Reality Is The Playground Of The Unimaginative

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Thursday, 30 April 2020

How Excited Are You For Next Monday?



This will be the first "May The 4th" since the launch of Disney+

The platform is really embracing this special Star Wars day, as it will see the launch of the documentary series about the making of The Mandalorian, the streaming release of Rise Of Skywalker, the long-awaited finale of the epic Clone Wars cartoon and, possibly, The Mandalorian.

Well, that's my day take care of!

Really enjoying how the Clone Wars story is now occurring concurrently with the events of Revenge of The Sith, and so, presumably, it's building up to the revelation of Ahsoka's fate when the dreaded Order 66 command is issued.

That fight between her and Maul in the last episode (and covered in the featurette above) is one of my favourite duels from anywhere in the franchise.

Documentary Of The Week: Quentin Tarantino - The First Eight (2019)


I went into Quentin Tarantino - The First Eight (now streaming on Prime Video) hoping to be transported back to my film studies days at university and came out, not only with a fresh appreciation of Tarantino's craft, but also a ravenous hunger to see all his movies again.

This 105-minute documentary, full of film clips and interviews with his collaborators, touches on his early script work - True Romance and Natural Born Killers - but is really concerned with the first eight movies he directed in the first 21 years of his career: from Reservoir Dogs to The Hateful Eight.

From Dusk Till Dawn doesn't even get a look-in!

A host of respected actors (including Christoph Waltz, Samuel L Jackson, Tim Roth, Robert Forster etc), as well as stunt woman Zoë Bell (who doubled for Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, as well as performing in many of Tarantino's films) and others share their experiences of making movies with Tarantino, his passion for the craft, his encyclopedic knowledge of cinema, his mastery of storytelling etc

Tarantino, himself, does not appear in the film, instead his point of view is represented in quotes that appear in text on the screen.

Written and directed by Tara Wood, Quentin Tarantino - The First Eight (QT8) is a gorgeously crafted documentary.

Clearly inspired by Tarantino's visual style, the appearance of the documentary is also very much its own thing with handy graphics appearing under every name to remind us which of his movies this certain actor appeared in.

As Tim Roth reminds us, Tarantino has stated on numerous occasions that his goal is to write and direct 10 films that will be his primary body of work (number nine is Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood), thus this documentary encapsulates the majority of the work he hopes to be remembered for.

On its journey through his oeuvre, the documentary obviously addresses Tarantino's use of language, the connectivity of his different tales, and his operatic approach to violence, but we are also treated to some wonderful behind-the-scenes anecdotes and first-hand accounts of his filmmaking technique, enthusiasm, and general bonhomie.

You have to realise that I came to QT8 with my own positive bias as Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill: Volume 1 are two of my all-time favourite movies ... there's a reason I have this poster in my office:


Initially, the documentary almost comes across as a fluff piece, seemingly uncritically praising the filmmaker for his body of work, but given the calibre of many of the speakers you soon realise he really is that good at making movies.

QT8 does mention Uma Thurman's dreadful car accident on Kill Bill - which the studio tried to cover up - and always lurking in the background is the hideous spectre of Tarantino's long-time association with producer Harvey Weinstein.

Things get a bit awkward, in the latter part of the documentary, when it confronts the Weinstein aspect of the story.

It makes it very clear that once the revelations about Weinstein came out, Tarantino severed his connection with the man, but does kind of hand-wave who knew how much.

The documentary tries to walk a fine line between addressing the elephant in the room (it was a major factor in truly bringing the foul underside of the Hollywood system into the light, that also clearly harmed many of the women involved in the movies we're talking about) but also trying not to let it overpower a study of the work of one cinema's greatest auteurs.

You can't ignore it, because that does a shocking disservice to the people affected, but on the other hand that's not what this film studies documentary is about.

Depending on your predisposition to Tarantino and his movies, I don't think Quentin Tarantino - The First Eight is going to win him any new fans, but those of us who already love his work will certainly be reminded of his peerless craft.

#RPG Can You Help A Brother Out? He's Looking For Some Superheroes...



I was approached the other day by Ron Redmond - of the late & Magazine - as he was on the hunt for Villains & Vigilantes players.

He said:
"One of the members of a PbP forum I play at is looking to start a V&V game up... He'd like a couple more players, trying to boost the signal for him."
I suggested a couple of active Villains & Vigilantes Facebook groups as a source of potential players, but if anyone is interested - or knows anyone who wants to get their cape on - then the campaign thread can be found here.

Beyond this, I know nothing about the campaign, I am just the messenger...

More Thoughts On Those Dark Places


This week, author Jonathan Hicks shared some more thoughts on his upcoming Those Dark Places RPG, and the influence of Outland and Alien on its aesthetic.

Anyone Remember This Show?



Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are bending the laws of space and time for one last mission.

Loving the pulpy poster and the whole time travel gig.

I wonder how much will actually now tie in to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and the upcoming Disney+ shows, of course).

In the States, the season kicks off on May 27.

Over here? Who knows?

Cosplay Goddess: Genevieve Marie


LA-based actress, model, and cosplayer Genevieve Marie can be found on her own website, on Facebook, TumblrTwitter, and Instagram.

You can support her work via Patreon.

I'm particularly taken with her Blade Runner replicants' outfits.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

#RPG Red Dwarf USA: "This Is America, Don't Catch You Smeggin' Now..."

The crew of The Yellow Sun

As I may have mentioned once or twice, it was a piece by my New York friend Adam Dickstein thet inspired me to dust off my old idea for a Red Dwarf campaign and settle in to the cosy familiarity of the Dwarf 'verse once more.

However, while I've been fussing around like Kryten with a pile of Lister's dirty laundry, Adam's actually getting on with his game, using the mechanics of Free League's Alien RPG rather than the system published in Deep 7's original Red Dwarf RPG, from 2003.

His campaign follows the misadventures of the crew of Space Corps Search and Research starship Yellow Sun, which was dispatched to track down the errant Red Dwarf.

Adam has already written up the first episode of his campaign, in five parts, on his blog, Barking Alien, and I believe the next episode is scheduled to played tomorrow (Thursday).
I've always found Adam's accounts of his own games to be highly inspirational and now that he's running the game I have every intention of running for the Tuesday Knights I'm paying special attention.

Social Distancing With Solar Opposites...


From Justin Roiland, the co-creator of Rick and Morty, and Mike McMahan, comes a series about a family of aliens trying to fit in on this human-infested crap-hole of a planet called Earth.

Solar Opposites lands May 8, only on Hulu
.

Weird Wednesday...

Amazing Artwork By Ïve Bastrash


Artwork by Ïve Bastrash.

First Season Sneak Peek At Penny Dreadful: City Of Angels...


Penny Dreadful: City Of Angels is scheduled to land in the UK on Sky Atlantic on July 1.

Can't wait!

Wonder Woman Wednesday...

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

#RPG I'm Getting Too Old For This Shit, So I'm Abandoning My Quixotic Quest...

Grail painting in from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade

For years I've wiffled, almost obsessively on HeroPress about finding my roleplaying "holy grail".

Most recently, I'd decided this would be some form of level-based Dungeons & Dragons clone that used ALL the polyhedrals (as I'd long had a stick up my arse about games that didn't take advantage of the full spectrum of dice).

This led to several months of rules hacking, slaving away at carving my own beautiful Frankengame from the bones of Newt Newport's First Edition Crypts & Things, held together with sticky tape made from various houserules I've concocted over the years for a variety of Dungeons & Dragons-style games.

I certainly wouldn't consider games that just used the common-or-garden d6 (far too mundane)  and I wouldn't be entertaining mechanics that relied on "dice pools" (given my feeling that such mechanics are the antithesis of mass combat situations or any other scenario where the gamesmaster has to deal with multiple NPC skill checks simultaneously).

The future for me (and The Tuesday Knights) was Frankengame or nothing.

Until I started reading Free League's Alien RPG.

And suddenly, like a bolt from heaven, I realised that - perhaps - I'd been wrong.

This game appeared to use a streamlined and elegant d6 dice pool mechanic that captured the atmosphere and emotion of the setting so elegantly.

But then, as we all know, a certain post on Adam Dickstein's Barking Alien sent me back to the old Red Dwarf RPG, which only relies on 2d6 for task resolution (highly reminiscent of the classic Traveller mechanic, which we never questioned back in the day... and I still wouldn't!).

So, in the space of no time at all, I've torn up the Holy Grail playbook, put my Frankengame on the backburner, and am diverting all my attention to the idea of a Red Dwarf RPG campaign.

Because whatever you may think of the series, it really is the perfect set-up for a roleplaying game, with one of the most clear-cut explanations for throwing a disparate group of characters together and forcing them to work as a gestalt family.

As I read through the rules, I'm continuing to work on my world-building over at The Red Knight Chronicles blog, which, ultimately, will serve as the in-game record of events (unlike the my broader Aliens-themed blog, Game Over, Man! Game Over! which touches on a variety of gaming-related topics loosely tied to the ideas of the Alien franchise).

It'll be some time before the crew of The Red Knight actually see any action, as Simon said the other day we still had a fair bit to cover in his Ravenloft campaign, then Pete is lined up to run his GURPS 1950's Atomic Age sci-fi game.

But it would still be cool if you decided to click "follow" up in the top, right-hand, corner of The Red Knight Chronicles and joined me, and the crew, on this wacky world-building exercise ahead of, what I hope could become my "forever campaign".

If I keep wasting time chopping and changing my ideas, eventually I'm going to run out of time.

I'm no spring chicken. I don't need to be trying to wrap my head around complex rules mechanics or in-depth worlds when all I really want to do is make up on-going fun stories with my gaming buddies.

And Red Dwarf seems like a great vehicle for that.

In The Season Finale Of Westworld...



And the usual spoilerific behind-the-scenes featurette:



We also know that not only has season four been greenlit, but the showrunners are aiming for a six season arc.

Prepare To Dive...

click to embiggen

101 Alien Scenario Ideas

Alien King by freelance concept artist arvalis

The RPG.net hivemind has compiled 101 ideas for diverse scenarios in the Alien oeuvre, after eliminating the plots of the movies from the mix.

Thanks to Craig Oxbrow for drawing this thread to my attention.

Walking Dead: Sneak Peak At Season Finale...



We don't know when it's coming, but it's coming...

Venom (2021) + Eternals (2021) + Spider-Man (2021) + The Matrix (2021) +The Batman (2022)


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