Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Gods And Monsters


The game that I am going to be running after the holidays for the local people is going to be the Fate Accelerated urban fantasy game that I mentioned before. Here is the basic pitch/mission statement that I gave to the group:
Once Upon A Time...
Your characters were gods, or at least they might have considered themselves to be something like that. They were powerful beings who wandered a world that was simultaneously brighter and more dangerous than the world in which they now exist. There was magic, and monsters and many other things.
Now, you can still do some cool things, but it is nowhere near as cool as what you used to do.
Even though the setting is changed, your story isn't over. You aren't entirely sure why you are still around, other more powerful beings than yourself faded away a long time ago. You know that there are still others like you around. Some of them have adjusted, relatively, to their new stations, much like you have. Others want to try to change things back to the way that they were. Whether that is possible or not, it is hard to tell, but none of the plans have worked in the hundred of years that you can remember.
Maybe you're one of the monsters from the old world. Things are just as strange for you, as it is for the beings who used to be your enemies. You can hide yourself among the populace of the world, to some degree or another, so it isn't like you're "all monster, all the time."
Maybe you're one of those people that others claim never actually existed. They say that you're just a character from a book, or a children's story. You can't possibly be real. You feel real to you, and you remember your life in this world, as well as in the stories that everyone insist are made up.
The world is a strange place.
 I see it as a sort of American Gods meets Fables (or Once Upon A Time) sort of vibe.

My definition of urban fantasy is basically "horror without the scary." You use a lot of the genre conventions and archetypes of horror, but you treat it more like the fantasy genre. If you've never read Nancy Collins' Sonja Blue stories, this is sort of the approach that she took. I never really understood why she was marketed as horror, when she should be considered the Godmother of Urban Fantasy.



Jess Nevin's Red Planet For Fate Core


With apologies to the Sisters of Mercy:
Red
Red planet
Red
Red world
Yeah, that was bad. Anyway.

It is unfortunate that we don't see the depth and breadth of the science fiction market these days that we would have seen in bookstores 30 or 40 year ago. Once again we are in a phase where, if it isn't the new shiny and written by someone whose native language isn't one of the standardized forms of English we just don't see it. Russia, and the Soviet Union when it existed, has long been a source of thought provoking genre fiction that celebrated perspectives that we don't see from American or English writers.

The "golden age" of Soviet Science Fiction was a particularly optimistic branch of SF to boot, which I'm sure surprises anyone old enough to have grown up during some portion of the Cold War.

Red Planet is a new World of Adventure for the Fate Core rules, available at the OneBookShelf sites as a Pay What You Want PDF. Written by Jess Nevins of The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana and annotating Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen fame, the book is an exploration of the tropes of a nearly forgotten sub-genre of Science Fiction of the 1940s and 1950s from the former Soviet Union.

The PDF isn's a long one, only 64 pages in total, but it has a lot packed into those pages.

The science fiction that is celebrated by Red Planet is particularly pulpy, with echos of the American heroic pulps like Doc Savage, or the space opera of Doc Smith or Flash Gordon. The situations are wild and weird, and often blur the lines between science fiction and fantasy. This approach used to be much more common than it is these days, before demographics and marketing became a part of the creative process of genre fiction.

There was a lot of bad things that happened in the real world under the auspices of the Soviet Union, and Communism, and Red Planet does not sugar coat or ignore them. These aren't Alt-Communists softened up for propaganda purposes. In fact, the setting goes far to show that the Communism of the Soviet Union, and the Capitalism of the United States, lead to war and upheaval in their battle for supremacy. The protagonists of the setting, the nation of the Union of Materialist Republics, are a rebellion against both of these cultural forces. The Materialists were colonists on Mars, the Red Planet of the title.

Once on Mars, these colonists sparked a revolution against both their own Communist oppressors back on Earth and the Capitalist enemies of their oppressors. With their rebellion, these colonists became their Union. Their culture is not only their own, but has also assimilated (relatively peacefully) the native Martian populace. The racial makeup of the Union of Materialist Republics is made up of that mix of humans and Martians. The setting of Red Planet can be viewed as similar to the original Buck Rogers stories, just with less Yellow Menace.

The Red Planet of the setting is a Utopia. So to speak.

If it was a perfect utopia, there probably wouldn't be any place for the types of adventurers that we see in role-playing games. There is going to be friction and conflict between those of the Union, with the various social and cultural factions of the Earth. There is also an extradimensional faction of creatures that are not native to the solar system, or the reality, of the setting. They are two-dimensional beings called the Geometrists. The Geometrists have superior technology to Earth or Mars, as well as psychic abilities beyond anything capable of the people of the solar system.

There is also still "space" for exploration in the solar system, so characters of that type will find plenty to do among the stars of the Red Planet setting.

If you're a fan of pulp science fiction like Flash Gordon, or pulpy science fantasy like Star Wars, there will probably be things in Red Planet that will appeal to you. It is remarkable well fleshed out, considering the short page count, and there is plenty of material to spark adventure in the setting. I am glad to see tabletop role-playing publishers striking out from the safety of traditional fantasy setting and creating worlds that are different and challenging to gamers.  If you haven't checked out Nevin's Red Planet, you really should.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

40K Dawn Of War Comes To Titan Comics


Written by Ryan O’Sullivan (Eisenhorn: Xenos, Turncoat) and illustrated by Daniel Indro (Vikings: Uprising, Doctor Who), the Dawn of War III mini-series will tie-in to the colossal Dawn of War real-time-strategy games, produced by Relic Entertainment with Sega and Games Workshop, in which players command armies of the Space Marines, Orks, and the Eldar to dominate the battlefield!

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War was a critical and commercial hit in 2005, followed by the release of Dawn of War II: Retribution in 2009.

"I've been a fan of Warhammer 40,000 and all of its games for as long as I can remember,” said writer Ryan O'Sullivan. "What I enjoy about the Dawn of War series in particular, other than the ability to purge heretics, is that the games have a decade-long narrative filled with ongoing characters and conflicts. I feel very fortunate to be able to contribute towards such a story, and I hope fans of the previous games will enjoy seeing familiar faces back in action on the pages of the comic."

Titan’s Dawn of War III comic series tells an all-new tale in parallel to that of the video game story, which sees three factions – the Blood Ravens Space Marines, the Eldar, and a fearsome Ork horde – converging on a planet where a weapon of devastating power has been unearthed. .

Titan’s Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III mini-series will be available for preorder in February’s Diamond Previews catalog.




Monday, December 12, 2016

Urban Fantasy Role-Playing And Reading Vertigo's Lucifer


About fifteen years after the fact, I am reading Mike Carey's Lucifer comic that was put out by Vertigo/DC Comics. I picked up the first book of the most recent collected version a couple of months ago. So far I have been a good read, and I will certainly continue the series once I've finished book one.

I don't actually watch the TV show based on the comic, so that wasn't my motivation.

I read Neil Gaiman's Sandman in its entirety (as pretty much every pretentious comic fan of my age group did) as it was coming out. This particular incarnation of the character of Lucifer debuted in issue four of the Sandman comic. In that issue, Dream of the Endless (lead character of the Sandman comic for those who may not have read it) went into Hell to retrieve one of the magical objects that were like the "badges" of his office as the Dream Lord. I won't go into too much detail about that story, because there may be a few readers of this blog who haven't read it yet. I will say that the story ended up with Lucifer abdicating his "job" as the Lord of Hell to become a semi-mortal being.

The Lucifer comic picked up with Lucifer living in Los Angeles and owning a nightclub called Lux.

I think that I expected that Lucifer would be more of a horror comic, like Gaiman's Sandman would often be. But instead it swings like a pendulum between the poles of a horror comic like Sandman was, and more like an Urban Fantasy in the style of Bill Willingham's Fables comic. Actually, I think that the me of now likes it better as an Urban Fantasy story more than the me of 15 years ago, who likely would have preferred it to be more of a horror story.

It is good that we change, and our tastes change with us. It must be a good thing that I am reading this now, because I am more prepared for it than I would have been when it first came out.

As a role-player, I can see this comic influencing a campaign that is in the same space as one also inspired by Gaiman's Sandman and, of course, his breakthrough novel American Gods (which I need to read again before the television show for that starts out next year). Comics are an appropriate place to explore modern mythologies in the mode of Carey's Lucifer or Gaiman's Sandman comics because comic book super-heroes are pretty much our modern American mythology.

Comics and mythology always brings me to one of my favorite songs by the Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip:


I think that the relevance of the song is on an uptick again.

The stories of comics like Lucifer and Sandman exist in our mythic American subconsciousness. This is also where I think a lot of role-playing game campaigns exist as well. These are stories of gods and monsters, the heroes that face both and the mortal beings who ultimately have to deal with all of these things.

I am trying to tie all of this together because, in the next month or so I am going to be starting up a new campaign with some people that I have gamed with for a while, and others that I have never gamed with before. They're voting on what sort of game they want me to run, and one of the choices is an Urban Fantasy game. Whenever I want to run an urban fantasy game, I pull out my old Sandman trade collections and I dig out my CD of Fully Completely by The Tragically Hip and I start to pull together a world that is inspired by the world outside of our windows, but at the same time tied into the mythic undercurrents of our world.

I know. Horribly pretentious, isn't it?

As a GM, my approach to creating a campaign is to think out what I want the world to be like. Imagine who the important characters who aren't the characters will be. Work out what some of the big stories that are going on in this world. Then we plunk the player's characters down into the middle of things, see how they react to the world and what direction we would need to take things into once the irresistible object meets the immovable force. That is where the fun of a campaign comes up for me, as a GM. I don't like to craft the stories of what I want to happen in the world, because I think that takes the choice away from the players, away from their characters, and turns the game more into a novel than the share experience of a role-playing game. Every character in a world should have a story, but those stories should never overwhelm what might happen once the characters exist.

So, hopefully, the players will pick the Urban Fantasy game. We'll see what happens, whichever campaign it ends up being, I will talk about it here over time.



Saturday, December 10, 2016

Keeping Up With The Comics


Some days it just seems like the pile of comics at my bedside just gets taller. Maybe I just need help reading through it.



Friday, December 09, 2016

Dorkland Rumblings


I've decided to give the world of online newsletters a shot. Starting sometime during or after the holidays, I will start up Dorkland Rumblings, which will be more or less random things that I want to get out, but don't want to do a full blog post, or put them out onto social media.

Don't expect a lot of inbox clutter from this list, we will probably all be "lucky" if I remember to use it once a month. It will, however, contain adult content (most likely adult language), so if that sort of thing bothers you you might not want to join it. The newsletter will likely also be more plug heavy than other sources, as it will be the place that I will more actively talk about what I'm reading, listening to, etc.

There will also be a box on the sidebar that will allow people to join at any time. I hope that some of you will give it a try.




All Time Comics From Fantagraphics


Coming next year from Fantagraphics has to be the most interesting super-hero work in a long time. Combining some of the best veteran and newer talents in comics, All Time Comics is promising to be the biggest mind-bender in comics for 2017.
From Fantagraphics, the publisher of the world's greatest cartoonists, comes ALL TIME COMICS, a shared superhero universe featuring the world’s most fanta*stic heroes. Atlas! Blind Justice! Bullwhip! Crime Destroyer! Each issue of ALL TIME COMICS features a mash up of new cartoonists and classic comic book creators collaborating with writer Josh Bayer to unleash superhero stories that no other publisher would dare to publish: a stunning series of six comic books featuring startling stand alone, interconnected adventures chock full of retro crime fighting.
These comics look to be Fletcher Hanks levels of awesomeness, and I am looking forward to see them come out.



ALL TIME COMICS: CRIME DESTROYER #1
Josh Bayer (story); Herb Trimpe (pencils); Ben Marra (inks); Jim Rugg (cover) + Johnny Ryan (cover); MARCH 2017

ALL TIME COMICS: BULLWHIP #1
Josh Bayer (story); Ben Marra (pencils); Al Milgrom (inks); Das Pastoras (cover) + Tony Millionaire (cover); APRIL 2017

ALL TIME COMICS: ATLAS #1
Josh Bayer (story); Ben Marra (story, pencils, inks); Das Pastoras (cover); MAY 2017

ALL TIME COMICS: BLIND JUSTICE #1
Josh Bayer (story and pencils); Rick Buckler (pencils); Al Milgrom (inks); Victor Martinez (cover); JUNE 2017

ALL TIME COMICS: CRIME DESTROYER #2
Josh Bayer (story); Ben Marra (story, pencils, inks); Das Pastoras (cover); JULY 2017

ALL TIME COMICS: BLIND JUSTICE #2
Josh Bayer (story); Ben Marra (story); Noah Van Sciver (pencils); Al Milgrom (inks); Das Pastoras (cover); AUGUST 2017



IDW 40% Off Sale On D&D Comics On DriveThruComics


The old and new Dungeons & Dragons comics are available for pretty good prices at a holiday sale at DriveThruComics. There's a bunch of collections and single issues that are part of the sale.

This includes classic AD&D comics originally published by DC Comics back in the day.


As well as the newer Legends of Baldur's Gate comics written by Jim Zub.


While not 40% off, there's also sales on the IDW Hasbro comics at DriveThruComics, including G.I. Joe and Transformers stuff. Check it all out!



Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Southern Poverty Law Center RPG Charity Bundle

Note: This bundle has ended and the links to it have been removed.

There's a charity bundle over at the OneBookShelf sites to help raise some money for the Southern Poverty Law Center. As disclosure, Battlefield Press is one of the participants in the bundle.

Edit: I linked to the SPLC donation page, rather than the Bundle. Here's the link to the charity bundle.

From the Southern Poverty Law Center's website:
In the decades since its founding, the SPLC shut down some of the nation’s most violent white supremacist groups by winning crushing, multimillion-dollar jury verdicts on behalf of their victims. It dismantled vestiges of Jim Crow, reformed juvenile justice practices, shattered barriers to equality for women, children, the LGBT community and the disabled, protected low-wage immigrant workers from exploitation, and more.
It is a charity that is worth helping out. Find out more about them on their website.




Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Kieron Gillen On Diversity


Kieron Gillen has written some of my favorite comics over the last few years: Phonogram, Young Avengers and Wicked + Divine. He's also work on Thor and other properties around the Marvel Universe. Some of the things that he writes resonates with me, particularly because of his use of pop music as a thread through his writing. I've found a few good indie bands because of his comics (and I rediscovered my love for the unappreciated British power pop band Kenickie).

In the wake of Warren Ellis' long-running email newsletter, I've started following the newsletters of a couple of other comics creators, and Gillen's newsletter is one of them. If you know of any comic creators doing email newsletters like this, let me know. I'd love to see more. I would love to see more RPG creators doing something like this as well.

In my recent post from Warren Ellis' newsletter about privacy, one of the links was to setting up a free email newsletter. I think that it would be interesting to see people like Steve Kenson, or some of the OSR people even, give this a shot. It is sort of like a private blog. I've been considering it myself.

However, I digress. This post was going to be about Gillen. In his newsletter of today he posted a quote from his self-introduction to a panel about diversity that he was a member of a a comic convention. I thought the words were good ones, and helped sum up why people like myself call for wider representation, and a greater diversity of views, in comics, role-playing games, and other forms of media, geeky and otherwise.

I hope that you like what he said as much as I did. I think that it should be provoking some conversations.
Here are a selection of diverse thoughts about the state of diversity.
Perfection is impossible. Relax. “Progressive” imply change. There is no utopia, no stasis. Even the most radical in the room will be Germaine Greer one day. In 20 years time, almost everything all of us are about to say will be problematic. Especially, I suspect, the word “problematic.”
Hearing about girls sitting down and reading Ms. Marvel in the middle of a comic shop and breaking into tears would move anyone. Even a monster like me. However, as important this is, we must not forget the powerful effect on people other than those depicted. By consuming culture about people other than ourselves we flower, and our capacity for understanding and empathy expand. Diversity of culture we consume is one of the the best weapons we have to improve the world. In as much as I was saved, I suspect was saved by Tenar in Ursula Le Guin’s Tombs Of Atuan. I think that Rey may yet save a generation of boys.
It is heartbreaking when I speak to my female peers and say they’ve never had a female role model.
I often wonder how having female heroes effected Jamie McKelvie and my own work. We’re monsters, but I suspect less so.
Diversity is not just a social justice issue. Diversity is a formalist issue. Diversity makes better art, as it is truer to the world. The world is diverse. If the art our culture produces does not have the diversity of the world it pertains to show, the art is failing us.
As a creative community we are in a position where all but the biggest dinosaurs agree that diversity is good. We are all pro diversity. This is a problem, in the same way that almost everyone expresses anti-racist sentiments in a world when everyone, via the background radiation of society, is to some degree racist.
To quote Jordie Bellaire’s campaign, Comics Are For Everyone. However, that should not be confused with All Comics Are For Everyone. You cannot please everyone. That is both a truism and a directive. You should not be trying to please everyone. Ironically, the self-censorship makes less diverse art including less diverse world-views.
Creatives are not just a machine to deliver diversity.
Creatives are petrified in Writing The Other. To be honest, Creatives are petrified of Writing The Same.
I have a test for diversity. If you are using the Bechdel test in any seriousness, your writing about diversity is almost certainly pretty poor. This is surface level reading of culture. Really thinking about sexuality, about gender, about race, about everything needs to be deeper.
In a single work of art, Diversity is a zero sum game. To write a love triangle between men in Young Avengers I had to include more men. As such, I had less women than I’d like in Young Avengers. An expectation of full diversity inside any individual work actually limits the stories you’re able to tell.
Diversity is necessary but not sufficient. Treating bad art with good diversity kindly is worse than useless, because if we do then we are reducing the value of our critical opinion’s coin. As such, it worries me when I see articles about my books which have the #1 reason to read it being the diverse cast. That petrifies me.
The biggest problem in comics is the lack of diversity in the talent pool. Frustratingly, there is no quick fix for all manner of tedious economic reasons. There is a medium term fix. I believe in five years, the industry will be almost unrecognisable. I am optimistic, god help me.
I think white men should probably shut up more. So I will.
He also mentions "formalist" in this introduction, and in case you're wondering what that means, he had some talk about it over here.

I hope that his words spark something in some of you.



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Spooky Empire Appearances


I am going to be an author guest at the rescheduled Spooky Empire the weekend of December 2-4. A couple of the panels on my schedule are voluntary or tentative, but if you are going to be in Orlando that weekend, looking for something to do and want to talk gaming, you'll find me wandering around the convention center.

Check the program and on-site information for the panel locations.

Friday
7 pm
FBI Most Wanted
9 pm
Sick and Twisted

Saturday
12 pm
The Author's Network
1 pm
Writing and Publishing 101
3 pm
Multimedia Horror
4 pm
Stranger Things
8 pm
Sympathy For The Devil (moderator)

Sunday
2 pm
Intergalactic Terror (moderator)


FBI Most Wanted: Our Google search history definitely has our authors on several Watch Lists. Authors discuss research and the joys of clearing your browser history.

Sick and Twisted: This panel is 21 and up due to disturbing behavior, offensive ideas, drunken authors, and likely a piñata. No filters allowed. If you’re not offended, you’re in the wrong panel.

The Author's Network: Come sit and chat with our authors in an informal setting. Get to know what makes these weirdos tick.

Writing and Publishing 101: We discuss how to navigate the world of writing and getting published.

Multimedia Horror: Writing for gaming, stage, radio and just about any medium you can shake your pen at.

Sympathy For The Devil: We love to root for the bad guy and we love good guys with problems. We discuss why audiences adore scoundrels.

Intergalactic Terror: SF and horror, horror in space. Fun stuff like that.



Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Peek At Warren Ellis' The Wild Storm

From Ellis' newsletter Orbital Operations again:
Hey, Jon Davis-Hunt did a promo piece for our forthcoming project THE WILD STORM and DC forgot to use it during the announcements, so I'm going to run it here because I feel like it deserves to be seen.  Copyright DC Entertainment of course, and please link to orbitaloperations.com if you use it on your website.
I probably shouldn't be doing this. But I really wanted Jon's work to be seen.
It looks intriguing. I'm guessing that is Zealot in the bottom panel, and Sentinel in the second from the bottom?

Edit: Apparently that is the revamped version of Warren Ellis creation Jenny Sparks. It looks like she is getting upgraded to being the Spirit of the 21st Century now. That's a bit of a disappointment. I would have liked to have seen Sparks kept as the Spirit of the 20th Century, and have them keep the character of Jenny Quantum as the Spirit of the 21st. I liked that the Spirit of the 21st Century wasn't a white person.



The Fate Of Airboy


This was originally inspired by a post by Mark Ellis on Facebook, talking about his interest in revitalizing the Hillman Comics aviator characters. I'm a fan of aviator pulps like G-8, and the Eclipse Comics relaunch of Airboy in the 80s introduced me to that family of characters. What Mark's post sparked in me was the idea to build an RPG, or at the very least a game that I can run for friends, around the public domain characters like Airboy, but in an updated format.

I love the pulps, but running a game in a historical era isn't always my thing. I'm not much of a stickler for the details, which can bother some who are playing in a historical game. This is why the idea of pulling the characters into the present appealed to me.

The other thing is that, frankly, games that spend a lot of time with the characters engaged in air combat in their airplanes can be boring. Breaking everything down to a series of dice rolls is kind of boring for me. This presents the second challenge with this property…how do I pay homage to the fact that these characters were aviators, without making everything about airplanes? I've been rewatching the TV show Burn Notice on Netflix recently, so an idea popped into my head.

My first thought to update these characters was to turn them into private security/military contractors. The characters would be part of a military security corporation like Blackwater USA, which would give them slightly more freedom than a strictly military campaign would have. Then, the story of Burn Notice swept in. What if David Nelson (the real name of the Airboy character) was a "burned" former military contractor? All of the equipment that he developed (including his signature airplane "Birdie") would be in the hands of his former employer (most likely the company he founded), the Air Fighters, and any security clearances that he had would be gone. You turn David Nelson into a Michael Westen type of character who 1) wants back what he believes is his life and 2) still wants to help people.

The characters in the campaign would be the people that Nelson has gathered around him on various "missions," that he feels that he can trust. That would be the player characters. Someone could play the part of Nelson, or it could be an NPC run by the GM. If the latter, you would, of course, have to resist the temptation to have him do all the cool stuff and leave the PCs to watch what he's doing.

I think that it could make for an interesting game.

The "keeping the aviator angle to things" could be as easy as having Nelson develop a new kind of drone technology, perhaps one with a highly developed AI that make the drones into the equivalent of his Alfred or Doctor Watson. If Nelson has trust issues, due to his being "burned," it could be that computer intelligences created by him would be the only "people" that he would be willing to trust for a long time.

Here is a write-up of David (Airboy) Nelson in a Fate Accelerated hack that I have been working on. I made my version of the character into more of a tech person, he created his plane instead of inheriting it, because I think it makes the character stronger and more "modern." He isn't a comic book super scientist, but he knows his way around avionics and aircraft technologies. He obviously knows a bit about computers (since he probably created the AI software himself), so he could probably be a bit of a hacker as well.

David "Airboy" Nelson
High Concept: I Can Trust The Technology That I Can Create
Trouble: Don't Call Me Airboy
Other Aspects: Military Background, Not The Person I Used To Be
Approaches: Careful +2, Clever +3, Flashy +0, Forceful +1, Quick +1, Sneaky +2
PowersCreature Summoning (Flying Drones, named Birdie Two through Four). Basic Creature Summoning, Tough Little Thing, Menagerie.*

I didn't give Nelson any stunts yet, but they would likely give him an edge in military or technical matters.

Nelson wants to be left alone mostly, but not as much as he wants his old life back. He doesn't really want the life of the military contractor, or technology think tank, back, but he wants it to be known that he really didn't do what cost him that old life. He's trying to find out what exactly that "thing" is, and how he can fix it. Nelson's approach to people tends to be like his approach to technology: tinker with the machines until you find out what isn't working right, then once you know you can fix it or you can bypass it. He's realized that a big part of why he joined the military in the first place was because he wanted to help people, so over the last few years he has started doing that again on a smaller scale. A couple of his old friends from the Air Fighters still keep in touch, on the QT.

*The powers rules that I am working on are a hack of the Venture City SRD, so if you have a copy of it, you can eyeball what I did in this write-up until I have something official. If you like Fate and super-heroes, this is something that is good to have anyway.



Monday, November 14, 2016

Getting Some Privacy Online


This comes from Warren Ellis, in the latest issue of his newsletter Orbital Operations, a couple of suggestions for privatizing your online persona in the coming years.
If you have access to a Windows machine, there's an excellent Twitter archive eraser called Twitter Archive Eraser, haha.  All you have to do is request your archive from Twitter, install Eraser and feed your archive to the machine. I mean, if you don't want to delete your Twitter account entirely, which I totally understand, but.
(You may want to do something with your LinkedIn account for similar reasons.)
Also, iMessage and WhatsApp are okay, but get Signal. If you're going to organise, try to form IRL spaces and try not to use Facebook right now.
Keep an eye on Safecast - as they build out their systems, their open environmental data may prove very useful in the coming years.
You may want to consider private newsletters - Tinyletter is a very good free option if you intend to speak to less than a few thousand people - and, despite being Facebook-owned, a private Instagram account may be better for you than a public one right now.
To the fine human beings whose politics lean to the right - do not assume these are suggestions purely for the weeping lefties, or that I believe they only apply now that the UK and US are under far-right governments. They applied before. I used many of them before.
If you are a fan of Ellis' work and you aren't a subscriber to his newsletter, give it a chance.

And remember, having a measure of privacy is always a good thing, no matter what sort of politics that you hold. The idea that having anonymous accounts means privacy isn't a good idea.



Saturday, November 05, 2016

Doctor Strange And The Shifting Marvel Movie Paradigm?


I think that (inadvertently) this article says more about the Marvel Comics formula back in the day, than it might say about the Marvel movies formula. This is actually something that I thought about while watching Doctor Strange, was how these characters had a similar arc from "asshole" to hero as a part of their journeys. Iron Man. Spider-Man. Dr. Strange. They all started as sort of jerks who had a life changing moment that put them onto the path of being heroes. Partially it is that Stan Lee Doctrine: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.

So, yes, there is a bit of sameness to the characters of Tony Stark and Stephen Strange. That's not a coincidence with the characters that Stan Lee was crafting with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.

Does that need to change in the Marvel movies? Absolutely. I think that we saw Strange's transition from egotistical jerk to hero happen pretty quickly, in the course of this movie, while with Tony Stark, the journey is still going on. I don't think that the plot of Civil War would have happened if the heroes had stopped thinking about themselves for a minute and thought more about what was happening around them. Is Dr. Strange the start of a trend within the MCU to make heroes who are able to overcome their egos? The ego of heroes has been an integral part of the MCU so far (and you could probably argue that it is the same for Marvel Comics), so are we seeing a transition from that?

Dr. Strange has been one of my favorites of the MCU so far. I rank it up there with Ant Man, Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: Winter Soldier as the Marvel movies that I have most enjoyed.

I'm a fan of heroes being heroes (which some may wonder about in regards to my enjoying the recent Superman movies), and I would like to see the heroes of the Marvel movies transcend the cynicism that we get in comic movies a lot of the time. It is this heroism that appeals to people in the native form of super-heroes in comics.

Go see Doctor Strange, it is a well-made super-hero movie that has some pretty mind-bending special effects.



Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Mongoose Publishing 2000AD License Expiring


Update: It was pointed out that the sale, and the license, end at the end of October.

Mongoose Publishing's license to produce games based on the 2000AD comics properties is ending. They aren't specific with a timeline, so it could end at any time. While the license lasts, all 2000AD properties are 75% off at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. If you wanted any of these games, get them now, while you can. Grab them now, if you want them.

The 2000AD collection at DriveThruRPG. [Update: Link removed because the sale is over and the items are gone.]

Does this mean that we might see a new license holder do some new 2000AD tabletop games? Will we finally see Nemesis: The Warlock get an RPG? Let's watch and find out.



Monday, October 24, 2016

My Necronomicon (FL) 2016 Schedule


Once again, this weekend I will be a guest at Necronomicon in Tampa Florida, October 28-30, 2016. The real guests will be Steven Barnes & Steven Brust.

My appearances are just on Saturday, so my availability will be limited (at best). If you're interested, contact me via the various social media. Hopefully some of you gaming-type-people in the Tampa Bay area will be around for the fun.

Here is my schedule:

12:00:00 PM
Audubon F
What's New in Gaming? 
4:00:00 PM
Audubon F
Characters That Aren't a Reflection of You

Only one of these is directly gaming-related, but I will find my ways to relate things to what I know. I hope to see some of you that weekend. The "What's New In Gaming" panel with myself and Hal Greenberg is always entertaining.



Super Crawl Classics: An Elevator Pitch

Michel Fiffe's COPRA.

Please Note: This is not an announcement of any sort or form, nor should it be construed as being indicative of any sort of game book coming from Goodman Games. It is entirely a flight of fancy. However, if any powers that be would be interested. You know where to find me.

Super Crawl Classics would be an adaptation of the rules used in the Dungeon Crawl Classics and upcoming Mutant Crawl Classics RPGs for super-hero role-playing. This is just a loose pitch, and it would undergo some serious work to make things fit best with the rules. There would likely have to be some changes to the paradigms of the rules used (Funnels, for example, wouldn't work well in making a super-hero game in my opinion).

There would be classes for different sorts of super-heroic archetypes, and there would probably be races as a separate thing built around some of the concepts often used within super-hero comics.

Super Crawl Classics wouldn't be a generic super-hero game. The idea isn't to make a universal system that would allow you to create and play any sort of comic book super-hero character. In fact, Super Crawl Classics would focus on weird heroes, making a super-hero game that has a vibe similar to the weird fantasy feel of Dungeon Crawl Classics. My elevator pitch of the concept of the game would be that it would be Fletcher Hanks meets Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol meets the early issues of Rob Liefeld's Youngblood. Add some hard men/women from Warren Ellis' comics for seasoning.

You can't not have the influences of Jack Kirby on Super Crawl Classics either. His ideas of ancient and new gods, ancient aliens seeding the cosmos with being of powers, and cosmic entities vying for superiority against the back backdrop of time and space is too important to ignore.

Thematically, Super Crawl Classics would draw upon the looseness and energy of the Golden Age of comics, with the surreality of Morrison's classic Doom Patrol run and Peter Milligan's incredible Shade The Changing Man reboot, and the insanity of Rob Liefeld's comics. Heroes and heroines would be raw and primal, powerhouses that change their worlds merely by existing in them, and the menaces that they face would be weird. These are people with great powers and abilities, who are saving the world, but they don't always have to like what they're doing, or who they're working with.

It would also draw heavily on the public domain characters of the Golden Age of comics for world building. There are are great concepts tucked away in the pages of comics from the 30s and 40s that never had copyrights or trademarks registered for them, and they can be the basis of the world within which your super-powered characters will seek out adventure.

Benjamin Marra sketchbook pages.
The art for Super Crawl Classics would be raw and powerful. I would want to get more "underground" super-hero comic artists like Benjamin Marra, Michel Fiffe and Tom Scioli to fill the book with the sort of vibrant and unusual art that fans of Dungeon Crawl Classics are already fan of. If Steve Ditko could somehow be convinced to do the endpapers for the book (drawing whatever super-heroic epics are exploding in that man's brain) that would be awesome as well. It would just be a matter of someone figuring out how to contact the man.

But, the important thing about Super Crawl Classics would be that, like with the Dungeon Crawl Classics book, the people picking up the game would know instantly that they aren't just picking up your typical super-hero role-playing game.

Obviously filling an RPG book with this sort of mind-exploding art wouldn't be cheap, which is why it would take a Kickstarter to raise this up to what it would need to be.

Now, it is a fact that I'm not a fan of the whole "Appendix N" concept, because I think that a lot of people take the books listed in them to the exclusion of the broader world of fantasy fiction. The bibliography of comics would have to be extensive and highlight some of the many strange comics and characters that have come out during the 75+ years of super-hero comics.

Tom Scioli's Super Powers backmatter for Young Animal
All in all, Super Crawl Classics would be about the dirty and dangerous, psychedelic and strange underbelly of super-hero comics. The characters would be big, modern day myths in a weird world of evil villains and strange menaces from beyond time and space. I think that the Dungeon Crawl Classics rule set would make for a good framework for this sort of game.

I would probably beef up the Luck ability into something akin to how the classic Marvel Super-Heroes RPG had Karma. Characters could earn Luck, in the same way that they earn XP, and that would go into a pool that starts out like the other abilities, but grows through heroic actions. Luck is something that super-heroes would need a lot of to survive and succeed as they go along.

A lot of the options for powers would come from the various classes (or races), but there would be some more universal powers and that characters could draw upon as well. You would have to have magic, because of the Doctors Fate and Strange. Characters would be powerful beings.

The ability score modifiers would have to be increased to handle the increased range. You would still use 3d6, but your character's ability scores would also be modified by class and race to beyond the capabilities of mere mortals.

This is just the pitch. Super Crawl Classics would be a game of goddesses and monsters, heroes and villains, all played out against the tableau of all of time and space. It would be a big, powerful game. Probably the most powerful of the * Crawl Classics RPGs. They've got fantasy with Dungeon Crawl Classics and the post-apocalypse with the upcoming Mutant Crawl Classics, and then this can be taken as bigger with the Super Crawl Classics RPG. Maybe we could get Becky Cloonan to draw the cover.

If you can make this happen, you know where to find me.



Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Barbarella Comes To America


With the New York Comic Con this weekend, announcements from the comic publishers are starting to come in fast and furious. All of the comic sites will be full of interesting (and maybe not so interesting) announcements from publishers.

Something that I'm surprised that I'm not seeing more of is the announcement from Dynamite that they will be doing an original American, English language version of the classic French comic. Many American comic fans may only know of the comic via the movie adaptation staring Jane Fonda, made years ago (or perhaps through being fans of the vintage New Wave band Duran Duran). I think that this is a pretty big deal, second only to when IDW started doing original Judge Dredd comics. Just, I know that DC Comics did Judge Dredd for a bit, but never to this extent.


From Dynamite's press release:
The character was introduced at the heart of the sexual revolution of the 1960's, and is forever ingrained in pop culture after Jane Fonda's unforgettable portrayal in the 1968 film. She was a key figure in the fertile battleground of French comic books and the struggle for sexual freedom in the medium, and has not appeared in a new series since her last appearance in the legendary science fiction publication, Heavy Metal.


French comics have always been a little less, shall we say, restrained than their American counterparts. Typically to see the sort of sexuality that you would see in Barbarella in American comics you would have to go to underground, alternative or small press comics. Mainstream publishers like DC Comics would dabble in more "adult" fare through imprints like Vertigo Comics, but due to the cultural differences between America and Europe you didn't often see explorations of sex and sexuality often.

Also from the press release:
The new comics will be supervised by Jean-Marc Lofficier, who worked in the mid-90s with Jean-Claude Forest, the character's creator, on a sequel project.
"This is the first step in a multimedia approach designed to herald the return of Barbarella," says Jean-Claude's son, Julien Forest. "We are particularly happy and proud to take that step together with Dynamite, which has showed great respect for so many other classic characters."

Dynamite has take flack in the past for portrayals of characters like Vampirella and Red Sonja, so it should be interesting to see how American comic fans take to Barbarella.



The Dynamite book won't be out until some undisclosed time in 2017. While I think that the company's licensed work can be hit or miss, they have put out some spectacular work in their pulp lines, particularly with their Shadow and Green Hornet books. Their Vampirella, Red Sonja and Mars lines have been the spottiest, but there was an uptick with the Swords of Sorrows crossover. Regardless, I am interested in seeing how an American publisher tackles the property.



Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Donation Fund


Normally, this is something that I would post to social media (because of its immediacy and short duration), but I was having trouble with getting the links to work...so off to the blog.

+Jerry Grayson of Khepera Publishing has put together a gigantic bundle of gaming material, crossing back and forth between indie and traditional games, in order to raise money to help the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their fight against the Dakota Access pipeline. From the bundle page:
You can support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in its fight to protect its waters and sacred places by purchasing this RPG bundle. All proceeds go to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe - Dakota Access Pipeline Donation Fund 
http://standingrock.org/
You get full games like +Meguey Baker's 1001 Nights, the English translation of the Spanish retroclone Adventures in the East Mark, Age of Arthur by +Paul Mitchener and +Graham Spearing, Reign by +Greg StolzeAMP Year One by +Eloy Lasanta, Grayson's Atlantis: The Second Age and Mythic D6 and others.

You also get support for White StarLabyrinth Lord and Adventurer, Conqueror, King and other games.

You get fiction from Evil Hat Productions and other publishers.

You get all of this for $40 from RPGNow.

There is so much good in this bundle, and $40 for all that you get is a steal.