Monday, January 31, 2011
I’m trying to run this as a series of one-off stories that will eventually cut out when interest dies down (Maybe I should call it The Atlas Effect) which means I can’t plan because planning is the campaign-killer. This much I know definitively.
Now, none of my players are familiar with the Aberrant system. They know it’s D10, but not much else. To help with that, I’ve included a quick and dirty primer distilled from my regular old dirty primer (which, by the way, is available upon request via email).
Aberrant character sheets can be found here.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Deadpool-Deadpool is my most casual of casual decks. It is designed for multiplayer mayhem and loads of fun. To that end, I’ve removed the Traumatize and Haunting Echoes, the Roiling Terrain and the Mind Funerals. Instead, I’ve added Hive Mind. I’ve added Mirror Sheen. I’ve added Drastic Revelation. Especially with Hivemind (but even without) Deadpool’s Burning Inquiries, Delirium Skeins, and Dream Salvages make it even…wackier now. Though I’d have to play a few games to see if it really can ‘do mayhem’ as well as I’d like, it looks promising already.
Eye of the Storm is back. It pained me to remove the Black from it, but the white blue combination was pretty nice and it accelerates pretty nicely now (for a white/blue deck).
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Kris: The Thug is officially the backbone of The Word of Blake's heavy and assault formations.
Terry: I know, Kris.
Kris: So, you have accepted the truth.
Terry: I've accepted the truth that you were once a Jade Falcon, my friend.
Kris: That Clan no longer has any meaning for me!
Terry: It is the faction of your true self, you've only forgotten. I know there is good in you, the hardiest battlemech ever produced hasn't driven it from you fully. That was why you couldn't destroy my Cobras, that's why you won't turn Word of Blake now.
Kris: I see you have made a Clan design without a targeting computer and pulse lasers. You are indeed powerful, as The Master has foreseen.
Terry: Come with me.
Kris: Josh once thought as you do. You don't know the *power* of Shaun of the Dead references, I *must* obey my master.
Terry: I will not turn, and you'll be forced to kill me.
Kris: If that is your destiny.
Terry: Search your feelings, Kris, you can't do this. I feel the conflict within you. Let go of your Thug-love.
Kris: It is too late for me, Terry. The Master will show you the definitive zombie 'mech. He is your master now.
Terry: Then my Jade Falcon friend is truly dead.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
That said, sometimes all a story has is a good character. Detective Comics’ run as de facto “Batwoman” for the past few months (years?) is a prime example of that. Katy Kane is driven to contribute; to be something more. She refuses to compromise her integrity when trying to do just that as a military academy cadet, and when she can’t reconcile being forbidden to do what’s right by doing the right thing, she starts running down a path of self-destruction. It’s only when she sees Batman and realizes that she can be right and can contribute on her own terms that she finds her purpose again. She plays the wealthy dilettante just like Bruce Wayne, but seems to enjoy it more, even—perhaps especially—when she’s biting the proverbial hand that feeds. Her stepmother, Catherine, unknowingly foots the bill for Katy’s superheroics and doesn’t approve of Katy showing her homosexuality in public, but it’s unclear whether she’s doing this because she refuses to compromise who she is or because she like irking Catherine. I like the dynamic of two morally imperfect characters who likely have more in common than they care to admit because they each have issues they can’t get past (Katy’s mother’s murder doesn’t leave her with much room for a new mom, and Catherine doesn’t feel comfortable with her stepdaughter embarrassing her in front of her high-society friends).
Monday, January 24, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Short story; when I was first working on my comics review format, I almost went with an approach that included page-by-page scans or reconstructions of the book in question with most of the panel obscured by what that panel does.
While it would be interesting to examine the structure of the pages and how each panel does or doesn’t fit into the story, it wouldn’t have been that entertaining, and scanning each page would be time-consuming (Granted, panels reading, “He’s the goddamn Giant Man…again,” and “Absorbing Man reads directly from writer’s notes on Hank’s characterization“ might’ve been good for a chuckle.).
That said, Penny Reviews, while helpful in teaching me how to economize what I’m saying, aren’t really the most entertaining reads.
It made me look at the blogs I read and understand why I want to read them. I know a handful of my friends like reading my blogs. I also know that a handful only read them occasionally because they know I work on them a lot and feel like it’s just the polite thing to do. I would like to write blogs (and other things in general) that people want to read. I like talking about my day as much as any normal person. Well, more than any normal person, really, but the real trick for talking about my day is making it something someone will want to listen to, not just sit around for or react to. While my life is rather more sedate now than it has been in the past, whatever I blog about, I’d like for people to get excited when it comes around. Excited enough to read and excited enough to share.
Yes, share. I do want attention, yes, but I also want to write something of a quality that is worth sharing. While my friends don’t always have the same taste that I do, I like to think that my recommendation of something to them is a mark that that item is of high enough quality that it can transcend taste and that it will entertain or inform them.
Writing at a level where others naturally feel this about what I’m doing is what I aim for. Name of the Wind is a book whose popularity has largely been spread due to via word of mouth. It is the sort of thing you offer free samples for because you know people will buy it. I would like to continue working in that direction.
Granted, Name of the Wind is a fiction novel, and I’m writing blogs, but even blogs have certain marks of quality to them. My favorite blogs (ranging from Hyperbole and a Half to Chris’ Invincible Super-Blog, and even Cracked.com) do at least one of three things:
“But at least it won’t be boring”: Entertainment is what blogs are for. Everything I regularly read has made me laugh out loud at least once. That goes a long way towards making me want to read it. Anything to spare me the monotonous drudgery of my secure, well-paying job, driving my car around, or playing Magic all day is something I want to partake of.
“Worst. Blog. Ever.”: A fine substitute for entertainment is information. I think there’s something about the human brain that just likes learning. I think that even people who gawk as they drive past wrecks are obeying some primal initiative to learn anecdotal evidence about the dangers of the world around them, in this case, high-impact auto collisions. Even reality television seems based on the desire of people to watch how other people behave in a seemingly natural environment. In the first run of the incredibly good webcomic Fans, a geek is using subconscious streams of trivia to mind-control other geeks. I don’t know why it is, but geeks seek out trivia moreso than others is it to a form of ‘conspicuous consumption’ amongst people who pride themselves on intellect rather than or in addition to money, looks, or social graces? People like feeling informed, some people just want to know if the latest Daredevil sucked (It did. It’s Daredevil.).
“The Consequences Will Never Be the Same”: Less noticed is the ability for a good blog to take something you’re familiar with and cast it in a different light. The redubbed GI Joe commercials from the dawn of web 2.0 are the best example of this. The ability to repurpose (Family Guy) or recontextualize (Cracked) familiar cultural elements is a potent one that plays on both our love of the familiar and our love of the new.
So it’s with that in mind that I’m going to try to step up my game a bit more. Hopefully, you will be entertained.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
I don't know if it was Shane, my brother, or Terry who told me that Bane wasn't just a muscle freak that lucked into breaking Batman's back, but a cunning, mastermind muscle freak that plotted his way into breaking Batman's back. Whoever it was, thanks guy.
Chris Sims breaks down Bane.
iO9 also gives a Bane writeup.
And yes, it looks like he and Catwoman will be the villains for The Dark Knight Rises. I'm fine with that. Bane, according to the Chris Sims writeup would be a fascinating counterpart to Batman. Whereas Batman first has to fight criminals and rally a chosen few to help save Gotham in Batman Begins, in The Dark Knight he has to fight an idea and the people of the city itself begin to help save Gotham. In the last movie, perhaps Batman can do two things he's never been able to do in comics: die and win.
If even the people of Gotham are realizing how they can each make the city a better place by fighting crime and corruption, then Batman (labeled a criminal or not) will have found himself tackling only the occasional criminal that lives above the bar. For example, Catwoman. Without whats-her-name, Bruce doesn't have anyone else and at the cusp of his retirement, he finds a woman so much like him that he can be tempted by her wiles. Meanwhile, at the edges, Bane can see a city with little to no organized criminal element and a protector who is only human.
While I don't know if giving Knightfall the treatment that Year One got in Batman Begins is a good idea, if anyone could destroy Batman in the Nolan movies, it would be Bane. Bane isn't a hapless criminal, a scheming mastermind, or a walking eye of chaos; he's a man who punches things and extensively plans to punch things, much like Batman. He can provide the mix of cunning, explosions, and fisticuffs that have made the Nolan movies enjoyable, and I'm certainly looking forward to it.
Friday, January 21, 2011
As with the solo games, the match ran to the bitter end, with dramatic swings back and forth as what would have been finishers in any other game simply shifted the momentum to one camp or another. In the end, I was trying to kill him with a field of no creatures whatsoever while he, with a deck of about twelve cards left--all lands--played Phyrexian Arena so he could retrace Syphon Life quickly enough to kill me. A few turns later, I still had no creatures and he’d Syphon Lifed about nine times and I was down to three. Next turn, he would draw two of his last three cards, Syphon Life twice and the game would be over. I was dead, but as I am wont to do, I continued playing it through.
My final card draw was as surprising as it was fortuitous: a lone Hedron Crab. Both of us were hard pressed to contain laughter as I played the crab, then a land, winning the game with the most perplexed of all one-drops.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
As a general rule, C-List comic book characters can do three things others can’t: Die and stay dead, have a fulfilling story arc of personal growth, and get both of those things erased on a whim when someone needs filler for an impressive splash page (see Crusher, Wesley). Peter Parker is stuck on a spider-treadmill that denies him the fully-fledged self-actualization of any intelligent, morally responsible radioactivity-infused man of sixty, but Cloud 9, in the space of about two years and half of the total run of ‘Avengers: The Initiative,’ grew from an awkward girl next door who just wanted to fly into a unflinching super soldier. Not in the classical Captain America sense, but in that she became the model (albeit an unrecognized model) of the success of The Initiative Program. Her metamorphosis is one from childish happiness to the subdued responsibilities of adulthood. It’s sad, yes, but Abby couldn’t have done everything to stem the tide of The Skrull Invasion that Cloud 9 did.
A combination of "best of" and "recap," timewalking archive trap is essentially a rehash of ancient blog entries.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Alright, I think my two weakest picks are Booster Gold and Damian Wayne. Booster Gold is a slacker who only does good because he benefits from it. Well, most of the good he does is because he benefits. He’s still a decent guy at heart. Damien is a self-centered, entitled little jerk who thinks hurting people will solve the problems they represent. Damian is great because he’s a living chariacture of so many other Batmen.
So what is it about these two guys that earn them a chance to get in? My first impulse is to say that they both want to be good, but the fact of the matter is that Booster Gold doesn’t want to be any more good than any average person. The thing about Booster Gold is that he believes in other heroes and he serves as a measure for them. Even the noblest of irrelevant heroes (Aztec) shines brightly when they’re standing by Booster Gold. Heck, even his famous bromance with The Blue Beetle makes The Blue Beetle look goody-goody and gives other heroes the opportunity to save the duo from Booster Gold’s zany schemes. He’s not blind to this; he knows that the contributions of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Green Lantern are far greater than what he will ever achieve. He doesn’t try to be them, granted, but he also tries to help them however he can. As much as any modern hero, Booster Gold is the regular guy who would love to be an A-List hero, but who’s already come to terms with the fact that he needs a bigger paycheck and more me-time than that caliber of hero can afford.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Deadpool as GL - Best thing ever until the actual DP movie.
A Wrinkle in Time - In 90 seconds.
Why Jeffrey Combs should be a geek icon - Because you should already know his name.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Archive of Frustration (UWA)
I’ve been lamenting my lack of a basic UW control deck lately. I don’t know what UW control is exactly, but, I do like Blue and I’ve been warming up to White lately. So I pulled together a few nice white and blue cards and brought them with me to the boat to make a deck while I was in New Orleans.
The Midnighter and Jenny Sparks are both from The Authority, specifically, the first run of the series written first by Warren Ellis, then later by Mark Millar. Jenny Sparks was a cranky, British chain-smoker who also happened to be the Spirit of the 20th Century, which enabled her to manipulate electricity, live to be around 100 (give or take), and save the world a dozen or so times. The Midnighter is gritty cyborg Batman, if gritty cyborg Batman realized that criminals are more scared of the implied sodomy of a BDSM theme than bats. He also saves the world.
Booster Gold is a washed-up football player from the future who traveled to the present to seek fame and fortune as a superhero with technology and information from the future. He’s often teamed up with the Blue Beetle because they form a wacky hijinks plus reluctant pushover dynamic that you’d probably recognize from House/Wilson and Deadpool/Cable.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Avengers Academy #7: A Good Troi Episode for Hank Pym that’s good because it’s smart enough to have him acknowledge what a douche he is. This is probably one of a half-dozen attempts at a redemption storyline for Pym since he…y’know, but this one at least nods at the rest of them, throws a few good ideas out with the clichés (“It was effective, but I’ll never be able to do it again.”), and does clever work with the inexorable resurrection of Janet “The Wasp” Pym. It still has far to go to prove itself a worthy successor to The Initiative though.
Daredevil, aka Black Panther: Man Without Fear #513: The introduction of Black Panther filling Daredevil’s shoes. It does an adequate job of explaining why a man with a wife and a nation would go stag in Hell’s Kitchen, but it’s still painfully obvious that they wanted Black Panther here and he’s going to be here so you you better just get used to it. The story itself is workhorse comic; superpowered crime lord, T'Challa adapts to his new surroundings, the tragic victims of indifferent crime. I’m going to keep buying it because I want to get to know Black Panther better, but I recommend you read it first.
X-Factor #212: The story of X-Factor in Vegas with Norse gods continues, and it's still pretending it's a comic book universes' pulp/noir/detective story, but don't tell Peter David it isn't because he's writing a story that perfectly balances action with character and fun with drama (it's still an X-title). While the cast is large (some might say ‘bloated’), David does a good job giving the each of the cast, from Layla to Morph plus an obscure character connected to Wolfsbane—who isn’t even on the team anymore—a place in the story. The only thing better would be a “Shatterstar/Thor” limited series.
I’m trying to think of my favorite comic book heroes. It seems strange at first glance that I’ve never bothered to specify which of the heroes I read about I consider the best, but when I think about it, I realize that it’s my lack of specific fandom that lets me enjoy the comics I do. Whenever I read “Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe,” I don’t care that Frank Castle takes out Hulk like a chump. I realize it’s a comic about The Punisher and he gets to own in it. The continuity that seems to string these books together (talking generally now, and not about a Punisher one-shot what-if) is just an illusion; Punisher will be smarter than everyone else in his book, Spider-Man will be funnier and faster in his book (but whinier, strangely), and Thing will be stronger, better, and faster in Fantastic Four (I’m not kidding here; he got punked by Shatterstar in ‘X-Factor’). I think that trying to weave these things into a cohesive canon is self-defeating; it’s like trying to criticize The Mona Lisa if it was crafted relay-race style by Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rafael, and Goya. If you find meaning in that, you are making shit up.
Monday, January 10, 2011
On New Year’s, Councilman Reynaldo Dagsa of the Filipino city of Caloocan was shot dead in front of his family. He was taking a picture for the New Year when amidst the explosion of fireworks he fell over, fatally wounded. When they looked at the pictures on his camera, they found that in the last picture he took had his assailant standing just over the shoulder of his family pointing a gun at him. The picture was used to find the assailant, a car thief who claimed Dagsa was to “heavy handed” on criminals. The man broke the law, was sent to jail, and had the audacity to blame the man who sent him there and murder him in front of his family. He was out on bond and was captured by police on Friday.
A few days after that Salman Taseer, a governor of Pakistan of the Punjab province who wanted to repeal legislation making blasphemy against Islam a capital offense was shot dead by his own bodyguard. Pakistan has seen a sharp upturn in Islam in recent years as leaders both legitimate and less than legitimate work with Islamic factions to stay in power and/or bring order to Pakistan’s more far-flung regions. It’s a classic case of both ruthless propaganda and a very silent majority.
Sunday, January 09, 2011
This week, I’m going to try something new. Instead of blogging sporadically, I’m going to try a M-F schedule. It’ll give me some structure and also give you all a chance to swing by regularly. I’m going to be trying a few other things (word counts, more pictures, features, etc.) as well, but this is the biggest and best feature.
Since I’m lazy and distracted and don’t blog often, I’m going to start off by using excerpts from my 5,000 word super-blog as Tuesday and Thursday crutch. Fridays I’m going to aim for something Magic related, which shouldn’t be too hard. The rest is just going to be DnD notes, politics, whining about my home life, and comics. Enjoy.
Saturday, January 08, 2011
I’m a new Resident Evil (would that be number five?) and I’m supposed to spy on the research lab where Alice works and I’m going through her locker, but I can’t find anything. So I give up and start going about my normal business whenever she rounds the corner and I spaz out, and knock over my locker, which knocks over her locker and a few others. She tells me she had a T-Virus sample in there, and now I’m probably infected. I won’t turn into a zombie though; as an infected, I am sentenced to fight in the arena until my death.
Fuck My Dream Life.
Thursday, January 06, 2011
My Texas trip was fun, even if it was short and I couldn't visit Texas Josh or my grandparents on the way back. I got to flirt on my drive back home, which was new and terrible, but hey, it's something.
My current job, which is paying me to work 150% more weeks than my last job, at 20% of the hours, at 90% of the pay (which is around 27% of what I used to make) called me up to get back to work. My old job is offering me 100% of the weeks I used to work, 100% of the hours, and 100% of the pay in about a month. I should be getting a confirmation call tomorrow or Monday. Kinda feel bad about ditching the guys who took me in whenever I the old crew kicked me to the curb, but consider that one hitch at the old place is worth four months at the new place and you'd have to be nuts to judge me.
Nuts and rich enough to command an audience with me. XP
I had some crazy dreams one night that I'm going to put up tomorrow. Sleep paralysis; wiki it.
My relief is immobilized with back pain and there's no backup clerk so I'm up until he gets better (or I leave. Whichever happens first.). My office couldn't decide whether they wanted me to stay for one more night, three more nights, or no more nights to avoid paying out overtime. That means two things, I'm back home for anywhere from 0 to 3 days.
Home smells more like cat poop each time and I swear my roommate's bitching increases in volume to match.