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Classic D&D Campaign Log 1


I'll start by mentioning just what a boon Google Drive has been for our various RPGs.  Not only does it make for faster note-taking (I can type a great deal faster than I write), but every other player with a laptop can see what I've got down and make additions.  Using this, I've been able to make a running log, or "Where We Last Left Off", so that we don't enter each session going, "Okay, what were we doing?"

So I've decided to start blogging these.

One of the campaigns tashiro has started recently is Classic Dungeons and Dragons, using an old book he picked up at CanGames.  He's using the Mystara setting, but with a few changes:  he wanted to run a situation in which everyone has to pull together to stop some terrible invasion.  He didn't want to do a zombie apocalypse, because it's been done to death (and beyond, ha) already, and also didn't want to do a "this one race is totally evil" thing.  What he came up with instead:  robot armies.

What makes this interesting is that nobody in this setting even knows what a robot is.
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So that's the summary of about six sessions there.  More later.


The Weapon X Horror Picture Show

So wyrdwolf, musing idly after work, got the idea of a version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show cast with X-Men characters.

Brad and Janet would be Cyclops and Jean Grey.
The Narrator would be Magneto.  The helmet does make his neck invisible...
Dr. Frank-n-Furter would be Mr. Sinister, 'cause he's already got the lipstick.
Rocky would be Wolverine, because he's 1. been used in a mad science program and 2. part of a love triangle with Jean.
Riff-Raff and Magenta would be Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, because they're brother and sister, yet there's also sexual tension.
Dr. Scott would be Professor X, because wheelchair.
Eddie would be Gambit.  After all, Gambit used to work for Mr. Sinister.  Also, Columbia's song mentions someone (possibly Eddie) with "devil's eyes".
Columbia would be Rogue, because she's had an off-and-on thing with Gambit.  I could easily see someone doing Columbia's part with a broad Southern drawl rather than the Little Nell voice.

Speaking of the X-Men, tashiro and I went to see The Wolverine, and found it pretty good.  One thing in particular I liked was that they avoided the "gaijin goes to Japan and totally masters an ancient martial art within the space of one montage sequence" trope.  The extent of Logan's samurai training in the space of this movie is that he learns, more or less, how to hold a katana.

As Kit pointed out, though, they did do what seems to be a common thing now (rot13 for spoilers):  pynffvp ivyynva fubjf hc va pbzvpf-onfrq zbivr, ohg qvrf qhevat vg.

Recently Read:  Saga Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan (writer) and Fiona Staples (artist)
Dial H Volume 1 by China Miéville (writer) and Mateus Santolouco (artist)
Locke & Key Volume 5 by Joe Hill (writer) and Gabriel Rodriguez (artist)
Ignition City Volume 1 by Warren Ellis (writer) and Gianluca Pagliarani (artist)

ComicCon, Kaiju, Coffee


So, I just realized that I'd promised some photos from Ottawa ComicCon, and that was back in May.  Well, I'll post a few under a cut, and link to the rest.
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Two Zombie Movies

So, tashiro's mother treated us to go see World War Z.  The book is on my to-be-read list, but considering that the pile of those books would be taller than I am (and my reading slows down considerably when I'm not using the bus on a regular basis), I haven't gotten to it yet.  So I can't really compare the two.  I'd heard they were vastly different, but that doesn't necessarily make for a bad movie, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Well.  There were some bits that were kind of neat, mostly to do with the insect-like approach to the zombies.  But I can't say as I liked the film all that much, and most of my problems had to do with Gerry, the main character.

To start with, he wasn't all that interesting.  About a third of the way in, the movie all-too-briefly showed us this brilliant young scientist who had some great dialogue about Mother Nature as a serial killer who can't help leaving clues, and I thought, "Okay, this is cool -- here's a guy who's simultaneously horrified by the plague and excited by the puzzle of it."  I would have loved to see WWZ done as Pandemic: the Movie, with him as one of the protagonists.  Instead we get yet another stubble-faced white American who's Doing It All For His Boringly Saintly Family.  Sigh.

My real problem with Gerry, though, began at one particular scene.  Seeing as he's an ex-investigator of some kind for the U.N., his ex-boss calls him up and sends a helicopter to pick up him and his family and fly them out to an aircraft carrier, which is being used as a makeshift refuge.  Then ex-boss says that he needs Gerry to go help find the cause of the plague.

"I can't do that," says Gerry.  "I have to stay with my family."

Oh, for fuck's sake.

Dude, you know perfectly well that U.N. Guy did not say to himself, "Wow, humanity is in danger of being wiped out, and we have limited space on these ships.  I'd better send a helicopter to rescue my buddy who looks just like Brad Pitt, because Western Civilization must not be deprived of his dreamy eyes."  Of course he wants you to go on some dangerous mission in exchange.  Don't play dumb.

But, more importantly... look, I get that your first instinct would be to protect your own family.  But unless someone gets a handle on this thing ASAP, billions of other families are going to die horribly.  Families who don't have powerful friends to fly them off of rooftops at the last minute.

I wouldn't have minded nearly so much if this had been part of a character arc, if at some point Gerry said, "I still want to save my family, but this is bigger than just me or mine."  But there is no such discernible development -- in fact, it comes across like the filmmakers think that Gerry's failure to put himself in anyone else's shoes is supposed to be admirable.  And that really stuck in my craw.

Does anyone else remember that U.S. Republican who was all, "Now that my son has come out as gay, I've changed my mind and am now pro-gay-rights"?  And how the general reaction was, "Okay, great, but how about making the imaginative leap towards empathy for people who aren't directly related to you?"

There are already tons of movies out there trumpeting the Stand By Your Fam message.  Well and good.  But World War Z was the wrong movie for that.  It should have been a "We Are The World" movie, showing that no matter how horrific the threat, humans can ultimately set aside their differences and work to defeat it.

I've been hearing from people who have read the book that it would have been better adapted as a miniseries.  That's probably true.  If you had to fit it to a movie narrative, a better narrative would be either the Pandemic approach I mention above, or a "bodyguard's tale" like Children of Men.

(Damn, now I want to watch Children of Men again.  One of the coolest things about that film is that the character for whom the hero would sacrifice anything to protect is clearly not some pure, sweet madonna -- in a different world, she'd be labeled as precisely the sort of low-class undesirable who shouldn't breed.)

Speaking of zombie films, some months ago we went to see Warm Bodies.  I know a lot of people groaned, "What, zombie romance?  Has Twilight infected everything?"  But actually, I was pleasantly surprised.

First of all, unlike Twilight, Warm Bodies is funny.  (Intentionally funny, that is.)  There's lots of comedy to be had from zombies shambling through unintentional parodies of everyday behaviour based on half-remembered habits.  Ditto the "'Don't be creepy', says the rotting, flesh-devouring ghoul to himself" bits.

In a practical sense, Warm Bodies' zombie apocalypse only works if you allow that zombism is really a psychic plague which... somehow... confers some really powerful psychosomatic effects.  (I hear that in the book, it is pretty much confirmed that the plague is something psychic, but I don't know the details.)

Where the movie really does work, I think, is as a sort of rebuttal to the nihilism of most zombie films.  Conventional wisdom seems to be that should the Z-Poc arrive, humanity's best bet is to abandon tenderness and compassion in favour of ruthless, even heartless, practicality.  The message of Warm Bodies is that no, we shouldn't view our gentler instincts as weaknesses -- they may, instead, save us all.

Next post I'll have photos.  I promise.


Placeholder, and also a dirty joke


I've been meaning to post my various pictures from Comic-Con, but I've been preoccupied with... well, a lot of things.  So consider this post a kind of placeholder while I try to get my head together.

In the meantime, Dept. of I Am Not Making This Up:  the Ottawa Fertility Centre has a dragon-boat team, for charity.  They're called the OFC Seamen.

Recently Read:  Avatar the Last Airbender:  The Promise Parts 2-3 by Gene Luen Yang (writer) and Gurihiru (artist)
I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
A Thief in the Night by David Chandler
Honor Among Thieves by David Chandler
The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
Locke & Key vols. 1-4 by Joe Hill (writer) and Gabriel Rodriguez (artist)
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan (writer) and Fiona Staples (artist)
Currently Reading:  The Coyote Road:  Trickster Tales by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (editors)




So, I haven't been posting for the last little bit.  One reason is my workplace slowly but surely going out of business (more details here and here).  I've been a little preoccupied both with that, and then with trying to figure out what to do next.

And just today, we had to have one of our cats put to sleep.  As tashiro says here and here, we'd been seeing her get thinner and weaker at an alarming rate, and the vet laid it out for us:  even if they did a battery of (expensive) tests, there'd be no guarantee that they'd figure out what was wrong, and if they did, that there'd be anything they could do about it.  So we decided it was best not to draw things out, for her or for us.

The staff at the Carling Animal Hospital were both honest and sympathetic.  But of course, these things are always difficult.

Later on I'll try to update with some other news, plus my reading list.  Just not now.

Three Unconnected Things

John Scalzi is a Guy Who Gets It.  Seriously, read these.

Gawker, Reddit, Free Speech and Such
A Fan Letter to Certain Conservative Politicians

A few weeks ago, I had my first gig as a life-drawing model.  It was with an older co-model, which was good because that way I had someone there to give me a bit of guidance.  It seems I'm pretty good at it:  several artists asked how long I've been modelling, and were all astonished when I said it was my first time.  Here's hoping I get more calls.

It occurred to me that a lot of my old playlist posts are out of date.  Should I make new posts with updated ones, or just go back and edit the old posts?  I'm leaning towards the latter.

Recently Read:  Firebirds edited by Sharyn November
Currently Reading:  Den of Thieves by David Chandler

Quick Status Update

tashiro's out of the hospital -- it's probably best to let him explain all the details, but the short short version is:  kidney stones.

Attended another of Unreasonable Action's Geek Trivia Nights with niall_.  This time the questions were a lot harder -- the winning team only got 29/50, while we came in second place with 27/50.

Tired and achy from hospital visits and general running around.  Trying to get back onto some sort of schedule and catch up on stuff.

Recently Read:  Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater
Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente
The Outcast Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
Currently Reading:  Sins of the Angels by Linda Poitevin

Trip to the Cape


As tashiro's already blogged here and here, on the Civic Holiday weekend we took a trip down to Cape Cod to visit my mom's side of the family.  He was able to post stuff on the actual dates, since his network connection actually worked fairly consistently.  Despite taking my laptop, mine did not.  Anyway, here's a quick rundown:

Friday:  Arrived at the Cape.  My Grandpa and his wife Joan took us to a Japanese restaurant that was actually a beautifully remodeled house (I don't recall its name).  We discussed the game Kit's currently writing, and the wonders of modern hearing aids (which is more interesting than it sounds, actually).  Then we went back to their place, and settled in to the little cottage that's a short walk from their house.  A cute little cottage, all to ourselves!  Unfortunately, we were too tired to do anything romantic in it.

Saturday:  After breakfast, we decided to go swimming.  I realized I'd forgotten my suit, because it was still hung up in my basement.  (Usually it's stowed in my beach bag/beach towel thingy, but we'd gone swimming on Canada Day and I hadn't put it back yet.)  Thankfully, my uncle Danny's wife (who coudn't be there due to a family emergency) seems to be about my size, so I borrowed one of hers.

Kit was a little nervous about swimming in open water, but I assured him that an actual beach is different from jumping into a river or lake:  the shore gradually declines, rather than dropping off.  He relaxed and was soon splashing around, carrying Danny's daughter Rachel on his shoulders, etc.  Then my uncle Michael felt something strange in the water, reached down, and pulled out a large fish with a circular bite out of it.  And I recalled that there had been some shark warnings.  Still, it looked like it had been dead a while, so I figured it had probably washed in from much deeper water.  Shortly after that we decided to head back.

We had brought along some card games appropriate for young children (Seven Dragons and King's Blood), and Rachel adored those.  So we played several games with her, and also some with a friend of hers who was visiting.

Kit was pretty zonked from all the sunlight, so the pair of us napped for a bit.  Supper was chicken cooked with some lemons that Danny had preserved himself.

Sunday:  We decided to go out to Provincetown.  One of our first stops was a little seafood shack called Mojo's, where I got to try fried whole-belly clams.  (Whole-belly clams are awesome.  It's like eating clam strips and mussels at the same time.)  Grandpa and Joan decided to stay put while we explored.  Kit was fascinated by the Pilgrim Monument, so we climbed up there and managed to get some pictures from the top.  After climbing down, we poked around a little shell shop and bought a few pretties.  We also managed to find P-town's one game shop, and picked up a few more games to play with Rachel (Pirate Fluxx and Give Me The Brain).  On the way home, we made a brief stop at a lighthouse and got some more pictures.

Supper that night was polenta, roasted veggies, and salad, all made by Michael this time.

Monday:  Kind of a slow day.  Since the Cape is a really gorgeous area, we decided to go for a walk and found ourselves a nature trail.  We got slightly lost, but managed to find our way back without incident.  Grandpa showed off his garden, and we played more card games with Rachel.  Michael commented that we behaved like very "natural parents" with the kids, which was gratifying.  Then everyone but Danny (who had had to have some dental surgery, and was a bit doped up) went out to an Italian restaurant nearby for supper.  We tried to stop off at Rachel's favourite ice cream shop on the way back, but it was way too crowded.

Tuesday:  Had breakfast, said goodbye to Danny, Michael, and Rachel.  Got updated contact info for both my uncles.  Grandpa and Joan drove us to the bus station, we said goodbye and thanked them profusely for having us there.

All the flights were slightly delayed on the way back, which was no surprise... until we were almost in Ottawa, whereupon the pilot announced that due to a storm, there were a number of planes trying to land, but ours didn't have enough fuel to circle for long.  So we had to make a detour to Montreal, refuel, change some crew, and then head back to Ottawa.

I may try to post some photos later.  Some are on Kit's GooglePlus page here (I think non-G+ users can see it).

In the meantime, I've been preoccupied by a NSFW story that I've been trying to get down.  Maybe it'll be one of the rare ones I actually finish?

Currently Reading: Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey

Best Meme Ever, Take Two

I did this one already, back here, but had so much fun with it that I had to try again.

Name 12 characters you have played in RPGs, before looking at the questions that follow. Once you've picked your 12 characters, look at the questions and answer accordingly. (No peeking until you've picked your characters!)

(Nota Bene: because of having done this before, I assigned my new set of characters numbers using a d12.)  Onward!Collapse ) Note to all:  if you do your own version of this, please leave a link in the comments.

Currently Reading:  Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies by Victoria Dunn