Saturday, December 31, 2011

Marvel Media Mania: Blade: House of Chthon (Pilot)

As always - Spoiler Alert!
Blade: House of Chthon is a pilot for a Blade TV series which originally aired on Spike TV in 2006. 

To be honest, I went into seeing this expecting it to be bad. The last two Blade films missed the mark with me and the made-for-TV budget for Blade: House of Chthon just seemed like a recipe for campy-ness. The opening sequence didn't do much to prove me wrong. Blade is chasing a Russian vampire around what appears to be the inside of a nuclear power plant... on his motor cycle, of course. What's weird is that the opening scene has almost nothing to do with the rest of the film. Blade asks the vampire, "Where are you taking the bodies?" and the vampire answers, "Detroit," but then we see a cop getting bodies for the vampires in Detroit. So why do they need to ship them all the way from Russia? Either way, we never hear about the Russian angle again...

The first part of the pilot is definitely weak. There's a storyline with a girl, Kirsta, searching for her brother's murderers. You know it will eventually be connected to Blade but it takes awhile until it actually is. So I was surprised when the pilot began catching my attention! I'd say the pilot really picks up when Kirsta meets Blade for the first time. I thought I knew where it was going - Kirsta becomes Blade's vampire hunting partner, but the pilot really gets interesting when Kirsta is turned into a vampire! What an excellent plot twist!

I'm glad to see they took a more "mature" angle on the Blade property - they're not afraid to be violent, bloody, sexy, or rough around the edges. The creators of the show went out of their way to show how vampires have pervaded our pop culture - from Video Games to comic books to movies. Some nice nods to vampire fans. They also threw in one tidbit for die-hard Marvel fans. At one point a "Professor" character mentions he colleague Marc Spector who specializes in werewolves. This is obviously a reference to Moon Knight (who's secret identity is Marc Spector although in the comics continuity he has very little to do with werewolves). 

The creators take their own liberties with the vampire myth, making it their own. First, I loved the flashbacks to native american vampires during the colonial times. Very cool. The creators seem to have taken the "cursed" spiritual aspect out of vampirism and made it more scientific. In this version, vampires are affected by sunlight, garlic, and silver but not by crosses and holy water. A major plot point is the vampires trying to overcome their weaknesses through scientific testing. There also appears to be different levels of vampires - a more "primal" vampire and more "civilized" vampires. I liked the idea of a "vampire farm" with thousands of vampire bodies in cold storage, all slowly being drained of their blood!

The main cast is great. "Sticky Fingaz" (AKA Kirk Jones) does a good job as Blade. The rest of the main cast does a pretty good job. They certainly cast people that look the rolls they're playing. The actors playing Kirsta, Chase, and Vam Sciver (the main bad guy) all do great jobs. The problem I ran into was when you get into some of the supporting cast. Even Pinocchio didn't act as woodenly as some of these folks!

All in all, Blade: House of Chthon (which I would have pronouned "Ch-Th-On" but is actually pronounced "Kith-On") is a good hook into the series. 

1LR Rating - 15 out of 20 - It's a Hit!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

George Lucas says, "No!" To Real World AT-AT Walkers

This story is from 1LR fan, Bill P.

How was the At-At defeated? It's only weakness is George Lucas.
Hundreds of volunteers have marshaled their energy to the task of recreating a real-world AT-AT Walker from the Star Wars movies for $100 million dollars. Well, they did before George Lucas *cough* *jerk* *cough* stopped them because of "intellectual property rights concerns."  Pssshhh.... And I'm sure if George Lucas directed a film that had a device in it that cured cancer he wouldn't want eager fans to build that either! Check it out:

Star Wars fans never stop surprising me with their rabid dedication and creatively. George Lucas never ceases me amaze me by being a tool. I mean, what reason could he have for fighting this... unless... HE'S A SITH LORD! Yes, of course! Who wouldn't want the good ol' USA to have this power but a Sith Lord! It all makes sense! George is the "Emperor" - behind the scenes, manipulating, "directing" if  you will... while the whole time amassing power for himself, letting the citizens of the empire suffer!

Build that AT-AT, boys, then use it to overthrow the Sith Lord's influence over the Star Wars films so we will finally have Episodes 7-9 like we justly should!

Thanks, Bill, for bringing to light this threat to the galaxy. 1LR fans, keep this stories coming... for the safety of all the known universe!

Flaming C Trailer - Conan O'Brien

Conan had the folks at Warner Bros./DC Comics make him his own hero - The Flaming C. What started out as a joke has gotten kinda serious. Already there have been some short animated sequences produced and now this pretty good looking trailer for a fake (for now) movie.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lone Wolf (D20) - Magic of Magnamund

Magic of Magnamund is the third book published by Mongoose for its Lone Wolf D20 RPG.
The main thing that this book adds to the Lone Wolf RPG is more character classes, both good and evil.

The Cener Druid and Shadakine Wytch/Wytch Chylde are both evil character classes to expand what was introduced in The Darklands. Both of these character classes are presented in a clear and easy to understand fashion. They are unique enough to warrant publication and should provide interesting enemies for the PCs.

Herbalish, Kundi Mystic, Sage of Lyris, Shianti Sorcerer, and Vakeros Knight are all good character classes that greatly expand what was presented in the core rulebook. Additionally, some "advanced classes" are also detailed. Each of these character classes is truly unique when compared to the ones previously published in other books. The Vakeros Knight's eagle steed make it a unique character class. Although I wouldn't allow a player to play a Shianti Sorcerer because of their massive power, I think it's a good thing that they are presented so the DM can create NPC Shianti Sorcerers. The Kundi Mystic is perhaps the most unique class presented here, however. Strange that it hasn't been included in LWM to date...

Additionally, some rules for magical items and crafting are presented. These, along with some information regarding the mechanics of magic in Magnamund, help to round out the feel and scope of the world.

While this volume isn't essential, I think it adds variety to the game for the players. All of the classes presented are fully detailed and given extensive write-ups.

1LR Review - 16 out of 20 - It's a Hit!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

She Don't Like Firefly - Awesome Geek Song!

Check out this original geek song and video by Mikey Mason... Personally, I think he's insane if this was based on a real life experience but I give him major geek credit for sticking to his geek guns!

Lone Wolf (D20) - The Darklands

I've previously reviewed the Lone Wolf Multiplayer Darklands book. A lot of the content is remarkably similar between the D20 Darklands book and that one. I felt that the LWM version was an excellent supplement. I will focus my review on the unique aspects of The Darkland book.
The Darklands doesn't disappoint. The second entry in the D20 Lone Wolf RPG is a strong one. Beyond the information about The Darklands and Helgedad itself (the map is an nice inclusion), this book also includes a bestiary, AWESOME write-ups of Darklords (You'd better have a party of all 20th level before you run into one, essentially), and rules for corruption of characters who enter The Darklands, the book offers quite a bit more.

Evil character classes are also included in this volume. Now, it's one thing in Dungeons and Dragons to say, "My alignment is Chaotic Evil," but in LW evil is EVIL. The descriptions of the abilities, powers, and dark rites that evil characters go through will give you the shivers. Which is exactly what you're looking for in this book, of course.

Additionally, there's a "Tools of Evil" section that details various weapons, armor, and evil magical items one might encounter in the Darklands. All of it is, of course, deliciously evil.

The Darklands manages to equal its LWM brother in quality but it includes more great material.

1LR Review - 19 out of 20 - It's a Critical Hit!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Stand Tall - AKA Lou Ferrigno Loses (Again)

I've met Lou Ferrigno in person at a comic convention. Here's how the meeting went. I said, "Hey Lou! It's great meeting you! Can you sign my (classic television series Hulk) DVD!" Lou said, "I charge $20 to sign." I said, "Oh. That's more than I paid for the DVD. Bye," and I slid the DVD back into my backpack and walked away.

So I went into Stand Tall thinking that this is just an attempt to grab some dough by an aging, cash-starved star. I am probably right but that didn't stop it from being interesting.

I'll readily admit that I know nothing about body building. Stand Tall works pretty well as an introduction to the culture. Different body builders are interviewed throughout the film. Lou is trying to win the Mr. Olympia Masters (which is like Mr. Olympia for old body builders). The film sets up a rivalry between Lou and Boyer, his competition in the contest. Arnodl Schwarzenegger plays the roll of the old sage, dispensing wisdom about body building.

I thought it was pretty funny when Robbie Robinson, a body builder that you don't hear about at all during the film, wins the competition and Lou takes second.

The film focuses on Lou's hearing loss. We see Lou speak to crowds and hear stories from Lou's childhood when they called him names, inspiring him to become a body builder. I guess all those ads in comic books were based on real life after all!

Probably the best thing in this film is watching Lou's wife walk a tightrope as she tries to tell the truth about Lou without totally calling him a neglectful bad father on film. It's pretty funny how carefully she chooses her words.

The production value is understandably low. Dialogue is frequently hard to understand (use subtitles if you choose to watch it). At one point there's a hair in the shot. At another the mic keeps dipping into frame.

I'd recommend you watch this movie just to learn a little bit about body building or Lou Ferrigno if you're interested. Otherwise, stay away.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Great Debate: Party Engineering?

After we created our Dungeons and Dragons 1st Edition party and ended up with a ranger, paladin, barbarian, and druid INSTEAD of a cleric, magic user, thief, and fighter I started wondering... is party engineering such a bad thing?
What is party engineering? That's when the players sit around and "fill in the gaps" so the adventuring party will be well balanced. You know - a little stealth, a little healing, a little magic/tech, a little brawn.

When a group uses this technique you end up with a well-balanced party that's able to tackle any challenge thrown at them. If you let everyone choose their own class independently you may end up two people from the same class. Unless it's possible for you to distinguish your character with game mechanics within the class, one party member will ultimately eclipse the other party member. "We've got to make a lore roll? I have the highest lore so I'll roll it!"

The down side to party engineering, however, is that the party becomes predictable. Experienced gamers know their roles well. The cleric is the walking band-aid while the fighter is the meat shield. The wizard lobs magic missile and then detects magic after the fight. Why not spice things up a bit by having an intentional hole or two? It takes a creative party to overcome the lack of a rogue or a cleric. It also lends the DM an excellent opportunity to introduce NPC characters that adventure with the party. No magic user? Hire one!

Another downside to party engineering is that somebody inevitably gets stuck with a role that they don't want. If you're launching a long-term campaign, nobody wants to be stuck as the healing potion with legs for twenty levels. Inevitably, there's a rush to declare what class you're going to be leaving the last person with whatever nobody else wants.

So ultimately, in this debate, I fall on the side of individual expression. So what if you end up with a party of all magic users? What a unique challenge! How can you make YOUR magic user unique even though you're in the same class and race as the rest of the party? That's a challenge an old-school gamer should relish.

Merry Christmas, Geek!

We here at 1LR just wanted to pause, take a deep breath and wish you all a Merry Christmas. That's right - I said it. Merry Christmas. Not Happy Holidays or Merry X-Mas or any of that garbage. CHRISTMAS. So today, as you're unwrapping your superhero movies, roleplaying games, sci-fi books, board games, video games, and geek gear remember the reason we celebrate - the birth of Jesus Christ. He came to Earth so that you might be saved.

So while this is cool:
This would actually be an incredibly tough board...
This is even cooler:
The reason for the season.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Marvel Media Mania: Blade Trinity

Blade Trinity is the third and final film in the Blade series starring Wesley Snipes.
I remember seeing Blade Trinity in the theaters. I remember being really disappointed and not liking it very much. Watching it again, I found myself wondering why I had such a strong negative reaction. While it's not great it certainly isn't horrible either.

The film starts with a cool introductory scene where we seen vampires played by Parker Posey, Triple H, Callum Keith Rennie (of Battlestar Galactica fame) and others discover a resurrected Dracula. Unfortunately, this scene is directly followed by a boring television interview with an interesting but insignificant character played brilliantly by John Michael Higgins. It's only after this boring and exposition heavy scene that we get to see some Blade action.

Whistler dies but it isn't a very memorable death. It is pretty cool to see Blade fighting police and losing. The interrogation is funny at times like when Blade says to the cop he's killed exactly 1,182 people (not vampires - humans who work with vampires). Seeing Blade psychoanalyzed by the psychiatrist was funny.

A lot of people have problems with the Nightstalkers characters. This group are suppose to help Blade take down vampires but they approach things from a different angle. They're working on biological warfare to take out all vampires instead of killing them one a time which is a losing battle. The two primary Nightstalkers are Abigail (Whistler's daughter) and Hannibal King. King was a vampire but somehow was "cured." The film is a little fuzzy on this point. Whistler was cured of vampirism in the second film and it just doesn't seem to fit with the vampire lore at all. But, at least for King, it does fit with the comics continuity. Anyway, I didn't have a big problem with either character. I actually really liked Hannibal's wisecracks. He's really funny. But maybe that's the problem some people had with this film - it's tone is much lighter than the previous Blade movies.

Some cool concepts are introduced in this movie such as the blood farming facility and the vampire supervirus. Seeing vampiric dogs was cool... why did they look like the Reavers from the second film? Weren't the Reavers super-bad vampires that the rest of the vampires wanted to kill?

Probably the coolest supporting character is a little girl named Zoe. She brazenly tells Dracula off and delivers her lines with a steely look in her eye. The cast in this film is really amazing. Besides the actors mentioned previously this film also had Kris Kristofferson, Ryan Reynolds (in his FIRST comic book movie!), Dominic Purcell, and Jessica Biel.

All in all, it's a somewhat likable action movie but it lacks emotional weight and the tone and mood are wrong for a Blade film. I did like the little nods to long-time Marvel fans such as the don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it Fantastic Four "4" shirt one of the Nightstalkers is wearing.

1LR Review - 8 out of 20 - It's a Miss!

Friday, December 23, 2011

G.I.JOE #8 Lottery Scratch-Off Cover

Now I've seen some pretty gimmicky comic book covers. There have been holograms, foil, glow-in the dark, die-cuts, lenticular art, sketch variant, gatefold, and embossed covers. I'm sure I even missed a few. But I've never heard of a scratch-off cover... until now. That's right - G.I. Joe #8 has a scratch off cover like a lottery ticket. The prize? You get to see the new Cobra Commander's face... five minutes before you read the issue. Either that or it ruins the surprised for the next issue.
This has got to be the stupidest promotion I've heard of since the cut-and-collect "Marvel Value Stamps" which you were suppose to cut out of your comics and paste into an album. The only thing those stamps did was drive up the value of the comics that weren't cut up! Likewise for this G.I.Joe promotion... who's going to actually scratch off the cover of their comic? This promotion shows a complete lack of understanding of comic book fans. The only people I can see doing that would be folks who actually buy an extra copy just to scratch. Which is probably what IDW is counting on to boost up their sales. Lame.

Oh, and I don't want to ruin it for anybody but the new Cobra Commander is... Polly from Polly Pockets.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lone Wolf (D20) The Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook

The D20 Lone Wolf RPG was first published in 2004. It is based on the D20 Open-Game License so many of the core rules are very similar to Dungeons and Dragons 3.5.
This is a hefty book, clocking in at over three hundred pages. In this book you get content that it takes FIVE Lone Wolf Multiplayer books to present (core rules, Heroes of Magnamund, Book of the Magnaki, Magnamund Bestiary, Sommerlund, and the list will most likely also include Stormlands I and II when they're released).

The character classes are the core attraction to Lone Wolf that makes it different from other RPGs. Mongoose did one think GREAT when they made this game and one thing HORRIBLY.

The great thing is the tiered abilities each character has. When you go up in level, not only do you get to choose a new ability but the abilities you had selected previously become more powerful by allowing the character to access the next tier of that ability.

The horrible thing they did was have some character classes pay for the use of their skills with endurance points (health points or hit points). This almost completely breaks the game and makes some character classes worthless. Who would want to play a wizard with D4 HP if you lose HP every time you cast a spell?

The book is fully black and white. The information is presented in an easy-to-access format. There's a good index and table of contents. The little art that's in the book is okay at best... but I don't care about the art so that's okay with me. I don't know how widespread this problem is but my copy of the book is lightly used and the binding already came undone in the front of the book.... pretty bummed about that!

Overall, this is the best overall Lone Wolf RPG produced to date. My advice is to use the homebrew rule to simply ignore endurance point costs for skills.  It's a shame Mongoose stopped supporting this line.

1LR Review - 17 out of 20 - It's a Solid Hit!

Geek Gear: Harry Potter Triwizard Tourney Shirt

While this shirt may not be the height of fashion it IS exactly what Harry Potter was wearing during the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and that makes it cool. I love prop replicas and if they're actually useful in real life that makes them all the cooler. The back of this shirt has POTTER blazing across it in brilliant orange. Maybe if you wear it you'll feel like you, too, can conquer he-who-shall-not-be-named, your boss, Randy. Oops. I named him. Sorry.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Geek Gear: Star Wars Flash Drives

There have already been a whole bunch of these Star Wars 4 gigabyte flash drives released. But the newest wave, Series 7, may have the coolest one of all - Han Solo frozen in carbonite. I like the ones that are wearing a mask and when you remove the top it reveals their faces like Darth Vader, Leia as Boushh (above), or Boba Fett.

These babies clock in at $27.95 which is extremely pricey for a 4 gigabyte flash drive - you can get one for less than $5 normally. Still, that Han IS quite tempting...

Check out some of the previously released Star Wars flash drives....

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nerd PSA

This is a funny PSA that deals with a serious topic. Pay attention, gamers!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Geek Gear: Duff

Ever try to sit down and watch an entire season of The Simpsons on DVD back-to-back-to-back? It's tough to do but the task just got a little easier thanks to Duff. No, not the beer that Homer is always drinking but a real-world energy drink by the same name. I love it when fictional products become real and now it's possible to go to work totting a Duff, just like Homer.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Geek Gear: Star Wars:Imperial Forces Wallpaper

I have a thing for taking things from geek sources and presenting them in a completely normal manner. That's why this wallpaper caught my attention. And, yes, we're talking about the type of wallpaper that goes on your walls, not on your computer desktop.
Pretty slick, isn't it? If it was hanging on a wall and you didn't specifically pay attention to it you might never notice it. That's what's so interesting about it! It obviously features Boba Fett, Darth Vader, and some Storm Troopers in different outfits. How cool. But this stuff is expensive! I don't know what normal wallpaper costs but I'm betting it's not $120.00 a roll (covers 27" x 180"). It's expensive to decorate your house with imperial glory!

Lone Wolf (D20) - Free Download - Flight From the Dark (Solo Adventure)

Flight From the Dark is the original Lone Wolf game book. The character creation and combat rules sections are very simple and easy to understand. When Mongoose came out with the Lone Wolf RPG, they re-released the first gamebook translated into the D20 system.
I think this is a brilliant idea. It takes the first gamebook and presents it in a completely new light even though the flavor texts are not changed at all. Where once there may have been a random roll, it's replaced with a skill check or an ability check. Creatures are presented with D20 stats instead of their original "bare bones" stats.

It should be noted that this adaptation is meant for solo gameplay - meaning you could roleplay in the D20 system by yourself. You COULD have a DM read the text to you but what would be the point of that since the DM wouldn't make any decisions?

It's a shame the great Gary Chalk art wasn't reproduced but I'm willing to make that sacrifice to see a familiar path with new eyes.

1LR Review - 17 out of 20 - It's a Solid Hit!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Marvel Media Mania: Blade II

Blade II is the 2002 sequel to Blade. Wesley Snipes and Kris Kristofferson reprise their rolls but the rest of the cast is new.

Right off the bat, I'll tell you that this film suffers from sequel-itis. In trying to differentiate itself from the first film or "take things to the next level" it loses its heart, style, and passion. Honestly, I saw this film when it came out but I didn't remember one thing about it until I rewatched it recently.

Sure, we still have Wesley Snipes in kung-fu action taking down vampires... but why do we care? Sequences seem to be designed to be "cool" not because they have any purpose, such as the motorcycle sequence in the beginning.

The story opens with Blade searching for Whistler, who, somehow survived his memorable suicide from the first film. This is never really explained at all - one huge example of the plot holes in this film. Apparently Whistler didn't kill himself and became a vampire. Then the vampires captured him and held him captive for two years, torturing him and then putting him in stasis chamber blood vats to heal so they could torture him some more. Blade rescues him and gives him a serum and then the rest of the film he doesn't act like a vampire at all. Really? That's all it takes? Because the vampires have been searching for a cure to their weaknesses such as sunlight... turns out, all they needed to do was use Blade's serum!

The plot of the movie involves super-vampires, which are hunting regular vampires and turning them into super-vampires. Blade agrees to help the vampires hunt the super-vampires (called Reavers). While the reavers have a cool design, they're primarily treated as mindless thugs. Once again, I didn't care about them, nor did I care about any of the vampires. A special-ops vampire team called the Bloodpack is introduced but they're all cardboard cutouts - style but no substance. Blade forms an attraction with one vampire, Nyssa, but, once again, I didn't care about that at all. Plot twists don't seem surprising or even interesting at all. In almost every regard, this film falls flat.

Now, that's not to say that this film is completely without merit. The special effects are okay, the action is fine, and I did like the very end when Blade shows up to take out the vampire he let go in the beginning. Scud has the best line in the film when Blade comes home and he says, "The Dark Knight returns!" referencing the Batman storyline by Frank Miller.

Ultimately, this film is a mere shadow of the first one. It lacks the charm and style that made the first film memorable. Unfortunately, it's not the worst Blade movie....

1LR Review - 9 out of 20 - It's a Miss!

What Do Your Dice Say About You - Open Invite!

Now that I've analyzed those that I game with regularly, I thought I'd open up an invitation to all gamers - send me a photo of your dice (or the dice of somewhat you game with) and I'll gamer-psychoanalyze you right here on 1LR!  What could be more fun?
My dice

Friday, December 16, 2011

Beholder Commercial... Funny

Behold! The "Beholder" Dungeons and Dragons 4th Ed. commercial! It's kinda funny... but I'm wondering who Wizards is trying to sell with this commercial? Does this just make an already odd hobby seem even weirder?

Top 100 Toys... Really?

With Christmas right around the corner we're all thinking about it. Toys.
Time Magazine recently released its Top 100 toys of all time. Check it out here:,29569,2049243,00.html

 (G.I. Joe from the '60's)
The list isn't organized 1 to 100. It is organized by decade, from the 1920's to today. Some toys on the list are without question deserving: The Radio Flyer wagon, Army Men, Legos, Mr. Potato Head, Frisbee, and Barbie. Others... less so. Brats? Furby? ---SERIOUSLY?

This article raises the question in my mind: What do you consider to be a toy? Is any object that you pass the time idly by with a toy? Are video game consoles "toys?" What about computer games? Stuffed animals? Board games? Some of the items on the list I would consider less "toys" and more objects of curiousity. Neodynium-Magnet Cube may be cool but does it qualify as a toy? Time says yes. The same thing with Paint-by-Numbers and Bubble Solution and Water Balloon and Colorforms. Are these all "toys"?
The Greatest Toy of All Time

How about the greatest toys of all time that they left off the list - rocks, sticks, dirt, and boxes? Wiffle Ball and Hula Hoop made the list but baseball and football didn't?

For me personally, Legos are the greatest toy of all time. Hundreds of hours of pleasure from simple rectangular prism shaped blocks. The limit is your imagination! Much better than say... Furby.

What's your favorite toy of all time? Post and share!

What Do Your Dice Say About You - Case #9

What do your dice say about you?
Case #9
Well, this is an interesting one. Let's tackle that bag first. It's a Crown Royal bag and I'll assume that its owner earned it honestly. That tells me that this player is going to be very social. He's the life of the party - everybody's friend! He knows his dice bag is going to attract comments and he's ready to tell the stories associated with it! This guy is all smiles. I can imagine him reclined in his chair and drinking a brewski as the game progresses. As a DM, I'd throw social roleplaying encounters into games for this guy so he can shine in-game.

Now the dice themselves obviously speak volumes just by the sheet number he has. I see several sets of dice represented along with a variety of oddballs. This gamer wants to be prepared for any situation but I bet that he has his favorite dice that he picks out each time to use over and over again (notice the red and clear dice set to the side). I'd imagine this gamer is loyal to his friends as well - both in and out of the game.

Look for this player to say, "I'm going to get another one... anyone else want one?"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tiny Deck of Playing Cards

Now I need tiny poker chips.
I took my son and daughter to a local restaurant/arcade recently. We played some games and won some tickets. Among the Tootsie rolls and plastic witch fingers they had as prizes you could spend your tickets on was this:

Yes, that's a real nickle places next to the cards for scale. These cards are teeny tiny! They were only nine tickets! I'm sure it's not the world's smallest deckor anything but it's impressive that they actually printed 54 cards (including jokers) and fit them into a box smaller than a matchbox!

I have no idea what I'll do with these cards... maybe set up my GI JOE action figures so they look like they're playing poker? Say... that actually isn't  half bad idea! I'm guessing Scarlett is going to clean up...

What Do Your Dice Say About You - Case #8

What do your dice say about you?
Case #8

Okay, this is the opposite of most dice sets we've looked at so far. This gamer has brought only four dice to the table! I'd say this player is a minimalist. I'd think this guy is probably pretty quiet at the gaming table. He probably wants just the facts... cut the fluff, let's get down to the important storyline stuff! As the DM, if you want to keep this gamer happy you'll keep the table chatter to a minimum and keep the story moving quickly.

I'd imagine that this gamer probably has a lot of dice that he doesn't bring to the table. The white one looks like it belongs to a styled set of dice. So I'm guessing this is a gamer with lots of gaming experience. He'll let others take the spotlight but then steal the show with a stroke of genius. When this gamer speaks, you should listen! He has hidden reserves of wisdom.

I'd look for this player to say, "After listening to you, I think we should..."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What Do Your Dice Say About You - Case #7

What do your dice say about you?
Case #7

Wow. Where to start with this one? First, I am seeing quite a few ten sided dice. This gamer obviously plays a lot of games that require a large number of D10s (World of Darkness) or perhaps percentile dice (Classic Marvel Super Heroes RPG). I would imagine this player probably attributes his success or failure in a roll to the dice themselves. Look for this player to switch dice once he has a poor roll. I do see some novelty dice such as a D3 (D6 numbered 1-3 twice) as well as jumbo sized dice. That tells me this gamer is a long time gamer. I'd guess this gamer may go for style over min-maxing when making a  character.

The pencils (not just one - several!) and tabs makes me think this gamer likes to come prepared to the table and probably is a no-nonsense gamer, expecting others to come prepared as well.

The box itself is perhaps the most interesting. Unless I miss my guess this blue, clear box is an old rental VHS tape box. This speaks to the gamer's ingenuity. I'd look for this gamer to sit back, let others quarrel and then drop in an out-of-the box solution on everyone's lap.

Cosplay PSA

Check out this funny (and informational!) video about dressing up to attend a Sci-Fi event (A PSA intended for women):

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What Do Your Dice Say About You - Case #6

What do your dice say about you?
Case #6

All gamers will be kept nameless to protect the innocent. We're examining the dice that gamers bring to the table to see what we can learn about the gamer merely by looking at his or her dice.

The gamer in Case #6 is new to gaming. All of the bronze colored dice in this collection were sold together and have been kept in the little box they were purchase in. This gamer is reliable and will show up regularly to game but perhaps hasn't fully invested in gaming as a hobby. The bronze color is an interesting choice. To this gamer aesthetics are somewhat important but he didn't choose anything too flashy. I'd imagine this gamer would let others step forward and take the lead. 

The one oddity is the inclusion of the black and red six-sider at the bottom of the box. This isn't the type of six-sider that you would buy on its own. I'm guessing this die was given to this gamer by a more experienced gamer, perhaps a mentor figure. Why have only one extra six sider? I'd imagine for pure functionality. The gamer probably had or has a character that does 2D6 damage on some weapon or something and wants to be as efficient as possible in his rolls. 

At the gaming table, you're likely to hear this gamer say, "I'll go with whatever the group decides."

Monday, December 12, 2011

What Do Your Dice Say About You - Case #5

What do your dice say about you?
Case #5
All gamers will be kept nameless to protect the innocent. We're examining the dice that gamers bring to the table to see what we can learn about the gamer merely by looking at his or her dice.

Case #5 is perhaps the most curious. Take a moment to examine the contents of this box.

First, the box itself. It appears to be a repurposed storage container that may have originally been used in a workshop or garage, perhaps for nuts and bolts or for fishing lures. I'd expect this gamer to have plenty of interests in activities other than gaming. The compartmentalized nature of the box suggests that this gamer likes things to be neat and orderly. Still, looking at the contents it appears that this gamer may be too busy with his life to take the reorganize his gaming box. 

Some of the contents of this box actually have me stumped. What are the green, yellow, orange, and purple rubber band thingies? Are those cotton balls? The orange ends look like they would fit onto the end of a rod or something. I'd imagine this is the type of guy who can find a second purpose for anything and never throws anything away. Why else would you lug around all of that stuff you don't need?

There are a variety of gaming counters I can't identify but they tell me that this gamer has a wide range of games he likes to play. This gamer has been gaming for a long time and has slowly accumulated gaming pieces and dice throughout the years. The inclusion of specialty dice tells me that this gamer has some favorite games that he likes to play. The colored bead tokens tell me that this gamer is more than willing to use his imagination in a game - a token is as good as a painted miniature to this guy. I'd imagine that this gamer would have no problem lending you dice. He probably doesn't even notice when he loses one or picks one up from a fellow gamer by accident. 

Ticket to Ride Legendary Asia: Gaming Notes

The other day, I picked up Ticket to Ride Asia. I couldn't wait to play it so I rushed home and ripped it open. Since only my wife was around to play with, we decided to play the map we could play - Legendary Asia (the other map requires partners to play).

I loved the game! The two new game mechanics are great. The first requires you to discard train cars (for two points) when you build through certain areas. The other changes how bonus points are awarded at the end of the match. Instead of counting how many trains are lined up in a "Longest Route," you add up the cities that are connected even if your route branches off.

Well, as it turns out, my wife won by this method. We were within four points at the end of the game. We counted up our cities and she had ONE MORE than me! So even though she failed to complete one of her tickets she still won.

Look for a rematch in the near future for sure!

What's Next: Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 1st Edition (OSRIC)

Now that Star Wars D6 has wrapped up we'll be going down the nostalgia road again with Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 1st Edition! We'll be using the "updated" reorganized rules as presented in Oscric - The "Old School Reference and Index Compilation" - that reprints much of the original D&D content in a better layout.

I'm pumped! I kick down the door - there's a mind flayer! We kill it! We kick down the next door - there's a beholder! We kill it! We kick down the next door - there's a giant! We kill it! We kick down the next door - there's an orphanage! We...

Old school, baby! These gaming notes should be interesting!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What Do Your Dice Say About You - Case #4

What do your dice say about you?
Case #4

All gamers will be kept nameless to protect the innocent. We're examining the dice that gamers bring to the table to see what we can learn about the gamer merely by looking at his or her dice.

This guy really doesn't want to lose any of his dice. He's not willing to take any chances of a drawstring bag that may come open and spill its contents. The rubber band is a specially designed gamer product meant to keep gaming boxes closed. The clear box, I believe is designed for collectible card games. This tells me that this gamer has a wide variety of gaming experiences - RPGs, CCGs, board games, and table top. I think I see Dungeons and Dragons 4th Ed. condition counters on the top of the pile so this guy is obviously playing current games but I also believe I see old-school D&D dice (the kind that you had to color in with a crayon) with the light blue D12 and the brown D8. This gamer has been gaming for a long time.

The inclusion of some specialty dice (I believe the two white D6 with large numbers are actually "D3's") tell me that this guy isn't afraid to invest in his hobby of gaming. I'd expect him to have a vast collection of games and gaming paraphernalia. This dice collection is probably just a small portion of the dice collection he has at home. It was purchased piecemeal, a handful of dice at a time, over many years.

Bring up a game and you'll probably hear this player say, "Oh yeah, I played that!"

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What Do Your Dice Say About You - Case #3

What do your dice say about you?
Case #3
All gamers will be kept nameless to protect the innocent. We're examining the dice that gamers bring to the table to see what we can learn about the gamer merely by looking at his or her dice.

This guy is a serious gamer. The fact that the dice all match tells me he likes things neat and tidy. I'd imagine he's gamed for quite awhile as evidenced by the multiple six siders. He only brings to the gaming table what he strickly needs to be prepared.  I'd imagine this gamer is all business - he comes to play and he doesn't want to mess around too much. This gamer doesn't want to be inconvenienced to game - hence, the "only the essentials" bag that perhaps is always kept in the car or a backpack so he's ready to game.

The small, tidy black bag may or may not have come with some of the dice. Once again, the neatly fitted bag with a drawstring is the mark of an experienced player who is willing to invest some cash into his gaming experience. Presentation matters to this player - notice how the whole set up looks like diamonds in a black sack? I'd be a little concerned about this gamer "fudging" some roles due to the almost invisible nature of the white-on-clear dice. Why choose something so hard to see unless you're going for a little subterfuge?

Marvel Media Mania: Blade

Blade, released in 1998, starred Wesley Snipes as the title character. It had been a long time since I watched it so I wasn't sure what to expect. I was very pleasantly surprised. Blade remains a highly enjoyable film. As always - spoiler alert!
Blade, in many ways, was the launch of the Marvel Media Revolution. Quickly following Blade we were given X-Men and Spider-Man films and the rest is history! Although Blade is certainly not a Superhero film, it was one of Avi Arad's very early successes that game him the steam needed to launch more ambitious projects.

This film is surprisingly low budget at $45M. There are very few CGI effects (primarily because CGI was just beginning to be used in 1998) and, yes, they do show their age a little bit but because they're used so sparingly it doesn't detract from the film.

Perhaps the best aspect of this film is the style. For whatever reason, it just comes across as being very cool. The opening vampire nightclub sequence is cinema gold. When Blade draws a semi-circle on the ground with the tip of his blade before kicking vampire tail it's awesome. The fact that Blade always gets his sunglasses back is reminiscent of Indiana Jones and his hat. Even though he fights in blood-soaked environments, Blade never seems to get dirty. I liked how they explained how Blade financed his anti-vampire crusade: by robbing his victims! The tone of the film is excellent - a dark pulse of action and emotion.

This film does things with vampires that I had never seen before. One such instance was the ultra-fat vampire, Pearl. Another was when Frost (the main bad guy) rips out another Vampire's eye teeth as evidence of his death. Awesome! The teen girl who Blade mistakenly takes for an innocent but turns out to be a ninja vampire is another.

Another positive for this film is the emotional bonds for the characters. Just watching Wesley Snipes fight vampires with karate for two hours is okay but it doesn't mean anything without emotion behind it. It was a brilliant move to bring back Blade's mother. As a first time viewer, you never see it coming! The fact that she now aligns herself with the vampires against her own son and Blade has to kill her gives the film emotional weight. Another surprising return is when Karen's ex-lover returns from a short scene in the beginning of the film.

I can definitely see this film's influence on the 1999 film, Matrix. From the all-black dress code (except for one girl who wears all white) to the lobby shootout with cops/security guards Blade obviously blazed a stylistic path for the Matrix.

While not very quotable, this film does manage to have some good one liners. Blade snarls, "The world you live in is just a sugar coated topping." At another time, Frost brilliantly says to Blade, "Spare me the Uncle Tom routine," which, of course, has multiple meanings since Blade is not only African American but also a vampire living like a normal human.

I always get a little confused when films try to explain vampirism in scientific terms. Vampires are affected by garlic, silver, and sunlight but not crosses and holy water. But the entire plot of the movie revolves around a mystical ceremony so why discount religious symbols? Also, the vampires make a distinction between those born human who are turned into a vampire and "pure bloods" who are born a vampire. How can one be born a vampire? Are vampires actually capable of sexual reproduction?

All in all, this is an excellent movie. If you've never seen it, you've got to check it out.

1LR Review - 18 out of 20 - It's a Solid Hit!

Friday, December 9, 2011

What Do Your Dice Say About You - Case #2

What do your dice say about you?
Case #2
All gamers will be kept nameless to protect the innocent. We're examining the dice that gamers bring to the table to see what we can learn about the gamer merely by looking at his or her dice.

Case #2 is obviously an old-school gamer. Notice the light blue twenty sider, orange D4, and yellow D6? They're from the old Dungeons and Dragons boxed set! Look how worn the D20 is - this die is well used and well traveled - it's been rubbing shoulders with those other dice for a long time! I believe I also spy an original Marvel ten sider in there as well. I'd expect this gamer has a few decades of gaming experience in which he has played a plethora of gaming systems. I see a few dice that match each other so I know this guy has bought sets of dice in the past but I also see an assortment of "ugly" dice - perhaps a bulk purchase? This guy may be a cheapskate.

The fact that the dice are kept neatly in a red draw string pouch tells me this guy is pretty protective of his dice. He doesn't want to lose any of them and certainly doesn't want you to touch them (control issues?)! He wants to be prepared for all situations - hence the bag is large enough to hold numerous D10's and D6's that may be needed for various gaming scenarios. The volume of dice indicates that this player may take to playing with them (stacking, spinning, arranging, etc.) if bored at the table.

Star Wars D6 - Gaming Notes (Final)

After selling out the Rebel base, we met back up with Vader. He had a mission for us - to go to a planet that was on the verge of rebelling as a result of the Senate being dissolved. We were to bring the commander in the area, Commander Istol, in for being too lax. The President and Senators of the planet were also to be dealt with for their impudence.

Yes, this is where we officially became an evil party.

We arrived at the planet and Lou the force user used his high imperial rank to relieve Commander Istol of duty and take over two Star Destroyers that were in the system. Acting aggressively, we breached the planet's orbit and starting making demands. When they were less than compliant we decided that perhaps they needed extra motivation. We went to the planet, collected some human assets (Commander Istol's wife and children) and used them to gain favor with the commander - he either guarantees the cooperation of the President or we make bad things happen to his family.
A meeting with the President and Senators was arranged on "neutral" territory (our ship). The President wasn't the best listener so we gassed him and the Senators. While unconscious, Lou implanted the false thought that the President was awarded a post on Coruscant and must sign over his duties to a new President of our choosing.

This signing was video taped and broadcast across the planet, thus legitimizing our new government. Unfortunately, some of the other Senators resisted and had to be eliminated. Other malcontents were forced into slave labor or "relocated."

When we returned to Vader he was pleased with the ease of our victory, giving Lou the official title of Darth Malice.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What Do Your Dice Say About You - Case #1

What do your dice say about you?
Case #1:
All gamers will be kept nameless to protect the innocent. We're examining the dice that gamers bring to the table to see what we can learn about the gamer merely by looking at his or her dice.

Gamer #1 is obviously new to gaming. Look at the cavalier way they treat their dice. Carried in a flimsy sandwich bag (not even a zip-lock sandwich bag!) this gamer obviously doesn't place much value on his dice. You can tell he wouldn't be too upset if he lost one or more of his dice. Gaming is not a priority in this person's life, it's a afterthought. You can also conclude that because all of the dice are of identical color that they were purchased as a set. This person probably has a friend who is more heavily into gaming that influenced them to buy a set of dice. 

Look for this gamer to ask lots of questions such as, "Which die do I roll again?"

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What Do Your Dice Say About You?

A gamer sits down at the table and pulls out his dice. Before you even learn his name you know a lot about this guy by his dice. How many does he have? What kinds of dice? How are they organized or stored?

There are few items that a gamer owns that are more personal than dice. "Don't touch my dice!" is a gamer's mantra. Over the next several days I'll be examining the dice the gamers I play with bring to the table. What do they reveal about the person that owns them?

Call of Duty 6.5 (Million)

Well, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has done it. It has officially killed more digital people than the 7 billion alive today.

In it's FIRST DAY of sales it sold 6.5 MILLION copies... do the math - if each person buying CoD:MW3 only killed one thousand digital soliders that would be more than the total population of people alive today. And let's be realistic - 1,000 kills would be the first weekend only. By this point I'm sure CoD:MW3 has wiped out all life on the planet completely. And I thought for sure it would be the glowing cats that did it....

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Geek Venn Diagram - Where Do You Fit?

Hey, I had a buddy show me this the other day... where do you fall in this Venn Diagram?

I've got to tell you, I'm 100% Nerd. Intelligent, obsessive, and socially inept? Check, check, and check. So perhaps I should change the name of this blog to "One Lost Road: A Nerd's Journey..."

Does anybody else agree with me that this Venn Diagram actually works to correctly classify your gamer friends? I'm guessing it was made by a "nerd."

$60 Star Trek Stickers??? SERIOUSLY!?!?

$60?!?!? SERIOUSLY!
Okay, can somebody explain to me why a set of 36 Star Trek stickers are SIXTY DOLLARS? That's the price listed in Previews for them.

Actually, I found these same stickers for $100 at Comics America. Don't believe me? Check it out

I'm guessing you'd really had to have "lived long and prospered" to afford these insanely priced stickers... Perhaps you could stick them on your golden Enterprise statue or your jar of Nimoy's urine.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Blaze (Richard Bachman/Stephen King) Book Review

I've read every single Stephen King book published. But somehow I missed Blaze, a book written under his pen name, Richard Bachman. How, I'll never know. But I found it looking through used books recently and I said to myself, "Wait... I've never read this!" So, I picked it up and I read it.

By King's own admission in the book's intro he never meant for this novel to see the light of day. He calls it a "trunk novel," and, for many years, it actually sat in a trunk. It was written in 1972 but wasn't published until 2007! This supports my theory that we'll have new Stephen King novels 20 years after the man is dead.

Anyway, I actually thought Blaze was an okay book. It was certainly a quick read and the plot moved forward quickly. Essentially, Blaze is the name of a man who is mentally retarded. He was taken under the wing of a con-man and used in the con-man's schemes but then the con-man dies, leaving Blaze all alone in the world. Blaze's only hope for a happy ending is to successfully kidnap a rich family's young baby and ask for a ransom. He does this, but everything doesn't go as he planned...

The novel is told in alternating chapters - one in modern day (that is, 1972 modern day), the next in Blaze's formative years. While I didn't mind this, I sometimes wanted to skip over the childhood stuff, especially since most of the time it didn't directly impact what was happening in the modern story.

King does a good job of making Blaze a sympathetic character. This novel isn't so much a story as it is a character study. What makes a man do something do desperate?

I also liked that it remained a realistic fiction story, not fantasy like so many of King's novels. Sure, Blaze hears his dead friend's voice in his head but that's all he remains - a voice in Blaze's head. No ghosts or zombies in this novel!

Overall, it's an enjoyable, quick read that kept me turning the pages to see if Blaze would blindly stumble upon success or the inevitable failure.

1LR Rating - 16 out of 20 - It's a Hit!

The Sunday Funnies #1

Good show, Russ Cochran Company! RCC is publishing a monthly book called The Sunday Funnies which will reprint 32 pages worth of classic comics from the 1890's through 1950's. The cool thing is that the book will be full newspaper size - 22" x 16". Comics reprinted will include Gasoline Alley, Little Nemo, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Alley Oop, and more.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Geek Gear: Settlers of Catan on Microsoft Surface

Holy crow. This is the coolest thing I've ever seen. Like your iPad, iPhone or whatever. Check out this demo of Settlers of Catan on the awesome Microsoft Surface device. Welcome to the future of all gaming. Can you imagine how much faster combat would be in a role playing game if the map was digital? Simply amazing.

Honey - I now know what I want for Christmas...

Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana Graphic Novel Announced

Jesus Christ
I'll bet, if you're like me, when you think of Anne Rice you think vampires. But that's not what she wants you to think - not anymore! She wants you to think - Jesus!

Anne Rice has started a four-novel series all about the historically accurate life of Jesus Christ. The first book is called Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt and the second book is called Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana.

The second book is being adapted into a graphic novel by Sea Lion Books. In interviews, Rice is very concerned with the historical accuracy of the visuals. She wants the pictures to reflect the historical truths of first century Palestine. Below is an initial sketch of the Jesus character from the graphic novel.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Lone Wolf (D20) - Free Download - Bad Moon Rising

Bad Moon Rising is an adventure for the D20 Lone Wolf RPG. It was originally available as a free download from Mongoose Publishing. For some reason, it appears that they've taken it down off their website but you can still get it here.
This adventure is extremely well writeen. It is very well thought out, covering "minor" details to provide an enjoyable gaming experience for all involved. I liked how it provided specific results for certain skill checks (if you got a 9 or less... if you got 15 to 20....). The flavor texts do a great job at painting a mental picture for the players. I liked how the party isn't "plot hammered" the entire time - they are free to roam around Toran and do as they wish during the "interlude."

Combat doesn't seem forced and players are really eased into the system with some simple encounters early on. One of the things this adventure does particularly well is allow the players to learn about the world and the D20 Lone Wolf system. At times the game master is presented with different "options" on how to run an encounter. Really, these "options" are coaching a gamemaster though how to run the game.

I really liked how items and creatures were presented in the Appendix for easy reference.

The icing on the cake, however, are the pregenerated player handouts. Fantastic!

This is one of the best Lone Wolf adventures written to date.

1LR Review - 19 out of 20 - It's a Solid Hit!

SFX Sells

Umm... Check out the cover to SFX Magazine #218...
Is it me or does Iron Man look hotter than normal in this picture for some reason?