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Month: September 2003

Shiny happy sparkly

Phil Brucato turned up at Gen Con this year with a game called Deleria, which was pretty clearly his vision of what Changeling should have been. And I’m a mark for shiny things, so you can tell where this is going. I pre-ordered.

The book came in the other day. It’s a big hardcover with really shoddy binding. The inside is glossy and full cover and more or less a design mishmash that actually works fairly well. It’s got a hodge-podge feel to it that makes sense given the subject matter, and the art (lots of Photoshop manipulations) is OK.

There’s a ton of setting fluff. The tone of the writing — well, it didn’t work for me, but it wasn’t awful. It’s written from the point of view of an elder in a youth culture, if you see what I mean. Gentle yet hip, and pointedly so in both ways. I didn’t dislike it, I just didn’t like it.

The fluff does get the setting across, and the setting has the right feel. It’s an attempt at Faerie done De Lint style, with the changes that have come with the modern world reflecting into myth. It’s not as smooth as De Lint, though. For example, Brucato has the Internet manifesting in Faerie as a kind of kudzu, and faeries can’t deal with technology. Except when they can. Brucato’s trying to move beyond the nostalgia factor, but he can’t quite bring himself to make that final break.

I’d talk more about the rules, but the book is sufficiently baroque that I’m having trouble extracting actual game mechanics. You have stats, and you have a difficulty number, and you draw a card and add or subtract it from your stat depending on the suit. There’s also a big magic system thingie which looks to be mostly freeform.

Summary: forgettable.

Kill Bill watch

The Kill Bill watch continues with this review from John Tynes. He says it rocks, with incredible fight scenes, but it’s crippled by the decision to split it into two parts. He also says, quote:

Speaking of executed, the film features more severings of hands, feet, arms, legs, and heads than I have perhaps ever seen in a film before. Kill Bill is all about the delirious geysers of blood.

Bold statement from a man who, I believe, has seen Takeshi Miike movies.

Yes! But!

How to send literally dozens of fans into a tizzy in one easy step:

"Sword & Sorcery Studios Announces d20 Versions of Adventure!, Aberrant and Trinity."

I think D20 will probably work out just fine — it certainly isn’t any more of a handicap than the Storyteller system. I think Aberrant will have trouble getting past Mutants and Masterminds, but that’s White Wolf’s problem to worry about. It’ll be good to see Trinity back in print.

I hope we’ll see some sourcebooks.

WISH #66: Pesky players

WISH 66 is about plotting (and, tangentially, the necessity of same):

GMs can spend hours designing an adventure and have their players take off in an entirely unexpected direction. How does a GM handle this—try and steer the players back to the designed plot, or hang back and see where the adventure goes? How does a player handle this? Stay on target or go with the flow?

I’m inclined to disagree with the context of the question. “How does a GM handle this?” Well, which GM?

The No Myth meme currently prevalent over at the Forge rejects preplotting altogether; a No Myth GM doesn’t know anything about the world other than what the players have seen. A failed task resolution check doesn’t mean the players have failed, it means there’s an additional obstacle in the way of reaching whatever objective the players have chosen. And that’s a reasonable approach.

But it’s not reasonable to say (as some Forge denizens do) that it’s the only proper approach. Some GMs spend days designing, not the adventure, but the world. In Brad’s Temple of Elemental Evil campaign, he had the entire world mapped out and spent a lot of time figuring out the actions of the NPCs between sessions. There wasn’t a designed plot, per se; there were NPCs with desires who acted on those desires. The PCs could act and react as they wished.

I don’t believe in a single approach; I believe in behaving as appropriate for the playgroup.

My preferences? I don’t preplot very heavily, so I tend to ad lib when players go off on a tangent. There are more of them than there are of me, after all. As a player, I like free-form stuff because I like the feeling that there’s a whole world out there. Strongly directed plots only bug me insofar as it makes me feel like the world only exists as far as the PCs can see.

Strong genre games can overcome that feeling, perhaps because a strong genre also engenders a feeling of a world outside the limits of a PCs perception. Pulp comes to mind, of course.

Love that dirty water


Manny is a goof
Manny is a goof

More goofy Manny
A big fat goof, but we love him

Ortiz with a mike
David Ortiz having a ton of fun

Jumping Red Sox
Yeah, might as well jump!

Theo is a kid
Once again: old enough to drink? That’s our general manager!

(They’re thumbnails. Follow the links. Celebrate!)


NESN just tried to interview John Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, out in the middle of Fenway Park. They asked him how he felt, and all he could do was wave at the fans. God bless him and Larry and Theo for buying the Red Sox. And man, it feels good to watch the team getting up a good head of steam. It feels good to see ‘em back in the playoffs.

And yeah, Oakland will be tough. The Yankees could be tough. Atlanta or San Francisco? Very very tough. Right now, though, the Red Sox are in the playoffs — where they belong. They have what may be the best offensive lineup ever to step upon a baseball diamond for 162 games. Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe can pitch. It might happen; it just might.

At Fenway, “Dirty Water” is playing. Boston! You’re my home!

That very bad

The NBC version of Coupling is incredibly bad. I know, everyone said it was bad, but I wanted to see for myself. I lasted about five minutes before screaming in horror and deleting my TiVo season pass.

The sad thing is that it uses the same scripts. It practically uses the same sets. But the acting — it’s like Shakespeare performed by earnestly dull high school students. Not that the original Coupling was Shakespeare, but the American cast isn’t really up to the standards of high school students either.

22 episodes? NBC bought 22 episodes? Did they buy a blindfold and ear plugs before looking at the pilot?

One last time

I couldn’t resist just one more sampling of VeriSign’s bounty:

Had an a few days ago. Someone’s persistent (but dumb).

The bride

The Movie Box has copies of the two new Kill Bill trailers (from the soundtrack CD). Not any spoilers we didn’t see in the first couple of trailers, lots of cool stuff, and a glimpse at an interesting cinematic technique I won’t spoil in case someone wants to be surprised in the theaters. I am so jazzed for this movie.