Archive for October, 2014

Z Nation – The re-review

October 25, 2014

Okay, I don’t normally re-review things I’ve already reviewed, but I have to say that Z Nation is really shaping up to be a fun zombie show (here’s my earlier review, in case you’re interested).  Note that the emphasis is on fun, not gut-wrenching horror and drama.

Z Nation is a little corny, a little campy, a little silly and a whole log of grindhouse.  Things like Z-nados (with gratuitous reference to the Sharknado movies, of course), or the Liberty Bell crushing a bunch of zombies, or a zombie scrunched up into the wheel-base of a Deuce-and-a-half Army truck (still alive and clawing for brains, natch), or the “savior” of humanity who’s slowly transforming into a zombie-human hybrid thing.

Yeah, it’s not all fun-and-games.  There’s a fair amount of guts and gore (lots of zombie headshots…with guns, not cameras), and a little tragedy too (though not to the level of the Walking Dead).  Walking Dead is a fine show, but man it can be really depressing at times.  Z Nation is just fun to watch all of the time.

And it’s great fodder for your next zombie apocalypse survival RPG game. 😉  If you like zombies and you haven’t checked Z Nation out yet, you owe it to yourself to at least give it a try.  Cheers.


Borderlands Pre-Sequel

October 18, 2014

borderlandspresequelThe new Borderlands game has been my obsession the last week.  The game is set between the events of Borderlands 1 and 2, detailing the rise of Handsome Jack (the main villain in Borderlands 2).  It’s set on Pandora’s moon, Elpis, so it introduces a number of new game features, such as low gravity and oxygen requirements.

What I like:

  • New environment – not just ‘moon’ terrain and low gravity, but things like methane lakes and jet plumes of various gasses
  • New guns – LASERS! and cold-base weapons that freeze enemies (laser shotguns are particularly cool)
  • The Grinder – My favorite addition – instead of just selling all those crappy guns you don’t need, now you can ‘grind’ them up and get a better gun; a much needed addition to the series
  • The story is interesting so far; my take is it will tell the story of Handsome Jack’s transformation from a pretty decent chap into an insane master villain
  • The same sense of dark humor, though the Pre-Sequel doesn’t seem quite as funny as B2
  • CL4P-TP is now a playable class! (about time)

What I Don’t Like:

  • Quest lines that just go on forever, sending you this way that that; it makes it hard to just jump on for a few minutes and do a mission or two
  • Jumping puzzles – I really hate jumping puzzles in FPS’ (not least because I suck at them), and a big portion of the Pre-Sequel is built around exploiting the new low-G mechanics…which means lots of various jumping puzzles 😦
  • Return of most of the things I didn’t like from the first two games, such as being sent back to the same areas for new quests over and over again
  • CL4P-TP’s class abilities seem awfully random…too random for my tastes

If you liked the first two Borderlands games, you should like this one too.  If you hate Borderlands, there’s nothing in the Pre-Sequel that will change your mind.

Big Ass Spider!

October 10, 2014

bigasspsiderAt first glance Big Ass Spider! is just another cheesy Syfy Channel monster movie exclusive, and it certainly looks it.  However, it’s probably more accurate to say BAS! is really more of a spoof of Syfy Channel monster movie exclusives.

As you can guess from the title, the movie is about a giant mutant spider that grows to epic proportions, and the efforts of a professional exterminator to kill it (with the help of the U.S. military 😉 ).  The film quality is roughly equivalent to a Syfy Channel movie, maybe a touch better.  You’ll recognize a couple of character actors in it, but not really any famous stars.

BAS! is a horror comedy, so it has equal parts humor and creepy spider-attacks.  For a comedy it has a fair amount of gore and scary scenes, so probably not a good movie for the kids to watch.  The story holds together fairly well, and the dialogue is decent, but not great.  The best lines come from the interactions between the pest exterminator hero Alex Mathis (Greg Grunberg) and his Mexican-American security guard partner, Jose Ramos (Lombardo Boyar).

It’s a fun little movie, though if you go into it expecting a serious horror movie, or a major Hollywood production, you will be severely disappointed.  If you don’t like spiders, you should probably skip this one.  And as a source of inspiration for RPGs, I’m contemplating a “spider-pocalypse” (or maybe “bug-pocalypse”) setting, something a little different from the usual zombies, cannibals and mutants.

BAS! is available on Netflix, if you’re interested.  Cheers.

5th Edition Mutations

October 6, 2014

5theditionmutationsThe following is a first pass at a list of mutations using 5th Edition D&D rules for a post-apocalypse setting.  Most of the mutations are beneficial, some are detrimental and a few are just benign.  Many are combed from monster and class abilities already present in the PHB and MM, others are inspired by other sources and a few I made up myself.

Please note, I’ve made no attempt to balance these mutations; some are vastly superior to others.  It’s not really intended that you slap these mutations onto standard 5th Edition characters, though you can certainly do so if you wish.  I may (or may not) eventually roll this out to a more fleshed-out PA setting…well see.

Here you go:  5th Edition Mutations



5th Edition Monster Manual

October 4, 2014

DnD_MonsterManualReceived my copy of the 5th Edition MM yesterday.  Overall it’s a beautiful product.  The artwork is, for the most part, very well done and the layout is easy on the eyes.  The book includes a nice selection of standard D&D monsters, even some of the ‘oddball’ monsters from the Fiend Folio, such as the mighty Flumph.

However, most monster descriptions still take up an entire page, even the lowly Goblin, which seems like a lot of page space to cover a monster that will, in all likelihood, be dead in a few minutes. To be fair, the actual stat blocks are smaller than their 4E/Pathfinder counterparts, with fewer moving parts as well.

One nice thing, the description section is broken up into smaller sub-sections that are easier to find and digest.  Also, for the most part, the ‘descriptive’ part won’t be needed during play, though it may provide inspiration when designing an adventure.

While the MM is an essential part of the game if you’re making the change to 5th Edition, if you’re happy with your current edition of choice you won’t find anything new in the MM to port over to your game.

The Equalizer

October 1, 2014

theequalizerHad a chance to see The Equalizer today.  I remember watching the TV show back when, though I don’t recall a lot of details about it now, so I can’t say how well the movie follows the pattern of the series.

What I can say is that Denzel Washington is awesome, and the movie is both violent and bloody.  Much more bloody than I expected.  That doesn’t bother me much, but if you don’t really like blood and gore, you may not like The Equalizer.

The movie is a tad too long; they probably could have shaved a few minutes off the beginning of the movie and it wouldn’t have hurt the story one bit.  Also, when Denzel’s Robert McCall is dispatching Russian mobsters, he does so with a dispassion bordering on the psychopathic, which is a little off-setting for someone who’s supposed to be equalizing the odds for the little guy.  Chloe Grace Moretz has an underwhelming role of a Russian prostitute-victim whom McCall decides to help, and who basically disappears during the heart of the story.

Still, it’s an enjoyable, if bloody, action film that starts a little slow but soon gains momentum.  If you’re a fan of Denzel Washington or violent action movies, it’s easily worth the price of a matinee ticket.


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