Reality Is The Playground Of The Unimaginative

Home Of Swords, Sorcery, Superheroes, Sonic Screwdrivers, Supernatural Scares, Star Stuff, Sci-fi, Smeg, and Silliness

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Torn From The Headlines: The Mosuo Tribe

Thinking of introducing a matriarchal civilization into your game, but don't want it to resemble those depicted in Xena and Wonder Woman or a teenage boy's sex empire fantasy, then check out China's Mosuo tribe for some real world inspiration:

For more information click here or here.

THACO: The Movie (2008)

Written and directed by Bill Stiteler, THACO: The Movie follows three thirtysomething roleplaying geeks who spend game night waiting for their perpetually late friend to show up. The trio pass the time analysing the effect that fantasy and geekery has had on their lives and never quite getting around to playing the games they enjoy.

THACO: The Movie stars  Aaron Kesher, Jon Stark Olsen, Bill Stiteler, and Duck Washington and boasts a cameo by Neil Gaiman.

Buy the DVD on Amazon or buy /rent the movie online from Amazon Video on Demand.

DVD extras include two commentary tracks, outtakes, and subtitles.

Ladies & Gentlemen, I Certainly Didn't Expect That!

Although I've still been posting bits and bobs, it certainly hasn't been as regular as the "good old days", so imagine my surprise when I spotted I had picked up a new Follower!

Please join me in a roof-raising welcome to:
However, despite this momentous occasion, I should issue a caveat about the future of this blog: I see that Blogger will be enforcing its "new look" (presumably the cack new user interface that nearly drove me insane last year) on everyone next month, whether we want it or not (I certainly don't as I'm 100 per cent happy with the way things are at the moment).

If this is the case and it's still as crap as it was last year then I'm going to have to have a serious think about whether this blog will be able to continue - via Blogger.

I'm not in the least bit technical - as anyone who has followed this site for more than a couple of weeks has probably realised - so I wouldn't have the first idea about how to go about moving all my work to another platform (is that even possible? Can you move a Blogger blog wholesale to, say, Wordpress?).

I like my whistles and bells, I like the layout as it is and will be gutted if that has to all be junked because of Blogger's draconian institution of a clumsy, headache-inducing new user interface.

Of course it could have all changed since last year and be the best, most intuitive and easy-to-use interface EVAR! In which case, we can carry on as is...

Friday, 30 March 2012

Spellfury: Season Two, Episode Three...

The 15th episode of Spellfury (Season Two, Episode Three), Travis Gordon's wonderful Dungeons & Dragons-inspired online fantasy serial, sees Drunia and Errol face off against the demons that have been hunting them and everyone's favourite Mumsy getting involved in a bar room brawl.

Watch out for the subtle product placement!

Fleamarket Friday: Get Your Doctor Who RPG Upgrades Here...

For those Doctor Who RPG players and GMs who bought the original, 10th Doctor-themed, Adventures In Time And Space box set and don't feel like investing in the new 11th Doctor iteration of the game, publishers Cubicle 7 have provided a totally free upgrade pack - available in PDF form from DriveThruRPG.

This pack includes the new look character sheets (both blank and with new NPCs, such as The Doctor, Amy, Rory... and er... Craig), new aliens and monsters and new gadget cards.

For a mere $4.99 (£3.16), a GM - who already has the original version of the rules - can download the 11th Doctor Adventure Book from the new box set while, for the same price, someone who is starting out with the new box set is able to download the adventure booklet from the 10th Doctor edition.
  • And don't forget if you want to chat with other fans of Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space, swap ideas, discuss rules, share adventures ideas etc there's never been a better time to sign up to the Offical Unofficial Fan Forums - where yours truly, masquerading as Doctor Flea, acts as Chief Of Intelligence - and join the thousand-plus gamers who've already hopped on board.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Game Of Thrones: Destinations Of Season Two...

Location, location, location...

Game Of Thrones: New Characters Of Season Two...

Saber Sequel For Star Wars Day...

Remember Saber? Who doesn't? Super hotties Clare Grant and Rileah Vanderbilt (of Team Unicorn fame, amongst other things) battling with lightsabers... in their skimpy underwear...

Well now Clare's husband, Robot Chicken guru and former Buffy The Vampire Slayer star, Seth Green has directed a sequel which will be coming to the Nerdist Channel on Youtube on May 4 (Star Wars Day)!

Make a note in your diaries...

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Pennsic Impressions - With G.A. West & Capt. Zorikh (part 1)

Captain Zorikh and "Simply the Best" G.A. West sit down in Times Square to discuss their impression of Pennsic XL as part of the video project Return to Pennsic.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

New Edition Of Doctor Who RPG Available Now In PDF... [UPDATED]

The new (11th Doctor) Edition of Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space is now available in PDF form.

All updated, tweaked and rebranded to the show's current look, with redesigned (horizontal) character sheets (with extra player-useful information on them), monsters new and old, a new book of adventures etc

Publishers Cubicle 7 have also said: "We will be releasing a free upgrade pack for those who have the Tenth Doctor edition and don't want to buy the Eleventh Doctor Edition, containing the new monsters and character sheets. The all-new Eleventh Doctor Adventures book will also soon be available separately."

The print edition of the game's latest iteration is due out late May/Early June.

[UPDATED, March 27, 8.40pm]

Monday, 26 March 2012

On Spartacus Tonight...

Breaking News: Doctor Who Season Seven Teaser Trailer... The Real Deal!

Farm-fresh from the Official Convention yesterday, BBCAmerica has kindly uploaded the teaser trailer for season seven.
"In the words of The Doctor: "Anachronistic electricity, keep-out signs, aggressive stares - has someone been peeking at my Christmas list?!"

The new season will see the last days of the Ponds, with Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill making their final rollercoaster voyage with The Doctor (Matt Smith). Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) have been at the Doctor's side for more than two seasons but what will he do after their heartbreaking departure?
New guest stars so far confirmed to star will include David Bradley, Rupert Graves and Mark Williams. Season 7 will then see a dramatic turn of events when The Doctor meets a new friend - the recently-announced new companion, played by Jenna-Louise Coleman. Prepare yourselves for thrills, adventures and dramatic surprises as the show builds towards its enormous, climactic 50th anniversary year.

Fourteen big, blockbuster-movie episodes - each a brand new epic adventure featuring new monsters and some familiar foes as you've never seen them before."
The fan speculation has already begun about a possible glimpse of The First Doctor in this trailer (!!! Really check it out at 0.54 - it could be!) - which would tie in brilliantly with my idea about who Jenna-Louise could be playing...

Map-A-Monday: Star Trek Universe

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Torn From The Headlines: Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart
Inspired by Craig Oxbrow's brilliant Door In Time Doctor Who RPG blog I thought I would try my hand at posting the occasional Doctor Who story hook based on a current news item.

The one that caught my eye today was about the "new hunt for Amelia Earhart's" plane, as featured on the BBC News website.
"Explorers are to begin a new push to find the remains of famed aviator Amelia Earhart's long-lost plane, focusing on the Pacific Ocean island nation of Kiribati."
While Amelia Earhart has appeared in Star Trek: Voyager, beyond a passing reference in Torchwood's Out Of Time, I don't think she has ever been featured in a Doctor Who story... and yet the mystery of her disappearance seems ripe for the picking.

The BBC news story even makes mention of bones being found on the island of Nikumaroro (where Earheart is thought to have possibly crashed) but "lab tests were inconclusive on whether they were human bones". Perhaps they were alien bones?

Just Funny...

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Doctor Who: Could She Be Susan?

Jenna-Louise Coleman from BBCAmerica Tumblr
While a lot of us are expecting the nature of Jenna-Louise Coleman's character to be revealed at this weekend's Official Doctor Who Convention in Cardiff, I've just had a brainwave of who I'd like her to be... Susan. The Doctor's granddaughter.

Or at least a new regeneration of her.

Or maybe her daughter... wouldn't that be cool?

And a great way to tie-in to the show's 1963 origin to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.

Doctor Who: The Dæmons (1971)

"Chap with wings, there. Five rounds rapid"
- Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart

The Daemons has great central conceit - that what we call "black magic" is actually the science of an alien species (cf. The Shakespeare Code) - but sadly this results in the whole affair almost suffocating under a dense cloud of technobabble.

Still grounded on Earth - after Colony In Space - the Doctor learns of the excavation of an ancient barrow outside a village called Devil's End and agrees with the local self-proclaimed white witch  Miss Olive Hawthorn (Damaris Hayman) that no good can come of digging into this mound.

It's never really explained why he feels this, but The Doctor, Jo and UNIT soon discover he is - of course - right when supernatural-seeming forces are released and the village finds itself shut off from the outside world by a deadly 10-mile force field.

At the centre of the force field sits the village church where the sinister new vicar, Mister Magister, is revealed to be known other than The Master (no great effort is made to conceal this as he had appeared in every story of this season; although this was to be his last appearance for a while).

Roger Delgado chews the scenery wonderfully as The Master turns to the black arts to summon the mighty (alien) daemon Azal - with the hope of being given the power to rule the world (bwahahahaha!)

The Master actually looks terrified by the power of the size-changing Azal - which gives some indication of just how powerful this creature is supposed to be.

Perhaps there is some connection between the alien daemons and The Beast from The Satan Pit as both have been attributed, by The Doctor, as the source of horned, demonic imagery in human (and other) cultures? Was The Beast the first and Azal the last of the daemons?

The Daemons is a wannabe Hammer horror outing that, to today's eyes, suffers from some very weak special effects - particularly the materialisation of the Big Bad himself (clumsy CSO that just looks ridiculous), a man in a skintight leotard as an animated gargoyle and a lame exploding model (that somehow fooled '70s audiences into believing the BBC had actually blown up a church for the show).

At five-episodes - 122 minutes - The Daemons also feels padded, as stories of this era often did, even though the requisite car chase (Bessie being pursued by a helicopter) actually has some story merit for a change.

However, the UNIT family is on top form, there are some cracking lines of dialogue in the script - by producer Barry Letts and Robert Sloman (writing as Guy Leopold) - and, as I've already said, the core theme is brilliant as it allows for pretty much any story to be told in the Whoniverse.

The Daemons makes good use of Aldbourne in Wiltshire as the fictitious Devil's End (shades of Quatermass And The Pit here with its own Hobb's End setting and aliens masquerading as devils) and there are few things more frightening than grown men Morris Dancing, but you can't avoid the feeling that 'Guy Leopold' was using atmosphere as a bit of a smoke-screen to smudge over the plot holes and padding.

Ultimately, The Daemons is less than the sum of its parts and what could have been a cracking four-episode story (with some judicious trimming) is a rather lacklustre five-parter ... as epitomised by the half-hearted pantomime heckling of The Master as he is driven away from Devil's End at the close of the final episode.

Game Of Thrones: You Win Or You Die...

Enter the world of the hit HBO series Game of Thrones in this 22-minute feature that revisits the stunning events of Season One, introduces the major players, and presents a sneak peek at Season Two, which kicks off on April 1 (in the States) and April 2 here in the UK.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About 'Gators...

Click To Embiggen
If you're not watching Swamp People then you're missing out on a unique piece of reality TV.

Fleamarket Friday: A Meeting Of Geekdom's Heavy Weights!

The team-up we never thought possible is about to burst out of the pages of IDW with the pairing of the crew of the Starship Enterprise (Next Generation) with the crew of the TARDIS.

Star Trek: Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation(2) , by Scott and David Tipton, the authors of Star Trek: Infestation with art by J.K. Woodward (Fallen Angel) sees Captain Jean-Luc Picard and The Eleventh Doctor joining forces when the Federation's most terrifying enemy strikes an unholy alliance with one of the Doctor's most hated antagonists.

The first issue is due for publication in May and while Star Trek: Infestation didn't exactly set the world on fire, Comic Book Resources cites Tony Lee as co-writer on this project and, for me, he is the definite Doctor Who comic book writer of recent years and that (as well as the joining of the two mega-franchises) has me really pumped up for this title.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Doctor Who: Pond Replacement Announced...

After Amy and Rory Pond leave the TARDIS during the first half of the next season of Doctor Who, Matt Smith will be joined by ex-Emmerdale actress Jenna-Louise Coleman during the 2012 Christmas special.

She's also appearing in the upcoming Titanic mini-series which launches this weekend.

Although Jenna-Louise is quite a cutie, I'm a bit underwhelmed by this announcement so far. I guess I'd convinced myself that the rumours about the new companion being Miranda Hart were true - despite her similarities to Catherine Tate.

I also had a bit of a fanboy dream that it would actually be Anjli Mohindra bringing her Sarah Jane Adventures' character Rani Chandra into the TARDIS as the 'new' Sarah Jane (Rani was her journalist protégé after all).

No details have yet been revealed about 25-year-old Jenna-Louise's character, who will be with The Doctor for the show's 50th Anniversary celebrations next year, and you can read the full story of the announcement on the BBC website (including a not-very inspiring video interview with Lizo Mzimba).

Snow White And The Huntsman...

This really is shaping up to be a great year for cinema - if we could only kill off 3D so theatres showed regular films for regular prices, then I might find myself going more often.

Snow White And The Huntsman is definitely on the list of movies I'd like to see on a big screen, though.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Taking A Break...

Life has gotten the better of me at the moment (mainly fatigue and medication-related issues) and something had to give... and it's my blogging that had has taken the hit.

My output has been sporadic - and (to me) unsatisfying - of late and so I'm going to take a break for a while.

Pre-programmed items (such as the Sunday Funnies and Wonder Woman Wednesdays) should continue to appear, as will the odd review (and hopefully a prompt write-up of next week's gaming session) but I'm not going to try and keep up the two, three, four posts-a-day that I could happily do when I was at the top of my game (or buzzing on prescription medication).

Have no fear, I'm not going anywhere and I'll get round to addressing the two issues that I mentioned the other day that had been raised during the Reader Survey.

But, as I've said to other bloggers in the past, health has to take priority... and at the moment I just need to nap!

I hope you'll all be here when I get back... why not check out my back catalogue of articles while you're waiting? I've got five years' worth... of varying quality.

Not Long Until April 2... Deja Vu?

Geek And Sundry has the potential to be all kinds of awesome.

Not Long Until April 2...

Okay, we're getting Game Of Thrones, Season Two, a day after the States - I can live with that!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Introducing: The Hover-Scooter!

I could do with one of these 1960's hover-scooters for my trips down Tonbridge High Street. When it gets too crowded I could just take a short-cut down the Medway!

Future Film Of The Year?

Prometheus is looking like a strong contender for "Film Of The Year" already.

Penguins Are Cool!

I realise it's Mothering Sunday here in the UK, but this is totally for my wife:

Live broadcasting by Ustream

This is Penguin Cam: live video of the "Penguin Encounter" at SeaWorld San Diego. Stay tuned for penguin feedings throughout the day, and with live Q&A sessions every Monday from noon to 12:30 p.m. ET starting this week (March 19).

In celebration of Frozen Planet (from the makers of Planet Earth), premiering today in the US at 8PM e/p, Penguin Cam will be live 24 hours a day throughout March and April — plenty of time to get to know SeaWorld San Diego's nearly 300 penguins, representing all five Antarctic species: emperors, kings, Adélies, gentoos and macaronis.

Future Film Of The Year?

Prometheus is looking like a strong contender for "Film Of The Year" already.

Sad, But True...

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Lies, Damn Lies And Statistics - Reader Survey Results...

Click to embiggen
I've been pontificating on the results of the recent reader survey and today I'm just going to give you a brief overview of the results.

When it comes to general tastes, the vast majority of you turned out to role-players (which shouldn't really come as a big surprise) with a general interest in fantasy, ahead of science-fiction by a nose. About a quarter of you are interested in horror and just under 40 per cent in comics and superheroes, so I'd say I was pretty much on the ball - even if less than half of you are interested in Doctor Who!

The role-playing scored strongly in the "reasons for visiting the site" as well (57 per cent), with the second highest reason being Doctor Who news and reviews at only 11.4 per cent.

Apparently 86 per cent of my readership are roleplayers - judging by the fact that only 16 people skipped the "if you run or play RPGs what's your favourite genre question", the results of which are shown below:

click to embiggen
The majority of you (38 per cent) visit the site every day or so (although interestingly enough eight per cent of respondents were first time visitors), male (92.7 per cent), aged 40 to 49 (52 per cent) and run your own blogs/websites (72.7 per cent).

Although I've always pitched this blog (first when it was HeroPress and now that it's I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters...) as a general geek magazine site, I'm pleased to see that my recent push on role-playing has paid off and is drawing in a solid audience.

My concern here is that I've always been more of a consumer than a creator and will never be as prodigious as some of the more high-end old school roleplaying blogs who produce top quality new - and usable - gaming material on a regular basis.

I admire their dedication, but find my own fickle nature ill-suited to such a laser-beam focus and am concerned that as my fad radar swings round to a new topic (which it inevitably will) if some of my more focused Followers will slip away.

Not that I have an issue with readers drifting off. I've been lucky to date in that for every Follower I've lost I've soon picked up two others - and I can't blame people for unsubscribing when they joined because I'd written a string of articles about Subject A and now my attention has shifted to Subject B which isn't quite their cup of tea.

This article has been a general overview of the reader survey results and, once again, I'd like to thank the 102 people who took part in the survey (far exceeding my wildest dreams) and shared their views - both positive and negative - about what I'm trying to do here.

A couple of issues arose out of the survey which I'd like to address in more detail, and sound out your further opinions on. These I'll try and post up in the next few days.

Simon's Cat in 'Shelf Life'

For more magical Simon's Cat visit here.

Ladies & Gentlemen, Could You Please Keep The Noise Down, I'm Trying To Sleep...

My slump continues I'm afraid - due to my ongoing sleep-related issues - although I think I've started to pick up this week and while not as productive as I would have liked, I reckon there's been a modicum of quality snuck in between the trailers and video clips.

Thank you for sticking with me and an extra special welcome to our latest recruit:

Friday, 16 March 2012

Fleamarket Friday: Help Zenescope Get Animated...

Hugely successful indie comics publisher Zenescope is launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund an animation series based on its popular Grimm Fairy Tales line.

With 46 days left to run, the company is looking to fans to pledge $175,000 by May 1 to produce a high quality pilot for the show - with any further funding going towards future episodes.

Joe Brusha, President of Zenescope Entertainment, said: "We have a very talented director, Jon Schnepp, attached to this project as well as Titmouse studios ready to produce it. Jon and Titmouse are behind a number of the animated shows airing on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block. They also do work for Disney, Nickelodeon and Spike TV. All we need now to make this project a reality is the financing."

Check out the video appeal above, then visit Zenescope's Kickstarter page for more details about the project as well as information about the rewards that can garnered for different amounts of funding (including being transformed into an animated character to appear in the show - a snip at $2,500).

I've long thought that Zenescope comics could easily translate into TV shows that I would watch and so, once I've saved up a few more pennies, I can see myself popping on this Kickstarter - if only to get a DVD of the finished product.

Roleplaying Pioneer Passes...

Professor M.A.R. Barker

1929 - 2012

For more information read the press release from the Tékumel Foundation.

Fleamarket Friday: Making Sure Osama Stays Dead!

One of the most talked-about upcoming zombie movies is Arrowstorm Entertainment's Ozombie about the fight to stop the undead Osama Bin Laden raising an army of flesh-eating terrorists.

The film follows Dusty, a yoga instructor from Colorado, who is on a desperate rescue mission to save her crazy brother Derek, a conspiracy theorist who is convinced Osama Bin Laden is still alive, despite having been buried at sea.

In Afghanistan, Dusty falls in with a team of NATO Special Forces on a secret assignment. Turns out Derek is not so crazy after all, and that Osama has returned from his watery grave and is making an army of zombie terrorists.

When the group crashes headlong into the growing zombie apocalypse, Dusty and the troops must find and destroy the root of the zombie insurgency before it infests the rest of the world.

Arrowstorm has crashed through its original $15,000 Kickstarter target and is now heading towards $30,000 - which means a new opening scene for the movie is being shot - with over a fortnight to go.

So, you've still got time to sink your teeth (and finances) into this great looking project, from the people who also brought us Dawn Of The Dragonslayer, which was a big here at HeroPress Towers.

Cardiff Needs GMs!!!

While I suspect that a large proportion of my readership comes from outside the UK, perhaps there is someone here who can help out Lianne Wilson, Comms Officer for the 2012 Student National Roleplaying and Wargaming competition.

The Nationals are an annual two-day charity event where universities around the UK compete in roleplaying, wargaming and card games. For 2012 the Nationals are taking place at Cardiff University on Saturday April 14 and Sunday April 15.

However, this year, the organisers are coming up about 10 short on the number of registered Gamesmasters, and the event is only a month away.

If you think you can help, please send an email to GM Co-Ordinator, Kieran Harwood, at: kyrionus AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk

The roleplaying games should aim to run with six players and take around five hours playing time. The same game is run each day with a different set of players. You’ll need to make pre-generated characters unless character creation is quick and/or integral to play.

Details of what each category means can be found at this link but the event is mainly looking for people to run games in the following genres:

  • Doctor Who
  • Humour
  • Myths and Legends
  • Paranoia
  • Star Wars
  • True Random
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Victoriana & Steampunk
  • Weird and Wibbly
  • (Old) World of Darkness
  • (New) World of Darkness

Lianne says: "As a GM you will also have access to the social side if you wish, with a large get-together of players, organisers and GMs on the Saturday night. The players pay an entry fee for the event, but GMs get in free to the whole weekend. You’ll also get a free Nationals t-shirt and some free and unique dice. We may even be able to subsidise your travel or accommodation expenses.

"Further details, including some available accommodation in Cardiff and more information about the Nationals themselves can be found in our info pack.

"Please remember that this event will raise money for a very worthy charity, so you'll be helping a great cause by lending your time!"

Fleamarket Friday: Counter-Measures To S.W.I.N.G...

Spinning off from the classic '60s-set Seventh Doctor adventure, Remembrance Of The Daleks, the forthcoming Counter-Measures series of audio dramas from Big Finish follows the adventures of a specialist team established by the British Government to investigate strange phenomena and dangerous technology.

The team's first missions - full-cast audio dramas starring the voice talents of Simon Williams, Pamela Salem, Karen Gledhill and Hugh Ross - involve a haunted warehouse, a ground-breaking artificial intelligence, a mysterious new town and a threat to the future of the country...

To me, this all sounds like perfect source material for inspiring a roleplaying campaign using James Desborough's popular Agents Of S.W.I.N.G. rules set. Just look at the logo - doesn't that just scream "spy-fi" to you?

The Counter-Measures jumping off-point, Remembrance Of The Daleks, was also the story that namechecked the legendary Bernard Quatermass and his British Rocket Group, so the crossover potential for period awesomeness is simply mindboggling.

The Big Finish website, where the box set of the show's first season is available for pre-order for £30, includes brief synopsis of these initial four stories for the Counter-Measures team:
Threshold by Paul Finch
A missing scientist and ghostly phenomena bring Gilmore and Allison to a factory in Bermondsey, and the discovery of a science that should not exist. As Rachel Jensen returns to help them, a new future for Counter-Measures is set in motion...

Artificial Intelligence by Matt Fitton
Investigating a suicide at the Sen-Gen Facility, the group discovers a new weapon in the Cold War – and Gilmore meets an old flame. Meanwhile Rachel discovers that she can’t trust anyone, not even the sound of her own voice...
The Pelage Project by Ian Potter
A case of industrial pollution leads the group to the new industrial town Pelage, and a dangerous meeting with its leader Ken Temple. And deep within the plant it appears that an alien invasion is already underway...
State of Emergency by Justin Richards
There are creatures from another dimension on the streets, and traitors in the halls of Westminster. When the government is in jeopardy, Rachel, Allison and Gilmore take on a faction staging a very un-British coup...

Thursday, 15 March 2012

OVC Reminds Us That Comics Can Still Be Magical...

This cartoon - from Our Valued Customers - of a recent young customer's innocent enthusiasm upon reading through the latest issue of Justice League reminds us that, while it's easy to be cynical and hard-bitten about comic books and the industry as a whole, at their heart superhero comic books are incredible escapist fantasy for both the young and the old.

House Rulin' Our House Rules...

During our most recent games session, a couple of my existing "beta test" house rules were put to the test and ended up being finessed through actual play experience.

FORAGING: (a specialist skill of the Forester class) If Forester spends four hours obtaining food in the correct environment he can find sustenance for himself and up to four other people on a successful straight Saving Throw.

However, for every point he misses his Save by, he finds food for one less person (e.g. rolling 13 when your ST is 14 means you find food for three extra people, rolling a 12 means two extra etc).

Rolling exactly your Saving Throw means you find just the bare minimum, with quality (not quantity) increasing  proportionately for every point you roll over your Save.

HEALING WITH HERO POINTS: As the original Hero Point uses were written before I obtained the full Crypts & Things rules, this has now been modified to take into account the game's innovative use of the Constitution statistic in wounds and healing.

A Hero Point spent during combat on healing still just heals 1d6 Hit Points, however a Hero Point spent out of combat on healing now restores 1d6 Constitution points for the wounded character. This represents some kind of heroic measures taken to staunch bleeding, patch up serious war wounds etc

D&DVD Of The Week: Immortals (2011)

Tarsem Singh's reimagining of Greek mythology in Immortals is utterly bonkers. But (generally) in a good way. Sure it strays into confusion in the denouement, but for the most part it's a very straight-forward story dressed in Jean-Paul Gaultier.

Although Henry Cavill (the next Superman) is protagonist Theseus, the film truly belongs to the slightly underused Mickey Rourke who Colonel Kurtz's his way through his role as sadistic warlord Hyperion.

Hyperion - embittered by the death of his family by disease - seeks to bring an end to the time of the gods and has his army hunting down the powerful Epirus bow (which, in all honesty, is a cross between Hank The Ranger's bow in the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon and the Bow Of Kronos is dreadful Italian swords and sorcery flick Conquest) so he can free the imprisoned Titans from Mount Tarterus.

On the way, he kills Theseus' mother when he raids their cliff-side village but - foolishly - spares Theseus, sending him off to the salt mines.

Slave Theseus teams up with hot virgin visionary Phaedra (Freida Pinto) and cheeky thief Stavros (Stephen Dorff), escapes Hyperion's clutches, returns to his home village and finds the magical bow.

Which he then quickly loses to Hyperion's forces!

It's at this point we first see the gods really getting their hands dirty - having been bound not to intervene directly in man's affairs unless their old foes the Titans are released  - and it's clear that Singh is treating the gods as comic book superheroes, pulled straight from the pages of DC or Marvel.

While all the combat in Immortals is stylised to some degree it's really the scenes where the gods are fighting, either mortals or Titans, that the cool factor is really ramped up to 11. This is some of the finest superpowered conflict seen in movies... and it isn't even (strictly) a superhero film.

Stripped of its trapping, the plot of Immortals is so simplistic it's not really of great concern - this is a visual feast rather than an intellectual one - and it's only in the closing scenes where things get so twisted around that even the most casual viewer will be scratching his head and going: "Huh?"

Light-weight and fun, this is adrenalin-fuelled popcorn fodder for gamers looking to get themselves pumped up before their next round of tabletop roleplaying or video gaming.


Divine Horses:
A gift from the gods, a "divine horse" is the ultimate "one-use" item. It resembles a normal horse, but can gallop twice as fast and cover any distance (without the need for food, water or rest) - with up to two normal-sized humans on its back - but only once. When the horse reaches the end of its single journey, its heart gives out and it dies.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Doctor Who: The Face Of Evil (1977)

The TARDIS materialises on a jungle planet (that looks like it was dressed in bubble wrap by Elton John's interior designer) and the Fourth Doctor soon finds himself caught up in a holy war between the two native tribes - the savage Sevateem and the more advanced Tesh.

His position is made all the more precarious by his startling resemblance to a giant carved head in a nearby mountain that supposedly depicts "the Evil One".

It doesn't take The Doctor long, having befriended exiled Sevateem beauty Leela (Louise Jameson), to deduce that the tribes are the descendants of Earth colonists who crash landed on the planet manyy, many years ago - the Sevateem being the "survey team" who set out to explore the planet, while the Tesh (technicians) stayed and worked on the ship.

His only, personal, involvement came about from a barely remembered "unscreened adventure" where he had visited the ship before and tried to help repair the computer in a particularly extreme fashion, little realising that it had actually achieved sentience by that stage.

Chris Boucher's The Face Of Evil wears its influences on its sleeve, the story has strong Star Trek overtones with its central foe being a computer that cannot be overcome by force alone, while the giant carving of The Doctor's face brings back memories of a similar situation that faced Arthur Dent in Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy and the invisible aliens that terrorise the Sevateem are very reminiscent of Forbidden Planet.

After a rather uncomfortable start where The Doctor appears to be delivering his first monologue to the audience - a rather bizarre breaking of the fourth wall that never works in a serious show like this - the script soon settles down as a great satire of organised religion (especially given that both tribes believe themselves to be following the same 'god').

However, it's mainly remembered for introducing the scantily clad Leela to the TARDIS - a move that kept 11-year-old me, and a lot of dads watching the show with their kids, very happy for many years (at least until Peri appeared on the scene, of course).

The Doctor/Leela dynamic initially is odd one as he tends to be rather patronising towards her and while his dislike of her more brutal ways is understandable he never appears to tell her "why" they are wrong, just that they are.

In his first appearance, the leader of the Tesh, Jabel (Leon Eagles), is shown to have psychic powers strong enough to render The Doctor unconscious - however this monumental mind control then deserts him later on as he never again uses this rather useful ability to keep The Doctor in order (or anyone else come to that, and given the resolution of the story it's bizarre to believe he would bother 'negotiating' with the Sevateem when he is clearly such a powerful psychic).

Ultimately, The Face Of Evil is a strange little tale that is, in many ways, left unresolved. Once The Doctor undoes his earlier mistake, he leaves as soon as possible and we never really explore the ultimate fall-out of this resolution. It would have been interesting to discover what happened to the two tribes in the wake of The Doctor's departure.

Join The Doctor Online And Visit Worlds In Time...

The first browser-based, free-to-play multiplayer online game based on Doctor WhoDoctor Who: Worlds in Time - was officially launched this week by BBC Worldwide Digital Entertainment and Games.

Created in partnership with Three Rings, the award-winning developer of persistent online worlds Puzzle Pirates and Spiral Knights, the game transports fans and gamers alike on a journey throughout the boundless Doctor Who universe.

Doctor Who: Worlds in Time offers something for everyone, including an intriguing narrative for sci-fi followers and serious gamers and stimulating micro-missions for game enthusiasts looking for a quick pick-up-and-play game.

After meeting The Doctor in the TARDIS, players travel to various immersive worlds (including Ember, Mars and New New York) and work together to defend civilization against infamous villains (including the Autons, Clockwork Robots and Zygons) bent on creating chaos and destruction in the universe.

Since the open preview launch in December 2011, the BBC and Three Rings have worked to make more Doctor Who environments available, as well as introduce additional virtual items and create deeply engaging communal features.

Worlds in Time offers players a multitude of elements and opportunities to socialize,” said Robert Nashak, executive vice-president, BBC Worldwide Digital Entertainment and Games. “From introducing beloved characters and progressive storylines to presenting additional guild play, our goal is to become the largest Doctor Who community ever assembled, while also being an enjoyable experience for all users.”

While Doctor Who: Worlds in Time is free-to-play, players can enrich their gameplay and hasten their progress through the purchase of Chronons, which help them to customize their avatars, complete mini-games, build new contraptions and more.

“I have been a fan of Doctor Who since I was a child, so developing this game with BBC Worldwide is a dream come true,” said Daniel James, CEO of Three Rings Design, Inc. “Like The Doctor, we have our own mission, to provide Doctor Who fans an experience matched only by the wondrous TV series, and casual gamers a warm opportunity to discover the marvelous world for themselves. It’s exciting to see the Doctor Who universe come to life in such a unique way.”

Doctor Who
, one of BBC Worldwide’s flagship brands, is the longest-running science fiction series in the world and will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2013.

While a quintessentially British show, 2011 was the biggest year ever for Doctor Who on BBC AMERICA with record ratings and mass critical acclaim. The series broadcasts in more than 70 million homes and On Demand across all major digital platforms.

Monday, 12 March 2012

On Spartacus Tonight...

The Return Of K-9's Nemesis Is "Sick!"

The Internet is a funny old place. That pretty much goes without saying, and yet I'm still constantly amazed by the virtual friendships I have struck up in the last five years - since I began casting my thoughts out randomly into the aether through a variety of blogs.

One such acquaintance is actor/stuntman/comedian/all-round good guy Connor van Vuuren - star of the Australian Doctor Who "spin-off" K-9. Connor played Drake, the evil security chief who was always chasing after the Tin Dog and its teenaged compadres... and to say I was less than flattering about Connor's performance would be an understatement!

Luckily, he took my comments in good spirit and has stayed in touch (after jokingly threatening to crush my genitals with Drake's robotic hand), keeping me abreast of the comedy show he and his brother, Christiaan, have been working on.
"When an Australian man is quarantined with a deadly infectious disease, he re-unites with his estranged brother (an obsessive gamer) and enters a fantasy world within his computer, where he joins an epic quest to destroy all evil online."
Sick!, a pilot/telemovie that Connor describes as "comic fantasy hip-hopera", premiers on Australian MTV next Sunday (March 18) and will be available to view online from April.

Map-A-Monday: Star Wars Galaxy

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Makes A Change From Monkeys...

The Reader Survey Has Closed!

The phone lines are now closed and the results are being tallied. If you call now, your vote will not be counted and you may still be charged.
As they say on TV talent shows.

More accurately the I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters... reader survey is now closed and I'm going over the results.

Thank you to everyone who participated. It has been a great eye-opener, ego-boost and cold slap of reality around the chops to me.

Expect some form of amateur analysis later this week.

Now Look What You've Gone And Made Me Do...

Saturday, 10 March 2012

The Next Piece Of The Gamesroom Jigsaw...

The next piece of art has been hung in the gamesroom stairwell - my treasured George Perez poster of the New Teen Titans.

Dating from 1983, this poster was originally Blu-tacked to the back of my bedroom door when I still lived at home with my parents and features my all-time favourite superheroic team of crime fighters - the Teen Titans from the era of Marv Wolfman and George Perez.

This was the comic book title that first got me into seriously collecting comics and remains, for me, a benchmark of what can be achieved with superpowered crime-busters.

The poster was frayed round the edges, stained and faded but the picture framers did a good job of concealing the edges while the ageing effects just emphasis the poster's history to me.

Meanwhile, the rest of the gamesroom is looking increasing like one of the "honey-holes" that Mike and Frank visit on American Pickers, in their never-ending quest for "rusty gold".

I'm trying to dissuade Rachel from coming up here at the moment as I expect she would be less than impressed by the state of chaos that reigns in the gamesroom - compared to the rest of her well-organised house!

However, I'm still persisting in publishing pictures of my mess, so that once it's all cleaned up and everything is just how I want it I can then "compare and contrast" the before and after shots.

Knights Of Camelot

Ladies & Gentlemen, I Have Only Myself To Blame...

My recent lethargy and slow-down in posting has seen my record-breaking run of hits drop back below the 1,000-a-day average this last week. Sadly, this isn't really surprising as, despite a few 'decent' posts most of my input has been regurgitating film clips and trailers!

I can't say for certain that this period of "flagging" has reached an end yet, but hopefully our recent games night has reinvigorated me slightly!

This "go-slow" has also seen a drop-off in new signings, but thankfully hasn't discouraged at least one new recruit who wants to tag along on our big adventure.

Please charge your glasses and join me in a rip-roaring chorus of "Knees Up, Mother Brown" to welcome:

Friday, 9 March 2012

Fleamarket Friday: Take A Chance On The Minister...

The Minister Of Chance first appeared in the five-part 2002 BBC Doctor Who radio drama Death Comes To Time.

Now in his fourth incarnation, the defrocked Time Lord finds himself saddled with tomboyish barmaid Kitty - as an assistant that he can't get rid of - and caught up in the goings-on of a world where science is heresy and magic is law.

The Minister has returned thanks to a great new audio series, available as a free podcast, with a stellar cast headed by the sublime Jenny Agutter, supported by Doctor's Seven and Eight - Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann - and Blake's 7's Avon, Paul Darrow.

Described as a world where "Tolkien meets Star Wars", the new Minister Of Chance series springs from the mind of writer Dan Freeman who originally created the character of the Minister in Death Comes To Time.

Originally played by Stephen Fry but, as Time Lords will, the Minister has now regenerated into Julian Wadham’s more austere and urgent incarnation.

The show is financed by its listeners and is currently running an IndieGoGo campaign to fund the third episode, Paludin Fields.

They are aiming for $10,000 by the end of March and have already passed $3,000.

To listen to the first two episodes - The Broken World and The Forest Shakes - visit iTunes and download the free podcasts.

The Question That Should Never Be Answered...

With next year being the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who - and rumours of "great plans" are leaking out of the BBC - this plot thread is clearly the angle that current showrunner Steven Moffat is pursuing.

I just hope (and I don't think he'd dare) there isn't a definitive answer to that particular enigma.

Simply because (a) whatever he dreams up will never be as satisfying as the insane speculation of fandom and (b) whatever the answer is declared to be, it's bound to alienate vast tranches of five decades' worth of fandom.

The Moffat era was supposed to be about the return of mystery to Doctor Who and let's hope that's what we're left with once 2013 is over.

To quote the very Whovian Douglas Adams: "We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!"

Fleamarket Friday: Take To The Skies With Crooked Dice...

My favourite miniatures company, Crooked Dice, has unveiled its latest release: a trio of "daredevil pilots" sculpted by Ian Mountain, for £3.50 each of £9 for the three.

The figures are available as headless bodies with '70s hair-do heads on the tab – the unhelmeted heads and a helmeted head sprue will be available to buy separately for £1.60.

These have been released "ahead" of Crooked Dice's first price increase since it opened its doors over 18 months ago. Figure packs will rise by 50p and individual figures by 25p as of next Thursday, March 15.

The new prices can be seen in PDF form here.

A new rules supplement for Crooked Dice's game of cult television, 7TV, will be released at Salute 2012 next month.

The 112-page On Location includes: six different location types, 20 items of equipment, seven new weapons, three special effects, 23 vehicles, 10 Extras, five animals, nine event cards, 15 gadget cards and 15 Guest Stars and Co-Stars.

The rules and a new set of 64 cards (gadget, event and two equipment decks) will all go on sale at Salute on April 21 and be in the web store the following week.

Fleamarket Friday: Game Of Thrones - Now On DVD!

What are you waiting for? This is your chance to refresh your memory of the various antics during the first season of the best show (that wasn't Fringe) on TV last year - before the second season begins next month.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

[TEKRALH] Lost: One Adventuring Party. If Found, Please Return To Coggershall...

Inside Hob's brain! Art by VValter
  • Meredith - Alys (1st level thief)
  • Simon - Jarl (1st level fighter)
  • Pete - Othwic (1st level forester)
  • Kevin - Hob (1st level thief)
It was games night this week (finally) and the Tuesday Knights have broken the ice with their first kills: four of the painted warriors of the dreaded Malte Volk; successfully avoided a large number of giant black scorpions (Serkets); "borrowed" then lost a horse; found a strange underground room; rendered one of their number temporarily insane; found some treasure (well, Alys did, the others don't know about it); and are now pretty much lost in the Forest Of Ascetir, deep in "enemy territory".

A full, in-campaign, write-up can be found over here at the campaign blog but particular highlights for me included the characters' showing their true roguish nature - as befits the swords-and-sorcery genre that the Crypts & Things rules seeks to emulate. They didn't think twice about "borrowing" Maud's horse (as Clare was unable to attend due to illness), so that lame Jarl had something to ride on and didn't slow them down, and later on Alys pocketed the strange shiny gold key out of sight of her comrades.

We also had our first run-in with the Crypts & Things variant take on damage - that, basically, says for player-characters and major villains hit points are just "fatigue" and their Constitution score is the true measure of how physical damage a character can take.

This came into play when a Malte Volk barbarian ambushed Alys and took her below zero hit points with a couple of quick strikes. The remaining damage came off her Constitution and she failed her Saving Throw thus rendering herself unconscious.

However, before the barbarian could do further damage to Meredith's character, Pete's forester stepped in and decapitated the attacker with a very good die roll.

Maud's absence from the group (it was decided that she had stayed in the tavern because of her major phobia about thunder storms) was felt in two ways: first, as the resident mage, she is the only one with healing magic and secondly she's the only literate member of the party - which was bit of a problem when they found a natty note buried in the remains of a collapsed tower.

Not sure how she's going to take the news that the Malte Volk have stolen her horse, the palomino known as Mythra's Pride, from the people who 'stole' it from her!

While exploring the 'mini-dungeon' beneath the tower I got to use on of my "special effects" records to provide the all-pervading  "mysterious hum" - and that piece of atmosphere seemed to go over very well and helped give the impression that there was something "more" to the only remaining rooms of the ancient edifice.

Reckless Hob (Kevin's character) managed to escape possible serious injury when he opened a trap door by jumping on it (he was quick enough to jump off again), but was later rendered temporarily insane when he climbed onto the exotic leather bed in the main underground chamber and fell into a supernatural sleep.

Hob remained a walking vegetable for the remainder of the session, but I've promised Kevin I'd email him details of Hob's experience - well, what the poor lad can remember of it - and he can then decide what he shares with the rest of the party.

The group is currently camped near the coast and thinking of heading further into Scotia (the western land of the Malte Volk) in the hope of finding the mountain with a skull on top that was on the note/map that they couldn't read!

War Of The Arrows...

War Of The Arrows: looks like another great Korean action flick, coming to DVD (in the UK) in May, from Cine Asia.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Piece By Piece, The Gamesroom Slowly Takes Shape...

Slowly, piece-by-piece, my vision for my ultimate gamesroom continues to manifest itself through the chaos of its current state. The latest addition is this gorgeous framed print - signed by artist Cynthia Sheppard - of the cover art from Lamentations Of The Flame Princess.

Although I've owned the piece for quite some time, I finally got round to having it framed at Christmas as a present from my mother. Then my father-in-law came round today to make sure it was securely hung on the wall of the stairwell in my gamesroom.

In case anyone thinks the white mark at the bottom of the picture is a fault or a crack, it's actually a reflection of the banister opposite!

Highlights From The UK Premiere Of John Carter...

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Your Last Chance (For The Moment) To Share Your Views...

First off, I want to thank everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) who has already participated in my reader survey and told me what they think of my blog and why they read it (or not).

Because of the wonderful and varied response, I'm looking to close the survey this coming weekend and then ponder on the responses for a while.

So this week is your last chance to join in. The survey can be found here, embedded in the blog.

I've read every comment so far and am already taking onboard some issues raised and will, naturally, share with you the final results over the next week or so. I can already see this survey raising supplemental questions and some interesting issues.

We hit the 550,000 unique hits mark earlier today - less than two months after reaching the half-million - so I guess I must be doing something right, but I'm always looking for ways to improve.

Even during my recent (current) fatigue-driven lull, I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters... is still averaging 1,000 hits a day (although I must apologise to those who get bored with the constant film clips and trailers... most are for my own benefit as much as anything, so that I know have them stored somewhere).

Enjoy TEN MINUTES Of John Carter...

Get Behind The Sofa To Support A Great Cause...

Behind The Sofa is of a collection of over one hundred celebrity memories of Doctor Who that has been compiled by author Steve Berry in aid of Alzheimer's Research UK and is beautifully illustrated by Ben Morris.

Due for publication in September, the 200-page collection is available in a number of formats - although the single £999 Morbius package has already gone. Other deals include the straight-forward, hardback pre-order for £14.99 or an ebook for £4.99 up to the £199.99 Zygon package.

For more information, including full details of the various package deals and a run-down of the celebrities contributing their memories to the book, visit the Behind The Sofa website.

 Steve decided to undertake this project in memory of his mother - Janet Berry - who suffered from Alzheimer’s in her final years and passed away in 2009.

Be aware though that all "versions" of the book, including the ebook, are limited editions so don't procrastinate for too long before committing to your particular choice.

I really must thank Craig Oxbrow for first drawing this to my attention as it is a cause very dear to my heart and - even though I'm supposed to be having a spendthrift month - I felt it was a worthwhile purchase to break my purchasing moratorium for.

My Awesome Family...

Rachel and her parents have several theatre trips planned already this year that I have no interest in attending, but as her parents' didn't want me to "feel left out" they surprised me at the weekend with a parcel containing two new Doctor Who T-shirts!

Turns out they'd got them off eBay (it's not just for second-hand stuff you know!) a few weeks ago and then got worried when I'd mentioned my new T-shirt purchases - thankfully there were no duplicates.

I shall be wearing my geekiness with pride this summer...

Thor: Love & Thunder (2022) + Dr Who (2022)


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