Saturday, March 9, 2013

I don't need to post anymore

Because you can just read this sort of crap. Or, instead of wasting ten minutes of your life, you could  play a game.

Fuck, I don't want to harp on this shit, as it might actually be the ramblings of someone with a serious medical condition, but are you telling me I need to do all that stuff to play a kid's game? Seriously? It's not a fucking medieval simulation, sir, 'tis merely a pleasant diversion meant for enjoyment.

I've been a lot happier avoiding blogs and messageboards and whatever else the past month and I think I'm going to stay away from now on.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What OSR is/isn't and why you should/shouldn't care

I was planning on finishing my post on Ars Magica today, but I've been really sick over the past few days which means I've been sleeping a lot. One of the consequences of sleeping when ill is that I usually have weird dreams, some of which could best be called nightmarish. So of course a few days ago Zak S. posted something about this thread on rpg.net and I read it. The thread, as well as the post (which looks to have been recently deleted). First of all, reading web forums annoys the hell out of me. Moderated ones, anyway. I started with Usenet (rec.games.frp) and that should tell you enough about my views on moderation. Anyway, that thread on rpg.net was the subject of several horrible dreams I experienced dealing with OSR and all that sort of crap. Like my previous post stated, people are just missing the point.

I hate the term OSR because of the implication that new games have nothing to offer, but that's the term we have so we're stuck with it. It's sort of like football...in the United States we have football and soccer. I realize the rest of the world calls soccer "football", and football "American football" or "gridiron" or some other bullshit, but it's called "football" here. If you don't like it, that's fine, but if you're in the US and call soccer "football" people are going to look at you like you're an asshole. OSR is the designation given to a set of games that exhibit a certain set of criteria, and just because the name is stupid doesn't mean the designation is meaningless. I think Zak tried to make that point in the rpg.net thread and was met with epic-level actuality, which is a term used to describe humorless nerds hellbent on sticking to the first definition of a word in the dictionary, ignoring the other fifty uses as they see fit. Fuck those guys, OSR is the word we're using. Now I have to give the criteria, right?

OSR isn't AD&D. Someone literally tried to say it was in that fucking thread. In fact, AD&D itself is anti-OSR in the sense that the term is used. AD&D was published in an effort to codify all the various house rules and endless variants introduced the few years after D&D was published, to create a definitive version of the rules. That's not OSR. OSR also has nothing to do with the age of a game. It's entirely possible to create a clone of Vampire or Amber or Rifts or even D&D 4th edition and have it be an OSR game. Why not? Old-school gaming is not about a particular set of rules. To think it has anything to do with which rules-set you're using misses the whole point. I played in an "AD&D" game when I was in high school that used stuff from Rolemaster, Palladium Fantasy and Warhammer. The DM would allow just about anything, but no cavaliers...so I made a multiclassed dwarf fighter/mind mage. The combat system was AD&D but with criticals hits from Rolemaster. Blah blah blah, this is nothing new, everyone does this, right?

No, they don't. THAT is the point of the OSR. I do not like 4th edition D&D, so what. Plenty of people do, whatever. Reading various boards, you'd think that if it's not in the rules, it can't be done. 4th edition players, in general, seem to be of the mindset that the rules define everything and the players and DM are strictly confined to the rules. Oh, did I say 4th edition players? Try reading Dragonsfoot. Everything is "How does this work by-the-book". Fine, doesn't bother me, but don't EVER bring up something cool that happened in the game if it's not in the fucking rulebook. Your DM had this badass adventure with stuff that's not strictly BtB? Get ready for the arguments and pedantic nonsense. AD&D players aren't any more part of the OSR than the guys on the WotC boards because they're both more interested in rules, not play.

Old-school is doing whatever you want, whenever you want, because it's fun. It's adhering to the idea that "the play's the thing", not the rules. This might come to a shock to most people, but rpgs attempt to simulate a fantasy (or scifi, whatever) reality. What does the boardgame Sorry simulate? Not a fucking thing. I mean, maybe it's a social commentary on the futility of relying on luck to achieve success in the financial realm. Hell if I know. I used to play it a lot when I was a kid because it was fun but I never worried about what my game pieces were eating or if they enjoyed their task. They were just game pieces. Wondering these things about rpg characters isn't necessary for play, but might be legitimate questions at some point. Using old-school mentality, if I wanted to know how my Sorry game pieces felt about their lives, I might create a chart and roll on it when necessary, perhaps throw in some modifiers based on current progress. Someone else might require an extensive roleplaying session, lots of psychoanalysis. The chart way is definitely older, and the roleplaying way is arguably newer, but they're still old-school in the sense that those rules didn't exist and someone just made them up because they figured it'd be fun and add a new dimension to the game. OSR Sorry might have a million new rules, with a ton of stuff, but it'd still be identifiable as Sorry. If group A decided to dump the roleplaying and use the charts, no one would say a fucking word. "You're not playing it right"? The only way to not play it right would be to not play at all.

To reiterate, OSR is not about a particular set of rules or a timeframe, or even a certain style of play. It's simply about doing whatever you want to have fun, not sticking to a particular mindset and keeping the holy words of the game designer as canon. You can certainly play 4th edition D&D in an OSR way, if you want. Or you can play it as-written. Which is better? I thought about this question for a while, and finally decided the OSR is better, objectively, simply because it's inclusive. There's no prohibition against keeping to the rules, strictly, in the old-school mentality. In fact, there is a large segment of old-school play that is very much concerned with the rules. But it's still "your" game. If you ad lib a bit to cover a situation unclear in the rules, you're doing it old-school. If you send letters to the editor asking for clarifications, you're an old wargamer still unaware that rpgs are a new form of gaming. If you insist that something cannot be done simply because it's not in the rules, you're a "nugamer", and pretty much an annoying fuck. The whole DIY ethic is very much a part of the OSR, and in fact one of the major contributions the OSR has given the rpg community is a reminder that this whole thing started in someone's garage. All the major rpg publishers started in garages, publishing crap independently because no one else would.

You shouldn't care about the OSR, because caring would, paradoxically, violate the precepts of the OSR itself. Do whatever you want and don't give one fuck about anyone else.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

DRM is stupid

Read this and started thinking...

DRM is just a pain in the ass. It really is. Pirates can strip DRM out of a PDF in mere seconds; it's really nothing more than a slight impediment to them. But DRM provides legit PDF readers even more hoops to jump through than is necessary. I've experienced issues with DRM-protcted PDFs I purchased and it pissed me off. Basically, I was being punished for buying something. For instance, I have a ton of PDFs on my iPad now; one of the PDFs I tried to copy over had some weird DRM scheme that made it impossible to view. Punish me for being legit, I appreciate it. If you're a publisher and you think DRM protects your content, you're essentially a fucking idiot. To reiterate, anyone who wants to steal your work is going to steal it and anyone who is going to pay you will pay.

I know I talked about this in a post a while back, but when Eclipse Phase was first published, the company released a free PDF using a sort of shareware model: pay if you like it. I read the PDF and ended up buying the book. If I hadn't liked the PDF, I would not have paid a dime for it, but I also probably wouldn't have deleted it, either. Is that stealing? Publishers would say yes, of course it is. I'd tend to say no, simply because at some point I might look at the PDF again, decide I changed my mind about it, and send them money. When Doom was first released, you could play the first couple levels for free, it cost money to play more. Even with rampant piracy Doom became one of the most popular, financially successful games ever. Did plenty of people steal Doom? Yep. And 90% of those people probably couldn't afford to pay for it even if they had wished. That's the reality of the situation: most people do not have infinite disposable income. Something has to be really good for them to pay for it, and even then they might never pay for it.

Electronic goods have the one advantage of being distributable forever, without any additional cost. Suppose you want to write a book and sell it in PDF form. If it's an rpg, you're most likely going to sell a few thousand copies. At most. But you can sell those for 10 years, and the cost to do so is negligible. It doesn't cost anything to keep it "in print", you're not getting tied up with publishers and distributors, etc. Out of pocket expenses are however much time and effort it took to produce the book. If you're using Kickstarter, like a lot of people are doing now, those costs are paid upfront. So why fuck with DRM? You're just limiting your audience. If I can't give my buddy a copy of the PDF so he can take a look at it without buying it, you've effectively lost a potential sale. I've already paid you the $10 and my buddy would NEVER pay the $10 because he doesn't care. But hey, maybe I told him the game is cool and to take a look anyway. I email him a copy, he decides it sucks, whatever, you gain nothing...but don't lose anything, either. It's possible he does like it and doesn't pay for it anyway. So what? Maybe whenever you have a new idea he's the first in line to fund the Kickstarter or pre-order. DRM will just limit the audience by making it impossible to freely loan out works like you can with physical books. The idea that keeping a copy of the PDF without paying for it is stealing is essentially claiming that shitty ideas have value to everyone.

I'm not advocating people stealing PDFs and ideas, but trying to equate a physical copy of a book with a PDF is asinine. If I buy a book and it sucks balls, at least I can recover some of my money on the used book market. What recourse is there with a PDF? Good luck trying to get a refund on a PDF...the implicit argument is that, since it's electronic, there is no way to know if I'm going to delete it or not. So basically, Mr. Customer, fuck you. Even with DRM stuff. When BRP was released in PDF I accidentally bought two copies. I asked for a refund of one of those copies. Chaosium pretty much ignored around four inquires before I got pissed and called American Express to have them credit my card. Needless to say, I haven't bought another PDF from Chaosium since. Why should I? If I had accidentally ordered two physical books, I could have sold one of them on ebay, or sent it back for a refund. Why was the PDF so problematic?

Drivethrurpg puts an order number and name on the bottom of every PDF you buy. A watermark. It's the most irritating fucking thing I have experienced. I don't want to see that crap, especially not when I print it out. Why put that on there? What purpose does it serve besides pissing me off? I've edited every PDF I ever bought from drivethru and removed that shit. Uh oh, look at me! I'm violating DRM! Yeah well don't put it on there in the first place. There have been several times I did not buy a PDF off the website simply because I knew I'd have to deal with that watermark nonsense. Lost a sale.

This is mostly rambling nonsense, but I don't feel like editing it, so I won't. Fuck PDFs and fuck DRM.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Missing the point

Always missing the point:

How is "fire and forget" remotely believable when I can slot and ready more than one "copy" of a spell?
So, you can buy into fireball spells, dragons, levels, hit points, and a ton of other game-related concepts, but Vancian Magic is where you draw the line? Seriously? The question isn't, "I think Vancian Magic sucks, how can I fix it?" Plenty of people thought the same thing when D&D was initially released. Have you ever seen another RPG before? No, the question is requesting an explanation as to why anyone could ever accept Vancian Magic as believable because it's possible to memorize more than one fireball spell at a time.

MISSING THE POINT

When I read all those Dying Earth stories, a couple years ago, long after playing rpgs for eons, it finally clicked in my head as to why D&D handles spells in the manner in which it does. Okay, that's cool and I like it and whatever because I've moved from merely playing games to trying to understand their raison d'être. But D&D is a game and that's how shit worked in the game, and fuck you if it doesn't make any sense, you're just an idiot. It's perfectly valid to say you don't like it, to change it, play something else, however you want to approach the issue. But the notion that it's unbelievable? What. It's a fucking GAME. Further, it's based on stories that pretty much handle spells the same exact way. Go ahead and tell Jack Vance his spell-casting system doesn't make any sense. You're allowed. I'm sure  he'd enjoy spending his last days alive trying to justify a system of magic in his stories within the context of your capacity of comprehension.

"Hit points aren't a remotely believable representation of wounds." So what? Are you sure about that, anyway? Ask any medical doctor to explain how bullets affect the human body and if he gives an answer other than "getting shot is bad" he's a fucking hack. No one knows. We have no idea how wounds operate in real life, so how the hell would we know about how magic works in a hypothetical D&D world?

MISSING THE FUCKING POINT

I have no problem with people who want to create logical reasons for why things are done a certain way in games. It's sort of like being interested in how warp power works in Star Trek; just a nerdy pursuit that helps you enjoy the show more. But at a point the Star Trek nerd is either going to swallow pseudoscience and accept it so he can watch the show and have fun, or bitch about it ad nauseum and be a pedantic fuck. If you think I'm being hypocritical given my recent review of that dreadful Hobbit movie, my gripe was how much it deviated from the story, not about how hobbits shouldn't even exist or elves couldn't possibly be resistant to diseases for thousands of years because eventually a super virus would mutate an affect them. D&D magic works how it works because that's how it works. Requesting information on how it works is fine, but stating it defies belief? Show me how you cast spells in real life and if that D&D doesn't match up then you're right, it's unbelievable. Just go fuck yourself, please.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Real World Dungeons

It's Christmas, which means I should be making some sort of Christmas-themed post. Instead, I decided to relate a recent experience which made me think of gaming for some odd reason. I do say odd because only a serious nerd would focus on gaming while in the heart of what is commonly referred to as Sin City.

So I was in Vegas the past few days. The reason is unimportant, but in case you're curious, flights are more expensive than necessary around this time of year and hotels are cheap. It averages out in the end, I suppose. We stayed at the Luxor, a pyramid shaped casino with an Egyptian theme. Names shall not be given to protect the guilty. The Luxor is what I'd call middle-of-the-road as far as amenities go, which outside of Vegas would be pretty badass. In Vegas, it's middle-of-the-road. For $45 a night I wasn't complaining, especially considering my time spent in the room was nigh negligible. The beam of light emanating from the top of the pyramid, shooting off into space, a beacon of unadulterated ostentatiousness, provided a reference point which made getting back to the hotel a bit easier. Even a surly drunk can follow a billion candle power spotlight if necessary, and drunkenness did in fact transpire.

Let me say this first, then move on to the point of this post: I am not cheap. I am mostly Irish, but when you think cheap, that's Scottish. Don't lump us in with those guys. You CAN say I am thrifty, however, and I proudly admit it. The difference is easy to explain with an example. A cheap Scotsman would buy a bottle of Kentucky Deluxe, pour its contents into a flask, and proceed to take it wherever he went, ensuring his booze purchases were kept to a minimum. If he rant out swill bourbon, the Scotsman would simply stop drinking because he was cheap as hell. A thrifty gent, however, would instead purchase a better whisky (VO is my favorite), keep it in a flask to drink, and after depleting his flask acquire tall boys of PBR at convenience stores for $1.59 to keep the inebriation going. In either case, money spent is limited compared to the general populace, but the thrifty man will be drunk the entire time, thus in a much better mood. I am thrifty. Yes, I did buy many, many cans of beer for minimal amounts, carrying them from casino to casino as I travelled the strip. I aged a whole year in merely three days but it was glorious. The liver is a muscle and needs exercise; mine participated in the Olympics.

Given my general state during my stay (literally drunk from the time I got on the plane until I arrived back home...no exaggeration), you might think my perceptions are based purely on alcohol-infused delusions. That's possible, so if you come to different conclusions it simply proves empirical data is indeed as Locke described, thus interdependent upon numerous factors. In the context of rpg adventuring, however, I think my experiences bear out, especially given the predilection of adventuring-types to embrace alcoholism. Ale and whores, right? Vegas offers those things in spades (hah!).

Standing in front of casino on the new strip is a strange experience. The façade is inviting, a funnel of sorts, meant to draw you in. There is no normal sidewalk, parallel to the road. Instead, you traverse hundreds upon hundreds of feet of concrete, lavishly decorated, steering you toward the entrance (the old strip is quite different; after you get inside, however, it's pretty much the same). The doors are enormous and literally impossible to miss...there is no mistaking the way inside. After passing through lit archways, massive glass doors, polite doormen greeting you with smiles, the world becomes dim. Not quite night, definitely not day. On the verge of darkness, you're given the impression that it's almost time for bed, but not quite...not quite. Time passes by at a rate impossible to gauge. The dimness never decreases, nor increases, even in places that it should. Off to seek your fortune! Of course you entered the casino to find treasure, try your luck at a table or slot machine, but the the risk is extremely high compared to the reward. After wandering around, you find yourself lost, and it's nearly a hopeless task to determine the way you came in. Every single way out is guarded by monsters of various sorts, be they dealers or bartenders. After many losses and close calls the allure of treasure in greatly diminished and escape is required. You turn one way and go straight, but are intercepted with encounters impossible to avoid. Eventually, however, you make your way to the exit, using either wits or relying on luck. Unfortunately, somehow you end up in an adjacent casino, and the pattern repeats itself. After many tries, you end up outside and hour upon hour has passed. You have walked countless steps and your legs are about to give out. The bar at this casino looks a bit more inviting than the last so you sit down and order a drink. Putting your last few dollars into a video poker machine seems like a good idea to pass the time. A succubus engages in conversation, attempting to convince you that her services are required to pass the night. Somehow you wind up in your own bed, destitute and hungover when you finally awake.

Las Vegas casinos are real world dungeons, fraught with genuine dangers. During my recent adventures, I leveled up and engaged in some Conan-like debauchery. The spoils of war are best wasted after victory, barbarian style. In my opinion, anyone who thinks gold pieces are a terrible way to determine experience points needs to plan a trip soon.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Hobbit: An Expected Pile

First of all, I must preface this post by pointing out it's been a little over two months since my last. That's not entirely by design, as I had plenty to post about but became somewhat lazy when it came time to write about it. I deleted 12 drafts just now, most of them a quarter or half done, uniformly crap. Maybe the new year will bring a new attitude and desire for updating this blog, even if it seems almost irrelevant and inconsequential to me now. Gaming just hasn't been important to me whatsoever in recent months. But The Hobbit, oh yes...to get to the end, in the beginning, this movie makes me entirely ready to play some MERP in an effort to purge its images from my mind.

Where to start? Well, no disclaimers about spoilers, even if this is in fact a disclaimer of sorts. I'm assuming you've read The Hobbit  at some point in your life (I shall italicize the book title out of respect), therefore nothing I will talk about is predicated upon your seeing The Hobbit (no italics...interpret that how you wish). In fact, if you enjoyed The Hobbit, you might have second thoughts about The Hobbit. If, like me, you can be lumped into the category "pedantic nerds who get pissed when someone fucks with Tolkien's vision", you should avoid The Hobbit altogether. I am certain the only reason I did not go to jail during or following my viewing of the movie last night is due to the beer being spiked with Ritalin. At times I had the urge to throw things, yell, start fights and cause a ruckus, but my will was suppressed, almost unnaturally. I should probably say some things about the movie now. But as another aside, I wouldn't really be "spoiling" this movie if I told you about it, anyway; that would make the implicit argument there was something worth spoiling. I'm not being funny, I am Dead Serious, a distant cousin of Yahoo. Sorry, I just don't want to get to the review because I'm still seething inside with pent up rage. Have you ever just wanted to start throwing bricks around, breaking shit, after experiencing something that you willfully agreed to, but in retrospect loathe with your entire existence? Sort of like agreeing to attend your mother-in-law's 60th birthday party before finding out there won't be any alcohol and it's taking place in the women's department at Macy's. They're just gonna shop all day for old lady underwear, you gotta carry the bags. I'd do that over seeing The Fucking Hobbit (the real title, look it up on IMDB), to be honest. At least your wife might give you a blowjob for being such a good sport. Peter Jackson, instead, ass-rapes you during TFH and politely asks for more money to see the next two shitty installments. Okay, rant has started and I'm still in the intro paragraph. Moving on...

The Enchanting Prelude to The Lord of the Rings starts off with a fucking commercial for The Lord of the Rings by Sir Peter Robert Jackson, ONZ, aka THE GREAT SATAN, stylized as George Lucas in the common speech. A few years back, oh say, 2001, I saw this flick called The Fellowship of the Ring, a fantasy film by this dude best known previously for movies about aliens who ate each other's puke and pornographic puppet shows. Out of obscurity he creates a trilogy of decent films that, while not without their warts (Faramir, anyone?), stuck fairly close to the recorded lore of Tolkien. Close enough that I can enjoy the films without getting too annoyed. When drunk, they are especially quite entertaining to watch. But now, The Fucking Hobbit comes along, rubbing into our collective faces 11 Academy Awards and billions of dollars in ticket and merchandising revenue, all within the first 10 minutes of the movie. Yeah, I get it, you made those other movies and they were great and loved and fuck you I don't give a shit anymore, I just want to see Bilbo and the dwarves. There was no need for a long, drawn out scene featuring Ian Holm and Elijah Wood talking about shit that happens in Fellowship, literally an hour after the conversation occurs. Strangely, this scene almost looks lifted right out of Fellowship, WHICH I SUPPOSE CREATES THE ILLUSION OF ONE CONTIGUOUS FILM OF EPIC LENGTH. You know, how Obi Wan goes to Tatooine and drops off Luke with his fake uncle, even though it's his real uncle in Star Wars? Yeah, sort of like that. In fact, Bilbo isn't Frodo's real uncle, either; they are, in fact, cousins and Frodo is Bilbo's adopted heir. You know that, don't you. Everyone does. Us pedantic nerds who get pissed when someone fucks with Tolkien's vision feel no need to bring it up because it's not really relevant to The Hobbit since that story happened years in the past. SATAN doesn't bring it up, either, but he does feel the need to bring up bullshit that happened during The Fellowship of the Ring because for some reason most of that crap was left out in the beginning of Fellowship. I honestly hate the intro, I really do. Show me fucking dwarves and a hobbit and Gandalf.

So after the infomercial to purchase the extended LotR on Blu-Ray, some crap happens right out of The Hobbit. Haha just kidding, it's more bullshit. They did get the song the dwarves sing cleaning up Bag End right (oddly enough), and the other song sung about the mountain is done pretty well. Although, no instruments; why? Also, no colored hoods but Dwalin has fucking tattoos all over. WHY? I don't need edgy dwarves, I need dwarves with brightly colored hoods and instruments. Who cares. The beards, though...no. Kili barely has a five o'clock shadow. That's not a fucking beard. Sorry, hipster douchebags. For some reason, Thorin is being chased from the start by the PALE ORC, who is named Azog in the film. If I remember my Middle Earth history correctly (and I usually do), Azog did in fact kill Thror and Thorin did in fact attack Moria and Azog did in fact die by the hand of Dain. So why the fuck is he following Thorin around on wargs? That doesn't make any sense at all. Oh wait, yes it does: this is a repeated scene from the idiotic part of The Two Towers where Aragorn falls off a cliff when facing goblin-ridden wargs. Gotta add that part to the movie so Thorin is forced by Gandalf to escape to Imladris, against his will, and get all pissy with Elrond. I guess in the book where the dwarves actively seek out Rivendell and are on good terms with the high elves wouldn't make for good reality television so what the fuck ever. Around this point of the movie I was highly annoyed because there was an interlude featuring Radagast and a sickly hedgehog, attacked by giant spiders. Then he discovered Sauron in Dol Guldur whilst being pulled around by rabbits on a sled. I couldn't make that shit up. Fine, whatever, I have no issue with this part of the film to be perfectly honest as it gives some insight as to why Gandalf takes off during The Hobbit (he was fighting The Necromancer), and Radagast is as good a character as any to figure out Sauron is back. FORESHADOWING with Saruman so we know he's an evil fuck whenever we get around to watching LotR on Blu-Ray this holiday season. Even though Saruman was corrupted by Sauron due to hubris on his part, not through any maleficent intent. Is it so hard, SATAN, to just let the corrupting power of the ring and Sauron shine through? Why must Saruman be evil from the start? He's certainly not stupid, nor a bad guy, which makes Sauron that much scarier. If dudes like Saruman can be corrupted, it makes Frodo and Sam that much more innocent. Right? Right? Nahh, fuck that. It's just a commercial for LotR on Blu-Ray, extended versions on sale at Walmart for a reasonable price.

Elrond comes off as a massive dickhead, and tells Thorin not to go to the mountain. Why? It's HIS FUCKING KINGDOM, and Elrond isn't a dumbass. If Smaug took over Rivendell, I'm sure no one would have a problem with Elrond going in and kicking his ass out. That is just stupid and it pissed me off, but hey, you know, elves vs. dwarves. There has to be real animosity there as opposed to just plain old Jews. vs. Catholics post-Inquisition dislike. Except the dwarves were never murdered by the elves, it was the Muslims I mean orcs doing all the killing. Or something. It's easy to draw religious parallels to the movies made by SATAN, but it was never in Tolkien. Christ, I'm just pissed and ranting again. I need to finish this up quickly before I smash my monitor. Anyway, the best part, and of course I mean the very worst part, is when Gandalf has to convince Thorin to show the map (yeah, you know which map) to Elrond so he might be able to decipher it. What. Elrond, you know, one of the most powerful, benevolent individuals in the world who forgot more shit than most people ever know and can read 98345798347789 languages and has ridiculous resources and a memory of history from thousands of years ago. Yeah, Thorin says fuck you, loremaster, I don't want your help. What. Oh yeah, more racial tension! I glossed over the part where Elrond rides in after killing the goblin-ridden wargs chasing the dwarves which forced them into Rivendell in the first place, but who cares...the dwarves get on guard in case those evil Catholics I mean elves attack and try to steal their Jew I mean dwarf gold. Speaking of dwarf gold, Thror is painted out to be a greedy fuck, obsessed with gold to the point that he grows mad and Smaug attacks to get some of that treasure. The other dwarves cannot understand his obsession with treasure. Did you ever actually read any of those books, SATAN? Dwarves love gold and that's it. All of them. Fuck it, I don't care anymore.

So blah blah blah, meet the Great Goblin, who is a fat idiot. Bilbo gets lost because he actually escapes but then falls into a pit. This is right after he tries to go home. Yes, he has second thoughts about the whole thing and tries to sneak out on the dwarves. You know, after he already signed a contract. There's no need to explain why that undermines Bilbo's character completely as I already alluded to Faramir earlier and that's enough. Fucking retarded. Yeah, the dwarves escape from the Great Goblin's lackeys after Gandalf kills him. Of course, the riddle game with Gollum happens during this time, and this part of the movie is actually fine. I thought it was well done, right up until the part where Bilbo kicks Gollum in the head on his way out of the mountain. Then they're chased by goblin-ridden wargs again, lead by Azog who is dead but makes an appearance anyway because we need a segue into the next film. In lieu of simply writing about the final scene, I decided to paste that portion of the script to save some time. It should be evident from reading said script what the issues are with this part of the film.



EXT. TREES ON SHEER CLIFF NEAR DARK

DWARVES are being chased by GOBLINS on WARGS, led by AZOG, a goblin with pent up animosity toward THORIN, leader of the dwarves.

Azog finds the dwarves hiding in the trees, trying to escape being eaten.

AZOG
Come down, dwarf, and I shall kill you!

The trees begin burning after GANDALF starts throwing lit  pinecones at the wargs and goblins. The dwarves appear frightened.

    GANDALF
*whispers something to a moth*

The dwarves are thrown around as the trees are toppled by wargs. Thorin gets a murderous intent in his eyes and attacks Azog. The warg Azog is riding picks up Thorin and throws him around, just like when Aragorn got fucked up in The Two Towers. Just watch that part to see what I'm talking about.

DWARVES
Thorin! Oh no! Oh my! etc. etc.

BILBO picks up STING, an elvish blade without a name because it's not actually a sword or something and stabs a goblin before it can kill Thorin. Azog is pissed but right before he attacks again a squadron of F-14s flies over in formation. The F-14s begin picking up the dwarves with their talons and carrying them to safety, dropping them on the deck of an aircraft carrier somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

As Bilbo and Gandalf climb down, they see their wingmen on the deck. Thorin is looking in Bilbo's direction. His face is inscrutable. Bilbo gets mobbed, but pushes over to Thorin. They stare at each other for a moment, eye to eye even as they are buffeted by the crowd. Finally, Thorin breaks...a grin.

THORIN
I guess I owe you one.

BILBO
You don't owe me anything.
We're on the same team.

THORIN
You can be my wingman any time.

BILBO
No. You can be mine!

Thorin laughs and embraces Bilbo. Kenny Loggins plays a guitar solo in the background as the screen fades to black.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Some Additional Thoughts on a Game I'll Never Run

Last post about this was back in January, but I had some weird dreams last night after staying up way too late watching the Aggies hold off La-Tech and win, in the exact opposite manner of last season in which they would have found a way to lose. Anyway, a lot of this stuff comes from Tunnels & Trolls, MERP and a few other sources. It's definitely more "pulpy" that a straight fantasy game, which is sort of the point.

1) Revised ideas about classes and magic and stuff...basically dump everything but fighters, thieves and wizards. All wizards must follow some sort of thematic spell-casting and come up with cool names for their spells. Say the wizard is a "fire mage"; he can cast Magic Missile as a spell, but must call it "Bolt of Flame" or whatever. Thieves are pretty much like T&T rogues, and Cugel the Clever would be the prototype.

2) Adding Hunters as a class to replace Rangers. Essentially just combining assassins and fighters, with a few tweaks. Paladins are gone.

3) ALL spells are rolled into one pool. This means wizards can in fact cast from "cleric" lists, but it takes up a slot. I suppose they'll have to decide if they want to cast fireball or a CLW.

4) Going with #1, all wizards must select a patron in order to receive spells. This means that, yes, all spell casters that I'm calling wizards are really priests/clerics. Must fit with the theme they chose. Due to #5, they get to pick a granted power. Patrons will teach how to cast a spell, but no book is necessary most of the time. Basically this means spells are more like math formulas, not some external force. Thieves and hunters can learn some minor magic if they spend the time to do so; fighters lack the proper mental patterns. Anyone can read scrolls. Getting spells from patrons that don't fit within their sphere of influence will be nigh impossible, but a wizard can learn it some other way if they're persistent.

5) To reiterate an earlier point from months ago, undead will exist but characters will have no power over them, i.e. no Turn Undead. I'm going to use them like Tolkien did, though. Wights will attempt to charm people, wraiths are Nazgul, etc. No level drains as although I like them, they're honestly a pain in the ass to run properly. Also, I think undead are overused in the extreme, which makes them pedestrian rather than something to be legitimately feared.

6) All characters can wear whatever armor they can afford. Thieves/hunters get penalties to some of their skills (Unearthed Arcana was good for something). Only fighters get their DEX bonus when wearing armor. Fighters also improve their AC by one step, so Platemail would provide a base of 2 instead of 3 for a fighter. All characters can also use whatever weapons they wish.

7) Magic items are usable by anyone if they know the proper procedure. Unless the instructions are printed on the side, it'll require trial-and-error to get anything to work.

8) Max of 14th level for all classes, using the B/X charts for thief skills (thanks, ACKS!) I'll have to revise the spell-casting charts, but any spell higher than 6th level is beyond the power of a patron to provide. Hit-dice are AD&D, and CON bonuses are gained every level except 1st. At 1st level, characters start with CON number of hit points instead of rolling a die.

9) There will be a "monster" character class. Basically if you want to play some sort of monster, okay. Abilities will be gained at a reasonable pace according to type.