Wednesday, 31 December 2008

HC Again

The reason I've been busy is because of hardcore gaming! Three days, around 12 or so hours each day (more or less) and it had already been going on two days! Would have been another half-day but was already full and I spent the rest of that day passed out anyway...

Not sure what the official name was, but we filed it under Tonga. Day One - Trip To Tonga: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.

Day Two - Terror in Tonga: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7. Why So Serious?: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. Beaten To Death: Part 1, Part 2.

Day Three - Hey, I'm in gaming! It starts with an inevitable recap, but as I was out of it, don't ask me what the plot was. Not that we did that much either. Mainly a combat... and that's about that. Eh. Guns Are Bad, MmmK?: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.

Then we take a break for a different GM, Bert, who solidly linked this in to a previous adventure. Very well done. And a real Terry-centric mission too! I Am Paco: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.

Day Four - back to the big mission, and another change on cast, although I refuse to allow a long recap (and given that we have no idea what is going on plot-wise isn't really needed). We try to stealthily enter a place we could easily have taken by storm, frankly. But, eh, we didn't want to be too obvious. Cafe Tug Of War: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

Then we need to move to the next place (with a very thin reason to go anywhere). However, we weigh up the going there with the how to get there without dying, and completely avoid the best way... not that our advisers helped. But lots and lots of discussion ensued. UN Discussion: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

So, we finally get to the next plot point (as far as we could tell) and immediately everything falls apart. Well, it would really, wouldn't it? We really don't have the skill set for this sort of mission. And listen out for Terry being very, very cold. Get In The Chopper!: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

(Then there's a little After Game Discussion: Part 1, Part 2.)

Day Five - Finally get to the end, which is surprising for all! (And the cast continues to change.) Research time, get ourselves some information, and still have no idea what's going on. Considering how distracting Logan is, no-one can complain that we take a long time. On To Cairo: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.

So, we want a military solution. We aren't wanting to go against an army, and why should we? We have some KBC resources at our command. That'll fix everything! However... they were all bird-brains. Fortunately (...maybe...), we have another resource... and then everything ends... It Went To The Birds: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

And then one last After Game Chat, in which the plot (such as it is) is revealed! Huzzah!... the hell?


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The Next Doctor Who

Finally, after all these... couple of months... new Doctor Who! And it was... meh!

With all the speculation that this was a rip off of The One Doctor, no-one suspected that we had picked the wrong audio, but it did quickly become obvious that this was instead Minuet in Hell. Still, nice to see the shots of yester-doc, and still the TV Movie is considered canon, no doubt to many people's annoyance.

Cybermen tried to take over the city and/or the world? Say it ain't so! Again! ... I can't think of anything interesting to say about that, so will just pick on certain points. It was nice to see Hartigan's red dress if only because of the rest of the show being bland grays and browns. Colour, people, colour! Merry Drab Christmas, Mr Lawrence! And look at all the widdums who are made to work... in the middle of the night... after presumably a long day of working... and are still quite energetic and not at all sleepy. Uh-huh. With some of them more successfully portraying their heavy burdens than others who apparently can easily toss about heavy sacks. (Should I also mention the overdone mascara?)

But this is a time of Christmas, and, more importantly, a time of David Morrissey, and while I have no idea who he was, I still don't have any interest in seeing him in anything else (although I did keep thinking of Neil Morrissey). Dervla Kirwan played an excellent typical RTD Villainess (Villainatrix?), although she obviously won't be returning (so was she "saved" in her final moments as all villainessatricies are?). Velile Tshabalala was not quite the Rose stand in (she actually did as she was told!)... and other people were also on-screen.

In all, another not-quite-thrillingly exciting Christmas special.

Next time: no idea, but there's a good chance it won't be on earth... okay, I didn't believe that before I even finished typing the sentence...


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Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians!

Part 9:

Part 10:


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Monday, 29 December 2008

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians!

Part 7:

Part 8:


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Sunday, 28 December 2008

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians!

Part 5:

Part 6:


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Saturday, 27 December 2008

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians!

Part 3:

Part 4:


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Friday, 26 December 2008

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians!

I'm going to be busy over the next few days, so am posting a movie in parts that you could find yourselves on youtube...
Part 1:

Part 2:


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Thursday, 25 December 2008

Some Thoughts This Xmas


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Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Shadowrunning In-Between

Finally got around to getting to WARGS again, and played Shadowrun. Moreover, since I picked up some of the manuals, I played my own character this time! Basically a Face/Adept by the name of Mr In-Between (after the song).

As it happened, the adventure was at the end of a long series of adventures set in Denver, and it didn't involve us doing much that coming across an item everyone wanted, then deciding who got it. Ended up being a rather quick game as we just went "eh... let's go with him" and then got on with trying to set everyone else up, although it all went off with everyone fighting and we only got away due to a special spell that had been developed.

The next set of Shadowrun adventures is in New York. Hopefully I'll be able to get in on those, although there is no WARGS next month as there is Kapcon!


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Tuesday, 23 December 2008

HC Again

I get to play on three different days! Logan started playing on Thursday due to having a live gamer around, and I tried to get in as soon as I got home (on my Friday). From hearing the file, I managed to get in just as someone else fell out. Good timing!

So I'm there for the first part of the adventure, in which we get an amazing action scene involving the Mouse, but otherwise fumble around with no real idea of what's going on or how to solve anything... and then when we continue the next day (with slightly different players) I say "let's do this", find the plot and solve the whole thing easily. Huh. School Guardian Lions: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8.

After that, we consider the ongoing campaign issues and decide to try a different tack on investigating the ghoul-type creatures under New York. Consider that we have little idea of what we are doing and typically go into these sorts of situations without being prepared. What Could Possible Go Wrong?: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Then we went for a nice easy CSI type mission. Even easier for me as I had already heard others do it, so I was on No Brainer. There was basically one piece of important evidence they nearly managed to avoid and couldn't believe when they got. Storage Redux: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Next day, after doing other things (see next post), I jump in at the end of the session. We don't have huge amounts of time, but do some talking, and get involved in another player's story. Robert's Reaming: Part 1, Part 2.

Then we don't get to think of another mission quickly, do some thinking and planning, but otherwise end up chatting. Bit of planning and wind down: Part 1.


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The TSV Religion

The next TSV is out in the archives: TSV 61. Of note is the article examining New Zealand's own production of Seven Keys to Doomsday (although the actor playing the Doctor was from England, not NZ), and high humour can be found in the Time Flight cartoons.

My own work increased in this issue. For one, I wrote a piece looking at the way religion is used in Doctor Who and how it is generally negatively portrayed (usually to make conflict for the story). Not sure I'd take the same stance now, but the point is still valid.

I also stepped up as the main reviewer of the BBC books, which I now think back on, starting with:
The Ancestor Cell: Still remember this badly. As in: remember this as being bad. It really was a clunky, clumsy way to end the Future War arc (although the arc did need to be ended).
Casualties of War: Nice book, pleasanter than many other reads, but not brilliant.
Heart of TARDIS: Dave Stone was a bit more than a little full of himself here. Especially the Fourth Doctor and Romana stuff.
Prime Time: All I recall is that this was a bad send-up of the BBC. Oh, and the revealed death at the end.
Imperial Moon: Bad, bad book. Bad plot device to start, badly written, just bad.

Read also Paul and Alden.


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Monday, 22 December 2008

Torchwood: Almost Perfect

Last of the current set, Almost Perfect by James Goss.

People are perfect. Or, at least, can be made so. Some people may die along the way, but that's the price of perfection. And Ianto is a woman. So, you know, comedy ensues!

James is way into Facebook and every chapter heading is basically a Facebook status update. Which is really annoying if one (such as me) isn't into Facebook because it just comes across as idiotic. In many ways this book is trying to be hip and fresh and new, and it works for a while... but also gets in the way. I'm not sure that James Goss' style really suits for Torchwood. The plot twists are such that the story changes in each of the three sections, but the last section is almost an entirely different story.

The three cast members are almost generic caricatures of themselves, with Jack being horny and Ianto and Gwen bitch-fighting. Emma becomes annoying, and the rest of them aren't worth talking about.

Not a great book. Slightly readable, but nothing to get excited about.

Order: After Exit Wounds of course.


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Sunday, 21 December 2008

What to Read?

So, a friend finally got around to reading Watchmen. And then he asked: what else should he read? (At least, relating to Graphic Novels.)

The two other classics usually mentioned are V for Vendetta and The Dark Knight (the original, not any of the sequels). I would also add in Ronin, as I really like it.

Then again, I like anime, so would add in Akira, Domu, Dominion Tank Police and Ghost in the Shell.

More recently, I tend to stick to the more mainstream comic houses, so recommend stuff like Animal Man (the stuff by Grant Morrison) and Doom Patrol (ditto). The Superman set: Death of, World Without and The Return of. Batman Knightfall and Knightsend (they never published Knightquest which is in the middle). Oh, and Green Lantern is a great series (although basically ignore from when Kyle turned up onwards).

On the other side: Nick Fury vs Shield, various Spiderman (Saga of the Alien Costume, Vs Venom, Cosmic Adventures and more), and they've got huge tomes out collecting lots of runs of their comics.

Going broader, Maus is a must. From Hell is a great read. Bone has to be enjoyed. Cerebus is an interesting descent into madness. Fury (Joss Weadon future Buffy-universe story). League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, although earlier works are better than later.

Then there's the 2000AD stuff such as Judge Dredd, Pete recommends America and also the first two volumes of Strontium Dog. (Pete also recommends Hellboy, which I have only seen the movie versions of, but he loves them.)

Quite a bit there, but what graphic novels would you recommend?


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Saturday, 20 December 2008

Torchwood: Skypoint

The second book in the current Torchwood book series is Skypoint by the author of Fragments Phil Ford! No, wait… could easily be mistaken that he was the one.

This story continues the classic plot line of: get a bunch of people stuck together and slowly kill them off. That might not sound original, but Phil really mixes it up by having the Torchwood crew endlessly spend far too much time lost in their memories of their times before they joined Torchwood… he really must have liked Fragments as many, many pages are devoted to replaying the moments that we saw on screen. Gah! We saw the episode, they’re traumatised, we get it!

The main villain and monster is rather lame. No reason Phil didn’t focus on it, it really isn’t worth the effort of trying to get to it. And the ending is really quick and pathetic too. Bah. Really, really bah.

The crew are well done, but we’d hope so from Phil. The residents of Skypoint are… he tried to make them interesting, but doesn’t devote as much time to them as the memories of Owen, Tosh and Ianto. (Seriously, man, just watch that episode again yourself and don’t inflict it on us.)

In fact, that’s a decent summary of the book. Go watch Fragments and avoid this book.

Order: Gwen’s just back from her honeymoon, so between Something Borrowed and From Out of the Rain it is!


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Friday, 19 December 2008

The Day Keanu Stood Still

I’ve lost track of how many remakes I’ve seen this year, but now we’re up to An Inconvenient Truth (although possibly with less computer imagery than that movie). Have to say, if you want someone who doesn’t react as a human would in any way what-so-ever, yep Keanu Reeves is an excellent choice.

I haven’t seen the original Day, but suspect this is as heavy handed as that was. Certainly we are in no doubt that the humans have brought the earth to ruin and only by destroying humanity can the earth be saved. ...and that’s about the extent of it really. Not huge depth here, and the military forces aren’t exactly exemplars of caring and supportiveness. Just as well there’s one righteous man in Sodom… I mean, one good woman in New York. (Not that there’s a lot of religious imagery here, unlike the first one.)

Anyway, yes, ‘Woah’ boy is in it, as well as that woman who was the girlfriend interest in the Hulk, and of course Gary Hobson from Early Edition. (Yes, frankly, none of them are worth naming. Performances are all right, but no-one really cares about them.) Nice cameo from John Cleese but that man can’t do anything wrong, and James Hong, of course, who seems to be in every movie nowadays (which isn’t a bad thing).

Not a terrible movie, but one that doesn’t bother with ‘subtly’. [And yes, they say that line...]


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Thursday, 18 December 2008


Have you seen this article? Can you believe it?

Nicole Kidman upset Aboriginal groups because she played the didgeridoo, which is a cultural no-no. Fine, there are some traditions and such that we honour, there being a more than a few people getting upset over the French use of the Maori moko for example.

But the excuse? "It's not meant to be played by women as it will make them barren."

What? Are you freaking kidding me? Apparently, merely touching a musical instrument can strike women infertile… You have got to be seriously kidding me.

There are some way out there freaky thoughts, but this is beyond bizarre. Although, to be honest, there are other 'touch this and things will happen' ideas that are just as stupid. Yes, 'stupid'. Merely suggesting in a book that girls dare to play the didgeridoo is enough to cause offence.

Really? How about your stupid woman-insensitive culture that says "women shall not be allowed to do this!" (At this moment, I'm not sure this statement isn’t directly at a large number of religious organisations as well.)

Touching the didgeridoo makes women infertile. There's no about of head-slapping that makes that line make sense.

(Do I even dare ask for scientific evidence for this?)


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Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The Chronicles of Risan: Part the Seventeenth

Once again it was just three (Alrick, Lia, myself) because the other two (the dwarf and the swordmage) got nicked! It was the middle of the night when suddenly we were attacked by a group of fishmen (worshippers of Dagon? Hmm... wrong game, methinks)! The attackers weren’t that tough to be honest, and the remainders that we were fighting dived into the ocean rather than continue the fight… but when they were gone, so were our comrades!

The sword was reminded of a nearby outpost that might have been known for creating those kinds of creatures, and thus we were on our way. The outpost itself was a rather decrepit sight, full of disrepair, but there was one old man still there, working on maintaining what might well be described as a giant submersible metal lobster (also known as an Apparatus of Kwalish). And, it turns out, that the creatures we encountered were from a nearby underwater city... wow, it was amazingly convenient that we managed to get a submarine right when the plot revealed an underwater city, but let’s not talk about that right now.

We take the lobster for a test drive, but it wasn’t easy to either control or work out where we are, and very nearly either collapse the ship due to pressure, have it fill with water via the leak or loose ourselves in the sea. Eventually we spy the city and a nearer cave of, according to the inaccurate map, the black dragon... ! Most likely, the two were taken to be sacrifices to the dragon, so we head for that.

Once out, we head in through a passage… and was attacked! Some of those particular creatures were particularly hard and pounded me something serious. There were also swarms of fish, but really one creature thumped and thumped hard and I was the lucky recipient. We still managed to kill him, but couldn’t spend too long in the water before the dragon we knew was coming and I was not looking good going into the last fight.

The dragon tried to tempt us, but we thought beating it up would be a better idea, although there were two more swarms of fish (that swam in the air!) to aid it. The fight started moderately well, pinning the dragon, but one swarm just stuck to me and hammered me (not that the dragon didn’t get some bashing in either). Yeah… I fell down… started dying... and the swarm continued to attack me... Although the warlord came to my aid, I continued to be done over and came very, very, very close to dying...

However, I found out later, the warlock had been beating on the dragon by herself and also dealing with another swarm. By the time the warlord came to her aid, she was down… and the swarm... the dragon died... the swarm died... and the warlock died...

Another price has been paid in our ongoing missions...


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Tuesday, 16 December 2008

HC Again

With the return of Dale, we opted for a nice easy CSI style mission, one that would gently ease his new character in... and cause him lots and lots of san loss. Yay! Dumpster: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Rather than do something else, we were up against a deadline, so we tried to find a mission... and ended up just wandering around. Monkey Urine: Part 1, Part 2.

After a long wait the next day, I managed to get in, and we went on a previously ignored Cthulhu style mission. However, since time had marched on a lot, a lot of the players, and the GM, were a little punch drunk, and so the mod might be a little more light-hearted than was intended. Curse of Anubis: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.


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Sunday, 14 December 2008

90 Days and counting

Yeah, time for my .02 cents of opinion on the 90-day probation bill. In some ways, on paper, this does indeed sound like a good idea. Sure, let the SME businesses try people out and if they don't work out, let them go without problems. However, there are a few gaps between intention and reality...

First, the workers aren't stopped from starting legal action against the employees for discriminatory reasons, and how many workers might possibly consider this? Fine, some workers are willing to accept that they aren't suited, but there are those that will either take offensive (real or imaginary) or just see this as an easy lawsuit. I can already see many SMEs not taking advantage of this just to avoid the potential court cases.

Second, it is said that some businesses wouldn't follow the rules anyway, so this bill won't matter. Uh, reminds me of the line: If you outlaw guns only the outlaws will have guns. Just because the bad ones are doing it doesn't mean you give power to the good ones to do it too.

Third, yes, some businesses will be seeing this as a way of getting through cheap labour without worrying about paying wages. Against this is the problem of continual retraining and not keeping developable peoples. However, if this is going on, it'll most likely be in the sector where training is not high, ie manual labour or common low-base job. This is what most of us really think will be going on.

Time will tell if this works, but most of us are highly doubtful. Cynicism vs hope, and there's not much of the latter...


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Saturday, 13 December 2008

Torchwood: Pack Animals

Over to more Doctor Who reading, this time picking up the Torchwood books (set during series two). First up, Pack Animals by Peter Anghelides.

Another book based on an exciting card game, MonstaQuest in this case. Fortunately, it's not really about that, but about the guy who created that game and seems to have based his monsters a little too closely on known Rift-related creatures. (Although the tiger on the cover doesn't really feature, although Gwen in those boots do.)

There's a lot of padding here as Peter takes a lot of time detailing people being attacked by various creatures, and then various members of the Torchwood crew deal with these attacks in various way. Without really that much variety. It's not until over half-way that the real plot is uncovered, but even then a lot of pages are passed without anything happening. And as for the ending... 'anticlimactic' doesn't quite cover it.

The crew are moderately well captured, but just aren't on screen all that much, and we don't get inside their heads at all, they are just there on the page being a part of the scene without being characters that we connect with. The other characters are all too flash-in-the-pan to care about.

A lot of a 'meh' book. The best thing about it is the cover.

Order: refers to the upcoming wedding and Owen's dead, so between A Day in the Death and Something Borrowed then.


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Friday, 12 December 2008


Dexter's sister gets a movie all of her own! Might make for an interesting one-off Cthulhu-style mod (think about that far too much), some interesting examples of getting some insanities due to much san loss... But, enough of that, and on to yet another American remake of a foreign film, this one Rec.

Basic plot: people get trapped somewhere and then taken out one-by-one, crossed with a zombie variant movie for much death. The conceit of this being that the movie is all shot through one camera. Like Cloverfield, it makes for some nauseating moments (not very many), some admittedly brilliantly done in-screen special effects, and an amazing example of technology in that the camera has a battery that lasts for many, many hours...

The effects are well done, with blood spurts and body parts being defiled in all manner of ways (and a very in-your-face death). Undoubtedly some cgi-fixed up pieces, but still impressive considering that they are presented as part of one-shot sequences (as far as we can tell, could be many edits in there, film effects are very well composited these days). But some how I doubt that the Scott character was indeed holding the camera all the time.

So the main star is Jennifer Carpenter. She starts out well, fun strong character, but ends up screaming a lot. A whole lot. Pretty much nothing but screaming. Although, to be fair, most of the other characters end up screaming as well. Or growling. It's not exactly stretching performances here. There are other recognisable faces in this as well, but no-one really outstanding.

Ultimately, however, the entire movie is undercut by the trailer, which spoils everything if you have the slightest memory of 'dramatic moments'. Certainly I knew of some scenes up coming which took away a lot of power to scare. And then the movie ends. Just ends. Huh...


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Thursday, 11 December 2008

Sarah Jane Adventures: Episode 2.11/2.12

Nice first episode, but really spins its wheels in the second.

Wormwood is back, and with many surprises! Didn't expect her to be on the run, but its a slightly nice change from the usual. I say 'slightly' as the final revelation of part one kind of slips back into normal alien 'destroy all' mode. Although the surprise guest appearance at the end made up for it.

The second half then sits down and spends a lot of time with Wormwood blathering on and on about being a mother. And I mean really takes up a lot of time on the topic. Is there nothing else going on here? Okay, some minor stuff with the Sontarans, but ultimately it is just Samantha Bond espousing huge chunks of dialog.

Which she does well. Not her fault the script she got saddled with. The rest of the crew, aside from Tommy Knight, doesn't get a lot to do, with just one of them with Elizabeth Sladen to make sure she doesn't come across as a mad woman espousing her own dialog, but otherwise just standing there. Not that Tommy has a huge workload either, but at least he's on screen for longer. And, hey, nice to see Nicholas Courtney back, although the Brig is clearly getting on a bit. (And yes, the great Simon Chadwick twist was immensely forseeable.)

Hardly a brilliant moment to end series two on, and I am surprised Maria didn't return for it, but no doubt there will be a series three and we shall see what that brings.

Next time: There is no next time! But there is just two weeks away...


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Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Quantum of Boredom

This is going to be an odd review. The latest Bond pic is... boring.

It might be that I was a little tired, but... it didn't really come across that the makers were trying any more. "Throw in a car chase, have a couple of things explode, shot lots of people, that'll make them happy." Even the director found other things to shoot and put in the film rather than shots with the actual cast in them. And as for the plot... well... it was really rather lame. They are trying to set up some big organisation, but I'm not at all impressed by their plans so far.

Daniel Craig presumably is a good actor, but wooden doesn't come close. The "Bond girls" are... pretty in a vague way. Mattieu Amalric is a wanna-be bad guy, but hardly rates as a threat. Judy Dench is the only person to bother watching this movie for.

Frankly, the entire movie can be summarised in this Sony ad featuring Bond, in which Daniel Craig stands there while things explode and he just barely has an expression on his face... yawn...


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Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The Chronicles of Risan: Part the Sixteenth

We return to our ongoing excitement with the artificers, and come across a lighthouse/guard outpost. Wanting to have a nice chat, we head in in our longboat. Aren't we nice? As in: nice targets! We just manage to get to the tower as they start shooting the cannon at us. (Just as well I'm such an amazing thief or we might not get in through that hatch.)

Inside, humanoids attack us, mostly human and yet riddled with dark veins of chaos energy. That can't be good. I get to be a lot of a spectator, and yet still get hit. How dare they! They do have an interesting store room, which they tried to put behind a locked door... did I mention I was an amazing thief?

We found the room that was loading shells to the cannon upstairs, so I decided to head upstairs and try to stop them using them. Nice idea. Pity about the bad guy in the exo-skeleton armour. Hitting him was interesting, caused lots of springs and bolts and stuff to fly off, and he liked emitting a lot of steam. Now that was annoying.

Others in the area shot at up with fancy weapons that shot lumps of metal (what? we're in a fantasy setting, we don't recognise guns). My bow is still better, really, but I didn't get to introduce them to that as by the time we finally got the exo-chap down, they ran away!

Looking at the notes, we need to jump through the rift into the chaos plane to get to the home islands. I'm sure that won't be a problem at all...


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Monday, 8 December 2008

HC Again

In the latest weekend of Heroic Cthulhu...

For some reason, I just don't know why, I GM'd! Back during Fright Night, I survived "weird stuff(tm)", but the set up was incredibly interesting, and so I took the next step and made the consequences of that night be an HC mod! (In some way, that made up for me missing HC that day.) Had to come up with why it happened, of course, and red herrings dangled, but ultimately it passed the time. House on Appletree Lane: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.

Since I didn't get to play, I jumped in on the next day, and we continued on-going missions, in this case in the form of going to Belize. What's the worst that could happen? Belize Redux - The Finish: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.


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Sunday, 7 December 2008

I Want To Believe

[Guest blogger: Jeff Stone! Very eloquent...] a two-part episode of Millennium dusted off, rewritten with Mulder and Scully, and unleashed on the big screen to a legion of X-Philes, who must have spent the whole film going "THIS is the best they could come up with?!"

It is quite bizarre just how....underwhelming this film is. As I say, it's not an X Files story!! It even has Creepy Hawk-Nosed Guy from that silly devils-in-a-diner ep of Millennium. You can see exactly where the padding has been brutally shoved into the script to extend it out to feature length. The 'message' about stem cells is muddled...good? Bad? What would Jebus do? Are we supposed to care? The 'metaphors' about faith and belief are heavy-handed and ponderous. Skinner's cameo is an insult. The connections we are shown to the priest, the agents etc. all make sense, but in such a vague way that you feel that they started backwards with the secret and worked out how they could have M & S investigate it. I dunno if that makes sense, but the film doesn't really make much itself.

The film is also MISERABLE. None of the humour that leavened even the most depressing TV episode. Again, this is Millennium, not the bloody X Files. It's sad that the best moment of the whole thing is a strange joke involving Bush and J Edgar Hoover.

Oh, and the kiddy fiddler priest has lung cancer. Never mind why that should be relevant or necessary to the story, but WTF. Let's give him lung cancer.

Another thing that amused me is how the movie is a 'reverse Corman', in which millions were spent to make it look like it cost about $50,000. This is POOR, Chris. This is DULL. This is not a movie; this is not even a good TV episode. I am reminded of the DW TVM in 96...all that time to write a killer script, all that money shelled out (by Fox, the worst TV network in the known world, both times) - and *this* is all they could manage.

F**kin' pathetic.

I'd love to see the outtakes, where Frank Black is running around solving this case instead of our two heroes.



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Saturday, 6 December 2008

Doctor Who - Just A Show

There's something here for all of us:

Thou shalt not question Stephen Fry, indeed!


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Thursday, 4 December 2008

His Dark Materials

Yes, I've finally gotted around to reading that almightly holiness of atheistic fantasy: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. Ehh...

Okay, out of the gate, yes, the Church is presented as a bunch of loons that consider ruling by fear and suppressing thought to be a good thing. But that's what Pullman is bashing. Not religion, but the acts done in its name.

Beyond that, not much direct attacking of religion at all. In fact, I would even say this is more agnostic fantasy than atheist fantasy, Pullman does not discount the possibility of some god, just doesn't have a god hanging around the story. He does have a spiritual message, and hammers that home, especially in The Amber Spyglass, so it's not like he removes religion without having anything to replace it.

As for the fantasy itself... I wouldn't call it amazingly brilliant. It's a coming of age story (which is the point of the matters he is talking about), but still largely fits the generic mold established by Joseph Campbell (I am incredibly cynical, aren't I?). The first book is more exciting that the second, and the third is just wacky. (Really? The mulefa world evolved naturally? Why am I having trouble believing that?)

Interesting point: for the movie, they ended the first book a little too early, and don't bring out a major event that would have changed the way some of the people were viewed. For a long while I thought the message was going to be "all adults are evil, trust the children".

A series that has been hyped more than it really deserves, especially around the anti-religion message. Readable, yes, but I'm thinking the Narnia books have more re-readability than these.


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Wednesday, 3 December 2008

I was In Bruges

This so wants to be an arthouse film, but it can't quite pull it off. (Not the least because it goes for an amazing number of f's per minute...) Lots of imagery, lots of in-depth discussions of the meaning of life, lots of... really pointless sitting around talking, not much happening.

Two criminals are sent to stay the radar In Bruges, but why they are in Bruges in particular and what they are going to do while there slowly comes out in the film, and there are things going on in the town that they get involved in... But the key word there is 'slowly', and the movie really drags in the middle. Fortunately, the second part really kicks it up and works to keep the audience going.

Since seeing Lake Placid, I've liked Brendan Gleeson as an actor, and continued to like his performance in this. Colin Farrell does a nice job as the frantic Ray. Ralph Fiennes is brilliant, coming in as Harry Waters. Clemence Poesy has a rather different role to her Harry Potter one, but a final credit has to go to Jordan Prentice.

Not a brilliant movie, barely one worth watching to pass the time. There are plenty of worse movies, but if you have the patience to get through the middle, the movie then becomes watchable.


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Tuesday, 2 December 2008

HC Again

Another whole weekend of roleplaying! (I wasn't going to play on the second day, but events happened that made me give it a shot.) Moreover, due to the previous day being a holiday in USAland, Logan started early. So, over 24 hours of role playing!

But not really a clear case delineation. In fact, we got into three cases at once! (On the next day, Logan offered us a fourth, but we declined.) Two Cthulhu type missions and one campaign related one. We concentrate on one, and then another, but not really on the third... at least, not yet. Trouble Comes In Threes: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14.

So, on the next day, we have different people (me and Pete are repeats), so we need to brief them before we can get underway. Unfortunately, while Pete gives very detailed briefings, they are very long briefings. Indeed, this is four hours of briefing! Although, the last hour is investigating the connections of magic in the building and causing much san loss... except for my character, who knows better. Gateway to Adventure: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

So, instead of dealing with any of the cases, we go for option four: something else. A picnic, as it ends up happening, as Logan draws things out even more. But there is a matter we need to take care of, and might aid us in the other cases. Swift Resolution: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.

After that, we turn back to our previous cases. After taking care of a last detail, we finally look at the third case... and find out that we should rush in shooting! No, wait... we find out that we shouldn't do that. Ultimately, we aren't sure what we should do. Grave Discussions: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.


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The Chronicles of Risan: Part the Fifteenth

Pausing in our saving of the artificer islands, Alrick, Lia and myself are called away (technically a month’s travel away!) to the land of the Shadowkin, which we had visited before (as chronicaled in Part the Sixth). The Shadowkin were dwellers in the Shadowfell (aka the Dark Dimension) before leaving for some reason and arriving here, around 500 years ago. They retained their homeland by the means of a dark dome about their city, making their sky dark.

While they were Raven Queen worshippers (as am I), a small sect started worshipping Amaunator the Sun God, and after their head priest died they thought him assassinated and declared that they would bring down the dome (thereby killing everyone else). We were called in to resolve the situation. Ah, an opportunity for diplomatic discussion and conflict resolution…

Upon arriving at their temple, Alrick immediately insulted them and they reacted by attacking us. Yeah, we are not Party Subtle, nor Party Parley either. They had angels on their side, but that end up being less of a problem than we thought.

Wandering through the temple, and nearly getting burnt after finding a trapped exit, we head up (sun god… must like being worshipped from high places, right?) and find a room behind a magically locked door (ha! says my thief side) in which there is a big angel, minor angels and a dead high priest. After challenging the angel, we find out that the evil priest binded the good angel, which didn’t please it any, and it wouldn’t mind if we killed it (aka sending it back to its plane). It was bound to defend the room (from anyone entering), and we decided that if the others in this temple were worthy then Amaunator would stop the angel from killing them, so we could test them by throwing them in here (note: cross off Party Ethical). [Also, turned out the angel didn’t help the priest perform a ritual that ending up killing him, so that angel ain’t exactly pure either.]

At that point, we detected a rumbling of a ritual and headed off to find the other clerics doing their ‘dome destroying’ bit. Getting near them made other angels appear, while not all easy to deal with, we finally do although the ritual progresses. However, after we take out the guardians, the clerics are more amendable to our point (yes, a sword point), and we deal with the head cleric (go me!) As for the rest, we test them in the angel room and find they’re not worthy. (Yes, I am supposed to be good, but they turned away from the Raven Queen, so religious war they get.)

Not sure if we’ll deal with the angel or not…


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Monday, 1 December 2008

Terrible, terrible joke

This is something you can do next time someone does something you don't like around you. Set it up by saying:

"You remind me of my friend Richard."

Wait for a response, hopefully along the lines of "why's that?" to which you then reply:

"He's a dick, too."

Glares and/or groans will inevitably follow.


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