June 2004 Archives

Comic Book Review


Hawkman #28: This is the first issue with Hawkman's new creative team. I've picked up some of the previous issues in the collected graphic novels and Hawkman has had a really interesting thing lately with the reincarnation theme. It turns out that Hawkman and Hawkgirl are reincarnations of an Egyptian couple that has reincarnated hundreds of time, each time meeting a tragic end. Well, in this issue Carter Hall (Hawkman) goes into a depression. He lost the previous Hawkwoman before in a tragic end and he believes that the new Hawkgirl and him are fated to fall in love and then one of them will die again. He doesn't want to go through it again and wonders if falling in love with another woman will break the cycle. He ends up at a bar and meets a woman. The story was good. It wasn't amazing but I like how it made use of the reincarnation theme and that sense of fate. It seemed like a good beginning for an interesting story arc. The art was inconsistent. The art was really good at certain parts, especially the scenes in the beginning with the Hawks in costume. The later scenes in the bar seemed sloppy. The woman that Carter meets, Domina Paris (which should give us some hint that there is something unusual about the woman), is posed several times in bizarre and unnatural poses and her face seems wide in some panels and thin in others. At times she tilts her head so far sideways that any human neck would have to break. Perhaps this was done on purpose and we will find that she is not a natural human being. The neck poses were somewhat bird-like which could be fitting. However, it just seemed like bad drawing to be. I'm interested to see where this comic is going in the next several issues, but I am not sure I am interested enough to pay each month for it.

Comic Book Review

The Authority: More Kev #1 (of 4): Garth Ennis is writing this four issue miniseries and it just serves to me as another example of how far he has fallen. When I first started reading him, when he wrote Hellblazer, his comics were brilliant. Since the popularity of The Preacher and the reaction of some of his cruder stuff in it, it seems like all he writes is sex, violence and a lot of swearing. There are constant references to genitals and people getting buggered, rather than any good writing. Someday I'd love to see the old Garth Ennis return but it seems he is only getting worse and worse.

Game Dream #1: P.O.V.

Doc is continuing the tradition of Ginger's Game WISH as the Game Dream.

When Role Playing Games are discussed, the subject of first-person versus third-person character narratives sometimes surfaces. When you play a character, do you assume first-person, using your voice as his or hers, or do you use third person, simply describing what he or she is doing? Do you switch between first and third person, or try to adhere to one? When other players are in character, does the use of first or third person affect your immersion in the game?

I'll just give a short answer for this. I use third person in email because it is easier to read all the emails when compiled. My first online email experience was in first person and when I went to read them, every paragraph went back and forth from "You Find this" to "I do this." and was almost unreadable.

In face-to-face, I go back and forth between first and third person as a player. It just depends on the action.

As a GM, I usually use second person.

I've had a lot less time these days for writing up the episode synopsis for Gillian, so this one took a few months and the details are a bit spotty. I rushed the end so I could just publish it.

The mood was tense in Nigel Harker's house after finding out that Dr. Post was not who he claimed to be. Plans were made with the Watchers' Council to capture Dr. Post and it would require Dr. Post to come along with the group on their trip to the U.K.. Amy and Nigel develop a plan that tricks Post into thinking that the trip to England is part of Professor Harker's position as an archeologist and that a friend in England found an ancient Celtic artifact that seems to be an ancient mythic sword. Post seems to believe them and seems excited to come along. The week leading to the trip, the group tried to avoid Post as much as possible as they had tehir group meetings discussing what to do about Drusilla and what might be going on in Ann Arbor. Post still seems preoccupied with finding "The Collector" and "The Judas Cup" that is supposedly in the Collector's possession. He was also spending a lot of time casting divination spells, apparently towards this goal, but it would be later revealed that the spells divined more.

Although the group is busy planning their vacation to England, there was time for Gillian to go on several dates with Eric and the two began to really get close. Andrew, also spent some more time with his new friend Matt and the two had an awkward conversation that eventually led to an admission of their attraction towards eachother and a kiss.

The day of the trip came and the group left the Detroit Metro Airport in a private jet provided by the Watchers but on paper belonging to a friend of Nigel's. During the flight, Gillian admitted to a fear of flying and there was a lot of fun conversations when it was noticed that Post had been spending a lot of time in the restroom of the plane. Amy looked back with her abilility to see magical energies and saw that there was some sort of magical spell being cast. She informed Nigel and Nigel walked to the back of the plane to knock on the door.

I knock on the door of the bathroom that Dr. Post is in. But I make sure it's that rapid 'I have to pee' sort of knock. -- Jack (Nigel's Player) to GM

"I'll be out in a second!"

Shortly after Dr. Post's reply, magical energy seemed to rush through the plane, but nothing happened. Dr. Post stepped out of the bathroom, looking flushed. He carried his carry-on back to his seat and sat down. George, who was playing on the plane's playstation accidently presses too hard on a button of the controller and breaks it as he watches Post sit down.

Zombies!!!- An alternate rule

I picked up the board game Zombies!!! last week and played it with some friends. I think its a lot of fun but we all agreed that one of the more frustrating thing about the game is all the cards that are only usable if you are at a certain building. Too often, you'll draw the card when you are on the opposite end of the board as the building and the card never gets used. We like the idea of finding weapons and equipment at the different stores, but more often than not the card was just discarded.

Anyways, we discussed after the game how that could be improved and thought this should help:

When a weapon card is drawn that can only be played when in a certain building, immediately play it face up near the center of the table and draw another card to replace it. Now, the first person to start their turn in the building or enter that building can immediately claim that weapon and place it in front of them, using it like you normally use weapon cards.

Haven't played this way yet, but I'm thinking it should be fun and perhaps speed the game up.

Buffy Quote

Yesterday was the newest episode of Gillian the Vampire Slayer. We have a tradition that before each game of Gillian, we watch an episode of Buffy. Yesterdays was "Lie to Me."

Giles: You mean life?
Buffy: Yeah. Does it get easy?
Giles: What do you want me to say?
Buffy: Lie to me.
Giles: Yes, it's terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after.
Buffy: Liar.

Marvel has quit supporting the Marvel Universe RPG, their diceless superhero game. I feel a bit guilty that I just recently bought it. I feel like I should have supported the chance they took on making a diceless game earlier.

Anyways, I have it now and I've read though most of it. I also picked up the X-Men Guide which has write-ups of 60 different X-Men characters and villians and some additional rules. (I skimmed the descriptions of all the powers and stuff like that.)

After reading through it, I couldn't help but think of how badly it needed a good editor. The game is filled with all sorts of typos and incomplete sentences. It can be a very difficult book to navigate. The character creation rules are extremely hard to decipher and I think I'll need to read through them again before even attempting to create an original character, since I'm still pretty hazy on how you determine the point cost of powers.

Also, it has very few play examples. With most game systems, I think the play examples are tedious and unneccesary but there are three reasons they should have given more examples in the MURPG. First of all, the game was presented as an easy way for new roleplayers to get into the hobby of roleplaying. New roleplayers can use these examples. Also, the system is diceless and uses a resource system. Besides Nobilis, I can't think of another system that has taken this approach and it will most likely be a new approach to roleplaying than most gamers are used to. Finally, the rules are so poorly written that I kept looking to the few examples they gave to try and determine exactly what they meant.

These gripes aside, I think it is an excellent system. Basically, a player determines how much of their character's energy they wish to spend towards an action each turn. The most they can assign to an action is equal to the level of skill they have with the skill or power plus a related attribute. So, if Spiderman goes to hit the Green Goblin he can take from his pool of up to 12 stones representing his energy (different characters will have different size pools) a number of stones that represents how badly he is trying to win the fight. The most he can spend during a round is equal to his Close Combat skill of 2 plus his Agility score of 6, so eight stones. Let's say he puts the maximum of eight stones and uses them all the first round of combat. Now, he needs to decide how much have that energy is for defense and how much is for hitting the Doc. If the stones he has left in attack are greater than the stones that the Goblin has in defense, he hurts the goblin. If it is not, the goblin has either dodged or taken the punch with little to no damage (depending on whether the Goblin's defense was from being tough or agile). When comparing the Goblin's attack on Spiderman, the goblin would have to spend more stones than Spiderman's Defense +3 because Spidey has the ability "Reflexive Dodge" which adds +3 to the stones he spent for his defense. There are, of course, other modifiers like "toughness" that have a similiar effect.

It may sound a bit complicated, but I'm fairly certain it will be very simple in play. Most non-combat actions can simply be determined without any allocation of stones, since the GM would not need to worry abut how many stones the character spent because the stones regenerate fairly quickly. It's only in the heat of combat that a character is likely to run out of stones. In combat or tense situations where players do need to spend energy, it should only take a second for each action for the player to say "I'll use (or bid) eight energy, three in defense."

The best part of the system is its flexibility. It seems that it will be every bit as flexible as more detailed systems like HERO, but with none of the headaches that comes with HERO, since its diceless.

Comic Book Reviews


Besides gaming, I've intended to use Claimh Solais to host my pop culture reviews and since I am a big fan of comics, there will probably be a few reviews here from time to time.


Identity Crisis #1: I was going to write a short review of the first issue of "Identity Crisis," but this review sums up my thoughts on the issue pretty well. I wanted to like it. I just couldn't. Yet, I'm intrigued enough that I will still buy the second issue.

Astonishing X-Men #1Joss Whedon's first issue of Astonishing X-Men came out a few weeks back and I've been eagerly waiting for the next. The issue centered around Kitty Pryde (aka "Shadowcat") and her return to the X-Men. The issue was filled with some amazing dialogue that made it read a lot like a TV show that Joss would write. It also had an amazing scene of Wolverine confronting Scott Summers about his unusual method for mourning the death of Jean: sleeping with Emma Frost. With one issue, this became my favorite comic book out.

Green Lantern/Green Arrow volume one: DC just issued the first of two collected editions that reprint the entire Dennis O'Neil/Neal Adams run of Green Lantern/Green Arrow. This firstvolume collects six issues. These were the comics that were originally printed in the early 1970's and are often credited as being the first superhero comics that attempted to be relevant. (This is inaccurate because many of Superman's early adventures from the 1940's tackled important issues.) Reading the first volume, I was really disappointed with how quickly Hal and Ollie's road trip and time spent with the Oan Guardian was over. I had always gotten the impression that the road trip was most of their run but it was only about 4 issues long. The dialogue for Ollie seems a bit preachy at times, and Hal gets very whiny. You can tell that O'Neil struggled with trying to tell superhero stories while still trying to work in the important issues that America was facing at the beginning of the 1970's. Still, it is a good read and the Neal Adams art is amazing. This reprint is only US$12.95 and I'd say it's worth every penny.

Buffy's Back!


We all knew Buffy would be back, right? The question is how the show would be resurrected. A movie? A spin-off series?

Well, the BBC has the scoop.

X-Men Universe Campaign


One of the two groups I play with regularly has several people who have mentioned a desire to play an X-Men RPG and we recently started a once-a-month open gaming day where I think I will start running a series on X-Men one-shots for them. However, this leaves me with several decisions to make. I'm mainly considering a few options regarding the setting and system.

For setting, I'm looking at:

1- Comic Book X-Men- I don't like this one because of the existence of too much existing continuity. While this gives me as a GM a lot of back story to play off of, a majority of the possible players are not very familiar with the comics and get most of their X-Men knowledge from....

2- The Movie X-Men- This would have the advantage that everyone should be fairly familiar with it and so much of the story has been left unwritten. I can introduce movie-style versions of plots, villians and ideas from the comics, which should help me quite a bit when needing an idea to jump-start a game idea. "If I were directing an X-Men movie, how would I introduce Juggernaut?"

3- X-Men Evolution- Same idea as above but basing it on the recent animated series. This has the same advantages as the movie that a lot more of the group should be familiar with it.

4- Ultimate X-Men- Basing it off the Ultimate comics for a universe with a tighter continuiuty and an edgier feel.

5- Making my own X-Men Setting- I'm currently leaning towards this. Basically do a new "Year One" story of X-Men with players either playing their own versions of classic characters (pregens where players get to provide the personalities) or their own original characters. This would be something akin to how the Ultimate comics started with a brand new continuity.

6- Making my own superhero setting that includes the X-Men- The same thing as above but it would be a universe that includes other superheroes and since it wouldn't be connected completely to the existing settings, I could let it include DC elements like having aworld-war II superhero group named the Justice Society that happened to include Captain America be part of the world's history. The game would still focus on the X-Men but could allow for eventual crossovers with Spiderman, Batman or others.

Out of these settings, I am thinking that I will do option 5. It gives me the most freedom as a GM and should make it easiest for the players.

For systems, I am considering these four options:

1- Marvel Universe RPG. It already has stats for the X-Men and its diceless so it seems like a perfect fit for a group used to playing Amber. However, I am afraid that the more detailed and tactical nature may not sit well with the group. I am currently leaning towards using either this or....

2- Mutants and Masterminds. Easily the best Superhero system in my opinion, it would require more work from me as I would need to write up a bunch of characters. It's an OGL D20 game, so that may scare some off, but it should be worth the effort. It seems perfectly tailored for an X-Men level game.

3- C.A.P.E.S.- George Gitari's diceless superhero system should work very well for this group since it is basically Amber, but I want something a little more "crunchy." While CAPES does have some more detail that fits superheroes, I think a setting like superheroes where combat is very important needs a more involved combat system.

4- Angel RPG- I'll make no secret that I love the Cinematic Unisystem. So, since their superhero game, Beyond Human keeps getting delayed, I think I should be able to come up with something for an X-Men game byu using the demon creation rules in Angel. Obviously, using this system would make it so that I would have to create all the characters (as far as their stats are concerned) since a lot of powers would need to be made up from scratch. However, this has the advantage of using one of the coolest systems out and a system that many of the players will already be familiar with.

So here is the question I put to my fellow gamers-

What do you see as advantages or disadvantages to the various ideas?

D&D Minis: Giants of Legend

| 1 Comment

The next set of D&D Minis, Giants of Legends, should be out shortly. It is the first set to have huge figures like Frost Giants, Ents (or Treants) and Bullits. You can see photos here.

I read an article in the new White Wolf Quarterly of the changes they've made to the new system and it sounds like they've fixed a lot of the problems I have with the system.

The new system will have a core rulebook that uses the same rules for all of the supernatural types that will be handled in future games and will have all the rules for creating a normal human character. The new dice rules are more consistent with difficulties being handled by adding or subtracting dice from the dice pool and the difficulty always being the same number. Vampire: The Requiem will be the first game for the new World of Darkness system and it sounds like it will be less clan oriented and there will be less "metaplot."

Everything I've heard, I like and will certainly try buying the new WoD books when they come out in August.

WISH 90: Genre Favorites

Ginger asks us to: Pick three to five genres and name the best RPG for that genre. Why do you think it�s the best? What makes it better than others? What are its downsides?

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

May 2004 is the previous archive.

July 2004 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.