2013

Give me an older Doctor



I fell victim to the rumor that the newest Doctor was to be announced at the Proms this past weekend, so when it didn't happen I was a little disappointed. It got me talking to my friends about the current state of Doctor Who and the direction I would like to see the show take.

Matt Smith was an awesome quirky character and I loved him, but I don't think I really liked his Doctor as the Doctor as much as I just enjoyed him. He was very hands on and physical and action adventurey and I think I'd like to take a step back from that. My next Doctor would be someone who had to use his head to solve things because his body just wouldn't be up to the task. I'm thinking a much older Doctor, someone along the lines of the William Hartnell Doctor.

This would force a shift in focus (for the Doctor at least) away from the superhero/stuntman/action figure stuff and should also diffuse the romance stuff as well. I think they need that. Give me an older Doctor. Maybe Patrick Stewart?



As for the companion, I'm thinking an Emma Peel type. Someone who can handle the action when it's needed, who the Doctor must reign in on occasion  The kind of dynamic we saw between say the 4th Doctor and Leela, or the 7th Doctor and Ace. Actually, I like the idea of bringing back Michelle Ryan as the cat burglar Cristina. Michelle is smoking hot and talented and she would fit the action adventure bill nicely. They brought Donna (Catherine Tate) back as a regular after her appearance as a Runaway Bride, why not Cristina?

That's my Doctor / Companion pick. What do you think?

Regards,


Jeff Moore

My Problem with MOS's Ending

I know this has probably been talked to death ... but, I posted this as a comment over at Siskoid's Blog of Geekery and I thought it was worth sharing here.



***

I want to comment on the whole "Zod" controversy. I think taking the hard line, "Superman doesn't kill, ever!" standpoint, isn't really looking at the issue.

If backed into a corner where the only hope that Clark can perceive is the course that he chose, then he made the hard choice ... and that's a character defining moment.

That's good drama.

When someone acts against character because circumstances demand it, that's powerful stuff. Here's my problem with it, and it has nothing to do with Clark taking a life.

The pinnacle moment where Clark breaks Zod's neck, was I think, meant to be this huge character moment of sacrifice for the greater good. Like Spock's self sacrifice in the Wrath of Khan.

Taking a life, no matter how justified is something that should haunt a man like Clark forever. This is as much a self-sacrifice as Spock's as far as I am concerned. That moment could have been powerful drama.

Clark isn't sufficiently developed as a character. We don't get to understand the internal stuggle of the character because the foundation isn't there. We need to understand the value that Clark places on life, and we need to understand Zod's value as a living being.

If the film is depending on us to identify with the character simply because he is "Superman" then that Superman needs to be the character we know (and we are back to the "Superman doesn't kill ever!" arguement.) If the film wants to present us with something else, then that something else needs to be defined within the film's context.

Zod should have been a sympathetic character. He was a soldier trying to save his race. He saw himself as a hero. We should have seen some of this too. Zod's character isn't sufficiently developed.

Clark should have been shown as a heroic figure. Someone who values life and protects it above all else.

I think the film knows what it needs to do. It just doesn't seem to understand how to get there. I am not sure if that'a a problem with the script or the direction, or if it's a symptom of how these films are made and how so many different voices have a stake in the final outcome.

Zod has a few sympathetic moments ... almost. He tells us he's sympathetic at least. Clark saves some people from a fire, but it doesn't feel heroic to me. It just seems to be something that happens because Clark happens to be there. If I had super powers I would probably do the same. Not because I am heroic, but because I was there and helping out really didn't cost me anything.

Back to the Zod thing. Because the characters of Clark and Zod were not sufficiently developed or connected, the tragedy of the sacrifice is lost. All we have left is the "shock."

Unfortunately, because of the action-movie quick take editorial approach of the entire film and the exhausting endless barrage of numbing action at the end ... I am not sure even the "shock" is as powerful as it could have been. Speaking for myself, I was just happy the movie finally seemed to be wrapping up.

For me, for these reasons, the ending was an epic fail. If you take out the "Superman never kills." argument and make this about a completely new world of characters. Characters whose only existence is within the context of this movie. The ending still fails.

And that's a problem.

***

What do you think?

Regards,


Jeff


DC Nation Shorts on Cartoon Network

It seems the Wonder Woman clip I shared the other day is not a preview of a coming series at all but one of the DC Nation Short Subjects. There may be other shorts featuring Wonder Woman in the future and I will certainly be keeping my eyes open for them. Here are some other shorts that I thought were fun!

Super Best Friends Forever
.

.

.

.

.

Animal Man
.

.

Tales of Metropolis
.

Wonder Woman
.

I may not be clear on my info here, but I believe that the new show Teen Titans Go that is currently running as a full 22 minute animated feature on Cartoon Network began life as a DC Nation Short as well.

I don't see Animal Man (voiced by Weird Al Yankovic) working as anything but shorts, but I could see Super Best Friends Forever working as a full series and I would pay money to see that Wonder Woman fully evolved.

So, spread the word about the Wonder Woman short. Maybe if it gets popular enough on YouTube we will be treated to a full blown WW series in the future!

Help spread the word!

Regards,


Jeff Moore


Five by Five Available in Print!!



Visit the Five by Five page on LuLu and you can get a beautiful hardcover print edition of Five by Five for your RPG collection. It's beautiful! Be sure to check it out!!

The print edition contains 8 pages of bonus content not available in the PDF. It has some advanced rules for persistent wound levels, healing and recovery, and a new sample adventure, "Silver Lining" set in a space opera inspired sci-fi future!!

Regards,

Jeff

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Call me late for supper ...

So I just realized last night while re-watching an episode of Doctor Who that Tony Curran who plays Vincent van Gogh is also Datak Tarr in Defiance. Now I want Datak to win and everyone else to die. (Hmmm ... Still haven't watched the season finale ... Need to do that.)




Regards,

Jeff

DC Nation Wonder Woman Preview

Looking at this snippet from DC Nation maybe the animation folks are more in line with my way of thinking than I realized. It's not Mike Allred, but it looks pretty ginchy!


I could dig this Wonder Woman.

Regards,


Jeff

Why Not Mike?




My recent obsession with the Man of Steel has me combing the interwebs for all manner of comicbook related news. Much of it now "old" news, but still news to me. Take this cover of Ms. Magazine featuring a fantastic Wonder Woman drawn by Mike Allred. It got me asking ... Has Allred done Wonder Woman? The answer, sadly, is, "No." He illustrated/animated a cosmetics add that featured WW ...





... But nothing in the comics. And I have to ask ... "Why the hell, not?!" Mike's "Madman Comics" are for me some of the smartest, coolest, and sexiest comic stories I have ever read. Yep, I said, "sexiest." But not in that, "Wholesome super heroine who never has sex or even thinks about sex, while dressing like a Victoria's Secret model strutting her stuff down the runway." sort of way.

Have you noticed that all comic book superheroines are basically modeled after the image of Marilyn Monroe? That is if Marilyn were cast in the role of Power Girl.




(I can't believe I found this picture after writing that.)

Marilyn was all sex on a stick with the good girl innocence of a child. That's how the comicbook industry likes to promote its superheroines. Sexbombs who kick ass, but who are all virgins pure as the driven snow.


I was watching a YouTube video review of "Enpowered" by comicbookgirl19 and she raised a really interesting point. Female characters in comics only seem to be interested in sex if they are "villains."





The good guys are all "good girls" as it were ... no interest in intercourse. Super sexy but no sex. Barbie Dolls with all the right curves but no genitalia ... not real ... not people.


How can a writer be expected to write that?

The answer: they don't. Writers just ignore the problem and keep writing around the issue, often creating drivel that doesn't make any sense. One of the things I love about Madman is his relationship with Jo. It's real somehow. Oh, it's sweet and innocent ... sure. But it also manages to be sexy and sensual. Allred pulls it off.

That's why I think Mike could do an awesome Wonder Woman. He is a married man. He works with his wife Laura. Together they can make comics about couples ... relationships ... something sexy and sexual and still sweet and smart and joyful.

And, I don't mean this ...



How is this a good move for the character evolution of Superman or Wonder Woman? It's pure fan service of the worst variety and I fear the damage it will do to both of these iconic characters. What an idiotic move.

Come on guys ... give Mike a chance.


He would write a Wonder Woman that would blow your socks off.



What do you think? I know many people have their own ideas about how Wonder Woman should be handled. I tend to think more along the lines of ... who has the talent, the intelligence and the heart to give us a vision of this character that would be true to the legacy that she deserves to have.

Allred is my first choice, but I also like Joss Whedon (Who was for a short time involved in the Wonder Woman movie script. But after hearing Kevin Smith talk about his experiences, it's a small wonder Joss was unable to work it through.) and Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise and Echo.)

Who would you want to see at the helm of the Wonder Woman comic book?

Regards,


Jeff Moore

Friday, July 12, 2013

Stacy Haiduk as Zatanna?

All the hype over Man of Steel (good and bad) has gotten me rewatching the old Superman Movies and along with them the 80's TV series: Superboy: the New Adventures. One of the standouts of Superboy was the performance of Stacy Haiduk as Lana Lang.




I had a major crush on Stacy during her Superboy run. Born in 1968 she would fall right into my dating pool ... too bad she's happily married (uh, I mean ... congratulations Stacy!) I really haven't seen anything of Stacy beyond Superboy, but a quick Google search reveals that Stacy is worthy of praise as a Nerd Gurl Icon extraordinaire! Look at this pic! I saw this and thought, that is totally Zatanna!!




She also played Lt. Cmdr. Katherine Hitchcock in SeaQuest DSV which I have never seen, but will be adding to my Netflix queue. Be sure to visit Stacy's Home Page and Facebook Page. She has recently completed some film work and it looks like she is scheduled to appear in a few episodes of True Blood this season. Awesome!



I want to leave you with a few more pics, then I'm going back to watching Superboy!








Wow!

Regards,


Jeff

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Five by Five Q&A

I am going to be adding a Q&A section to the Five by Five RPG site. If you have any questions about Five by Five, any suggestions for rules additions or clarifications, please let me know!

Thanks!

Jeff Moore

Simplicity RPG by Dave Zajac

This is a review of Swordfin Games' Simplicity RPG by Dave Zajac.


Simplicity is a 48 page PDF rules document available for free download. In the introduction Dave states that Simplicity draws from every RPG that he has ever played. Simplicity's greatest influence is certainly D&D and although I haven't played it yet, I envision Simplicity performing very much like pre-3.x D&D at the tabletop.

That said, Simplicity draws heavily on the 3.x innovation of "feats." Simplicity refers to its version of feats as Abilities. It refers to Strength, Intelligence, etc. as Attributes, but doesn't use the standard 6, opting instead for a simplified Tri-Stat inspired, Body, Mind, and Spirit. Everything special that your character can do is defined as an Ability. There are no character classes or skills or proficiencies.

Abilities may have prerequisite Ability or character level requirements to control character evolution, but there are no classes to restrict the manner in which your character evolves. This modular approach to character creation is incredibly dynamic and anything the game design might sacrifice by stepping away from the character class model is more than made up for by the versatility of this system. Amazingly, Simplicity is simple without being simplistic. The choices here are vast and are Simplicity's greatest strength.

At the table, combat looks to be decided old-school. Roll Initiative to establish turn order. Roll a d20 to hit your target, try to roll high. Damage dice vary depending on the weapon in question, d4 for a dagger, d6 for a mace, d8 for a sword. Everything nice and friendly and familiar.

Except there is no Armor Class. All tasks are roll + modifier and try to roll 10 or higher. This applies to climbing a tree or striking an enemy. Armor acts as damage reduction reducing the amount of injury inflicted by a weapon. It's quick. It's easy. And, although it's not old school it's close enough that I think most could make the leap with minimal grumbling.

I like Simplicity a lot. It looks eminently playable, versatile and house-rule-able. It's 48 pages includes character creation and advancement, and a GM section that includes sample monsters and advice on world building and running the game. I love bringing concise rules documents to my gaming table. I plan to try Simplicity soon.

I don't know the current state of the RPG industry. But I know that for myself as a reader and lover of RPG games as both rules of play and works of prose, this feels like a golden age. I have access to more tabletop RPG related materials then I ever imagined possible, and a large portion of that material is available for free.

Simplicity uses a model that I plan for Five by Five which is a free PDF with the option to purchase a print version. I downloaded and read the Simplicity PDF right after I read Super Hero Fun. A link to Simplicity is also found at the Compendium of free RPG's right under Five by Five. I did purchase the print edition of Simplicity and just received my copy from LuLu. If I like an RPG, I like to support the game's creators and I really like paper books. I prefer reading paper books to reading electronic books on my iPad.

The print version is stapled (saddle stitched?) rather than perfect bound, and I worry about its durability. There are no spot illustrations, but the type is laid out well and the document is easy to read. I spotted a few typos but nothing glaring. All in all, Simplicity is a solid product and well worth the purchase. It's certainly worth your time to download and preview the free PDF.

Regards,


Jeff Moore

Monday, July 08, 2013

Superman Lives

On father's day I went to see, Man of Steel. It isn't a good movie. It's a frustrating example of a product of the Hollywood Machine.


In the mid 90's a potential Superman film called "Superman Lives" was under discussion. Tim Burton was to direct and Nicholas Cage was to play the man of steel.

This is Kevin Smith talking about working on a draft for the script for Superman Lives. This is really worth watching. It's told a bit tongue in cheek as Smith is want to do as an entertainer ... but, it gives a rather distressing look inside the mind of Hollywood.


It's a small wonder that Man of Steel is the film that it is, and I have gained new respect for Joss Whedon's fantastic accomplishment in the final product of the Avengers. With this kind of thing happening behind the scenes in Hollywood it's amazing that we ever get a movie worth watching.

Regards,


Jeff Moore


Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Super Hero Fun RPG Review



I love Super Heroes. I love comics, and I love Super Hero RPG's. I have even written a few myself. That said, when I stumble across a Super Hero RPG that I haven't read yet, I almost always give it a look. While writing my previous post on Free RPG's, I took a few minutes to visit each of the sites that I talked about and it was at "The Compendium of Free Role Playing Games" that I found (third from the top of the list) "Super Hero Fun."

Wow! Just … wow! Read Super Hero Fun. At only 6 pages it might be quicker to do that, then to read my review. (But, I hope that you read my review anyway.) The first thing you will see when you open the Super-Hero-Fun-complete-rules PDF is the character sheet. The sheet includes notes about character creation, character advancement, and some example difficulty numbers for tasks. It is used effectively as part of the rules. And, if you are an experienced gamer like myself after looking over the character sheet you will already begin to have a pretty good idea of how to play.

The next 2 pages are Powers/Special Abilities. Rules-lite supers RPG's tend to "hand wave" super powers, leaving it to the players to define powers and their effects. By and large, I am good with this. It's how Five by Five works. It's how the very excellent Supercrew by Tobias Rades├Ąter works. But, I recognize that many players would like to have a list of powers and abilities to choose from. I am sure that more than one would be player has looked over games like the Supercrew and given them a pass because a powers list was not included.

Super Hero Fun has a powers list. And it looks to be a well balanced, well thought out selection of powers designed to serve the rules-lite nature of the game. The flavor of the text reiterates the "fun" aspect of the game's name and helps to establish the proper attitude for approaching its content with power names like: Blasty, Bulky, and Psychiky. 

The list might not allow for every conceivable super hero concept in the universe, but it will handle most of them … and in only 2 pages! The next 2 pages are standard Abilities. This includes things like, Climb, Jump, Run, Drive, Science/Tech, Entertain … again, in only 2 pages.

The last page is the rules. How to do stuff. The game is a variation of the d6 system that originated with Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game by Greg Costikyan back in 1987. It's a good system for this kind of thing. Everything is defined by number of dice. It's clean and easy and fast. And throwing handfuls of dice can be fun!

Standard Abilities improve a die at a time. Powers cost 2 dice to buy. A few powers do damage to the character while they are being used as a sort of “exhaustion” mechanic, but damage heals quickly. You can even take power limitations to reduce a power's cost from 2 dice to 1. Everything looks to be polished and well reasoned and I am anxious to try this at my gaming table.

Super Hero Fun is well laid out with Powers and Abilities designed to be printed 2 sided each on a single sheet of paper. The character sheet + rules can go on a third piece of paper making the whole package very tidy and easy to navigate.

The only accreditation on the game is "© 2010 Super Fun Games – No rights reserved. Use however you want." A cursory Google search produces tons of results for computer games but no clues as to the origin of this gem. If you like Super Hero RPG's and are looking for the ultimate rules-lite super hero solution, you just might find what you are looking for in “Super Hero Fun.” I know I'm going to try it out soon.

Regards,


Jeff Moore

Edit: The author of Super Hero Fun, Jerry Seltzer emailed me after this review and has even changed the copyright notice in the Super Hero Fun PDF to make it easier for players to contact him. If you like Super Hero Fun be sure to reach out to Jerry and let him know!



Free RPG's (Sharing the Love)



I believe in "free" RPG's. I have written several. Five by Five is one of those. I spend a lot of time looking for free RPGs to read. I also spend my fair share (my girlfriend would say *more* than my fair share) of money on non-free RPG's to try to support the industry and because ... I love RPG's. I love to read them. I love to play them. I think about them, write about them, and pretty much obsess over them most of the time.

If you are looking for free RPG's there are many places that you can go.

John Kim's Free RPGs on the Web is here: www.darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/freerpgs/‎

Keeton Harrington's 1KM1KT (1 Thousand Monkeys, 1 Thousand Typewriters) is here: http://www.1km1kt.net

Rob Lang's Free RPG Blog http://www.thefreerpgblog.com/ has a list of free RPG's here: https://delicious.com/thefreerpgblog

Chris' (Eric Garrison's) Compendium of Free Role Playing Games (aka www.homebrew.net/games/) is now here: http://ericgarrison.wordpress.com/about/games/

The Year of Living Free http://livingfree.wikidot.com/list-of-libre-games focuses on free RPGs that carry the Creative Commons License.

Commercial RPG Site RPGNow has a lot of free RPG goodness on offer. http://www.rpgnow.com/index.php?filters=0_2140_0_0_0&pfrom=0&pto=0

I am placing these sites in the links bar at the top of my blog (under the title.) Use them. Visit them often. There is a lot of real gems hidden away among those links.

I believe in Free RPG's. But, I also believe in the dream that creators foster of one day earning a living wage from the fruits of their creations. With a niche market that inspires so much creative output from its consumer base, the chance of earning any kind of commercial gain by writing an RPG seems especially remote.

A person who produces their game for free can only hope that someone out there reads it. Or joy of joy's, that someone out there actually plays it. I want to do my part, by putting the word out. Click on a few of the links above. Read through a few of the games that are listed. What have you got to lose? Certainly, not your money!

Regards,



Jeff Moore

Edit: I removed the "Free RPG Day" graphic and replaced with the "In Philanthropy We Trust" badge from Rob Lang's Free RPG Blog. Rob's a huge supporter of the free RPG movement. Thanks, Rob!