June 28, 2012

"I'm the Doctor, and the doctor is IN!"

I'm pretty sure that most people reading this are well aware of the pop culture phenom that is "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic."  And before you leap to a conclusion, I am quite emphatically NOT a "Brony."

However, that said, I did stumble across something related to MLP:FiM and a long-standing geek fave of mine, the BBC long-runner Doctor Who (started with the 4th, though I think Tennant's 10th Doctor is my favorite of the bunch).  It's fan-produced series of audio stories called "Doctor Whooves and Assistant."The basic premise is "What if the Doctor came to Equestria, got turned into a pony, and had adventures in that setting?"

Well, the answer to that question is a result that is quite entertaining, with the VA for this version of the Doctor doing a very enjoyable job of channeling the 10th Doctor with elements of the others (predominantly the 11th) thrown in for good measure, particularly the Doctor's relish at the utter strangeness of being a pony and life in the MLP:FiM 'verse.  And so far, unlike a lot of other fandom works in various genres, it's not trying to supplant the "official" events of the TV series, with the first three audio segments taking place rather neatly alongside the first two-part episode of the show.

I guess it says something for the MLP fandom that they could take a background character with a couple of suggestive character traits (wild brown mane and hourglass mark on his rump) and turn it into this.  Heck, there's even an article on this fan-work to be found on TVTropes.

(it also has links to the various audio programs to boot)

Now my friend Nateal aka HotPinkJoystick has become fully engrossed in the MLP:FiM fandom, and is one of many that have been needling me, subtly or otherwise, to really give this show a shot.  Admittedly, I did try briefly, but it didn't click for me.  But that was before Doctor Whooves.  So, I'll give it another go, perhaps slightly less-biased try; being an Adult Male, I do have an inherent bias against a TV show mainly aimed at selling toys to Young Girls.  If nothing else, I can amuse myself with the notion that while the Mane Six are hogging the spotlight, the Doctor and his charmingly bubbly/ditzy companion are having their own thrilling adventures.

One story ends, another begins...

Well, last night we had the final session of our NJO Star Wars campaign.  There were a couple of minor encounters/battles, part of the New Republic/Galactic Alliance's renewed offensive against the Vong invasion, mostly as a chance to give our 8th level characters a chance to show off a bit. But generally, it was a bittersweet ending as the heroes wound up going their separate ways.

Meerix Rhys, an Arkanian Offshoot and ace starfighter pilot, has been given full command of her own X-Wing squadron, which she got to lead into battle against Vong coralskippers as part of an offensive campaign to start liberating Vong-held planets.

Gorth, a rather crude-humored Trandoshan bodyguard, opted to take the offer of serving as full-time bodyguard to an up-and-coming young singer/diva while she embarks on a series of USO-type shows for the Alliance's troops.

SKT-R08, a rather interesting "probe" droid that proved to have quite an interesting history, is no longer amongst the functioning.  Of course, as its body was never found, SKT-R08 could still be out there. Heck, it's story of having been abandoned by its prior masters could have just been a cover story for all we knew.

Shael, a Selkath medic and Jedi-in-training, has chosen to part ways with Skywalker's New Jedi Order and seek his own path in the Force, opting to "wander the galaxy" and trusting to the Force to guide him to where his healing abilities are most needed.  He even went so far as to hand over his lightsaber to Master Skywalker, thanking the man for the opening his eyes to the ways of the Force.

Lyra Blyss, a Zeltron gambler/grifter also ultimately chose to go back to her larcenous ways, having only "gotten involved" by chance.  She did enjoy herself quite a bit, but she'd prefer a lifestyle that didn't involve a near-constant risk of a horrible death.  She did threat Alwyn (my character) that he'd be seeing her again, with her parting act being to plant on heck of a kiss on the lad's lips, leaving him speechless and the other characters laughing.

And lastly, there's Alwyn Reezaki, a Human Jedi apprentice, upon review of his conduct and actions in the past few months, Master Skywalker judged that he was ready for promotion to Jedi Knight.  That Alwyn could admit that he'd come perilously close to giving into his anger was deemed a good thing, as it meant he was aware of the risk and thus could be wary of falling into that particular trap.  As part of the New Jedi Order's renewed commitment to helping the Galactic Alliance defeat the Yuuzhan Vong, Master Skywalker has formed several Jedi strike force groups, with Alwyn being placed in one that is under the direct command of Jaina Solo (a humorous nod to something I'd included in my '3 Questions' answers for Alwyn way back when).

As Alwyn had started out as a 1st level "Force wizard" in Garrett's NJO Traitor's Gambit, I must say it was quite satisfying to have played Alwyn all the way to becoming a fairly badass Jedi Knight.  I do seem to play a lot of those types of characters, as my good friend Linda/Zrissa often reminds me.  But it was also nice to be playing a Jedi that wasn't an "uber-Jedi" like a couple of my prior characters had been.  He's certainly competent in Force-usage and lightsaber dueling, but he's not a dominant force in either regard; perhaps helped muchly by not rolling nat 20's on every third Use the Force check like on Jedi PC of mine had a habit of doing.  And with the exception of a single house rule (combining Block and Deflect into a single talent called Deflect Attacks), Alwyn was built using just the feats, talents, and classes from the Core Rulebook, proving you don't need a plethora of splats to build an awesome character.  Probably helps that most of the really awesome stuff for Jedi can be found in the corebook to begin with.  Still, while it's sad to be laying this particularly Star Wars hero aside, there's always the hope of a chance to once again pick up the dice and continue Alwyn's adventures in a galaxy far, far away.  May the Force be with you, Alwyn Reezaki, who started from a "fire and forget" character for a 9-hour convention one-shot and developed into a fun and memorable character.

June 23, 2012

Other Campaign Updates

In light of the New Jedi Order campaign having pretty much wrapped up (GM said he wants one more session to 'tie up a few loose ends' this coming Wednesday), I thought I might review the other campaigns I've been playing in, as well as ones that I might be planning for the future.

Sadly, it seems that the Dresden Files game I was in had fizzled out due to the GM having no clue where she wanted to take the story as well as some difficulties handling a couple of characters (my Dresden-esque wizard being the lesser of the two offenders),  There may be some hope of this picking back up once the Paranet Papers supplement comes out, but if not, then at least it was fun to play a smart-ass young spell-slinger for a while.

My friend's The One Ring campaign is still going strong, though I never did make a post about the last session we played a few Saturdays back.  Our odd group of would-be heroes were tasked by Gloin to deliver an urgent missive to none other than Radagast the Brown, member of the Order of Wizards and White Council.  We had a pretty "interesting" trek through wilderness along the Old Forest Road that cuts through Mirkwood, including a chance encounter with a group of Wood elves, a few run-ins with goblin raiders, as well as a pack of spiders that had pretty much subdued a feisty Woodman lass and slain what we presumed to be her two male traveling companions.

After coming to the comely lady's rescue, she introduces herself as Derawyn, apprentice and ward of the Brown Wizard, but when teased by both the elf and dwarf as to why she didn't just use her magic to banish the spiders, she grew a deal more modest when replying that the magics she knew were more subtle and better given to tending the ills of body and spirit, which she proved by using a song of healing on Brander, who'd taken some nasty hits from the spiders during the attempted rescue.  She was returning to Rhosgobel after concluding a task for her mentor, and would be much appreciative if the Company would permit her to travel with them the rest of the way.  Well, we reach Rhosgobel without further incident, only to find that scouts returned only hours before with word of a massive orc raiding force that will likely strike that night. Better still, Radagast is absent on "some wizard's errand," leaving the Woodsman village without it's most powerful protector.  Gee, if only there were a group of stout-hearted adventurers in the neighborhood... oh, wait there is.  So we wind up joining in the defense of Rhosgobel, and many an orc was slain that night, with Brander, Bruni, and Caranlas making like Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas during Helm's Deep :)  Finally, just when it seemed we were about to be overwhelmed by one last desperate surge of orcs, the dawn came and with it Radagast, with the combined presence of the two forcing the foul minions of the Shadow to flee back into the depths of Mirkwood.

Once the injured had been seen to, Radagast gathers the Company so that he might hear the message we were tasked to bring.  The message was from Dain Ironfoot, King Under the Mountain, and concerned a rising number of orcs spilling down from the mountains as well as those that survived the Battle of Five Armies, and the Brown Wizard concurs that some fell power had caused the orcs and goblins of the Wilderlands to stir in such numbers; he fears the attack on Rhosgobel will not be the last settlement of the Free Peoples to be laid siege to by such reckless hate.  Fearing that a new threat lurks on the horizon, Radagast asks that we ferry a message for him, only this time we are to bring that message to none other than the King of the Elves of Mirkwood.  The wizard also makes it a point to thank us for coming to the Derawyn's aid, and as such he owes the hero a minor boon to be named once they have delivered his message to the Elf King, though we were permitted the chance to rest.  The Company agreed to make Rhosgobel a sanctuary as our Fellowship undertaking, so at least we've got an additional base of operations, one that's closer to Mirkwood even.  We gather once more on July 7th to continue the adventure, and I'll admit to being very curious as to where this is going.  Timewise, we've passed through spring and are into early summer.

Back to Star Wars, the Skype-based game that Ben "Cyril" Erickson is running is still going strong, with our next session planned for this coming Sunday night.  The session before last ended with us getting knocked unconscious after a prolonged fight aboard a supposedly derelict freighter, only to have us wake-up next session with a (most likely) drug-induced dream sequence that left a few of the characters freaked out and us apparently trapped in a compound someplace.  We finally managed to escape our freaky captors (vestigial heads for extra freakiness) and made our way to a docking bay, just in time for another firefight.  Which was where the last session ended.

While I've stepped out from behind the GM's screen after the last two Star Wars campaigns I was running pretty much fell apart due to lack of player interest, I've been getting an itch to run something.  And spurred by a bit of gaming nostalgia and a recent Kickstarter for Deadlands: Noir setting, I picked up Savage Worlds and Deadlands: Reloaded.  Just so you know, I was a huge fan of Deadlands back in the day, though I'll confess a minor preference for Hell on Earth, the post-apoc Deadlands setting.  While I wasn't all that impressed by Savage Worlds on the first go-round, I picked up a hardcopy of the Savage Worlds Deluxe book, and I must say I'm pretty intrigued by how much quicker and cleaner the system runs compared to Deadlands Classic.  Big handfuls o' dice for skill checks are gone (generally a good thing in my opinion), and the Edge/Hindrance system looks to have been very nicely streamlined.  I've got a bunch of notes pertaining to a Deadlands Classic mini-campaign that I never got to run, and while it needs a bit of polish, I might just be able to get that sucker into play-worthy shape.  Trick will be rustling up a posse of players, but on-line gaming might make that task a mite easier, though time'll tell.

Also on the horizon is our SW NJO GM is looking to giving the Marvel Heroic RPG a try as a campaign, with the agreed upon theme being "TeenAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D."  Yeah, we're playing teenage supers that are working for/with S.H.I.E.L.D. in some capacity or another.  X-23 and Darkhawk are already going to be part of this group, but not sure yet who the others will be, though I'm sure it'll be interesting.

So that's whats going on campaign wise for me.  How about you guys?

June 17, 2012

On the closing of a Star Wars campaign.

A while back, I posted about how my Star Wars Alternate Universe campaign came to a rather abrupt conclusion due largely to burn-out on d20 games amidst the players.  Which considering that for the longest time the only thing most of them played were d20 games, I guess it's to be expected, kinda like eating nothing but pizza every night for dinner.

Well, luckily that wasn't the only SW campaign I had going on.  Up until last night, I've also been a player in a friend's campaign that was set during the New Jedi Order era.  While the Vong invasion was certainly a thing, the Vong weren't the main threat in the campaign, but rather something else that was perhaps just as creepy and unnatural as RotJ Palpatine doing reading a book for a group of pre-school children.

In this campaign, I took the role of Alwyn Reezaki, a young Jedi apprentice and member of Skywalker's New Jedi Order.   I'd actually played Alwyn with the notion of it being a one-time gig back in August 2011 for the NJO Traitor's Gambit as run by Garrett of the Threat Detected podcast.  So when one of my local buddies whose gaming group I'd only recently joined mentioned he wanted to try his hand at running SWSE and was going to set his campaign during the NJO era, I was quite amused at the serendipity behind it all.

We played roughly every other week on Wednesday nights, though occasionally sessions had to be missed or rescheduled due to various real life events.  Wherever possible, the GM was courteous enough to let everyone know as soon as he could that the game was going to be postponed, so kudos for him on that.  Well, this past Wednesday the game got cancelled due to "excessive GM wife aggro," and was rescheduled for last night (Saturday).  Now going into this, I thought we had another session or two, but it turns out I was wrong.  All the stops were pulled, and what I suspect was intended to be a two-part adventure wound up being run non-stop until the wee hours of the morning.

The campaign had been building up to this point, a confrontation with the BBEG in a desperate bid to stop their deranged plan to cause further strife and mayhem in a galaxy already ravaged by a vicious war.  Just about every character had a stake in stopping the villain, a (likely demented) ex-Imperial Inquisitor from the days of Palpatine's Empire that went by the name of Lord Raith that had risen to a position of power and influence within Black Sun.

I'm not going to go into too many details, although I've posted summaries of the previous campaign sessions, all from Alwyn's POV, over at the d20 Radio Network forums in the thread "Tales of an NJO Jedi Apprentice" which also includes Alwyn's stat block from first level all the way up to 7th level.  But I'll just say that the GM did a wonderful job with handling a split-up party and running a starship combat, a running skirmish, and a duel that were occurring pretty much all at the same time.  It was hectic, it was frantic, there were character deaths, but  most importantly, it was fun.  The only thing missing was the Ewok dance party at the end :D

While the campaign was fun and ended on a high note, I am sad that to be putting Alwyn aside for the foreseeable future.  But who knows?  The GM has hinted that he might run another campaign with this same group of heroes at some point down the road.  After all, the Vong menace still exists and our characters have proven to be badass enough to be able to provide a meaningful contribution to the war effort.

Tales of a NJO apprentice thread @ D20 Radio Network forums:

Threat Detected Blog: NJO Traitor's Gambit podcast sessions:
(fair warning, first one is tough to hear as there was a very rambunctious table within spitting distance of Garrett's table)

June 2, 2012

The funniest table reading of Star Wars in history of history

It's been on YouTube for a while now, but I still think this is freaking hilarious.


It's close to an hour and a half, so make sure you've got some time before you sit down to watch this.  But it's quite simply worth it.

The set-up is simple: Get a bunch of talented voice actors together and have them read scenes from Star Wars, using various animated character voices and impressions for different characters.  A lot of the humor comes from how at-odds the voices are to the characters, with examples such as Bubbles reading for Darth Vader, Rodney Dangerfield as Luke, Ozzy Ozborne and Bill Cosby for R2-D2, Pinky and Bender as Stormtroopers, or Porky Pig as Obi-Wan Kenobi, while various ad-libs only add to the fun.

So wait are you waiting for?  Click the link, sit back, and have a few laughs already.