Monthly Archives: June 2011


Looks like Google has decided to move into Facebook territory and will soon be offering a social network they are calling Google+. Today’s XKCD sums things up nicely I think.

DC Universe reboot

This fall DC comics is rebooting their line, cleaning things up and streamlining their characters. This may seem odd to some, but really DC has a history of periodic reboots, so its not really that big of a deal. What is significant is the real reason behind the reboot. For those of you who are not in the know about such things, the descendants of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster have been involved in a lawsuit with DC comics to get the rights to Superman back. This lawsuit is a mess, the rights have been divided up, and I suspect no one is going to like the outcome. What we are seeing here is DC protecting its IP from the Siegel and Shuster estates, by significantly altering his costume and origin story.

RIP: Gene Colan September 1, 1926 – June 23, 2011

Gene Colan was probably not the greatest silver age artist and in fact I didn’t care for some of his work. What Gene Colan did well was Dracula, his historic run on Marvels Tomb of Dracula is without a doubt the single best depiction of Dracula in comics to date. While not great horror, Tomb of Dracula integrated the character into the Marvel Universe pretty well, most of the stories were interesting and well done. I am certain Gene Colan will be missed by family, friends and fans alike.

Review: Green Lantern

I went to see the Green Lantern movie this afternoon. Green Lantern is by far my favorite comic book character and has always embodied what I like most about comic books. Because of this, there really was no way I was going to be happy with this movie. As I had stated in earlier posts, my expectations for this movie were low. I did not care for many of the design decisions and I felt Ryan Reynolds was not a good choice for Hal Jordan.

With all of that said, Green Lantern was not a bad movie. In other reviews, critics complained the CGI costume and the CGI background were difficult to watch and produced this surreal look of Reynolds head floating around a CGI universe. Although the CGI costume was a bit cheesy, they did a pretty good job translating it from four color art to the big screen, unlike some other attempts. The other effects were perfectly fine and well done. My only real issue was making the main villain of the movie Parallax, an amorphous cloud. This didn’t really work for Galactus in the 2nd Fantastic Four movie and was only slightly better here.

Overall the script was decent, the actors did well and the actions scenes were good. Frankly I am not sure why this movie was panned. I think it was better than all of the X-men movies, at least as good as Batman Begins and definitely better than the first Ironman movie. Green Lantern had some week spots, but as far as I can tell this was a pretty decent superhero movie and did a passable job with the Hal Jordan/Green Lantern character and story. Go see the movie, you won’t regret it.

Busy Week

Sorry about the lack of posts this week. It has been very busy for me. Hopefully I will get caught up over the weekend.

Priorities Challenge

Cross posted from Facebook:

I was thinking of something Timmy said the other day – He wondered why we could come up with $15 a month to play MMOs but our budgets won’t allow money for investing. $50 for a new video game? No problem. $50 to invest in a stock? That’s just too much. (I won’t even get into how much we are willing to pay on new rigs or consoles).

So, I would like to challenge my friends to invest $15 a month in one stock for one year (or a $180 one time investment). If you think you can’t afford to, why not? Sharebuilder (part of ING) has no minimum investment and takes about 15 minutes to set up.

If you would like to join us please reply to this message with your stock pick. I’ll start: My stock is Vector Group Ltd. (VGR), a “sin stock” (VGR owns tobacco and alcohol brands).

Edited to add:
I purchased 9 1/2 stocks for my initial purchase and I’ve set it up to pull $15 a month from my checking account. Once I have deposited $90 into the account it will trigger another buy. I set it up this way because it cost $4 per trade, which is about 25% commission on a $15 buy or about 5% commission on a $90 buy.

Now let the divend payments begin!

FreeRPG Day

It is FreeRPG day, if you have not visited your local friendly game shop recently, today is the day to do so. My shop of choice, Rogues Gallery, is hosting a Villains & Vigilantes demo game. I couldn’t stay, but I wished I could have. They were giving away a D&D4E module, quick start rules for Green Ronin’s Dragon Age table top RPG, and a host of other games supplements including Tunnels and Trolls, Pathfinder and Castles and Crusades. While you are there, don’t forget to buy something to thank them for hosting FreeRPG day, it does cost them money to give you free stuff, I bought 2 new sets of Game Science Dice.

Dungeon Crawl Classic RPG

Like everyone else I have downloaded a copy of Dungeon Crawl Classic RPG Beta (DCCRPG). Since this is not an official release and there is a strong possibility much will change between now and actual publication, this is not be a structured review, but rather more of general observational post.

First off Goodman Games did what every other Retro Clone designer does. Instead of modeling their game after Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) first edition, they modeled it after the Original Dungeons and Dragons (OD&D). My issue with this is the race as class nonsense. This is a stupid concept, however, if you are going to do it, then fucking make it consistent, do something new and innovative, make all the races classes. Go all the way and just say, all elves are Magic Users, All Dwarves are Fighters, all Halflings are Thieves and all Humans are Clerics, now let the players choose one of the other classes if they want to. Really though, this idea just needs to die, it is confusing and adds nothing to the game. It was a bad rule back then and it is a bad rule today, no game designer has ever given me a reasonable answer as to why they cling to this idea beyond “Its SSOO Gygaxian” or because its “Retro Coolz”. It is all baloney if you ask me.

The second thing that bothered me about this game is the needless use of non standard dice. Why do I need d3, d5, d7, d14, d16, d24 and d30 ? Don’t get me wrong, I like dice, I have tons of them, I even have a few of the ones listed. However, looking at the rules, I don’t see any particular use for these dice that is creative or fun. It seems to me Goodman Games threw these dice in here for the same reason teenagers become Goths. Seriously, this falls under the category of confusing and adds nothing to the game.

Enough bitching, there were a few things I did like. For instance the 0 Level character rules look like they would be fun to mess around with. Ed’s dream of playing the Cheese makers son, could finally be realized. They also did some interesting things with Luck and Alignment, how a player adheres to the characters alignment affects his luck, of course this requires GM’s to enforce it, but it is an interesting idea. The art and layout is nice, the book is well organized, the game system appears to be easy to learn and it looks like a group of new DCCRPG players could get started in under an hour.

Right now, I would probably not bother with this game. If found myself in a position where I were running a game based on OD&D, I’d probably use the Basic Fantasy RPG or Labyrinth Lords, both are much closer to OD&D in style and mechanics. Either that or I would just use OD&D rules, I have several copies, no real reason to buy or print anything out. Besides that, I can not imagine myself in a situation where I would be running an OD&D based game rather than using AD&D or HackMaster. DCCRPG at this point does not add anything to the RPG hobby and I have to say I think its time to stop cloning OD&D, game designers either need to adopt one of the already existing games (do I really need to list them, there are at least 6 and might be as many as 10) and start making supplements, settings and adventures or they need to find a niche that is not already filled with other games. Please stop reinventing the OD&D wheel.

Cybersex and cheating

The whole weenergate thing has brought up talk about whether or not cybersex with someone who is not your spouse really cheating. Personally, I don’t see cybersex as cheating any more than I consider masturbating to Playboy magazine to be cheating. Yes, it involves another person, but there is no physical contact, no exchange of bodily fluid, it is in effect masturbation and as long as both parties are consenting adults, it is harmless. Certainly there is something to be said about emotional cheating, but really if someone is emotionally hurt over a bit of hot online chat, they are probably being overly sensitive and your relationship likely has deeper problems. My advise to any one who walks in on their significant other having hot chat with some one else, is to get on your knees, ask them to read it all to you and go down on them while they do it. Trust me, this will do more for your marriage than acting like a child.

Why SteamPunk Sucks

I have never cared for the SteamPunk sub-genre. I have never read a SteamPunk book or comic that was anything more than mildly amusing and even SteamPunk movies don’t really do much for me. For a long time I couldn’t really figure out why, I am a Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror reader. I enjoy most other sub-genres within those categories, so it felt odd that I didn’t really enjoy SteamPunk, especially since I enjoy SteamPunk’s elder cousin CyberPunk a lot.

Recently it dawned on my why, so far everything I have read has the emphasis  on the “Steam” and not the “Punk”. What I mean is they tend to be gee wiz stories talking mostly about clockwork this and steam powered that, descriptions about an idealized Victorian setting. The problem is the Victorian age was not much fun and an idealized form of it is outright boring. The genre, paints a shallow facade of the 19th century where wars are fought by gentleman and no one of any consequence ever dies (except the peasants) and technology is a great fashion accessory but has not solved any real problems.

To any prospering SteamPunk authors out there I would like to explain to you what “Punk” actually means in the cultural sense. Punk is at its core about rebellion, it is about youth rebelling against the oppressive moral values of the older generation, it is rebellion of the poor and disenfranchised against the wealthy elite of society. Punk stories should be about cynical protagonists fighting and carving out a better life for himself against a society that wants him to grow up, accept his place and go back to the ghetto. Punk is about being beaten down and pushed into the sewer, it is dirty, it is gritty, but it is also about getting back up, crawling out of the sewer, screaming “I am not going to take this any more !” and fighting back. If you don’t understand what I am talking about go sit down and listen to everything done by the Romones, the Clash and the Sex Pistols between 1975 and 1980. If after that you still don’t get it, then might I suggest you move on to writing Romantic Fantasy.

Quirks, flaws, disadvantages, whatever

Friday night the first half hour of the game was spent discussing various HackMaster rules. The one thing which seemed to bug people the most about HackMaster was Quirks/Flaws. Eliminating Quirks and Flaws does seem like a fair idea to me. First of all, very few people actually play them the way they are suppose to, if at all. Second, enforcing the correct play of Quirks and Flaws falls under the category of “Not Fun”. As the GM, I should not have to force my players to do things and as a player, I should not have play a character I am uncomfortable with. Quirks and Flaws are suppose to enhance the role playing aspect of the game, but it rarely does. We long ago gave up rolling for Quirks and Flaws and went to the cherry picking option, which makes the player choose 2 minor and 1 major flaw, the character get 8 extra building points for this. The next step I suppose is to get rid of them completely. I can get behind this idea, in fact I am going to add this as my 14th House Rule. This will not effect the current campaign, but will come into effect at the beginning of the next. I think if we play GURPS this summer, I will eliminate Disadvantages and give them extra points.

YaY, this is my 300th post !

This Week

This week has been a bit light on blogging, however next week I am on vacation and I expect to blog on the heavy side, so things should balance out. In the mean time, io9 has an article covering fantasy stories worse than Twilight. It seems impossible, but the list includes several which are at the very least, just as bad as Twilight.