Archive for category Music
This past weekend was wall to wall DGS activity. We had a very successful Halloween party, thanks to much help from my team of volunteers. We went with a spider and skulls theme, with many spider webs any place we could put one up. For food and drink, the host team provided a build your own sandwich bar, sodas, and chips, while attendees brought additional sides and desserts, with one of our DGS members going above and beyond and brewing us a special DGS run of his home brew beer. Our master brewer also won our costume contest having dressed up, appropriately enough, as a steampunk mad scientist/brewer.
Several attendees also brought board games, which became the primary activity of the party. We got to try out Lords of Waterdeep, a D&D themed strategy game that played like a far more complex version of Revolution or Monopoly. As the name suggests, you play Lords living in Waterdeep, and as you play the game you hire adventurers and acquire resources for completing various “quests” in exchange for victory points. Everyone got the gist of the game pretty quick and had a good time. I won. This game is likely to go on our Christmas list.
On Sunday I ran the second to last session of Mirrors. We started the game right where we left off last month, with our protagonists running for lives from a group of vampire guards while their escape was covered by a Changeling dragon. It is one of the few times I’ve actually busted out the dry erase maps and miniatures for a World of Darkness game. There was much running and sword fighting and crashing of elevators. World of Darkness isn’t exactly known for its fighting rules, but they are adequate for running a more action based scene. However, because players rarely have to actually engage the rules, I find they tend to go kind of slow. I ended up cutting the scenario down a bit to accommodate our time limits. That was okay though, because my surprise twist went over with the same dramatic oomph I had hoped for, and we ended the session with one of our PCs making a very serious moral decision. Now my players have some important choices to make that will determine not only their characters’ fates, but the fate of the NPCs they’ve been representing this whole story arc. Which is really how every good World of Darkness game should end, don’t you think?
We started Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and having a blast. It’s an interesting twist to be working for Handsome Jack instead of against him, although he is still an egotistical jerk, so the characterization is at least consistent. Also, the story is actually told as a giant flashback, so you still get to enjoy commentary from all your favorite Borderlands characters while exploring a whole new area. My only real issues are that so far, the oxygen mechanics have been just another resource to manage, and it is taking what feels like FOREVER to get our additional gun slots and to use the new Grinder system. But as an expansion on the Borderlands universe, it’s overall been good fun.
On the TV front:
This week’s Supernatural was one of my favorite episodes in recent memory. This was the Demon Dean I’d been expecting. The Shining-esque scenario was very well played out, with some great acting moments by both Jared and Jensen. It actually made me think if Constantine or Gotham do well, DC should give Jensen a shot at playing Etrigan/Jason Blood. Supernatural is on Season 10 – it can’t last forever. Or can it? This season is pretty awesome so far. Knock on wood.
Gotham continues to be brilliant. If you are not watching it, do yourself a favor and go stream the season so far. There is just something really fun about a crime procedural set in a fictional 60s universe with super villains and a young Bruce Wayne who is getting an early start on being the smartest guy in the room. The magical realism tone is very similar to Hannibal, but so far the show is way more PG-13. It is BATMAN after all.
We have also watched the pilot for Arrow and it was amazing. Between all the video game releases and RPGs and wedding attendance plans, and everything else, I’m not sure when we are going to get a chance to binge watch the rest of the season, but hopefully we can make that happen soon.
Thing I’m geeking out on this week:
The Crow. Specifically the 20th anniversary screening we will be attending next month that is being hosted by Nerds Like Us, as part of their monthly nerdy midnight film viewing series. (If you like geek flavored cinema and/or attended high school in the 90s, you should totally check them out.) I am so going to rock the Eric Draven face paint.
More specifically, getting tickets to that made me want to look up the soundtrack. I forgot how much I used to love this album. There are some favorites of mine on here: Stone Temple Pilots, NIN covering Joy Division, Violent Femmes, Rage Against the Machine, Rollins Band, Pantera, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult and The Cure. This album is like early 90s non-grunge rock in a time capsule.
Extremely specifically, however, I’ve been obsessing on the track “Burn” by The Cure.
Rediscovering this song was like finding an old flannel in the back of my closet and finding out it not only still fits, but it somehow still smells of strawberry cloves (don’t judge me – it was the 90s). For me, this song is pure nostalgia in aural form. I can crank this song up on my headphones, close my eyes, and instantly I am sitting in the back of my pickup, parked on the roof of the parking garage at Fullerton College after a night class reading the latest Mercedes Lackey novel. I can smell the rain in the air, feel the brisk fall chill, and remember a time when I actually had to call people on the phone to find out who was hanging out at the Winged Heart before heading over for a late night cup of coffee and maybe a round of pool. Good times.
This Saturday we kicked off the 2014-2015 season of DGS’ Vampire Conclave. I ran the first session of Sunset Cove, which went really well. The first half of the game was mainly character generation and background, with a short role-playing session after, in which our characters all met up for the first time and explored a bit fo the city’s night life. 4 of my players are running characters that are new to the city, while one of them chose to start with trouble right out of the gate by playing the childer of the Seneshal. Lots of drama and player interaction ensued. I have a good feeling about our player mix.
Sunset Cove is my first attempt to run the new Blood & Smoke rules, which is basically the new edition of Vampire the Requiem. I am really enjoying the new rules so far. Many of the Disciplines have been rebalanced, and the character generation system is very similar to the points method we’ve been using out of the Mirrors book. There are also several other changes to the mechanics of the game that seem to be encouraging my players to think more about their characters life and unlife in a more dynamic way, with rewards for achieving goals, maintaining their masquerade, and the introduction of touchstones, which force a player to think about what actually keeps their character grounded in their humanity, rather than have it be another stat on their sheet. The book also had several exercises to use during character generation, to give the characters a richer background and explore how they all might be connected to one another. Most of them will be familiar to anyone who has done improv or taken a creative writing class, which makes sense given that the game is largely about telling a story and improving it out.
In other news, this is our first year of actually having TV shows we are trying to keep up with in real time, instead of just binge watching them after they’ve been cancelled. So far, Gotham has been off to a good start, Supernatural was kind of a snore fest, and Doctor Who makes me want to throw things at the television. We’ll see if Constantine or Hannibal prove to be a weekly treat or a disappointment. I have high hopes for Constantine, but am only cautiously optomistic about Hannibal given how uneven last season was.
You can check out David’s ode to 10 seasons of Supernatural over on Topless Robot here.
I have also been watching David play Shadow of Mordor. So far I think I made the right call of playing passenger, rather than picking up a second copy. The cut scenes and some of the NPCs have been entertaining, but the game play seems to be a mixed bag. My take away as an observer: The mechanics feel very Assassin’s Creed, which is kind of cool, but doesn’t feel very Lord of the Rings to me. A vast majority of the enemies are Orcs. Yes, I know it’s Lord of the Rings, but from an observer standpoint, it gets a little old after awhile. I would like to have seen more variety in bad guys. The main storyline seems really short, and the “open world” very tiny. As far as I can tell, there are only two main maps, with 4 “camps” of Orcs each. Fallout or Skyrim, this is not. So, I give it a “meh”, keeping in mind I’m just following along, not playing. David seems to be enjoying it alright.
Thing I am geeking out on this week:
A collection of loose pigments and nail wraps in the Borderlands color schemes and iconography. I am really loving this trend of geek-oriented brands headed by geek gals for geek gals. The orders ship on 10/14 (same day Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel drops) so you still have time to get your order in. I have plans for the Vault Hunter pigment already.