Greg Stafford, a huge visionary in roleplaying games and founder of Chaosium passed away in his sweat lodge yesterday.
This is a bit more sad since Runequest and Glorantha got beautiful new editions this year, yet the man had a pretty awesome run as a game designer. While we (unfortunately) did not get into Runequest as kids, we definitely did the Call of Cthulhu and a little bit of Elric. The BRP system (designed by Steve Perrin) is the best RPG system (in it’s modern forms) there is and we all owe a great debt of gratitude for years of excellent gaming with Call of Cthulhu as kids and gaming to come with Mythras and Runequest.
Stafford came up with his ideas for Glorantha while at Beloit College, proving yet again that Wisconsin is where all the critical RPG ideas came from and will come from in the future.
What’s more, without Glorantha/Runequest there would be no Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and likely the Warhammer old world and 40K would be VERY different than it is today (discounting Age of Sigmar entirely as it’s fluff is basically fanfic).
Mandy, Mandy, Mandy. There is one film per year that becomes your gang of freaks’ “movie of the year.” Doesn’t matter if it’s a quality film, doesn’t matter the genre, the actors or the amount of swords and TITS included (usually prerequisites though…). It just has to have an effect on your group in a meaningful way, even if it’s arguing. Examples of this are Fury Road for 2015, the VVitch in 2016, Get Out for 2017, Hundra for 1983, etc. It’s only September, but I’m feeling like Mandy is already a strong, strong contender.
This film came to my attention when the trailer hit and moreso on account of strong rotten tomatoes score after Cannes. When the trailer hit, I watched it like 4-5 times the first day, then again the second day while whoring around the trailer to others whenever possible. This film pretty much aims straight at Appendix N people and it hits like a Sniper Elite NUTSHOT. If you like weird ass horror, HK cinema crime/revenge films and dig a bunch of stuff from Appendix N, you will cream your jeans on this film. If you grew up in the 80’s as well, this will be an enlightening experience as the film is like an extended music video from 1983 or so.
So go see it. The film will likely be out of theaters until award season at least as it’s likely going to be up for something and then get another stint in the theaters again. Stop here if you don’t want spoilers.
The Film and stuff I liked
Mandy and Red’s bed in the porch room with the greasy windows surrounded by woods.
The part where they were in the boat and then Red is looking across the fire at Mandy. A lot of people have said that these characters are ‘really in love’ but Red has a level of obsessed awe and confusion when he really looks at Mandy that Cage is able to pull off that is different from some Love Actually shit.
The scene with Mandy being killed is very disturbing and they linger on it a long time. This is extremely effective BUT I feel like they did not linger on the deaths of the cult enough when their time came.
The bathroom scene with Red in his tighty whities was amazing. There’s a lot to love about Nicolas Cage’s performance overall, but that scene takes the cake.
I really enjoyed the fight in the shitty drug house with a coked up demon biker who was watching a porno on a small TV.
You can’t argue with practical effects face melting. As a kid I accidentally watched this one movie where a woman gets too close to a volcano and her face melted.. then the next summer it was on again and I walked into the room just as that scene was playing so I saw it a second time!!
Acid. Every single character is on LSD or something like it at some point in the film.
Stuff I didn’t like
I couldn’t understand what Red was saying at the end of the movie! Too garbled up.
I think the film should have given more of a feeling of time-span between when Red escapes and starts killing people, or spans in between the killings
Some of the killing/fighting was a bit boring, granted most of the cultists were petrified non-combatants, but the demon bikers could have been a bit more interesting in the fight choreography /setting (think Freddy Vs Jason or Evil Dead 2/Army of Darkness witch fights type of shit). Red gets all fucked up, but you don’t FEEL it like you do when Ash does in Evil Dead.
The film is slow in the beginning and then there is payoff. I was expecting some 2001 style psychedelic trip out at the very end of the film (there’s a small one, but not a huge freak out that I expected) to tonally shift it back to the first scenes of the film. It shows a surreal flashback of Mandy and Red at a party where Red is staring at Mandy with that obsessed confused look and she is smiling and crying and I would have cut the movie right there and not shown Red again driving in his car through the woods. His gift for going to hell for revenge is to be able to experience her memory uncluttered with all the ‘crazy evil’ and they should have left him with that.
Why didn’t Red kill the young whore-cultist girl? She was party to everything and didn’t help Red for shit at any point.
What was the double moons and alien landscape at the end of the film supposed to indicate?
Why didn’t they kill Red when they had the chance (twice!)
Where did they get that VAN? Where did they find that HOUSE?
I got some Blood Bowl in last weekend, and it was my first game with the 2016 version of the game. I know the game back and forth, but man it’s been awhile and I had to look up a few rules. I forgot that dodging and picking up the ball are automagically +1 at all times and a couple little things here and there.
I used the humans and my homie had the orks. We used the total stock 11 player teams that come in the box. Suboptimal? oh yeah. Still a fun match up? yep.
My complaints about the Human and Ork scupts proved to be true in game. Even with the human team completely painted, it was nearly impossible to tell the Blitzers from the Lineman. I like the lineman sculpts a lot for the humans and the thrower/catcher minis are totally fine but it’s critical that the blitzers are easily identified via their model on the pitch — and with the new human team they are not. Also, they are very BORING blitzers.
The Gary Morley humans from 1993 and the later human team by an unknown GM sculptor (~2004) have the blitzers in a different stance than the lineman and that helps a ton to sort out which is which during play.
The 2016 orks are a bit easier to tell apart except the Black Ork blockers and the Lineman look almost exactly the same. Multiple times during the game I had to ask: is that a Black Orc? Again the 1993 version of the Ork team had very identifiable silhouettes for the Black Orc and Line orc miniatures– despite the fact that the lineman were not very good looking in that set. The 1993 orc blitzers were awesome looking. Unfortunately, the orcs in the new Blood Bowl are super-Sigmarized, that is, they look very much like their Age of Sigmar counterparts with their… ‘rock armor’ is definitely not Blood Bowl.
For the Humans, Forgeworld to the rescue with the two new blitzers in their ‘booster pack’ that actually look like blitzers! With 4 of these, I think the human minis/team is quite good looking and functional, harkening back in terms of design to Ally Morrison’s human art in the original Blood Bowl rather than SIGMARIZING the miniatures like they did with the orcs. These are great…
All in all I think it’s a good set of blood bowl yet the newGW take on the miniatures is OK. Importantly, there are tons of alternate BB miniatures for nearly all the teams out there– nearly a cottage industry. These guys are where I got my Dark Elves from for the new version of the game.
Importance of Art in RPG’s. This has some other stuff about FATE that you can skip over, but mostly it’s about GURPS and FATE and the issue with ‘generic’ RPG systems and their lack of direction around art. Mythras avoided this by focusing all art in the game on sword and sandal stuff (the base setting). Rob Heinsoo lists his artist for 13th Age as one of the GAME DESIGNERS (Lee Moyer) even though he didn’t do the system design– as the art is a huge part of the game. Think about Exalted 2E vs Exalted 3E for example. 2E is like “what is THAT??” and 3E is like – — ‘oh generic westernized Anime we’ve seen 1000 times before at this point, sans cleavage.’
Remember back when Fantasy Flight was an independent company and tried to go for the Dune license to make games and could not do it– instead making REX? While the engine to REX is the old DUNE board game one, the space kittys and frogs and stuff are a far, far cry from the Sardakar and Fremen of DUNE.
Out of print for close to 40 years now, Avalon Hill’s Dune is one of the best asymmetrical board game experiences you can have and holds up fantastically even today. We played it so many times that we ran through the entire set of player aid pads that came in the box and had to start recycling!
This week it was announced that Galeforce 9 got the license to Dune and will be making board games with it. Great news as they have done some excellent work recently with Sons of Anarchy (still real cheap on Amazon!) and succeeded there DESPITE the game being a licensed property.
Yet the biggest question is there: will Galeforce 9 be able to or choose to resurrect one of the best board games ever created? Will they be working with the original designers (the Cosmic Encounter guys)? Or will they try to make a totally different (and likely inferior) game to the original AH Dune?
While I haven’t played enough games of it to write a review (I never review a game I haven’t played at least 10 times unless it’s like Terrible Swift Sword or Here I Stand which usually can only be played a few times in a lifetime due to length), I’ve enjoyed the sessions of Dungeon Degenerates quite a bit and they are out with their first expansion on Kickstarter. 35$ and look at the cover art…
I headed down to Gencon on nearly a whim and it was pretty good. This means that I haven’t missed a Gencon since 1992. That’s a LOT of Gencons. This year I was trying to take a break after the insanity of the 50th anniversary last summer and all that, but broke down with both desire and some peer pressure from Matt.
Matt said it was his favorite Gencon ever as he got to game a lot and didn’t have to waste time on taking FAR too much time going out to eat, which is a massive timesink when you add it up. Going to the RAM for lunch will take at least 2-3 hours minimum and then you are spun back into the Con drunk.
I only went on Saturday for reals and after wandering the hall a bit (trying not to buy anything this year), I got over to the CUBICLE 7 booth and had a chat with none other than Graeme Davis of WFRP fame who was showing off a binder with pages from 4th edition. Mr. Davis, along with others, wrote the Enemy Within, Shadows over Boganhoffen, Rough Night at Three Feathers and many other great modules for one of the most important RPG’s ever. WFRP 4 is going to be a merger of 1st and 2nd edition WFRP with nothing from Fantasy Flight’s 3rd edition (no funky dice or chits all over the place or cards for actions). In addition, he has been tasked with writing the 4th edition Enemy Within in which, he said, would be surprises that help if players have played the 1st edition campaign as well as doing it closer to the original 1E edition. Davis also co-wrote the 3rd edition version of the Enemy Within for Fantasy Flight. Talking to Mr. Davis about this subject made the failed BIRD ride from downtown Milwaukee and drive down to Indy the night before totally worth it– the rest of the con was GRAVY.
After that WFRP fangasm, we got in another game of Rising Sun and I pulled out a win, which was the third in the row with different clans (the Fox, Butterfly and Turtle clans respectively). I don’t usually win Blood Rage, though I love it, so I’m not sure how it’s happening with Rising Sun except via simple experience. It’s becoming a favorite of the group.
I got in a game of Runequest (the new version from Chaosium) that was OK, the pre-gen character sheets were in the same format as the Free RPG day ones and they really sucked. Please just list the fucking spells instead of saying “all common rune spells” so that the players, some who are totally new to RQ, have to go look them up in the book that they don’t have. Another issue with RQ as a CON game is that it expects and demands vast knowledge of the Glorantha background, which, IMO is something to be slowly revealed over the course of a long campaign. People aren’t going to know all the gods of the Glorantha pantheon– so don’t do CON scenarios that expect players to have that knowledge at all. The scenario was a typical Glorantha one, with some Broo and some chaos getting all over the place and having to be cleaned up, but had a lot of stuff about the Lightbringers and Orlanthi stuff which all had to be explained in detail. It was pretty good, but I just do not think Glorantha-based Runequest is much of a CON game. System wise I miss the Mythras special effects in combat–they copied RQ6’s excellent Passions system: why didn’t they copy it’s superlative combat system as well? The new RQ Glorantha book looks beautiful though, so should be picked up at some point. They only had 200 at the CON for sale and I think they sold out pretty quick.
After RQ, I ran DCC for the gang in a very large hall of people and had to talk really loudly. I had to run down to the business center in the hotel in order to print off random characters for the game at the cost of 8$. I need to remember to bring a huge stack of characters EVERYWHERE I go. The session was pretty much proof that you can run DCC anywhere under very severe conditions. I did Frozen in Time which is take on Expedition to the Barrier Peaks except all DCC. We got fairly far into the module until people started to fall asleep on account of the hour and the drink. That may be one to finish off.
Other than wandering the dealer hall a bit on Sunday and pestering Tom Babbey at his art booth, buying the obligatory DCC modules, that was pretty much my GENCON.