Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
This is all a little unusual for me. I've been a Star Wars fan since I can remember, of course. I was born in early 1972, so I was almost 5½ when the first film came out. It's literally the first movie that I remember seeing in theaters. For years afterwards; at least twenty years, but maybe more like twenty five, or even thirty, I'd say that the original trilogy Star Wars movies, especially The Empire Strikes Back were my favorite movies ever. But something happened, and they slipped a bit in my estimation (curiously, Lucasfilm's other big hit, Raiders of the Lost Ark moved into first place.) What happened was, of course, the prequel trilogy.
See, Lucas used to make these movies more collaboratively. He had help with the screenplays, particularly the dialogue. He had help in the editing room. He understood his own strengths and weaknesses as a filmaker, and had folks in place who could cover for him on the areas where he wasn't as good. He was open to delegation. This was increasingly not true as he went forward. Return of the Jedi was where it started, but it was really on the prequel trilogies that it's drawn to its inevitable finish. Plodding, pretentious and just frankly really boring despite their snappy visuals, workable stories dragged down by bad pacing and worse dialogue, and Lucas' philosophy of "just make it all happen fast enough and people won't notice the flaws" was oddly both attempted and yet failed; the movies don't move very fast. Star Wars as a franchise, at least in my mind, was significantly damaged by the prequel trilogies. They gave us things like Darth Maul, but they also gave us Jar Jar Binks. I found I couldn't watch any of the prequel movies all the way through anymore. They're just too terrible to be endured without a judicious application of the fast-forward button.
But more recently, the franchise has been somewhat rehabilitated by a number of things. The first thing that really rehabilitated the franchise was the Knights of the Old Republic. That was a great video game, and was much better Star Wars than any of the three movies we got. After that, we had the Clone Wars cartoon series, which Lucas oversaw, but which he managed to delegate a lot of the details out. This show has also gradually rehabilitated the franchise; it's a good show. Heck, it even makes some of the characters that were eye-roll-worthy from the prequels likeable. In any case, although I'm not going to be running Star Wars (at least not for the time being...) I'm still excited about Star Wars--moreso than I have been at any time since the prequels starting hitting theaters, actually. And the new MMO by Biowar, Star Wars: The Old Republic may be the first MMO that will really tempt me to jump into the MMO fray.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Paizo has elder things frozen in ice, and Cthulhu attacks a coastal town. Paizo's also already given us a lot of Lovecraftian things--serpentmen and gugs in the underdark, the Plateau of Leng, hounds of Tindalos, etc. It's strongly hinted at that the ominous and strange deities Zon-Kuthon and Rovagug (the "Rough Beast") are Lovecraftian entities. But those two new pictures are a new level of Lovecraftianism in Pathfinder.
Pretty fun. Thanks, Paizo guys!
I'm a little lukewarm to my adventure idea, though. I may yet change my mind and do something totally different. I'm also a little intrigued by the idea of having something kinda sorta like Jedi (well, maybe more like Sith, to be perfectly honest with you) in this setting. I've gone back and forth to having assassins who use the soulknife class, from the Expanded Psionics Handbook, and I'm not thinking that if I'm doing that to get "fantasy Jedi", which I kind of am, then why not use the actual Star Wars Revised Jedi Guardian class after all, with the idea that lightsabers are soulknife blades? The Revised ruleset is the closest to D&D of the three d20 Star Warses, in most respects, and with my houserules, it would dovetail right in already.
Anyway... this won't be a class available to the PCs. At least not yet. But it might be one that I consider. The idea intrigues me.
Monday, March 21, 2011
The reason I bring this up is because in our last Runelords session--this last Saturday--although we didn't quite finish the module that we were in, we did have almost a "TPK"--Total Party Kill. One character managed to cast greater invisibility on herself and made it through the encounter without any problems. Another guy was in negative hit points but was saved at the last minute. The thought was, if almost everyone was going to have to make new characters anyway, why do it for just about a session's worth of module left? So now, suddenly, we're playing my game at our next session. Luckily I've already given some thought as to what I'd like to do, though. I'm actually quite excited! Plus, I'll be able to offer play session updates as a new posting tag as soon as we start. We average one five to six hour session every two weeks.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Kanem Sennar is a land filled with monolithic yet abandoned architecture; massive megalithic abandoned temple complexes dot the jungles and are somewhat frequently encountered, but the natives see them as sacred and avoid them. Despite the great heat and frequent sunlight, the natives of Cannnibal Isle are pale-skinned; with an almost chalky grayish white complection that resists tanning and sunburn both. They tend to have raspy voices, occasionally exhibit complete hairlessness (with the exception of eyelashes) and file their teeth to sharklike points. Their eyes are often strikingly pale blue or green or gray, their hair is either jet black or pure white (regardless of age) and because of their strange cults, they often have black markings painted on their skin which give them the appearance of stylized human skeletons. They lack a strong state structure, being organized into clans and cults which routinely raid each other for slaves, women, goods, and heads, and they practice frequent ritual cannibalism (hence the name of the island.) In fact, the Sennarite natives have a weakness; a genetic tendency to devolve into ghoulism; a state where sentience fades, the body mutates, and they become almost feral, anthropophagic monsters, haunting the darkened ruins and jungles and dragging unwary prey off to become their next feasts.
The Sennarites are not savages, though, and mercenaries and assassins sometimes make their way into the "civilized" parts of the world. They find that their metallurgical and industrial capability, in a cottage industry type of fashion, are the equivalent to anything happening in Terrasa, Baal Hamazi, Qizmir, etc.
Sennarites are still extremely exotic, and few people have seen them, or seeing them, would recognize them as the legendary inhabitants of equally legendary Cannibal Isle, but from time to time, they can be found throughout the region. When they do, they use the rules for any other human; the differences between Sennarites and, say, Terrasans are cosmetic and cultural only.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
- A prominant local politician dies unexpectedly of a strange sickness. His family believes that foul play was involved, and puts out subtle feelers that a reward will be offered to anyone who can prove that this was so. The local politician was a strong supporter for harsher controls on the local drug trade--with him out of way the motion to pass stricter controls will fade away quietly, as no one else was interested in seeing it come to fruition. Sufficiant investigation will point towards a foreign (Sarabascan) ship that is reasonably well known in the criminal underworld as a smuggler of large quantities of drugs and poisons. While the captain is not a major player himself, and can be brought to justice (of one kind or another) if the PCs so choose, he is a member of the Union of the Snake, and the fact that he has been subtly investigated is enough to prompt the guild into action to shut the PCs down. If they actually bring proof to the victim's family of his involvement, or worse, bring him to even harsher justice, then the PCs have simply invited even stronger reprisals.
- Ever the subtle ones, the Union doesn't initially get directly involved, but a bounty has been put on the PCs. At first this means relatively unprofessional thugs start crossing their path, but assuming the PCs either succeed in thwarting these efforts and don't leave town to avoid trouble, the bounty goes up or more direct contracts are placed on them, and before long, professional and skilled assassins are targeting them. Assuming the PCs can survive this attention and piece together the clues that they need to get to the bottom of the attacks, they discover that a crime lord who's a local patsy to the Union is to blame for the bounty; but taking him down means taking on an entire gang of seasoned criminals.
- By this point, the PCs have significantly disrupted the Unions operation in the city in which they live, and it's time for more direct and decisive action. The Union of the Snake, as it turns out, has more resources than the PCs may have imagined. Much of their success in the inventing, making, and marketing of dangerous substances comes through their alliances with the forces of Hell itself. It's one thing to be targeted by competent earthly assassins, but its another entirely to be targeted by a daemon. Evading this hellish assassin and minimizing collaterial damage is a major undertaking. And even if they do, the Union has more "specialists" who can only bring on more pain and suffering for the PCs back in the Sarabascan home office. How will they eventually either bring down or at least make peace with the Union after allowing the stakes to be raised so high?
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
- Alfonso IV the Monk - abdicated for a clerical life.
- Sancho I the Fat - had his reign interrupted by Ordoño IV the Wicked, because he was too fat and the nobility didn't like him. He went on a weight reduction program, actually, and regained his throne, but because he didn't honor his treaties with the Moors, the second half of his reign was not peaceful. Also: Ordoño the Wicked? Not a bad name either.
- Bermudo II the Gouty - poor guy.
- Ferdinand IV the Summoned - after a succession of kings with nicknames like "the Great," "the Emperor," "the Brave," "the Just," and "the Cruel"--y'know, the usual, we get this fella, Ferdinand the Summoned. Supposedly, he tyrannically put to death the brothers Carvajal, who "summoned" him to a certain plaza to answer for his sins. This is an apocryphal story that doesn't date from his reign, but apparently it stuck anyway. Plus; cool name. He was actually a king of Castille, but by this point Leóon was united with Castile. Technically, he held both titles, although the title of King of León was increasingly superfluous at this point as the kingdoms slowly merged.
- Henry IV the Impotent - Wow, bad luck to this fella, one of the earlier kings from the Trastámara line. Following on the heels of the similarly unfortunately named Henry III the Infirm.
Monday, March 07, 2011
Friday, March 04, 2011
Thursday, March 03, 2011
2. You're not the man I knew ten years ago.
3. Again we see there is nothing you can possess which I cannot take away.
4. Next time, it will take more than children to save you.
5. I can only say I'm sorry so many times.
6. Now, what's that supposed to be coming out of there?
7. Surely he mentioned there would be other interested parties?
8. You don't need that. I'll tell you everything!
9. I like you, Rene, very much. Perhaps we'll meet again under better circumstances.
10. They're digging in the wrong place!