Jan 202010
 

My wife got me Invincible: The Ultimate Collection Volume 4 for my birthday, and of course I’ve already read through the whole thing.  I love this comic, though I say that as someone who doesn’t really have a regular comic reading habit.  (Mainly I read stuff in collections, often gifted or borrowed from a friend. This has the upside of getting lots of story in big coherent swaths, but it also has the effect of mainlining the entire season of a TV show in two days. You’re simultaneously full up of the good stuff, and empty because there isn’t a similar volume waiting for you on day three.)

Invincible has me from the word go. I know a few folks I’ve recommended the series to found it to come off a little flat, though several others have seemed really jazzed by it. I flippantly described it on Twitter the other day as “what Smallville wanted to be before it succumbed to a fatal case of kryptonite poisoning”, though I suppose that does more to tarnish the appeal of Invincible than elucidate it. (Ah, Smallville, what an acid-trip of a show you were before I took my leave of you.)  At its core, Invincible is the story of an alt-Superman’s kid, run through a heavy Peter Parker’s Life Sucks filter.  And boy, does it make my I-want-to-play-in-some-supers-genre-games itch flare right the hell up.

But I’m also not sure that I would want to play a straight up “adaptation” of Invincible at my gaming table.  So I need to deconstruct this thing, figure out what its basic working parts are, and which of those parts speak to me as a gamer. If only so my friends can get a little closer to running the game I want to play in! (That said, the analysis will not go that deep in the interests of keeping things spoiler-free.)

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Dec 182009
 

I just finished reading Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold, a sort-of sequel to his The First Law trilogy (The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged, and The Last Argument of Kings), in that it’s set in the same world.

I like grim fantasy (at least in some varieties).  The horrible things that happen to characters in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire are right up my alley (though I’ve stopped reading that series until the author finishes).  Glen Cook’s work ala The Black Company also sits right in my sweet spot.  It’s not that I hate heroes — I don’t — but I really relish the explosion of chaos when a plan goes pear-shaped, and the sudden, bracing losses that happen to the people in these books.  I suppose it feels real, or at least not-Hollywood.  I like my Hollywood stories, but I also love it when those conventions get torpedoed merrily.

That said, Abercrombie has pushed me with the books in The First Law.  My little inner Hollywood got hit with a mega-quake and slid right off into the ocean.  Things end so poorly for several characters in the books, and things are so brutal along the way, that I had to put a little effort into shaking it off.  But on the balance, after I while I found myself thinking that was pretty frickin’ cool.

Naturally, my thoughts then turned to gaming.

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Dec 142009
 

I’m a loud guy. This is mostly true in person, but completely true online.  I talk about what I like a lot, and at volume.  This blog is a part of that, but so’s Twitter and elsewhere.  I do my best not to push my way into faces that aren’t looking to hear me run my yap, but those who do will find themselves hit with a big wall of text.

Looking at this from a completely mercenary perspective, being loud in this fashion is very much about establishing a presence and a “brand of me”.  In the Internet Age, silence is equivalent to invisibility.  You might be out there producing great things and doing interesting stuff, but if you aren’t talking about it, and if other people aren’t talking about it, it may as well not be happening. Audience is king.

But beyond the whole “I’m loud so I’m seen” thing, I’m also loud in service of the things I like and love.  I’m loud so those things are seen, too.

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Dec 072009
 

Farscape probably wins my award for the best science fiction series I’ve seen in the last couple decades. It doesn’t win this because its special effects are particular greater than any other show out there (sometimes they’re decidedly average), or because its actors are unusually talented (though they have some hefty chops). It’s because the stories and environment the show presented were so full freakin’ throttle. Farscape rarely bothered to slow down and explain itself. The premise flew up your nose at light speed, genuinely alien aliens landed on your face, and it never, ever turned a soft edge towards you on impact when it could smack you with something hard. As a GM, Farscape taught me how to go for the pain and for the fun at the same time, and how to get everyone’s pulse racing right out the gate and never let up. If you hear Rob talk about how I run a game, Farscape is how. If you leave the other side of a Don’t Rest Your Head game panting and frantic and exhausted and satisfied, it’s because I wrote that game to feel like I GM it, and I GM games so they feel like Farscape did.

Anyway.

The entire flippin’ series is on sale at Amazon right now for less than $60, which is about 40% of the regular price. You should maybe really urgently buy it, or get it for someone this Christmas.

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Nov 232009
 

I started reading Cheri Priest’s Boneshaker recently.  About 8 or so chapters in, I had to admit it has a well detailed steampunk world, nicely grimy, and focused on an interesting tale of parents and children. But I just wasn’t gripped by it, so for the moment it’s been put aside on my “promising, but I’ll work on it later” pile.  Good stuff, well done, yes, but not grabby.

I’ve been tweeting back and forth with Brad Murray about many things (the Fate game Diaspora that he and three other gents worked on being a big part of it), one of which is our mutual admiration of Vernor Vinge’s novels A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness In The Sky.  I am not a hard sci fi sort of guy when it comes down to it, but Vinge’s novels really grabbed me. Yes, there’s bits of science and intriguing speculation flying fast and furious at your face, but he also has a master’s touch in pacing and character.

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