Monday, October 29, 2012

QMR: Hotel Transylvania

Sandula and his crew being themselves disguised as monsters. Funny.

Yes it is just Adam Sandler and his usual crew of idiots getting paid for goofing off but the movie was amusing at worse and laugh at loud hilarious at its best. The casting was spot on for the roles with Steve Buchemi as the wolf man, Phil, being my favorite. The story was somewhat akin to the typical Disney princess story where one or both of the parents were deceased. Fortunately this was more about Dracula dealing with his daughter than his daughter dealing with daddy.

I enjoyed how this was quite enjoyable for both parents and children and some of the jokes skewed into adult humor quite easily and without making junior or little miss aware of the transition. The bottom line was this was worth the price of admission and is a fun movie to watch.

QMR: 7 Psychopaths

Not the comedy that the commercials make it out to be yet it was pretty enjoyable.

That sentence really sums up my feelings toward the film in a complete and succinct manner. I liked this movie, I will end up owning this movie but it is not a comedy. A black comedy akin to "American Psycho" for sure but not a traditional comedy.

Each actor did a wonderful job with their parts. I was shocked how much I liked Colin Farrell in this. Christopher Walken was as enjoyable as always, Woody Harrelson was a perfect villain for this insanity too. Sam Rockwell's character seems the most out of place but stick with it and it becomes quite possibly the best character in the movie.

It was enjoyable and by the end emotionally draining. As it should have been too because when you hang out with psychopaths all day you too would be drained. Keep that in mind if you choose to watch this quirky film.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pathfinder:Rise of the Runelords "The Descent into Lamashtu's Temple"

When we left off the heroes discovered that within the old ruins of the temple under Sandpoint a previously inaccessible area has been cleared out. They gather up their courage and descend the steps into darkness. Here is the short short version of that account.

The Players

 Jess - Wren (Human Female Rogue 14)
Bruce - Marcellus (Human Male Fighter 14)
 Mike - Seoni (Human Female Cleric of Calistria 13/Wizard 1)
 Brian - Zatara (Half-Elf Barbarian 14)
 Jim - Talbot (Halfling Cavalier 14)

  Working their way down this freshly cleared staircase the party the end up in a circular room with now way out. Wren searches for any secret doors and finds one. Upon opening the door the room begins to fill with a dense fog which hampers their vision. Slowly they enter into the corridor and Wren is greeted by a voice coming from the fog asking all manner of questions about past history, ruling emperors and the state of ancient kingdoms that no longer exist. After the barrage of questions the voice stops and silence once again washes over the party.

So they slowly begin to traverse the area and quickly realize the fog also muddles with their direction sense and sometimes forces them to turn in the opposite direction of the one they intended to go. This revelation came a little too late as something came upon them in the fog and combat began. The demon made itself visible during the battle and sadly at times the party moved away from the target to fight it back (thanks fog!). Eventually they prevailed and continued exploring the ruins.

After a few hours down there the party finds strange cryptic messages on the walls interspersed with blasphemous writings to an evil god, bizarre hounds from beyond (that they dispatched), the remains of the men the sheriff sent down to investigate, and the source of the earlier questioning a malevolent being known as The Scribbler. Mucho combat ensues, butts were kicked, healings were doled out liberally and new revelations were well as an artifact of power that can help divine future events for them.
The biggest thing was revelations as to where the location of a place of power (the Runeforge) for the rulers of old Thassilon still might exist. One that could produce a weapon to fight Karzoug, The Runelord of Greed.

The party then embarks on two more side missions: first to Jorgenfist to use the Thassilonian library there to try to pinpoint the location of this 'Runeforge' that was mentioned. After figuring out the approximate area it was located in they journeyed south to the city of Magnimar to sell old gear, purchase new and enchant others.

Using Seoni's access to higher level spells granted to her the party quickly traveled north of Riddleport to a lake with seven distinct geysers at it. Investigation of the area had the group come across seven stone heads that radiated magic. After figuring out how to activate one of the stone sculptures the local resident of this area perched high up in the mountains nearby made his presence known: an ancient white dragon. Massive combat ensued and honestly if it wasn't for Talbot's challenge ability (which made the dragon stay on the ground to engage in melee) the party would have been f'ed by my estimation. Hit and run tactics by such an old dragon will seriously ruin an evening...but they survived. They also activated the remaining heads (each produced a key), winded their way into the mountain via an ancient stairway into a cave and not only found the white dragons hoard (an impressive amount of treasure to be sure) but also found the entrance to the Runeforge.

 They all did well over these two sessions. I condensed this into one post because some of the time in game was spent shopping and preparing and that is boring to write about. Next time we play the party begins the biggest and deadliest dungeon crawl to date. We'll see who survives this one.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Gaming Goals for 2013

Stealing this idea right from Eric at GWTG I thought about what gaming goals I would like to do for the next year. Without further ado...

1) Hang up my DM screen for long term campaigns.

Now I will run the occasional one shot games, I'm going to run two different Star Wars one offs for two different groups in the winter and I will run the occasional game of Rappan Athuk for a group of friends that just want a dungeon crawl fun time. I don't want to return to long drawn out adventures/campaigns that will detract from my study time in college. I've been GMing for years, I like doing it but its time to back away and let others tell a story.

2) Play in a few more games

This is something I can do while in school as it is less time consuming for me. I can sit down and play with less effort than planning to run an 8+ hour session on a saturday. Besides I also get to focus on one character instead of many and can have some fun driving someone else insane with my player ideas.

3) GenCon

It's what Jess and I are looking forward to in 2013. Its our gaming vacation. Four days of fun. Can't wait.

Now with the goals out of the way, what am I looking at possibly playing this year?

1) Legacy of Fire Adventure Path

An Arabian themed adventure with genies, bizarre magics, flying carpets, world ending consequences. Yes please! Also Charles is running it for me and our group and I've been waiting patiently to have him GM for me again. I still hold our short Ars Magica game in very high regard.

2) Make Bruce run something for our other group!

Here is another person I'd like to play under his watchful eye again. Bruce has a pulp/noir sensibility that I want to revel in in some kind of game that doesn't use the HERO rules. Something simpler. I'm thinking 'Cosmic Patrol' or play a d20 Modern set in the weird science version of the 1940's/1950's. Bruce running a super science pulp heroic game. Hell yes!

3) Continuing on with The Council of Thieves Adventure Path

Jim has been excellent with this and when Runelords concludes we're continuing on with this I hope. It is just a blast to play and Jim keeps the story moving at a nice pace, improvises to improve all our enjoyment and keeps everything fun but never easy. Essentially what a good GM does. I tend to know a lot of those folk.

4) More Call of Cthulhu!

Eric is doing a wonderful job with this and now we have a good solid group and I have a character of my own creation and *liked* playing. Cannot wait to see where this tale takes us! Also I need to find out just how much Jugular Josh's PC likes eggs.

5) Eclipse Phase

Next time Dave runs this at the local Meetup I'm there. I had immense fun playing the stock PC and I'll keep him going for the next session as the Xenoarchaeologist for the party. Dave really has a strong grasp as to how a sci-fi transhumanist horror/conspiracy game should play. It also needs to be said that its enjoyable making him crack up during the game due to some idiosyncrasy that I determined my PC has and playing it through out but not in a general way. Fun fun fun.

6) Board game nights!

This needs to happen. They are fast and fun and a great excuse to hang out with folk on a friday night.

7) Warmachine and DUST: Tactics

Minitures games I can endorse. Warmachine is just fun and DUST is sitting on my shelves yearning to be played. Eric wants to give DUST a try so I'm keen on that. I also know Jona is always ready to rumble in Warmachine. find the time to fit it all in....

Confessions of a 35 yr Old College Freshman

Classes have been going on now since August 27th and it has been a unique experience for me, a old man, amongst the throngs of freshthings and other upper class men. Needless to say I was quite nervous taking this plunge into self improvement at my age. If you ask my wife she would tell you this was well overdue for me and she would also mention this (read: my lack of a college education) has always been a sticking point in my life. I would self deprecate constantly about how stupid I was for not having one when compared to my wife (with two), friends (two of which have doctorates) and family members. This was a mark of failure and partially blinded me from all the successes I've had.

So after a very turbulent first half of the year I felt like I had nothing else to lose personally and submitted my application to a local four year college. I got accepted and began the journey. So far the work is hard but rewarding (which is something I haven't said in a long time about any work I've done). I've been keeping my grades up and have been surprising myself with how much I've been learning. Its also surprising that I'm enjoying it too. I'm there to learn. That desire must be forged in my personal history however. I look back at all the crap I've put up with with years of working retail and customer service; it just makes me want to do well here so I can strive to never do that stuff again. Years of utter suckage makes one appreciate an education more so (even with crushing student loans in my future). But I listen to the young students on campus and I don't get this from them. Some of the thoughts I'm interpreting is that this is just 13th grade. Its just another motion in school except with more partying and cheap beer. Some will get their act together and others will drop out and learn the hard way (like I did).

But that's not what I want to discuss in more depth at this time. What I've noticed is that I have nothing in common with 99.9% of the students on campus. I've been alive longer then they have. Hell I was driving a car before a good number of them were out of diapers. I was around when newspapers were still viable and easily obtainable, before the Internet, before DVD/Blu Ray. I remember Betamax for god's sake! So I listen to some of the conversations that occur in the lounge when reading between classes and I just can't comprehend how some of their problems are problems at all; its not that I don't care but I just didn't grow up in the same era and can't relate. So it is difficult talking with them (the people in my classes....the freshman) because of slang terms used mean COMPLETELY different things now then when I was a kid (or didn't exist at all then). I am the old out of touch man.

The hilarious thing about it all is I *can* relate to my professors better than the other students. In a few instances I'm only a few years younger than they are so when they drop a reference to a movie that came out in the late 80's/early 90's that the kiddies don't understand and I'm the only one laughing....well it makes their day. In a way I've become the validation that they are not out of touch either and can no longer relate to their classes.I am trying to become known among my professors, especially within my field of study, but I'm not trying to be too 'friendly' with them as I don't want a personal issue to arise that might effect my academic performance. After that diploma is in my hands....well that can be a whole other story.

The last thing is that I'm feel I may be used as a mentor type role in the future. I say this only because of how old I am, how much more real life experience I actually have and can probably cut through the bullshit and help out to some capacity. That hasn't emerged yet but I have a feeling it may in my sophomore year.

Its a bizarre thing right now for me: I'm going to school because I want the education so if I'm alone it (supposedly) doesn't matter. I'm also quite lonely on campus too and wouldn't mind chatting with some new acquaintances here and there. After a half of semester of doing this I can say that I can accept my lot right now at school. I'm in the middle; too old to hang out with the students and I'm a student so I don't hang out with the folks my age....who are teaching me. Its tough, its going to take time but I will succeed. In the immortal words of Bon Scott "It's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll!".