Archive for June, 2014

Transformers 4: Age of Extinction

June 27, 2014

transformers4Pretty much like the first three movies, only with Mark Wahlberg, Dinobots and a bit of Chinese government propaganda.  Lots of shooting and explosions, frenetic action, rapid-fire dialogue (difficult to understand most of the time) and a plot that barely rationalizes all the action and violence.

If you liked the first three Transformers movies, you’ll like this one, too.  If you hated them, stay far, far away from Age of Extinction.   Cheers.

Save the Villain

June 13, 2014

So, anyone who’s played D&D more than once knows that the PCs will kill the villain as soon as they get the chance.  True to murder-hobo form, they’ll even execute the guy if he surrenders, or is knocked unconscious (or is otherwise helpless).  After all, you know if you don’t kill the BBEG, he’ll just be back, bigger and badder than ever…loose ends and all (which makes the PCs sound rather villainous, doesn’t it?).

Of course, the players kill off the BBEG ASAP because, well, they’ve no reason not to.  They get the XP for defeating the villain (and his minions), as well as his loots, so why not tie up those loose ends?


Oops…no double XP for John McClane

But what if we give the players an incentive to not do the smart and logical thing?  If they players let the BBEG live, they get double XP for defeating him/her (or triple, quadruple…whatever it takes to make it worthwhile).  This only applies to major villains, and perhaps favored lieutenants, but not to the lackeys.

How exactly the villain “lives” can be left up to the GM and the players:  maybe the villain is imprisoned (and later escapes, natch), or a PC hesitates and the villain is able to make a hasty escape…whatever sounds cool, or works for the story.

So, the GM gets to keep a cool nemesis around for at least one more appearance, and the PCs have a reason to do the “right thing” (other than just being a bunch of chumps who let the bad guy get away).


Edge of Tomorrow

June 11, 2014

edgeoftomorrowSaw Edge of Tomorrow a few days ago.  Overall, it’s a decent action flick.  It’s not very deep, it won’t make you think much and, like most time-travel(ish) movies, doesn’t always make a lot of sense.  But it has plenty of explosions and shooting (if that’s your thing) and a touch of humor here and there (think Groundhog Day, with guns and aliens).

Tom Cruise is, well, Tom Cruise; he doesn’t really change much movie to movie.  I thought Emily Blunt did a fine job, though she is perhaps a bit underused here.

If you’re itching for an action movie, Edge of Tomorrow is worth the price of a matinee ticket (or just wait and Netflix it in a few months).  However, if you can’t stand Tom Cruise, or you’re looking for some deep, introspective movie, you’re better off skipping this one.


The 100

June 5, 2014

the100The 100 is a post-apocalyptic show on the CW.  And this write up is perhaps a bit late in coming, considering the season is almost over.  And it’s actually turned out to be a pretty decent post-apocalypse TV show.  Better, in some respects, than Revolution (which in many ways seemed to me to be more of a Western than a post-apocalypse show).  The 100 is sort of a mix of Lord of the Flies, meets Gamma World, meets <insert teen drama of choice>.

The premise is some time in our (near) future, there’s a nuclear war that wipes out civilization.  Thirteen nations have inhabited space stations, and 12 of those stations connect to form the Ark, an orbital habitat for the last remnants of humanity (or so they think).  There’s hints that something bad happened to the 13th station, which motivated the other 12 to join forces.

Resources are scarce on the Ark, so the rules are strict.  If you violate any of them, no matter how minor, they float you out an airlock.  Period.  But, if you’re under 18 when you break the law, they put you in a cell and then wait until you’re 18 to kill you (which, granted, doesn’t make a lot a sense for a space habitat with limited resources).  After about 100 years of this, the Council that runs the Ark discovers that the air system is failing and they’ve only got a few months left to figure something out.

So, they gather up all the under 18-year-olds they’ve detained, throw them into a lander and drop them on Earth.  It’s a reprieve for the kids (of sorts) and an experiment for the Ark to see if Earth can support life so they can return to the surface.

Of course, not everything goes according to plan.  They have a rough landing and loose communication, so it’s a while before they can inform the Ark that Earth is, indeed, inhabitable.  Meanwhile, there’s intrigue and betrayal aplenty on the Ark, as well.  Finally, it turns out people, called Grounders, survived the war, and they aren’t particularly nice.  Then throw in some mutated animals and plants, acid fog clouds, pre-war bunkers and bomb-shelters and so on, and you’ve got a decent setting for a post-apocalypse RPG game.

Except for the teen drama, of course.  Which is easily the worst part of the show.  Fortunately, I’m able to grit my teeth and bear a few minutes of young stupidity until they get back to the interesting stuff…like cannibalistic Reapers who live in old mine tunnels, or an old civil defense bunker with a cache of guns, or some other mysterious force with the technology to jam a navigation computer on a landing ship (causing it to crash).

Edit:  I thought I’d read that the show had already been cancelled, but then I just read that it’s been renewed for a second season.  Which is a good thing, because it seems to just be getting better as it goes (the post-apoc parts of it, at least).

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