Sunday, July 31, 2011

Marvel RPGS #3 - D100 Resolution System

Whether you're a fan of superhero RPGs or not, this table is something I feel that all roleplayers can appreciate. What this table represents is a simple percentile-based resolution system AND a basic combat rules summary. How great is that?

Now, you may not be able to make out the details on this chart so let me tell you what you're looking for.

Across the top of the page is a list of every combat maneuver you can make and it tells you what the color results mean. For example, for Blunt Attacks you use your fighting skill. A white result is a MISS, a green is a HIT, a yellow is a SLAM and a red is a STUN.

Now, the large chart tells  you how to find your results. To the left is a list of the percentages. Across the top is the skill, power, or attribute ranks from "Shift 0" to "Beyond." This represents the entire range of power from Aunt May to God himself. Say you have Amazing level fighting and you roll a 87 - find the place where the Amazing column intersects with the 87 row - it's yellow. At the top of the page this tells you than your result is a SLAM. Congratulations! Not only did you hit but you SLAMMED your opponent away from you, perhaps into a wall doing more damage! Awesome!

See? It's that simple!

What a fantastic system. I a shocked that Wizards hasn't using this system in any other RPG. Perhaps they can't due to their original agreement with Marvel or something. Who knows.

Marvel has tried various other RPGs over the years and, although they all take place in the same universe with the same characters none of been as popular at the classic D100 RPG. This chart is the reason why.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Eclipse Phase - Gaming Notes

Continuing my adventures in the ultra high-tech RPG system, Eclipse Phase.

As I've said, in our attempts to find out how and why we died, we split the party. Half went to Saturn, the other half to Mars.

The Saturn group found out that the shuttle we died on was on a mission for a faction called Firewall. We were on a mission to deliver Alpha Forks (doubles) of ourselves sleeved in Fury morphs (combat bodies). We were basically to go through a gate and destroy some alien base. Another corporation found out and had us killed.

Meanwhile, on Mars, the other corporation was continuing its quest to kill us. And, to some degree, succeeding. Bryan's character was beheaded in an ambush. We resleeved him quickly and went to ground in a safehouse. We waited until the Saturn folks got to Mars before proceeding to our rendevous point.

On the way, we were ambushed by bad guys on the train! We cut our losses and ran. Everyone pilled into the control car and detatched the rest of the train. Unfortunately, this was after one of Dave's Betas got killed.

We arrived safely at the gateway platform. Now we have to upload into our super-combat "Furies" bodies and complete the mission.

The Great Debate: Is Dressing in Costume for a Movie Premier Cool?

Yes, I brought a Thor hammer to the Thor midnight showing. YES, I was willing to dress in a full body suit for the Green Lantern midnight premier. And, Yes, this is me with a full-sized Captain America shield for the Captain America midnight show.

So, of course, in the great debate on whether or not it is cool to dress up and/or bring prop replicas to a movie premier I'm going to answer a resounding, "YES!" 

First of all, this is a way for you to show that you're not just a casual fan who saw a cool trailer during last Sunday's football game. If you dress up in costume for a movie, it shows you're a superfan! You have knowledge and passion for the source material!

Second, it makes the entire movie experience more special for everyone. Why is it cool to go to midnight shows? Because, at its best, it is like going to a mini-convention for people who are fans of this one intellectual property. Anyone who was at a Star Wars or Harry Potter midnight showing knows what I'm talking about. It's cool to see how fans costume up to express their interest in a film and it's also nice to be stand out in a crowd yourself. Try walking up to the concession stand, sighing, dropping your Thor hammer on the counter and saying, "You won't BELIEVE the day I've had!"

Thirdly, it's a way to make yourself approachable to other fans. If you dress up you're saying, "I'm not just here to see a movie - I want a bigger experience!" This signals to other fans that they can approach you and begin talking. If nothing else they have an easy conversation starter ("Hey, nice costume!"). At Captain America alone I had a few fans approach me and ask where I got the cool shield (I pointed them toward Comic Store West). It's nice to gain a little attention from the crowd.

Finally, it's a way for you to express your own creativity. What's better than hobbling together a home-made Hank McCoy or Rouge outfit (I saw both of these at the X-Men: First Class midnight showing)? And, BONUS - Come Halloween or the next Con, you've already got your costume ready to roll. Score!

So as you clearly can see, shedding your inhibitions and dressing up for a movie premier is cool. It make the experience more memorable for you and everyone else. And after all, that's what most fans are after at a midnight showing - something more special than your average movie-going experience. So, God Bless you, Up Boy, and all the mega-fans like you! 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Spider-Man (FINALLY) Opens On Broadway!

Odd tagline... wonder what that's all about.
I am PUMPED! Spider-Man: Turn Out the Dark FINALLY opened on Broadway recently! YES!

As you can tell, I've waiting for this event for some time. I will DEFINITELY be attending to see this thing in the near future. Count on it! I was beginning to think that this production would never get off the ground, but there it is - flying high! AND to good reviews! Despite a rocky start, this show is worth admission according to a large majority of critics!

Bus trip to NYC anyone?

1LR - 100 Pageviews!

1LR reached 100 pageviews yesterday. It's a meger feat but 1LR is proud anyway! Onward to 1,000!

Sillof's Workshop #1: Noir Wars

1LR fan Bill sent me the link to Sillof's Workshop recently. What is Sillof's Workshop? It is a land of imagination and wonder for any fanboy. He makes and sells customized figurines / action figures. What's so special about that? The care he puts into each one makes the quality top notch. The figures are original designs, primarily based on established properties. To top it off, each figure is one-of-a-kind unique. This week, I'll feature "Noir Wars." These figures, in case you haven't figured it out, are based on Star Wars but set in a pure Noir world. What would Darth Vader and Han Solo look like in a Noir world? Check it out! Ain't it cool? Check more out at Thanks, Bill!

Dante Victor's Enforcers

Hawk Solomon P.I.

Detective Dante Victor

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dark Knight Rises Teaser Trailer!

Any fan of action films, comic book movies, or just good old sci-fi / fantasy is dying to see the final act of the Christopher Nolan - Batman / Dark Knight trilogy. The first two films represent perhaps the best DC comics films of all time. Does anybody doubt that the third one will be fabulous?

Why are they ending this fabulous series? Apparently so they can reboot the franchise in time for the JLA continuity films. Now that's setting up the rebooted Batman for failure, isn't it?

Check out the teaser!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Marvel Pokes Fun At DC Reset

Marvel attempted to slight DC in this month's Marvel Previews. DC, for better or worse, is resetting all 52 titles in its DC Universe line-up back to #1. That's right - Action Comics (which is over 900 issues) and Detective Comics (which is almost at 900 issues) are going to be rest to #1. More on that in a little bit.

In the latest Marvel Comics Previews magazine, at the bottom of each solicitation they put a little burst that announced their title was still retaining its original numbering. For example, Uncanny X-Men is on issue #543 so the burst said, "STILL #543." What's funny is Marvel DID reset some of its Ultimate lineup this month to #1. Some or the bursts are pretty lame such as New Avengers, "Still #16!" WOW! 16! REALLY? How long did it take you to get to #16!?!?!? Wait - only 16 months? Lame. To make things a little worse, Marvel has done plenty of its own number resetting in the past. Most of its major titles have reset to #1 at some point as a sales gimmick. Once fans reacted poorly, they just simply resumed numbering as it would have been if they hadn't reset the numbers. For example, Amazing Spider-Man reset to #1 after issue 441. It then ran for 58 issues. 441 + 58 = 499. So with the next issue Marvel resumed original numbering with issue #500. The whole thing was stupid.

Now, I understand that DC's event is a little more logical than that, but I'd still be really angry if I was a fan. Apparently, this is all going to tie into events during the Flashpoint storyline. Perhaps something happens to alter reality in the past? I don't know. But the actual continuity of the characters is going to be changed in major ways, throwing out some of the old continuity. As a fan, that just stinks. That's why I quit collecting! You mean I've spent thousands of dollars investing into your world and you're just going to throw out all of that story history for a sales gimmick? Get real. When are comic companies going to learn that a "reboot" or "reset" angers long time fans and offers a great place to get out while the continuity train stops.

We'll see how it works out for DC but don't be surprised if you see their numbering reset to the original numbering on those books within a few years.

Comic Book Movies - 2011 Summer Review

This summer was much anticipated for the four major comic book movies: Thor, X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern, and Captain America: The First Avenger. I thought I've provide my thoughts and analysis as I reflect upon all four of these movies. Listed from best to worst...

Cap trumped the rest...
1) Captain America - This movie is simply great. A historical piece heavy on character with lots of fanboy moments but still accessible to the average fan.
2) X-Men: First Class - While this was still a great film, I feel that the large number of characters may make this film a little harder for a casual fan to follow.
3) Thor - A fun movie that did the seeming impossible - made Thor in the real world look normal.
4) Green Lantern - Not a "bad" movie but the worse of the four. It didn't take the time to explain core concepts to viewers who weren't core Green Lantern fans. Ultimately, it may have over reached and tried to do too much in one film.

All in all, add in movies such as Super 8 and Harry Potter and this summer was a great one for movie fans. It looks like there's still more greatness to come with Dark Knight Rises, Amazing Spider-Man, and The Avengers on the horizon!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Marvel RPGs #2 - Classic D100 System overview

The very first and, in my humble opinion, best Marvel RPG ever was the D100 system. This game was called Marvel Super Heroes. It is now referenced as the "classic" Marvel RPG.

As you can see from this cover, this system was published by TSR. TSR took full advantage of its Marvel license putting out dozens of products that sold very well from 1984 into the early 90's. Eventually Marvel and TSR parted ways for whatever reason (probably Marvel wanting too much money for licensing rights - Marvel was going through a bankruptcy at the time).

While the core resolution is one of the best ever devised (it is simply and very flexible to fit all situations), one of the biggest drawback to this game is the increasing complexity the rule books went through. The old rule books were usually never revised or updated to reflect additional rules complications or clarifications. Originally, this game was released as a "basic" set in which players could basically just play their favorite heroes from the comics. Rules were very simply. When this proved to be popular, TSR released the Advanced Set - Kinda like a version 2.0. But where things get complicated is when you consider other sourcebooks that expand greatly one particular aspect of the core rules - say, super powers or magic. These "enhanced" advanced rules are not reflect in TSR published character write-ups or adventures, making things unnecessarily complicated at times. To add to this, like a lot of RPGs published in the 80's the rules aren't always as specific or clear as you would like them to be.

But, all nit-picking aside, this is a fabulous system and an extremely fun world to play in. I have been using this system for decades and I own an extensive amount of material for this system. TSR really did explore every aspect of the Marvel U - there are literally hundreds of comic book characters that had officially published character sheets sold for them. Some popular characters even had multiple different versions of the same character released (say, Spider-Man as a teen, Spider-Man with six arms, Spider-Man as an adult, etc.). What's better is that these sheets were perforated and three hole punched so you could store them in binders and organize them as you wished.

You can find a plethora of material available on Ebay and other online sources still to this day for very reasonable prices. If you're a fan of the Marvel Universe and like RPGs, I STRONGLY encourage you to purchase the core "advanced" rules for this game and give it a shot. I promise you won't be disappointed.

America Beats England

Don't mess with a WWII vet...
I don't know why I'm so fascinated with the Harry Potter box office, but I am. Captain America SOUNDLY trounced Harry Potter this weekend which made me happy but surprised me a bit as well.

Cap came in with a solid $65 million compared to Harry's $47 million. What's amazing is that this represents a 72% crop in Harry's second weekend! That's a BIG drop (typical is 50%) especially when you consider the strong reviews that Harry 7.2 got.

1LR predicts that Cap will have some legs - it had a strong opening but a good word of mouth campaign is underway that should sustain interest.

So, as is the theme of history, America shows England who's the boss once again!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cool Marvel Movie Swag

Marvel has produced some fabulous movies this summer. Usually, movie tie-in merchandise is cheese and is an obvious grab for the money. But this summer Marvel has released some outstanding toys.

First up, the Foam Thor Hammer for kids. It looks fantastic and is safe to beat your friends with. Win-Win! Every kid has a sword but a warhammer is something special indeed! For $11 how can you go wrong?
Thor The Mighty Avenger Foam Hammer -  Hasbro - Toys"R"Us
Next is the Captain America Flying Shield. Let's be honest - it's a Frisbee. BUT it's a Frisbee with a strap on the underside so a kid can strap it to his arm like Captain America does. How awesome is that? Plus, it is not flimsy at all - it's really durable! For $9 buy one for every kid in the family!
Captain America The First Avenger Flying Shield -  Hasbro - Toys"R"Us
Marvel has already released a whole bunch of masks for their heroes (Cap, Spidey, Wolverine, and Iron Man - Thor has a helmet). This Iron Man mask is $8. The masks are well constructed with easily adjustable straps. It's funny how a kid instantly takes on the personality of the character when they wear the mask. Combined with some of the cool swag from above and you have an instant pint-sized Super Hero costume. What great, cheap (but durable) fun!

Way to go, Marvel!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

1LR's New Banner

As I explain in the "About 1LR" page, 1LR is named so because of the lost gaming piece from my 5 and 6 player expansion to Settlers of Catan - namely, one brown road. You're supposed to have 15 brown roads but I only have 14. So every time somebody plays brown, I've got to say, "You're missing one brown road. If you need to build a fifteenth road, we'll use a toothpick or something." This is somewhat annoying to me.

I wanted to immortalize the brown road in our banner.

First of all, do you know how hard it is to take a picture of something that's the size of half a toothpick AND dark brown? When it is blown up on screen it looks like a out of focus piece of excrement. That's not the look I was going for.

SO, I had to draw reinforcing black lines on it to "beef up" the edges and make them more defined. THEN, I wanted to put a little text in the banner as a way of continual explanation to all newcomers to 1LR.

I'm pretty happy with the end result - it's not perfect but good enough for right now. I'm sure I'll replace it at some point. But that's what 1LR is all about - searching for something. A brown road, a great game, a good gaming group... whatever it is.

I'll see you... on the road.

The new banner...

Amazing Spider-Man Trailer

Check out the new Amazing Spider-Man trailer!

I think this looks really great - it addresses the issue of Peter's parents and it appears that the main plot revolves around what they did and what happened to them. Plus the First Person POV shots of Spidey moving through the city look really well done including head movements, shadows, and environmental reactions. It looks like they gave Peter a bit of a more realistic "every-kid" look - should make the character more relate-able to the average teen.

While I'm not a big fan of reboots I'm pumped for this next installment in the Spidey franchise! I'll look for the string of fantastic Marvel movies to continue!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rolemaster - Gaming Notes #1

Well, last time we played Rolemaster it continued just as it has been: horribly for the player characters.

 It was just John and I playing with Sam running the game. John and I decided to do the "right thing" and investigate the death of the baron's daughter. We ended up backtracking some suspicious people we ran into on the road through a sewer pipe. We should have known there to stop. Despite weeks on in game investigation, we ended up with nothing but a dead prince on our hands. The prince from the next city, that is. Now the other city is really angry with the Baron's city. Looks like war is a-brewin'! We, of course, split.

And what could be more innocent then checking out a old crypt where we happen to know a archaeologist is working? Of course, we run into skeletons in the crypt. You know, like, zero level creatures? Well, in one round they totally owned us. John's spell backfired drastically - Sorry John! It's a coma for 1d10 WEEKS and loss of spellcasting ability for 10d10 WEEKS for you! As for me, I had to spend a fate point to avoid having my BOWMAN'S HAND from being cut off!!! Holy crow! We dragged our sorry carcasses topside only to be jumped by skeletons in our sleep! We climbed the walls of the ruins and shot them down with arrows.

So, like I said, it continues to go normally.

Even Gringotts Can't Hold All That Loot

The Harry Potter film franchise is now the all-time high grossing film franchise, passing Star Wars (the only two film franchise that have made over $2 billion). Maybe Star Wars will retake it's throne when the 3D versions of the films are released but HPatDH: P2 keeps churning out the numbers. So far, in one week it has earned $640,000,000 worldwide! IN ONE WEEK! This film will smash one billion (as predicted)... the only question is how much will it make in the end?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Marvel RPGs #1 - Overview

#1 in a series of blog posts discussing the various Marvel RPG games.

I am a HUGE fan of the Marvel Comics characters - Spider-Man, Hulk, Silver Surfer, Fantastic Four, etc. etc. etc. I can't get enough of these characters in any format - be it film, novels, television, board games, comic books, or role playing games. The Marvel Universe is one of those natural worlds to be explored in the form of a role playing game.

This world has its own extraordinarily rich and detailed history (and alternate futures). You could choose to play in a "generic" MU or a specific historical setting in the MU. World War II? No problem! Marvel's Civil War? Got that! The dawn of the Marvel Age? You're there. Days of Future Past? Awesome campaign setting. Your campaign could take place as a gigantic "What If?" scenario in which your characters are the x-factor! Not to mention WORLDS! From Atlantis to the Inhumans on the moon to deep space with the Kree, Shi'Ar, Skrulls, to the Negative Zone to the Microverse - literally in the MU your game can take place in any world, plane, or reality.

The MU is populated with hundreds of colorful and well established characters that are recognizable by most people who aren't even fans of a comic book. How awesome is it in to team up with Spider-Man or to swing by the Baxter Building to consult with Reed Richards? What's even better is you can choose to play one of these well established characters and live out the storylines you've always imagined. Who should win in a fight - Thor or the Hulk? What would Spider-Man be like if he got kung-fu training from Iron Fist? What's more, you can create your own original character and join the ranks of the Avengers or the X-Men! Build your own legend!

There have been multiple versions of the Marvel RPG over the years - each very radically different from the other ones. Over the next several weeks we'll examine these RPGs in detail.

No Avengers Trailer After Cap?!?!?

You've never seen a more disappointed group of fanboys than after the Captain America midnight showing. Why? The much anticipated Avengers trailer didn't show as promised!

I don't know if this was just for my theater or just for the midnight show but this left a bad taste in everyone's mouths. Cap was awesome and then... disappontment. Fans grumbled as they filed out of the theater. The same thing happened after X-Men: First Class - no "kicker" ending after the credits. Fans have come to expect these endings. They're fun and they are frequently used to juice up excitement for the next movie. It's a win-win. To not put one on is just lazy.

So, without further ado, for your viewing pleasure... the Avengers trailer - warning - it's a bit "rough" but definately genuine! CONTENT MISSING

That thing got yanked down so fast I think even Thor got whiplash. 1LR will post it when it becomes available once again.

1LR Midnight Movie Review: Captain America - The First Avenger (Spoilers!)

Captain America
Captain America - The First Avengers is a first rate film. I would call it more of a character based film than a "action movie." There's one chase sequence early on and until the final fight scene other action sequences are done as a part of a montage or showing for just a few seconds. I didn't mind, however, because they really take time to develop the character of Steve Rodgers and build his relationships with the other characters. The fight sequences they do present are very well done - nothing comes off as campy. It's nice to see Cap kick the door down, guns a-blazing, mowing down Hydra agents!

Chris Evans does a great job as both Captain America AND Steve Rodgers. It's funny because even though Cap transforms physically, mentally he remains the same person - he's just now able to act on the impulses he was physically unable to before. So even though Cap is big, strong, and buff you still see he's socially awkward and geeky. No inspirational Cap speeches in this film (a bit of a disappointment for me personally) but it would have seemed out of place with the direction they went with the character.

Like Thor, I particularly enjoyed how funny this movie was. Tommy Lee Jones delivers many great lines in a deadpan voice that strikes just the right chord for humor.

I went to this film with my friend Sam who isn't a comic book fan at all and even he enjoyed it. The theater was very full for a midnight show (not Harry Potter full, but still a good crowd) and the crowd seemed pleased with the film overall.

1LR REVIEW: 17 out of 20 - It's a Solid Hit (with Cap's shield)!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

World Boardgaming Championship in Lancaster, PA

So, when I was reading the latest issue of GTM, I came across the ad for the World Boardgaming Championships. I said to myself, "I'd LOVE to attend something like that but it's too far away!" And then I saw it happens in Lancaster, PA - just about an hour away from me! WOW!

Check them out at

I am going to have to seriously consider attending for at least a day this year. Anybody ever been to this event? Any information? Let me know!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Comic Books Sold By The Panel

Who wants the card of nothing but
Iron Man's hand?
You know, comic book companies just seem to raise prices on comic books all the time. But I think the Avengers Kree-Skull War is going a little bit too far. This story is going to be sold one panel at a time - literally - as collectible trading cards.

The Avengers: Kree Skrull War is made by Upper Deck and will contain a brand-new, original Avengers story. The set contains 190+ cards that make five stories - a 20 page "main" story and four "side" stories. Each page is made up of nine cards. One pack will retail for $2.99 and according to Upper Deck will contain, on average, "four main story cards, two-to-three character cards, one-to-two side story cards and one cover card." So for three bucks you'll get five or six story cards on average. That means, if you wanted to complete all five stories,  you're probably looking at shelling out somewhere over $100! That's one expensive comic!

And you know what? In my hay-day of "gotta have it all" collector mentality, I would have purchased them all. It would have really ticked me off, but I would have purchased them all. Shame on you, Marvel Comics, for exploiting your fans in this way. Instead of doing this why don't you put an electronic code on each card that unlocks exclusive comics online? Nobody wants to pay over $100 for a single comic.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Netflix, Netflix - Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

I am a Netflix subscriber. I love Netflix! For $15 a month I get two disks in the mail and unlimited streaming! Wait? What? PRICE HIKES? That same plan is now going to cost me $20 a month! YIKES! That's a 33% increase! An extra $60 a year! I see no way to justify this great of a price increase especially since I've already had my rates raised in the past year!

While I'm not going to cancel my Netflix, I may cancel streaming to reduce my bill a bit. Netflix beware - you are treading on thin ice. With lots of other options out their such as Apple, Amazon, Blockbuster, and Hulu you aren't in the unique position  you once were.

At this point I could BUY a new DVD each month for the price I'm paying for Netflix. Consider used DVDs on eBay and it might be closer to three or four DVDs.

Beware, Netflix! And tread lightly.... preferably as you backstep your way back to $14.99 for me.

What I'm Playing - Rolemaster (Long Term Campaign)

Right now I'm in the middle of a long term Rolemaster campaign run by Sam. Mr. Grimes, my Paladin, is currently 6th level. I'm by no means a Rolemaster, um, master, but I'm finding this complex system is growing on me. But MAN is this system deadly! So far, we've had a broken hip (-75% to all actions, 20 days healing), a leg injury (-30% to all actions, 8 days healing), two spell backfires (1d10 WEEKS of coma, loss of spellcasting ability for 10d10 weeks), and whole-body nerve damage (-90% to all actions, 28 days healing). We routinely get owned by even low level creatures. It makes you think twice before charging into battle!

The story so far...
Mr. Grimes has hooked up with Marco the paladin. A rotating door of other adventurers have come and gone since we began playing but Marco and I are the solid core. After thwarting aggressive frog-men from taking over a village, Marco and Mr. Grimes headed into a city where the Baron's daughter is about to be married to a neighboring city's Baron's son. Things don't add up, however and both the bride to be and her fiance are killed.

Monday, July 18, 2011

1LR Midnight Movie: Captain America - The First Avenger

It's that time again! This Thursday into Friday at midnight, 1LR will represent at the Captain America: The First Avenger midnight showing! Meet at the Queensgate 13 Frank Theatre in York, PA. Hope to see you there!

Watch the trailer!

What's Next - Classic Marvel Superheros D100

Eclipse Phase should be wrapping up in a week or two. Next, my gaming group is moving on to Classic Marvel Super Heroes D100 RPG! This is one of my favorite systems and worlds of all time. I can't wait!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Harry Potter and the Outstanding Box Office

As predicted by 1LR, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 has smashed the all time opening weekend numbers. With $25 million in midnight ticket sales alone, the $168.6 million in opening weekend ticket sales topped the Dark Knight's previous record.

Check out the news article:

I believe that this film will break one billion worldwide before it's all said and done. This film has an unprecedented 97% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes and the fans rated it at an extremely high 93%. With numbers like that, this film will have some serious legs. When will Hollywood learn? Geeks rule the world. Make the geeks happy and everything will be okay!

They have a good reason to smile!

Eclipse Phase - Session 3 Notes

We split the party. Hey, it's the future - technology allows us to break all the rules!
We're in the middle of a murder mystery (who murdered US - we were uploaded to new bodies from our back ups and don't remember the last three months of our lives). We already escaped one virtual reality world we were trapped in only to find that reality is a mess for us as well. Apparently, we "forked" ourselves six years ago and our other selves have been leading secret lives. Now, for some reason, people want to kill us some more.

We had a bunch of leads so half the party went to check on our other selves while the other half broadcast themselves to Saturn to find out what happened when we died there. They were expected, however, and they were given a shuttle with cargo - superhuman versions of ourselves that were designed to stop an alien invasion.

Well then...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What I'm Playing - Eclipse Phase

Ever have an role playing game make your head hurt? Well, Eclipse Phase makes mine hurt.

It's actually a very, very cool RPG. The concept is that it is far in the future - man has colonize the entire solar system and technology is way beyond even Star Wars - Mankind has "uplifted" itself to genetic perfection enhanced through bioware. You can download yourself into different skins, backup your brain, and control your environment with your thoughts.

The problem is - how do you make this work as an RPG? It's so different from what you and I know that I have a hard time wrapping my head around it. When your players can do anything, I think it's hard for the DM to "herd" them. It's also hard for players to know what's within the realm of possibility when literally anything goes. Also, how do you act in a world where everyone is a superhuman?

Not to mention the character sheets! Because you can jump bodies (and change bioware) regularly, everything about your character can chance - innate abilities, skills, stats, secondary attributes, upgrades, etc. In many ways, this RPG is beyond a character sheet as we know it. I wish the game designers had innovated a cool way to make this system work. As it is, it just seems a little clunky. It's so complex that it makes it hard for the character sheet to have the necessary flexibility.

The book is beautiful with lots of flavor text.

The basic combat and skill check rules are efficient and are easily managed. There are lots of numbers to keep track of, however - tons of attributes and secondary stats derived from those attributes.

It's worth a look - if super high-tech is your thing, then definitely check out this RPG. The game designers obviously poured their hearts into this thing.

CRITICAL REVIEW: 14 out of 20 - It's a hit!

Friday, July 15, 2011

1LR Midnight Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Spoiler Free!)

I just got back from seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 at the first midnight showing. 

Simply put, this film is fantastic. The mood of this film is exactly what it needs to be - mournful, dramatic, weighted down with anxiety, and reminiscent of the past. 

Two cautions:  

1) Do NOT go see this movie if you haven't seen all the rest of the movies or read all of the books. First, it won't make any sense to you at all. Second, why would you want to ruin the ending? Start from the beginning and get the whole story! That way it means something!

2) Don't take youngsters to this film. By far the most graphic of the movies, in one scene bloody dead bodies are given a close-up. In another an image that looks like an aborted fetus is shown for several seconds. Definitely could be very scary for kids even around the 5th grade or older. I know some of the stuff creeped me out!

By remaining faithful to the books this film pulls off something rarely seen in Hollywood: A great last installment to a movie franchise. 

Even if you've read the books and you know how things are suppose to go, you'll still find this film emotional and surprising. The filmmakers used humor well to break the tension and the audience reacted with genuine laughter. In other sequences, the film tugs at your heartstrings quite effectively. The action is quick and punches you in the gut.

Look for this film to smash box office records. 

CRITICAL REVIEW: 17 out of 20. It's a hit!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: The Midnight Show Experience

If you weren't at the first midnight showing for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 then... I'm sure your neighborhood was quiet. Because EVERYBODY was there and I mean EVERYBODY. I haven't seen so much excitement and fan turnout for a movie event since... the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. This was beyond anything for any Star Wars or comic book movie midnight showing I've ever seen.

I went to the Frank Theares at the Queensgate 13 in York, PA. The line for people that prepurchased tickets was literally wrapped around three sides of this massive building. I think the number of people that showed up kinda crushed the system. Nobody ended up in the right theater - My ticket said 13 but I ended up in screen 11. I do believe they sold out all 13 screens for this showing.

Of course fans turned out in droves dressed up in costume. Lots of fans carried Harry Potter books, merchandise, wands, and other memorabilia with them. Quiet a few of the costumes were very impressive! Everyone was in a festive mood - almost like a carnival! The crowd was composed of the old and the young alike. I expected the older folks to just be "tagging along" with their kids but several of them that I spoke to had read all of the novels. The youngest people I saw seemed to be around 7-8 years old - too young for this film, in my opinion!

I saw this movie in 3D. The glasses they gave you weren't the normal 3D glasses you get at a movie - they were specially designed to look like Harry Potter's glasses. That's the first time I've seen something like this done and it added a very nice touch to the experience.

You could go see this same movie tomorrow but you won't have the same experience I had going at midnight. This is what midnight shows are at there best - a little mini-convention for fans to get together and just bask in their collective enjoyment of the film.