Science Fiction and Fantasy

Mine Ears Have Heard The Awesome

Shiffer thinks he’s found the awesomest trailer ever. Now, on Friday, I might have agreed with him (I saw it here), but then on Saturday, while listening to Escape Pod, I heard a trailer that is to Awesome as Protonium is to mundane matter.

In a world where CONCEPT Is KING, ONE MAN, armed with only a PODCAST, can take on the titans of Hollywood, and beat Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez at their own game. That man… is Scott Sigler.

Hmmph. And if all the links confuse you, I meant listen to this.


PIP (Post ICon Post)

So, ICon. I heard four talks worth of the very witty and charming Neil Gaiman. I saw two movies – Renaissance, French Noir/Cyberpunk with lovely black and white CGI, and the modern silent movie version of Call of Cthulhu. I encountered fornicating teens (at 2PM!) in the gaming rooms. I waited around for a disappointing closing ceremony show (the Endless song was OK). I dashed to the Cinematheque with K and co to buy tickets to a “Templar ritual reenactment” which must have sounded like a good idea on paper sometime to someone (batshit masonic silliness meets lame LARP production values). I sat through the low-key and sad ISFSF&F general assembly and the Geffen/”Decade of ISFSF&F” show, which had Gaiman and some amusing skits but had too big a venue for an oddly small and intimate event. I spent a lot of time with Bo. I exchanged greetings with lots of people and had some of those brief conversations you have with at cons with infrequently-met acquaintances, the ones that get cut off when one of you sees someone else, or just gets too antsy from talking for more than two minutes with a person.

I also ran three games, none of which was a complete disaster. Even the game on the morning of the third day, where I was completely unprepared and struggling to explain ill-defined and tricky metaphysics to some very weary people, ended up as being rather satisfying (well, for me at least), and closer to my idea of what The Shadow of my Desire is supposed to be like than my first attempt at the game. I actually think that I may have got more satisfaction from running my games then they gave the players, because I got to experiment with my ideas but didn’t deliver anything awesome. I don’t know. I suspect that while I can pretty consistently make a game work, I can’t manage to make it great.

And I should stop running mission games. “Break into this house and shoot people” is a trivial way to generate a session’s entertainment, but it’s cheap and only mediocre fun.

Blather long Roleplaying

Roleplaying character meme

Via Rob Donoghue, a meme for roleplayers:

Name 12 characters you have played in RPGs, before looking at the questions that follow. List your characters numbered 1 to 12, with the name of the RPG you played them in. Once you’ve picked your 12 characters, look at the questions and answer accordingly. (No peeking until you’ve picked your characters!) Put your answers behind a LJ-cut.

I thought I was stuck at the “name 12 characters you have played in RPGs” part, but here:

1 – Rosa Santiago, Cybersamurai, Yanir’s Shadowrun campaign.
2 – Donelas Na Oghma, Chubby Elf Thief/Magic User, Hezi’s Anadaq campaign (the Gang’s last)
3 – Maddoc Son of Deirdre, Joy’s Amber campaign.
4 – Charlie Swan, Journalist , Ran’s Cinematic 80s Action Conspiracy campaign.
5 – Reshef, Israeli Werewolf Theurge, SSAI LARP
6 – Frank, Hyper-eccentric Toreador Vampire (Malkavian? There must have been some bureaucratic mix-up), Israel’s Vampire one-shot.
7 – Merlin the generic Magic-User, Hezi’s original D&D campaign
8 – Jim Gordon, Gotham City Police commissioner on the edge, Israel’s Batman one-shot.
9 – Lionheart, sub-optimal superhero from Etgar’s Champions campaign.
10 – AKA “Pants”, ATF agent in Yossi’s Delta Green campaign.
11 – Cole something, Engineer, conspiracy hunter and psychic time-traveler, Itay’s “Embers” PTA game.
12 – Something Good (Good was his surname, his first name wasn’t “Something”, but it was a terrible pun), event organizer, Itay’s PTA one-shot of young Gay roommates… in Gotham city (“Smack on the Gotham”)

I didn’t create Jim Gordon and Merlin… but I played them both for more than a session, so let’s keep them.

1) Who would make a better college professor: 6, or 11?

Frank(6)’s qualifications for the job end with his patched tweed jacket and absent-minded expression. Cole(11) would be much better at actually teaching (and any other college duties), and has both compassion and ideals, although he’s as impatient as most of my characters. At least he won’t eat any of the students.

2) Do you think 2 is hot? How hot?

I do, but… I made him fat. He definitely has the Elf hotness, and minus the Elf anorexia, and I want to think he’s hot, but I’m not sure how much I buy it (because he embodies my hopes and neuroses about my own self/body image).

3) 12 sends 8 on a mission. What is it, and does it succeed?

Both Gothamites! Good(12) would want Gordon(8) to fix some permit for some tremendous and unsafe public display, of the sort that Batman usually ends up fighting his villains on top of. Would Gordon succeed? With my track record playing him, I’m pessimistic. Depends on who is GMing, and whether the Mayor has been replaced by a clone or not.

4) What is, or would be, 9’s favourite book?

Lionheart(9) probably enjoys biographies, but his chivalry obsession must come from somewhere – I’d say Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe.

5) Would it make more sense for 2 to swear fealty to 6, or the other way around?

It would be against Donelas(2)’ nature to swear fealty to anyone, let alone Frank(6), not if he had more sensible options (such as killing himself). Frank(6) on the other hand would see fealty as some tedious formality, and wouldn’t mind swearing it to whoever, as long as they got it over with quickly.

6) For some reason, 5 is looking for a room-mate. Should they share a studio apartment with 9, or 10?

Reshef(5) would probably find more in common with Lionheart(9) then with “Pants”(10), both being amiable men of honor with strong codes and obligations to a higher moral authority.

7) 2, 7, and 12 have dinner together. Where do they go, and what do they discuss?

Donelas(2) and Merlin(7) are D&D magic-users, Good(12) is an event producer from Gotham, a city where “theme” is always in vogue. Therefore, Good will take them to an “authentic medieval tavern” , and they will discuss Pyrotechnics.

8) 3 challenges 10 to a duel. What happens?

Maddoc(3) wins. The only question is why he would challenge “Pants”(10) to a duel.
First, “Pants” wouldn’t accept; he would try to arrest Maddoc. Maddoc will force the the issue by snatching “Pants” to another shadow. Maddoc would of course give the choice of weapon to “Pants”. If limited to fighting, “Pants” would probably pick pistols, but Maddoc has experience with guns (although he hates them) and is ranked in Warfare, while “Pants” has puny “Call of Cthulhu begining PC” stats. Both would probably try to settle with a duel of wits, like a game of chess or riddles or something. Maddoc would still win, unless “Pants” had a very good riddle.

9) If 1 stole 8’s most precious possession, how would they get it back?

Call in Batman, of course.

10) Suggest a title for a story in which 7 and 12 both attain what they most desire.

“The Big Bang”

11) What kind of plot device would you use if you wanted 4 and 1 to work together?

The Conspiracy that Charlie(4) was working for put him into some high-tech suspended animation, from which he wakes up in the strange new world of 2052; Now he needs help finding out why, and who the Conspiracy really were, and Rosa(1) would make the perfect bodyguard/filthy assistant.

12) If 7 visited you for the weekend, how would you get along?

I guess Merlin(7) would be an undemanding house guest, and wouldn’t mind this pig-sty (being used to sleeping rough). I could probably entertain him with a pile of comics. Somehow, 18 intelligence or what, I don’t think he’d make for great conversation, on account of the language barrier.

13) If you could command 3 to perform any one task or service for you, what would it be?

Give me superpowers (shadowwalking!). If that’s too complicated, make me rich.

14) Does anyone on your friends list resemble 11 (either in appearance or personality)?

Shiffer, Perhaps. Neither Cole(11)’s personality or appearance were very fleshed out, but I think Shiffer shares not only an engineer’s soul with him, but also a degree of idealism. At least friends-list-Shiffer.

15) If 2 had to choose sides between 4 and 5, which would it be?

Donelas(2) would probably pick Charlie(4), who is charming and human, over Reshef(5), because D&D instilled in him an anti-werewolf prejudice. He would probably get along better with Reshef better, though, and pick his side, if he gave him a chance.

16) What might 10 shout while charging into battle?

“Freeze, Federal agent! Pull down your trousers, then place your hands on you head and turn to face the wall!” – this is what earned him the nickname “Pants” in the first place.

17) If you chose a song to represent 8, which song would you choose?

King of Pain, Police – not quite right for Gordon(8), but I’m stumped, it’s playing and it’s not inappropriate.

18) 1, 6, and 12 are having dim sum at a Chinese restaurant. There is only one scallion pancake left, and they all reach for it at the same time. Who gets to eat it?

Rosa(1) has an absurdly high level of Wired Reflexes; I doubt even Frank(6) the vampire can match her. Good(12) will probably not even see either of them go for it – it will just vanish as he begins moving his chopsticks.

19) What might be a good pick-up line for 2 to use on 10?

“Before I drop my trousers, I should warn you, I am not of your world.”

20) What would 5 most likely be arrested for?

Trespassing (Reshef needs to get to places, and doesn’t bother much with fences).

21) What is 6’s secret?

He really is a Toreador.

22) If 11 and 9 were racing to a destination, who would get there first?

To his continued frustration, Lionheart(9) was not the fastest in his team, but he’d beat Cole(11) easily, unless Cole found himself in some pretty unusual body.

23) If you had to walk home through a bad neighborhood late at night, would you feel safer in the company of 7 or 8?

Gordon(8), for sure. He’s the Police Commissioner, Batman’s pal, and he doesn’t run out of spells. Although, come to think of it, Merlin(7) doesn’t have any supervillains out to get him…

24) 1 and 9 reluctantly team up to save the world from the threat posed by 4’s sinister secret organization. 11 volunteers to help them, but it is later discovered that he/she is actually a spy for 4. Meanwhile, 4 has kidnapped 12 in an attempt to force their surrender. Following the wise advice of 5, they seek out 3, who gives them what they need to complete their quest. What title would you give this fic?

“Fit To Print”. Just because the villain’s a crusading journalist.
A pretty good fic though.

Hmm. Making the list of characters, I thought that I didn’t really play that many characters. Answering the questions, I realized that I didn’t really play that many interesting characters.


Batman always wins (the argument)?

Jonathan Woodward: Being The Good Guys is probably the most fun American political blog post in a while, tying in the hot ethical issue of the day into a media most suitable for conducting the relevant thought experiments: Superhero comics.


Lost: La Partidita de Rol

In a thread about adapting Lost to a roleplaying game, someone popped up and mentioned a theory that the scripts of Lost are actually based on a roleplaying game JJ Abrams runs to his friends. Unfortunately, the page he linked to is in Spanish; However, the Google translation is comprehensible enough to get some of the jokes. I assume that what Google translates as “uncle” should probably be “dude!” (and “aunts” – tias – are probably “chicks”)…
The awesome thing though is that the weird, translated speech totally reads like “Heblish”, the deliberately broken English we speak when gaming. Check it out:

A: You what you do, Locke?
L: I am a hunter of milk so I decide to leave to hunt…
A: Ahm… but is that you went in Wheelchair. Recuerdas? You took a major defect stops…
L: Good then… it change! Instead of a that scar in the face…
A: Only with that…
L: And Madness! I begin to say that the island is alive…
A: Good, it is worth, comes, which is…

Other fun stuff is how “they are run by insane players” explains many of the, err, eccentricities and downright illogical behavior that typifies the Lost characters. Locke’s madness as a way of balancing the points for the “bound to a wheelchair” disadvantage he gave up, the ultimate “blame it on the random encounter table” incident with the Polar Bear, Jin not speaking English because his players was too intent during character creation on making him a cool Yakuza Ninja, the useless Shannon is a result of someone saying “can I bring my sister to the game”, the PC-like focus of the characters on getting gear while ignoring the story, Charlie whining about not being able to cast Bard charms… (OK, that last one wasn’t in the series, but it’s funny in context).
Oich, better you read it.