Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Its like going to the frelling mechanic

My bike's back tire went kaput yesterday. So today I brought it into the bike store to get a new tube. But it also turned out that I needed a new back tire, since my old one was worn out. And I needed new break pads as well. And a new U-lock.

I didn't buy the U-lock. But...gah. Its like going to the mechanic for an oil change and having him charge you $5000 for overhauling your engine becuase "it weren't runnin' right, mac". I went in intending to spend $15. I spend three times that.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

All that Glitters

My friend, James, mailed me his copy of Defiants, the Defiance sourcebook for Brave New World last week.

It arrived today. In perfect condition. The man knows how to care for his books.

Aside from the Guide's Screen, with its 60 page adventure, I now have the entire game. I have no wish to get the Guide's Screen.

Collection complete.

Its really great to have all the books together. At some point I'll sit down and read them all, all the way through. At the moment, though, even just flipping through them the overall setting story makes a LOT more sense.

One of the big problems with BNW was that the metaplot progressed as the books progressed, but the books were ALSO sourcebooks for organizations and places. So if you didn't want the Covenant in your game, and didn't buy the Covenant sourcebook, then you missed out on the metaplot that was in there. If you weren't running a game in Crescent City, and thus didn't buy the Crescent City book, you missed out on the metaplot there.

Now, Forbeck was decent about this. While he only released a little metaplot, and a little actual plot, at a time, he DID make each book, by and large, useful to players. Every book (except Bargainers and Covenant) had 5 (or in the case of the corebook, Ravaged Planet, and Glory Days, 10) power packages, and a good amount of detail on the organization, area, or setting.

Even so, though, mining for the actual plot of the game was infuriating. There were all these conspiracies running behind the scenes, up to and including the quesiton of "where the hell do Deltas come from" (since it was always suggested there WAS something important there), and they were never fully answered. If anything, Covenant and Bargainers just raised MORE questions since you then had to ask where the angels and demons fit into all this.

Still, it was a decent game. Some of the power packages weren't great, but in the end most of the setting came together pretty well.

Ok, except there was one big question that I have:

Why the hell is everyone and their grandmother a Charmer?

A Charmer is a power package that gives you +10 to all perusuasion: charm checks. That amounts, normally, to at least two successes...if you build your starting PC right you're normally walking out of most perusasion rolls with 2-4 successes, on average. This is fine, except...

...half the NPCs are Charmers. And they got their powers in circumstances that don't make any sense. Ronald Reagan was thrown off his horse. Instead of becoming a Tough (and not getting hurt), a Teleporter (and vanishing before he hit the ground), a Goliath (see Tough), a Phaser (and going through the ground), or a Jungler (the horse stops trying to throw him)...he became a Charmer! The same thing with Martin Luthor King Jr. (took an assasin's bullet, came out with the ability to talk people into anything he wanted). And "The Yellow Journalist", a Defiance NPC (got hit by a car, came out being able to talk people into doing whatever he wanted). Forbeck had some really lousy origin stories for people. Not lousy because the situations suck, but lousy becuase the powers they got made ABSOLUTLY no sense. You don't get thrown off a horse and become fucking David Harstein (The Envoy from George RR Martin's Wild Cards novels).

That's my rant. Oh, and funny story: Matt Forbeck says he never read the Wild Cards novels. Who knew. His setting's awful close.

Now...I just need to get a group of players together...

Monday, January 23, 2006

Goddamned Elections

There's a Green Party candidate in my riding who looks like a younger version of the Smiler from Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan. I kid you not. I have photos.

Canadian voting is so simple its attempted to be fool proof. Name, checkmark. There are maybe 3-8 names on the ballot, with party affiliation listed underneath.

This is really an election of voting to keep the country from getting worse, not making it better. Its a vote to attempt stasis rather than an entropic decline into Bush-territory.

This election our candidates are:

Jack Layton
I don't know much about NDP policy, aside from the fact that they bankrupted my home province of British Columbia and managed to get people so crooked they were indicted and impeached in office for three candidates straight.

In appearence, Jack looks like he should be a union leader taking thick envelops of unmarked bills from a fat "legitimate" bussinessman named Vinny.

Paul Martin
Paul's the current man in power, and so far his Liberal party's been real wishy-washy on exactly what they stand for, though they're pretty firm on NOT standing for what the Conservatives stand for. The Liberals have held power for damn near a decade now, but they've been running the country for so long that they've become troublingly like the Democrats: they don't seem to have a clear platform, or a clear set of major issues. The main problem the Liberals have had is that their party has had several major scandals hit them smack in the face, mostly involving individual members of the party or very small groups, but one of the main ad tactics used against them has been to make them look like crooks, theives, and con-men.

In appearence, "Uncle" Paul has been sweating his way through debates and TV interviews. He tends to stammer a bit, and looks soft. Not in the way that some of the older Eastern European and Russian leaders have looked soft...but he honestly looks like he's floundering a bit. I'm told he held strong in the last debate, but unfortunatly Uncle Paul's quickly being replaced by Uncle Fluffy.

Stephen Harper
Sadly, the Tories have been the only party to present a solid platform. Some of the stuff they want, though...

...Harper is anti-gay marriage, anti-abortion, pro-military, pro-family, etc. A big part of the Conservative party's platform revolves around education spending for universities, and forcing unviersities to lower tuition. Funny story: He can't legally do that. Universities are the domain of the provinces. Another funny fact: most universities don't like Harper or the Conservatives, not surprising considering that Canadian universities have traditionally been very liberal institutions.

The Conservatives have also done a great deal of white washing of their more extreme right wing Christian candidates, which has been an issue ever since the more moderate right Conservative party merged a few years back with the far right, big time Christian Canadian Alliance party.

In appearence, Harper's the only one who LOOKS like he could lead a country. Looks a bit like the Smiler, but...well, actually. Everyone I've talked to, and I mean EVERYONE says that Harper feels...wrong. Creepy. He gives off a really weird vibe. Something just feels innately off about the guy. Its hard to explain.

...and the Conservatives have now won a minority. 122 seats next to the Liberals' 103.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Sky High, Brave New World style

Just got "Evil Unlimited" and "Crescent City" yesterday, and my friend James is mailing me his copy of "Defiance" because he doesn't play the game much anymore. I really appreciate it.

Anyway, as I said a while back, Brave New World can be used to stat out the folks at "Sky High" quite well. So I thought I'd do just that. Below is a rough list that I put together off the top of my head. I've included books refrences for power packages
BNW=Brave New World corebook
RP= Ravaged Planet (the player's guide)
DP= Delta Prime
CC= Crescent City
EU= Evil unlimited
GD= Glory Days (WWII sourcebook)
C= Covenant
B= Bargainers

Oh, of note is that Will Stronghold, the Commander, Jetstream, and Royal Pain are all built as Alphas (built using the author's suggestion of just throwing multiple packages together). They just seem to be on that level of power. A few of the characters I'm setting out as "betas", the equivilant to deuces in the Wild Cards novels. I'll give a brief explanation of what they do, but its so minor that it doesn't deserve a full package.

Will Stronghold- Scrapper x2, Flier x1 (BNW)
Steve Stronghold/The Commadner- Scrapper x5 (BNW)
Josie Stronghold/Jetstream- Flier x3 (BNW)

Layla- Jungler (GD)
Warren Peace- Blaster (BNW) (Note: I built Warren as a blaster for the extra Armor, and because he never seems to actually set things on fire...they just get really singed)
Ethan- Melter (Beta: Ethan turns into a puddle. In this form he cannot be harmed, but only moves at Pace 5)
Magenta- Shape Changer: Guinea Pig (Beta: Magenta turns into a medium-sized guinea pig, use identical physical stats to the Crescent City rats from CC)
Zac- Glower (Beta: Zac glows, its up to the discretion of the Guide if this is actually useful in a given situation)

Gwen Grayson/Royal Pain- Gadgetter (BNW), Genius (RP)
Lash- Stretch (CC)
Speed- Speedster (BNW)
Penny- Doubler (EU) (Note: Penny can make a LOT more than one double, I'd probably design it as an Easy (5) Spirit roll, where each success provides another double, or just a max number of doubles equal to her Spirit)

Coach Boomer- Screamer (RP)
Mister Medula- Gadgeteer (BNW)
The Nurse- Watcher (DP)
Mister Boy- Costumer (Beta: Mister Boy can costume up without using any of his actions in a given round)
Principle Comet-...not a clue, she turns into a fireball...I think

Freeze girl- Freezer (GD) (Note: The chick that Warren hooks up with at the end of the movie)
Ron Wilson: Bus Driver- Goliath (BNW) or Grower (Note: Grower would probably work in inverse to the Shrinker from RP...alternativly he could just be an alpha Goliath with LOTS of Size)
Larry- Goliath (Note: Larry can turn his power off, his Goliath form has additional levels of Ugly and Obvious to note that he turns into a rock monster)
Shapeshifting Kid in Powers Class- Changeling (Defiance)

Anyway, as you can see BNW works surprisingly well for statting out the characters in Sky High. I've been thinking a lot lately about starting up an online BNW game of one sort or another. Then again, if I'd had all these books last year and started Winthrop AFTER seeing Sky High I might have used BNW instead of DC Heroes. Certainly would have toned the PCs powers down a few notches.

Return to Kirby-writing

Latest unnamed script project is a bit of an experiment for me. Basically it shuffles between two sets of timelines, one written and drawn in the four-color style and the other done in a more modern format. The four-color stuff is all in flashbacks, but I've been writing it as cliched as possible. Every line that doesn't end in a question mark or being cut off ends in an exclamation mark. The heroes refer to each other solely by their ridiculous one-word codenames, and feel the need to state their superpowers, out loud, in their battle plans.

"My psychic-senses tell me that he's NOT LYING!"

Every four-color character should have an uncontrollable urge to shout out his powers at every possible interval. Most powers SHOULD have some sort of adjective in front of them, especially if it makes them sound odd or silly ("super-telekinesis", "mecha-vision", etc.). And everyone should furthermore have cliched, stereotypical catch phrases that they can throw out.

"Its no use, Red Sabre! Even if we pool our super-strength together we won't be able to lift that rock off the Blue Djinn!"
"Good thinking, Streetman! My animal telepathy should allow me to find out where Baron Destructo is hiding!"
"Ah, Gold Knight, your super-speed might keep you in the fight, but only my force fields will allow you to stay in the battle!"

Also, a team's leader should call all his teammates "chums", "buddies", "men", or "friends".

"Alright, chums, once more into the breach!"
"This is it, friends, the end of the road! We have to stop Doc Chaos NOW!"
"Men, we've had a long road getting here! But THIS is what we were born for!"

All villains, similarly, should directly refer to the heroes as "heroes", "fools", "whelps", "pathetic scum", or "foes". All villains, similarly, should have either a title or epithet. You're never just "Destructo", you're "BARON Destructo". And forget being "Reich", you're "COMMANDANT Reich". Don't even think about a name as pedestrian as Omega. No no, you'd be "Omega, THE LAST MAN". Lets see this in practice:

"Now, fools! Feel the power of BARON DESTRUCTO!"
"Ah, heroes, ve meet at last! I suppose you have been vondering vhat COMMANDANT REICH has planned for jou, ja?"
"Bow, weaklings! Bow before the might of OMEGA, THE LAST MAN!"

Another thing I'm trying to work around is sound effect. I don't normally use them, or at least I don't normally use them a lot, so putting in a surfeit of them where they're in almost every panel of a 16 panel fight scene is just...weird. Its a learning curve. But its fun. Its silly.

Sound effects are, I think, innately silly so its fun to rib on them a bit.

"BRRRRZZZZING!" goes the robot's laser weapon
"FAFFOOOM!" goes the hero's magic fireball
"ZAP-ZAP!" goes the ray-gun

And on, and on. Silly sounds. How often do you hear a "BRZING" in real life? Not often! But the way you use sound effects CAN suggest something about the scene. That quick "zap-zap"? It probably means that the raygun shoots really quick little energy bolts. That drawn out "brrrrzzzzzing"? The robot's laser weapon probably needs to charge up for a second. And that "fafoom" definitly suggests that the fireball's creating a big onrush of air.

I'm enjoying writing four color. Next to that the modern section will seem positivly pedestrian.

No no...not pedestrian. Shallow and pedantic (to quote Peter Griffin).

Shallow and pedantic indeed.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Not only am I sinner, I'm also a godless bourgoise pig

The Communists slipped fliers under my door.

I have a question to the Communist party:

We have not had a single working Communist state on Earth that had more than a hundred people. Every other Communist state has had some of the most startling human rights abuses to occur in the years following the end of WWII.

USSR, People's Republic of China, North Korea? Not exactly good arguments for the viability of Communism, people.

What was really funny was the flier had, on the front, something about democracy. Like how Communism would advocate democracy. Scratching my head on that one.

Now, don't get me wrong, I think the economy is bad and social stratification is slowly destroying mankind. I believe that the only way to save humanity and raise it up to the peak of its perfection is responsible anarchy (NOT an oxymoron)...

...but its been pretty well proven that Communism doesn't work.

Sorry, guys. I just can't bring myself to vote pinko this year. Better luck next time.

(also, refer back to "BEWARE THE COMMUNIST, CHILDREN!")

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Apparently, I'm going to Hell

There was a street preacher outside Sydney Smith hall today who was getting quite the crowd. He was there for 5 hours and during that time, while being heckled and sparred with, the mob around him managed to double the sales of a local hotdog vendor.

Also, apparently according to said preacher I'm going to hell for being...how did he put it? "Lying sinning adulterous thief" (apparently looking at a woman is considered "adultery"...literally, the guy said that if you looked at a woman and thought she was attractive you were comitting adultery...so...how does marriage work?). Eh. Whatever floats your boat man.

I've never been called a sinner before. I am amused.

What's really funny was that last night I had a class on "The Roman Spectacle". And a religious fanatic drawing a mob who are jeering, joking, and buying food is most DEFINITLY a Roman spectacle!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy 2006

It is now 2006.

Meanwhile I watch the supercheap season 3 of the X-Files that I got at HMV for thirty or fourty dollars. At least a sixty dollar discount.