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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Prepare To Assemble...



The Avengers looks like a fan boys dream; finally getting a team of heroes together like this - it's what we've all been asking for since the first superhero movies hit the big screen.

My only reservation is the big Transformer-like alien robot (or whatever it is) we see right at the end... I'd rather see the 'real' aliens that Loki is using to invade New York (or whatever is going on). Then again I'd also like to save some surprises for when I actually sit down to watch the film!

Flagging...


As I suspected, my current wavering health/sleep issues are catching up with me and so I'm going to take a break from regular blogging for a few days to get myself back on track.

Have no fear - I won't be gone long (I hope).

Wonder Woman Wednesday...

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Return Of The Original Crime Family...

You Can Have Your Staff Of The Magi Cake... And Eat It!



More words of wisdom from Bill Cavalier aka The Dungeon Bastard.

Doctor Who: The Android Invasion (1975)


When it comes to Doctor Who, you can't help wondering if Terry Nation was a bit of a one-trick pony: away from this show he created some fantastic serials, such as Blake's 7 and The Survivors, but in the core Whoniverse his only lasting contribution - and, let's be honest, it was a rather major contribution - was the creation of the daleks and their mythology.

His first non-dalek script was the risible First Doctor adventure The Keys Of Marinus and his second, 11 years later, The Android Invasion.

This fourth Doctor story sees The Doctor and Sarah-Jane returning to Earth, near the Space Defence Centre located outside the village of the village of Devesham, which Sarah visited two years before following up a story about a spacecraft going missing and its astronaut presumed dead.

Only something isn't quite right about the village. In fact it's totally deserted until a truck pulls up and unloads all the residents, who take up their positions and then 'spring to life' when the clock strikes twelve.

The perimeter of the village is also being patrolled by white-suited 'spacemen' who can shoot from their fingers - and it is these strange creatures who bring the villagers into Devesham.

So far, so "Avengers meets The Autons", but it's a bit rough round the edges - despite the great scene where the villagers all simultaneously "come back to life" - and proceeds to degenerate into more a shambles from there.

Of course the tension around "what's really going on in Devesham" is slightly undermined by the title of the story... but then don't all the dalek stories do that as well, by telling you who the Big Bads are for those particular tales?

The core idea of aliens creating a "testing ground" to hammer out their invasion plans is sound, but it's never really explained how this is supposed to help nor how their version of the Space Defence Centre manages to replicate the current staff, which includes The Doctor's friends Harry Sullivan and Benton, from UNIT, given that it's based on two-year-old data.

The cerebral mystery that we are challenged with (eventually) in the opening episodes falls apart into childish, illogical set-pieces ("oh, let's have The Doctor fighting an android replica of himself" etc)

Several of episode-ending cliffhangers are also rather lame, setting up supposed moments of jeopardy that, within moments of the next episode starting, turn out to not be an issue at all.

There are quite a few plot holes throughout this strange, tangled tale (such as, in the final episode of this four-part story, The Doctor's sudden acquisition of a 'robot detector' device - which might have rather handy earlier on. I like to think The Doctor was actually joking, as he does, and it was just a box with glowing light on).

One must also question the idea of creating this highly detailed replica village for the androids to inhabit when the alien "masterminds" behind the invasion plans - the Kraals - are going to use a deadly virus to wipe out humanity anyway.

I haven't even brought up the subject of the sudden use of dreadful CSO towards the end of the story or the shoehorning in of bizarre stock footage of the Saturn V launch that doesn't resemble, in the slightest, the spaceship that we see once it has landed.

The Android Invasion almost appears as though Terry Nation was deliberately trying to overcomplicate a typical Doctor Who alien invasion romp, just to prove he could write a decent story without the daleks in. Sadly he failed.

Monday, 27 February 2012

On Spartacus Tonight...

Game Of Thrones - Season Two: "Power And Grace" Trailer

Minimum Money March Begins Early...


This week begins the money-saving drive I'm cleverly calling "Minimum Money March" - the idea being, as if you haven't guessed, that I spend the minimum amount of money I can.

Although I have been unable to work for many years, I'm lucky in that I can get by on the health benefits I am entitled to and the good graces of my noble wife, Lady Rachel (who pays the bulk of the house bills etc).

However, at the end of last year I noticed my "geeky spending" had been steadily increasing and was in danger of exceeding my income.

Thus I am attempting, for the duration of March at least, to curb my eBay purchases, make no new purchases from Amazon or Forbidden Planet, and generally try to hang on to a percentage of what comes into my bank account - rather than immediately piss it away on the latest "must have".

It's not as if I'm running short of books and comics to read (the whole "no new fiction for 2012" drive was a dismal failure straight out of the starting gate), DVDs to watch, audiobooks to listen to etc

The second financial string to this month will be: "Make Money March". Again, this is something I've already started, but I intend to have a major push on eBay as a seller.

This is not only to bring in some extra sheckles but also to clear some room up here in the gamesroom so I can take a serious stab at tidying the place up, getting my shelves looking neat, free up some floor space (so it's not an assault course to get around the room) and so on.

What this could mean is that I might have less time to devote to the blog for the next few weeks, but we'll see how that shapes up.

Wish me luck!

Map-A-Monday: The Shire

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Celebrating Nick's Birthday The Traditional Way...

Vikings storm the beaches in a game of SAGA
For as long as I can remember, the Tunbridge Wells Wargames Society's annual show - aka Cavalier - has always been held around the time of Nick's birthday (which makes buying presents very easy), but this year it was actually on his birthday.

And I can't think of a better way for a life-long gamer to mark such an auspicious day as checking out the display games of 14 clubs and groups from around the region - ranging from mythological Summerian conflicts (with gods and monsters being fielded) through to the usual Warhammer 40K orky fun.

Between those extremes we had a small-scale (LOT of figures) recreation of The Alamo, a Star Trek space battle participation game, the usual French-Indian War display with the demonstrators decked out in full military uniform, a mass samurai combat and several Second World War displays.

Around the displays were a great crop of traders - including, I was very pleased to see, Crooked Dice (from whom I purchased some Clockwork Orange-y 'Eavies).

Co-incidentally, I also handed over to Neil, my painter of choice, a box of Crooked Dice not-Doctor Who and not-Blake's 7 figures, along with a handful of zombies (for use with 7ombie - to complete the Crooked Dice love-in). Hopefully he'll have these done by May/June time for some summer gaming.

Bit of news we picked up at Crooked Dice: the 7ombie spin-off, which was supposed to be a limited edition, has proved so popular that it is now to be reprinted.

I think Nick was rather impressed by the Crooked Dice material as well, so hopefully we'll eventually get to have a game of this.

You can never go wrong with planes on sticks!
We've always been fans of "planes-on-sticks" in wargames, but it did seem this year that every game set in an era where flight was possible featured a plane, helicopter or spaceship on a stick - which went over very well.

Purchases were kept to a minimum - I bought a mint second-hand copy of Warm Acre's Hour Of Glory game at the bring and buy stall (for a third of its retail price!), as well as my figures mentioned above. Nick didn't buy anything - although I got him a couple of Osprey books (of his choice, naturally) for his birthday.

We were only at the show for a couple, but I was starting to flag and Nick was heading over home for a birthday lunch with Clare and Alec, so I think it can be called a satisfying morning's work.

For more pictures of the games, check out my public Facebook album here.

Take Aim With Brave...



A two-and-a-half minute clip from the forthcoming Disney Pixar animation Brave.
Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. In Brave, a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) confronts tradition, destiny and the fiercest of beasts.
Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane).
Merida's actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Wise Woman (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it's too late.

She Has The Right To Bare Arms...

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Enjoy Four-And-A-Minutes Of John Carter...

Doctor Who: Invasion Of The Dinosaurs (1974)


The Third Doctor and Sarah-Jane Smith arrive in contemporary London (which could be any time from the 1970s to the 1990s, depending on how you date the UNIT stories), only to find the streets deserted and under martial law - being jointly enforced by the army and UNIT.

The reason for the evacuation of London's eight-million population - the sudden appearance of dinosaurs around the city!

Sarah-Jane and The Doctor are arrested as suspected looters before finding their way to UNIT HQ and meeting up with The Brigadier and his (obviously evil) superior General Finch (John Bennett). However, it is soon made clear to the audience - if not The Doctor - that there is a more serious viper in the "home team's" nest - Captain Mike Yates (Richard Franklin), back from leave after the stresses of The Green Death, has allied himself with the "bad guys".

However, the strength of this rather drawn-out story is that the "bad guys" are simply misguided and their overly elaborate scheme - which consists of several other overly elaborate schemes - has designs, albeit rather drastic ones, on making the world a better place.

Invasion Of The Dinosaurs suffers under a surfeit of the era's classic failings, particularly its tragic CSO special effects of rubber, barely-animated, dinosaurs "roaming" the streets of London, but also Jon Pertwee's Doctor is stupidly overly physical with his "Venusian aikido" and is given - for no reason except to give Pertwee a chance to drive around in it - the totally ridiculous "Whomobile".

This pointless contraption appears in one scene and then The Doctor is back to driving around in UNIT Land Rovers. There are a number of extended chase scenes to help pad out the running time as well; this is a solid four-episode plot stretched out to six episodes by sequences like these.

While The Third Doctor (thankfully) doesn't gurn much here or get to dress up in a silly costume, he does unfortunately  get to try out a couple of peculiarly unconvincing comedy accents.

The story primarily revolves around a conspiracy of which, thankfully, the "time-removed" dinosaurs are just a side issue. The Doctor quickly latches onto this, around the same time that he starts to suspect that someone is UNIT is working against him.

Soon after this, Sarah-Jane is kidnapped and wakes up on a spaceship three months out from Earth on the way to colonise a new world. That's when things take an interesting and unexpected left turn and this new element could almost of made a story on its own.

The core dilemma facing the people on the space ship is - if someone told you that you weren't actually on a space ship, but in an elaborate underground simulation, would you be brave enough to open the airlock?

Although this is addressed to a degree, I would have quite happily enjoyed more agonising over this quandary and less of the dire rubber dinosaurs (although, to be fair, their appearances are limited - but rather memorable, for all the wrong reasons).

The dinosaurs were clearly an idea too far for the limited resources of the BBC special effects department and when you look at the story's big picture you realise that another "disaster" to clear the streets of London could easily (and more convincingly) have been cooked up by the forces at work.

In a story called Invasion Of The Dinosaurs, the dinosaurs turn out to be as redundant as the Whomobile.

Luckily, woven between the cruddy effects and the padding, Malcolm Hulke still manages to lace his script with some pithy one-liners that allow the central family of characters - ie The Doctor, Sarah-Jane and the UNIT regulars - to create a wholly believable chemistry. For instance, you really believe The Brigadier when he defies orders and defends The Doctor from outside attacks.

There's a good story here with interesting "villains" (who genuinely believe they are doing a good thing for the world) that could have done with some serious editing and rewriting - for instance, Mike Yates' betrayal of his old friends is never really explained and would have made for some good character exploration in lieu of more scenes of Jon Pertwee driving.

King Arthur, the Young Warlord (1975)


Set in the Dark Ages a century after the Roman withdrawal from Britain, Arthur is not a great king with an elaborate court; instead, he is the chieftain of a small Celtic tribe who installs and maintains a Celtic alliance against the Saxon invaders. He is instructed by his adoptive father Llud and assisted by Kai, a Saxon orphan reared as Arthur's brother. His greatest rival is his cousin, Mark of Cornwall.  

Ladies & Gentlemen, We've Got The Whole World In Our Hands!


Real life has rather intruded on my usual Gentleman Of Leisure lifestyle this week, but I still managed to find the time to watch a few DVDs and draft some blog posts, although perhaps not as many as I would have hoped - and very few with any bearing on my Tekralh campaign for The Tuesday Knights.

That being said, as I've alluded to before, I don't want to "over design" the world they are exploring - via the Crypts & Things RPG - but rather concentrate on developing the adventure avenue they appear to be pursuing at present.

To be honest, with such a large gap between sessions at the moment, it's potentially rather disheartening to pour your soul into a campaign setting and not be getting any feedback back from the players (because, there is little for them to do 'outside the game' as they are temporally frozen mid-scenario).

In the meantime, please join me in a raucous shout of "huzzah" to welcome our latest recruits for the big adventure:

Friday, 24 February 2012

Fleamarket Friday: Jammie Dodgers Are Cool!

This £59.99 limited edition bust of the 11th Doctor holding a Jammie Dodger will only be available at the Official Convention next month and must be pre-ordered for collection at the Forbidden Planet shop there.

The Official Doctor Who Convention, organised by the BBC, takes place in the Millennium Centre, Cardiff, Wales, on March 24 and 25 and offers visitors the chance to meet the current TARDIS crew!

Yes, that's right, Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill - as well as showrunner Steven Moffat and a bevy of supporting actors (including the awesome Mark Sheppard of LeverageSupernatural, Warehouse 13, Battlestar Galactica etc fame) and behind-the-scenes bods who help bring the magic to life.

Tickets are £99 per day and limited to 1,500 - sadly Rachel and I are unable to make it (secretly, I suspect she fears I will run off with Karen Gillan) - but you certainly get a lot for your money.

Check out the official site.

Have You Had Your Say Yet?


The I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters... reader survey has been going for less than a week and already the uptake is quite impressive, but if you haven't had your say yet I'd love to hear from you.

Here's a new way to take the survey...

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Can't Keep Up With All The OSR News?


This week I came across a handy Old School Renaissance aggregator site: Alex Schroeder's Old School RPG Planet.

It publishes a healthy chunk of each new article from a very extensive list of old school role-playing blogs, before linking back to the source blog, and appears to be a very handy resource for overviewing our ever-growing sector of the blogosphere.

The site apparently updates every four hours, but there's always plenty to read.

Well worth checking out and keeping an eye on.

Fleamarket Friday: Rare Gem From The Tékumel Vaults...


A copy of Professor M.A.R. Barker's original manuscript for Empire of the Petal Throne, produced in the Spring of 1974, is now available as a $15 PDF download from DriveThruRPG.

Known as the "green cover" or "mimeo" version, it was produced in a limited and confidential run of fifty copies and this is the first time it has been made available to the general public.

This rules set is a precursor to the game published by TSR and has a number of significant differences from that later version.  However, in many ways it is substantively similar to the TSR version, and is being presented more as a historical document than as a different product.

This netbook was prepared from a copy taken directly from Prof Barker’s archive, and is presented with each facing page containing the text of the original manuscript.

Jury Still Out On Wrath Of The Titans...


Wrath Of The Titans explodes in three-dimensions into cinemas next month, but will it be able to salvage anything from the trainwreck that was it's precursor - the totally unnecessary remake of Clash Of The Titans?

Parts of the trailer look half-decent in a Dungeons & Dragons-y man-versus-giant-monster sort of way, but a lot of it looks like a CGI mess on a par with the first movie.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Doctor Who: Paradise Towers (1987)


The TARDIS swimming pool has been ejected because of a leak, but Mel wants to go for a swim and so The Seventh Doctor takes them to the 'utopian' Paradise Towers, an award-winning futuristic self-contained habitation.

Only when they arrive the reality falls well short of the sales brochure pitch - the corridors of the run-down building are covered in graffiti and populated by teenage girl gangs (the Kangs), cannibalistic old-timers, officious Caretakers and ever-hungry Cleaner robots that have developed a taste for human flesh.

Stephen Wyatt's delirious script is a mix of Judge Dredd (run-down, tower block communities) and A Clockwork Orange (teen gangs with their own patois) filtered through Hitch-hikers Guide To The Galaxy via Monty Python and Fawlty Towers.

Trying to keep everything in order is the rather deranged and fascistic Chief Caretaker (a wonderful performance from Richard Briers), enforcing the strict commands of the official handbook of rules for Paradise Towers through his legion of grey-suited Caretakers.

When he encounters The Doctor he immediately declares the Gallifreyan is actually "The Great Architect" Kroagnon who designed the towers - and must be put to death (for fear that he will want to change everything that the Chief Caretaker has put into place to get the towers running "just how he wants them").

Meanwhile annoyingly screechy Mel has wandered off, met some not-so-harmless old ladies and teamed-up with the towers' cowardly, self-appointed vigilante Pex (Howard Cooke), who she hopes will be able to guide her to the 304th-floor swimming pool where she had arranged to rendezvous with The Doctor.

Darkly comedic with some wonderfully witty word-play, Paradise Towers looks as though it shouldn't work - with its heavily '80s-influenced view of the future - but the central simplicity of the the plot at the story's heart sees it through with gusto.

Sylvester McCoy's first true outing as The Doctor - post-Time And The Rani - allows the actor a freer rein with the character and we start to see the darker edges of his iteration showing through, mixed in with his penchant for clever physical humour.

If it wasn't for Bonnie Langford's migraine-inducing turn as Melanie Bush, Paradise Towers could almost be regarded as a genuine masterpiece with its clever theme, snappy writing, subtle horror and black comedy.

John Carter - "Virginia" Clip...



A clip from John Carter showing the Earthman's first encounter with Tars Tarkas. They are both having some difficulties with the language barrier.

Green With Envy?


Guess what came knocking at my TARDIS door while I was in deep space this morning?

Yes, my very own Time Lord "hypercube" - complete with the Corsair's Ouroboros symbol (as seen in Neil Gaiman's superb Doctor Who story The Doctor's Wife)!

Actually it came from the sale at Character Options - the nice people who make all the Doctor Who action figures, play sets etc

It's roughly 4" by 4" by 4". Not quite so impressive in daylight, but in the dark it really shines - and when you tap it, it changes colour (I'm easily amused). Or you can set it to "white glow" or "white flicker". Not bad for £7.49.

Even Rachel - who took the photograph - was moderately impressed.

Go on, you know you want one...

Is This Not One Of The Greatest "Car" Designs Ever?


This short film about The Dynasphere is a combination of two British Pathe news reel clips from the 1930s.

The Dynasphere is, of course, only one mad scientist away from this...


Which, naturally, leads to this...


We were so close...

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

D&DVD Of The Week: Dawn Of The Dragonslayer (2011)


There have been in the past and, no doubt, will still be in the future many, many films about the ultimate fantasy stand-off of man against dragon - but Dawn Of The Dragonslayer, from Arrowstorm Entertainment, stands up as one of the best.

The first part of their proposed Paladin Cycle (the second part of which has just finished principal photography and was the subject of a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign), Dawn Of The Dragonslayer introduces us to rugged hero Will Shepherd (Richard McWilliams), whose father is a slain by a dragon prompting Will to carry out his old man's final wishes - leave their mountain home for the lowlands where he is to train as a knight with Baron Sterling (Ian Cullen).

However, arriving at Sterling's castle, Will finds it run-down and home only to the crusty old baron, his three obnoxious servants and his strong-willed - and very cute - tomboyish daughter, Kate (Nicola Posener) - who, somehow, manages to become increasingly cuter as the movie progresses.

The slimy noble Rogan Ap Cynan (the excellent Philip Brodie) is also sniffing around, as he has his eyes on Kate as a way to seize her father's land, but luckily soon after Will's arrival Sterling's elderly cousin, Lady Spriggs (Maggie Daniels), turns up - and takes a protective shine to Will.

Although, ultimately, the quest to slay the dragon is the main story here, the various character interactions and emotional journeys of the personalities in and around Sterling castle make for fascinating viewing due to the wholly convincing and charismatic performances of all concerned.

In fact it is the inherent "Truth" in the project, the film's verisimilitude, that makes it stand out. The pacing may be a bit slow for juvenile audiences expecting all-action all-the-time, but Dawn Of The Dragonslayer is so well-made that belief is suspended without question and the small-scale power games come to the fore, with the dragon almost an irrelevance.

Sadly, as is often the case with this genre, it is really only when the dragon is being fought in close-up that the CGI is pushed a tad too far and the cracks start to show - conversely, when seen in the distance, circling in the fog, the dragon is a genuinely threatening monster.

Even when the storyline - and sometimes the dialogue - strays slightly into cliché, the entirety of Dawn Of The Dragonslayer overpowers these occasional - and rare - weaker moments.

Writer/director Anne K Black has also taken the time to weave Will's story into a well-thought-out world - with a number of Dungeons & Dragons-style "character classes" being name checked through the script from the mystical, dragonslaying paladins to the magically-gifted (and feared) conjurers.

As well as contributing to the established verisimilitude of this picture, theis attention to detail presumably helps lay the ground work for the next picture (The Crown And The Dragon) and the rest of the Paladin Cycle.

It may lack the grandeur (and budget) of, say, Game Of Thrones but not the heart and, like that magnificent television serial, it too makes excellent use of the Irish countryside for its memorable settings.

GAME MATERIAL:


Prayer Cloth: Inscribed with prayers to a thousand gods, these rare items offer their owners a degree of enchanted protection. As long as carried somewhere on the person, the cloth grants its owner a magical luck bonus of +1 to Armour Class and all Saving Throws/STAT checks.

Take A Leap Of Faith With John Carter...



A trio of scenes from John Carter to get you into that Martian frame of mind...

Wonder Woman Wednesday...

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Game Of Thrones Season Two: Invitation To The Set

Spartacus: Vengeance - Episode Five Preview



GAME MATERIAL:

A new combat 'style' for Fighters (see page 13 of Crypts & Things rules) - unlike other 'styles' this can only be taken at first level and the character's backstory must revolve heavily around him or her being a gladiator (either as a slave or a freeman seeking to clear his debts etc).

UNARMOURED COMBAT: The character's gladiatorial training means, when not wearing any armour, his natural Armour Class is improved by +1 per level (up to a maximum of +10 at tenth level). He may use a shield, but the moment he puts on any form of armour his "style" bonus is lost. Any Armour Class bonus from high Dexterity is unaffected by this style.

A Shirt For All Occasions...


Maybe mid-winter isn't the traditional time to buy new T-shirts, but I was having a clear-out of my overstocked T-shirt drawer and felt "what better time to get some new ones?"

The Doctor Who one above, and the U.N.I.T. one were a "two for £20" deal at Play.com while the Fringe Division one came from Meta-Cortex (who I've never used before but were incredibly efficient; the shirt being posted after the Play.com ones, but arriving before!)


Although I'm only a short guy, I tend to buy XL T-shirts these days as, unless they are V-necked, they rub against the scars on my throat - which can be very irritating.

Monday, 20 February 2012

On Spartacus Tonight...

Variety Is The Spice Of Railways...


This weekend was the annual Tonbridge Model Railway Exhibition and this year Rachel and I were joined by Rachel's parents (her father having built Rachel's Midale layout and her mother, a dolls house enthusiast like Rachel, enjoying the miniatures aspect).

One of the many things that continues to amaze me about this show is the freshness of the exhibits - there were no display layouts this year that I recalled seeing in previous years (or even at other shows).

There was also the usual great variety of scales, from Z right up to O, as far as I could tell, and while my eye tends to be drawn more to the minutiae of the detailing around the tracks, rather than the trains themselves, it was interesting to note a number of lay-outs based on historic, local settings.


There was also at least one nice layout based on St Ettienne en Caux in eastern Normandy, but my favourite layouts had to be the verdant Hythe layout (one of the 'local settings' resplendent in greenery and detail) and, at the other end of the spectrum, the moody, industrial setting of Aldford, a Midlands coal mining area and wharf. This latter lay-out had a lot of water, canals, barges and - being set at night - was really well lit.


The small up-stairs segment of the exhibition, by the catering section of the sports hall, featured a delightful, little Welsh copper mining layout which is showcased in the film clip below:


If you want to see more pictures of the layouts, please visit my public Facebook album.

Map-A-Monday: The Lands Of Dream

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Breaking Into The Comic Book Industry With Brandon Montclare & Grace Randolph


Want to get into comic book writing? Host Grace Randolph is joined by ex-DC Comics/Vertigo Editor turned freelance writer Brandon Montclare as they discuss how you can get in a position to write comic books professionally. Montclare has recently written Fear Itself: Fearsome Four for Marvel and Randolph has a new comic book limited series debuting for BOOM Studios called Grace Randolph's Supurbia. Learn what it really takes to become a comic book writer, and the writing you need to do to make your goal a reality. Follow these writing tips to help you break into the comic book industry! Think About The Ink is presented by Bleeding Cool.

Red Sonja Sunday...


As a bit of a change from the usual, occasional Supergirl Sundays, here's an assemblage of hot actresses and Hyborian cosplaying with sundry lovelies as The She-Devil herself: Red Sonja.

Consider it a late, geeky Valentine's gift!

Well, I Do Like A Cuppa Every Now And Again...

Saturday, 18 February 2012

What Every Prospective Time Traveller Needs To Know...


Following yesterday's exciting revelations, Cubicle 7 contributor "pertwee" has given members of the Doctor Who: Adventures In Time & Space forum more insights into the forthcoming Time Traveller's Companion box set:
"And just to give you a sneak peek, here is a list of what's in the box at this stage:

The Player's Guide: For the players, including a chapter on Gallifreyan life and history, a chapter on advanced Time Lord creation and Regeneration, a chapter on Temporal mechanics and alternate time travel devices, and finally, a chapter that contains everything there is to know about a TARDIS. Each chapter supported by rules to use the various ideas discussed in your games.

The GM's Guide: This book contains a chapter called 'Dark secrets of the Time Lords' which gives an alternate, more accurate account of some of the events in the PG, including events that the average Time Lord won't know about. It also has information and stats for a number of Time Lord renegades.

The chapter on Temporal Mechanics is largely the same as the PG version, but includes a few extra time uncommon travel devices (like the SIDRAT) and helpful rules to adjudicate temporal phenomena and adventure seeds to inspire adventures set around them. The TARDIS chapter is also largely the same (to avoid the GM having to flip through two different books).

I just wrote and laid out the last chapter 'Think you've seen everything? think again...' which gives more alternate, optional rules, Gallifreyan NPCs and a collection of tables for those who do not have or cannot use the card decks.

The Card Decks: There are three card decks to be included in the box. The first is a regeneration deck, for handling this most pivotal of events in a Time Lord's lives. It also serves a secondary purpose, allowing GM's to create detailed NPCs on the fly.

The second is a Misjump Deck, for figuring out what happens when your trips through the Vortex don't go as planned.

The third is a TARDIS Damage Deck for those times when your TARDIS takes a beating.

Why cards? Well, there are a few good reasons. First, they're quicker than tables. Second they're more compact than tables, and third, they are easily expandable.

That last point is important, because, it allows you to tailor your campaign more easily. I can forsee additional locations being added into the misjump deck, new distinctive features being added into the Regneration Deck, or new systems being added to the TARDIS damage deck as those systems come up in the series. The possibilities for deck customization are pretty much limitless, whereas a table in a book is pretty much impossible to modify and rather predictable.

Data Cards: The GM's Guide has a section on 'Letting the Experts Speak' and these cards facilitate that. Basically, whenever the players encounter one of the temporal phenomena in the book, the person who successfully identifies it (most likely the Time Lord) gets a card with information pertaining to it that they can then share (or not) as they see fit, in character.

No GM infodumping necessary and characters can hold back info if, like the 7th Doctor, they need to for reasons their companions won't understand. Needless to say, there are blank cards for you to use for your own 'Expert Info,' which can really be anything.

The 11 Doctors: All the incarnations of the Doctor will have a character sheet in this box, including special rules for each incarnation that reflect that particular Doctor's strength and weaknesses, like the Third Doctor's dematerialization code mental block during his exile.
TARDIS Sheets: A record sheet for keeping track of your TARDIS, including little side slots to slide cards under to record damage. Another good reason for card decks."
Words cannot even begin to express the awesomeness of all this.

Of course, we must curb our enthusiasm slightly as it all needs to go through the BBC clearance process first.

But the cards alone are an amazing addition to the game and who could knock the inclusion of character sheets for every incarnation of the good Doctor himself?

I cannot wait for this to finally be available for purchase.

Who knows (pun intended) I might even get the Tuesday Knights into a game of this for the show's 50th anniversary next year...

I Want To Hear From You...

I have created a short, 10-question, reader survey about this blog, that will (hopefully) shape my ideas going forward with I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters...


It's totally anonymous and I won't sell your details to any white slavery organisations or back-street surgeons who will then turn up in the middle of the night demanding your kidneys.

Click here to take survey

I shall probably run this survey for a month or two, until I get enough results to make some form of educated opinion.


Please take a moment to tick a few boxes...
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