Arriving back in Arabel for what they expect to be a quick trip to sell loot and grab supplies the Wings of Dawn are met with a series of unexpected obstacles.
It is the 1990s and the world is ruled by Supervillains. Starting in the 1960s, the Supervillains of the world stopped working at cross purposes and started working together to take down the Superheroes of the world one at a time. Thirty years later and the Supervillians have ruled the world unchallenged for almost fifteen years. The war that raged between super-beings left a large part of the earth severely damaged and some places uninhabitable. Major sections of the globe have been carved up by the most powerful beings, while the less powerful and the henchmen have been installed at the regional and local levels. Life goes on much as it did before the war, except now there are no fundamental rights and the world is a patchwork of police states that are constantly either at war or teetering on the brink. It turns out, after all of the heroes were dead, the villains were quick to turn on one another.
You and your friends live in a small city in what use to be Ohio. North America has been divided into four major countries: The east coast running from Newfoundland down to what is left of Florida; the west coast, running from Alaska down to Cabo san Lucas, Middle Canada and Middle America. You live in Middle America, now known as The Kingdom of Metal. The ruler of the Kingdom of Metal is Vicious Vinny, a death metal themed villain with sonic-based abilities that can strip the skin off of a grape or level an entire city.
Just across the border to the east is the Eastcoast, now simply known as The State of Misery. In what used to be Pennsylvania, there is an irradiated and unlivable wasteland where a nuclear based superhero was finally put to heel; however, the ensuing explosion ensured that the surrounding 50 square miles would be a wasteland for generations to come. It is into this wasteland that you and your friends must venture. You see, you and your friends are the grandchildren of several of the superheroes that were murdered in the war. A secret society has established many cells like yours across the world and has been waiting on an opportunity to strike back; that opportunity has finally arrived.
God of Light was the name of the hero who was killed leading to the irradiation of Pittsburgh and much of the surrounding area. However, the Society has intelligence that indicates that God of Light’s nuclear power core was left behind and still sits in the ruins of Pittsburgh. The Society has tasked you and your friends with recovering the power core which the Society plans to use as part of a weapon to start the war with the Supervillains of North America. The society has supplied you with radiation suits and supplies that will last approximately two weeks. You and your friends can select whatever powers you would like to have. I would suggest the Super Powers Companion from Pinnacle that works with the Savage Worlds rule set.
God of Light never died. The Society is a lie. It turns out that God of Light was actually a mole: a secret Supervillain who infiltrated the ranks of the superheroes early in the war campaign. When the war was coming to a close, the other Supervillains came to realize that turning on each other was inevitable and that God of Light was powerful enough that he could potentially take out all of the other Supervillains and rule the entire world. Seeking to strike first, the Supervillains conducted a surprise attack. Dozens of villains died in the ensuing carnage. Those that remained realized that they would never be able to kill God of Light; instead, they settled for imprisoning God of Light in a large box made of a mixture of lead and an extraterrestrial metal. Although the box contained God of Light, it did not stop the radiation pouring from his wounds from contaminating the surrounding area. The box also did not stop God of Light from reaching out with his empathic abilities and influencing the formation of the Society. You and your friend fight your way through mutated monstrosities and low level meta villains to arrive at the box that you believe contains God of Light’s power core. Once you succeed in opening the box, you have two choices: join God of Light in his campaign to overthrow the other villains of the world or fight him in his weakened state and hope to survive in order to decide how to move forward with your shattered lives.
This week we take a break from D&D to play a game of Slasher Flick! The game that plays like a horror movie. Many ridiculous things happen and many characters die, so we probably got it right even though this was our first game!
Like Slasher/Horror movies where the characters are always getting split up and making bad decisions? Have I found a game for you! Slasher Flick from Spectrum Games is a Slasher/Horror flick ‘Genre Emulation’ game that allows players to take on the roles of characters within a slasher flick. One player takes on the roll of the Director which is similar to a Game Master or Dungeon Master in other tabletop RPGs. The other players all control a Primary character along with one or more Secondary and Tertiary characters. Players earn Genre Points for having their characters say and do things that would happen in a typical slasher flick. Characters invariably end up in a multitude of Kill Scenes with the Killer/Monster/etc. where they must earn Survival Points in order to make it out of the scene, otherwise they die. Both the Kill Scenes and character death happen, as you expect in a slasher flick, pretty frequently. Overall this game is quick to learn, fun to play and does a great job doing what it set out to do, emulating slasher movies.
The game’s mechanics are fairly simple. Whenever a situation comes up that has opposition or a chance of failure the player in control of the character has to make a roll of four dice. Get 2 or more matching numbers and you succeed, otherwise you fail. Hard rolls can drop the roll down to three dice and conversely having a skill can increase your dice pool to five. All rolls in the game are based around four basic stats: Brawn, Finesse, Brains, and Spirit. Every character has these rated either Poor, Normal or Good. The better a character is at something, the smaller the die they use for their roll. So if a character is Good at Brains they roll six sided dice (d6) where a character that was Poor would roll ten sided dice (d10). Primary characters typically have better stats and more bonuses where Secondaries do not.
One of the most fun things about Slasher Flick is that it rewards players for having their characters do non-optimal things that would happen in a movie by awarding Genre Points. Hear a noise in the basement and have your character go down alone while saying “I’ll be right back!” You earn a Genre Point! Sure that character may die but that gives the player more Genre Points to help their remaining characters and possibly win the game.
Kill Scenes are what the game, and Slasher Flicks for that matter, is all about and they run quite well. The mechanics work like anything else in the game, roll dice and look for matches, but there are several twists thrown in which can swing results. The general idea is that a character must earn a certain number of survival points during a Kill Scene to end the scene and make it out alive. If a character drops to negative Survival Points though they die! I have to admit that after reading the rules I was afraid the Kill Scenes would drag on a bit, and they do take a bit of time, but they actually run very smoothly and to be honest are the most fun part of the game. I’m speaking from only having played as the Director though so perhaps my love of killing PCs in Dungeons and Dragons is showing.
If you and your gaming group enjoy a good horror movie and are looking for a fun way to spend a session I highly recommend the Slasher Flick RPG. There are numerous scenarios available and the Director’s Cut of the game that I bought also has a ton of pregenerated characters you can either use directly or just for inspiration.
If you’d like to hear an example of how the game plays stay tuned as we’ll be releasing a podcast episode of us playing our first game, Murder at Red Beard Resort, in the next couple of weeks. You can also find a full list of Slasher Flick products here.
This week we step back from our dice and talk about the games we’ve been playing, what’s going on in the world of Tabletop games and talk about Matt’s favorite bourbons.
If you have not seen Mortal Engines and want to have a shot at enjoying it – do not read this review. You have been warned.
When I sat down to watch Mortal Engines, I did not have a lot of expectations. I had not read any of the related books nor had I read any reviews of the movie. I knew that the screenplay was penned by Peter Jackson and crew who had written The Lord of the Rings Trilogy screenplays (three of my favorite movies of all time), but even that did not give me any real anticipation of this particular movie. Good thing.
I would not say that I hated Mortal Engines as much as I was simply bored by it. One dimensional characters, a lumbering storyline and ham-fisted movie tropes all combine together into a perfect cacophony of icky gray blandness. If Hunger Games was a zesty southwest omelette, Mortal Engines is cold, unflavored oatmeal.
BUT, instead of going on and on about specifically what is wrong with this movie and offering nothing constructive, I am going to give a try at putting my money where my big mouth is; I am going to offer a critique and then try to offer a workable solution. You can let me know in the comments how great – or not great – of a job that I do.
Okay, let’s get started.
What the hell is going on and why are cities on tank tracks / wheels?
Let’s just call this problem the complete and utter lack of exposition. Here is what you get from this move: There was a big apocalyptic event caused by this machine called “Medusa” that took all of an hour to transform the world into a wasteland. Now cities are on wheels! EXCEPT for the part of the world that is NOT on wheels but it is behind a really, really big wall. Makes sense, right? Right?!?
What we need here, is some good old fashioned exposition to let us know exactly what the crap is going on.
Some of you out there hate direct exposition in a movie; that’s fair. But, what I think you actually hate is badly done direct exposition. If done correctly, direct exposition can help set a movie up to move forward with all wheels churning instead of leaving the movie audience scratching their heads and asking: why are all of the cities on wheels again? An example of good direct exposition was done by *GASP* Peter Jackson at the beginning of the Fellowship of the Rings. The first five minutes of the movie explain thousands of years of history in an entertaining and awe inspiring way. We see armies decimated by a mighty evil being. We see a magical ring float to the bottom of a river to be discovered thousands of years later. We are being told the history of Middle Earth and we are loving every second of it. This kind of exposition to explain what Medusa was, why it was and what is caused could have been easily just as entertaining in Mortal Engines. It took me Google searching to figure out that the cities were on wheels because apparently the tectonic plates of earth had been disrupted by the Medusa weapon. Why the movie could not have told us that, I do not know.
The Cardboard Cutout Characters
Why is Tom prancing about the wastelands as if he is vacation? Why is he utterly unaffected by being attacked by cannibals and almost being enslaved? Not to mention that he just found out that the savior of his society is a lying sociopathic serial killer bent on destruction for destruction’s sake (more on that later)! Tom needs to be hurting. Tom needs to be questioning the very nature of his existence because his whole world just got turned upside down. But instead he is a happy clown who is bouncing around the wastelands just waiting for his chance to fly a Rickshawesque plane thingy. Be less Tom and be more Jon Snow.
Why does Thaddeus Valentine want to kill everyone just to recreate a weapon that seriously screwed up the earth the first time around? I mean, seriously – what is his motivation? It ain’t family – after all, he killed the mother of one of his children and all but abandoned both of his daughter when it suited his purposes. It is not wealth – he seems to care little for the fact that he is throwing his entire life away to blow up a wall. What is behind that wall anyway? Do we even know that? We need a backstory here, folks. Maybe Thaddeus had a father that was abusive? Maybe his ancestors helped develop Medusa to start with? Just an iota of a reason for his actions would be better than the nothing that we are left with.
Hester Shaw wants to kill Thaddeus Valentine because he killed her mother. That’s all you really need to know as far as the makers of this movie are concerned and by limiting Hester in that way, they are missing out on a goldmine of character development. Hester was raised by an undead zombie cyborg names Shrike who is, by all accounts, the most complex and interesting character this movie has to offer (What does it say when the movie’s best character is literally the emotionless dead guy?). Shrike was a man once with a family. He yearns for the life that he had before becoming a killing machine in way that he does not understand. He has a photo of himself as human with his son that he hides away even from himself. He collects dolls and broken things and repairs them because he longs to repair the broken thing that he himself has become. He takes in Hester – scarred and broken from her battle as a child with Valentine – and he nurses her back to health. All the while, he is still a green eyed emotionless killing machine. Shrike wants a family so bad that he makes a cyborg body for Hester and makes her promise to join him in his eternal life of not-quite-living. He is a tragic and triumphant figure full of contradictions that we can all relate to. Focussing more on the relationship between Shrike and Hester would have helped to humanize Hester as well. A good chunk of the first part of the movie should have been devoted to that story instead of giving it short shrift as paltry flashbacks.
Boring, Safe Storytelling
Look – within the first 15 minutes of this movie, we know who the bad guy is, who the big-hearted romantic lead good guy is, who the grizzled female lead who will give into love is and how this is all going to play out in the end with the good guys winning (living) and the bad guy losing (dying). The only thing that takes a while to get introduced into the movie is the best part of the movie: Shrike.
So, let’s do a little exercise. Let’s flip things around a bit and see how it plays out:
The scene is a dark scrubland at dusk. There is red dirt rock everywhere. A few clumps of grass grow here and there. A single tree is silhouetted against the setting sun. The tree and the land begin to shake. The shaking grows in intensity until rocks jump on the ground and a flock of small birds erupts from the tree. Suddenly, an unbelievably large tank tread is roaring deafening by, missing the tree by inches. It digs and cuts at the land. As the vehicle moves further away, we see that it is, in fact, a small collection of buildings undulating on some sort of flexible platform set atop the giant tank treads. In its wake – close to the camera view – it has churned up a human skull caked in dirt. We watch the mobile town drive further into the distance. Suddenly a large metal, claw-like food crushes the skull like an egg. The camera pans up to show us the back of Shrike, with an eerie green glow emanating from his face. He clutches a tattered doll in his hand and we hear his voice whisper one word, “Hester.”
Cut to the half covered face of Hester Shaw as she walks the streets of what is obviously the same small city that trundled past in the opening. She peers back over her shoulder ominously.
From here, things would be similar to the movie where Hester’s city meets up with other small cities and then gets consumed by London. But now, let’s change things again. Instead of Tom intervening and saving Valentine’s life, resulting in Valentine all but yelling “I’m the villain” as he pushes Tom to his doom, Shrike boards London in secret soon after the smaller city is consumed. When Hester makes her strike at Valentine, Shrike intervenes to try to stop Hester from becoming the killer that he has become. A struggle ensues between the forces of London and Shrike. Hester flees and Tom pursues. Tom slips and falls after Hester when trying to pull her up from the swirling vortex exiting London. Shrike is captured and Valentine, using some of the technology he has accumulated, hacks into Shrike’s memories, learns who Hester is and reprograms him to execute Hester and Tom. Up until the point that he commands Shrike to kill Hester, we are lead to believe that he is trying to gather information to help save London and to send Shrike to rescue Tom and bring Hester back to justice. This would be a much more gradual and satisfying reveal of Valentine as the villain.
This version of the movie would proceed in a more realistic manner with a slower pace and with a more in depth and realistic look at the characters.
I could go on with several more aspects of this movie that could use some TLC; heck, I wrote like the first 25 pages of a new screenplay for this joint in my head in the shower the other day! Alas, though; I have other things to attend to at the moment. I have to go get my house fitted for wheels just in case the tectonic plates doing the tango and I have to drive it away from bigger cities trying to eat me!
The group has defeated the evil frost giant Jarl but now they must finish searching his stronghold to discover what is causing the attacks before more giants arrive.
Well it took longer than I expected and included a couple of missteps but my Drukhari Kill team is finally finished. I should note that I haven’t finished painting the Terrain yet but when that is done I’ll update the article with those pictures as well.
Since this was the first unit of models I had ever painted that weren’t Space Marine related I had to take a bit more time and started with a test model to check how the color scheme I had chosen for my Wych Cult would turn out.
In the photos above I was still using just an airbrush. I started with a Deep Blue from Scale 75, added a white highlight, hit the high spots with Caribbean Blue from Scale 75 and then did a watered down wash of Deep Blue again to bring everything together. The final result of that can be seen in the fourth and fifth photos. After that I sprayed some Psychotic Illusions (a color-shift metallic paint) on the weapons. I quite liked the effect on the blade and ended up keeping it but the pistol just didn’t loo right to me so that ended up changing later. I then took out my brushes and tested a few other colors on the model for flesh tones and the armor. In the last picture you can definitely see the “ugly phase” as I tested these.
I eventually decided I wanted the base color of the body suits to be darker so I ended up going back with a 20% black ink, 80% Deep Blue with minimal highlights for all of the Wyches. I still used Psychotic Illusions on all of the blades which I ended up going over again later with the brush to increase the effect. I then switched to the brush and painted all of the armored portions of the models with the Deep Blue and ended up with what you see below.
Next I highlighted the Deep Blue armor with Caribbean Blue and the large armor pieces (mostly the ones with pointy bits sticking out) with a mixture of red and silver because I didn’t like the way the ruby color in my test mini looked. It came out way too pink for what I wanted for these Drukhari. I painted the rest of the metal on the pistols and swords with Copper from Scale 75.
Next on the list was hair and skin. The skin took a couple of tries to get where I wanted. I ended up doing a two layers of Rakarth Flesh followed by Drakenfhof Nightshade. I then did a layer of 50/50 Rakarth Flesh and Pallid Wych Flesh (naturally). That was followed with highlights of just Pallid Wych Flesh and then covered with Purple Tone from Army painter. I knew I wanted a blue for the hair and ended up using a graduated color scheme tha was a mixture of Army Painter and GW paints that ame out pretty well.
After that I painted the tubes on the armor a green to yellow doing a tiny amount of wet blending, picked out all of the details and painted the bases and that was it! Please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions as I have at least five more of these to paint for the Drukhari army I’m trying to build.
Things snowball with the Frost Giants in this episode…pun intended.
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Greetings, Blood Bowl Fans!
We’re coming to you live from the Carrion Coliseum where Da Vulchas just secured the top spot in the South Division by defeating the visiting Nuln Lions with a score of 2-1. This game had been designated the Cabalvision Match-Up of the Week and 30,000 fans turned out to see these two teams battle it out for the top spot. The Lions had fought Da Vulchas to a stalemate when the Orcs visited Standford Stadium earlier in the season, which had left the two teams tied for 1st place. However, Da Vulchas were determined to leverage their homefield advantage during this rematch, and the fans did end up helping the Orcs secure victory and continue their push towards the post-season.
Da Vulchas won the coin toss and elected to receive the kickoff. Lions Kicker Yale Lary hung the ball high in the air, allowing the coverage team a chance to charge down the field before the Orcs could respond. The two teams clashed at the line of scrimmage and Star Black Orc Bumgag Facecutta was knocked out cold and would spend the remainder of the first half shaking off the effects of a concussion. The Lions Blitzers attempted to recover their own kick, but were unable to come down with the ball.
A little slow to react, Da Vulchas response was no less brutal as they recovered the ball and began their usual, methodical march down the field. The Orcs sent two Lions players, rookie Lineman Buke Milson and Blitzer Joe Schmidt, to the Apothecary’s tent although it appears that both escaped serious injury. Thrower Morkid Krookhacka scrambled to avoid defenders while the offensive line tried to open up a running lane. The Lions made the Orcs fight for every yard. At centerfield, Ogre Donk “Night Train” Lane hit Grumm the Troll hard enough to knock him out cold.
The Lions kept shifting the formation to plug each gap that opened until Kicker Yale Lary stumbled as he shed a block and fell awkwardly. With an audible crunch heard all the way in the announcer’s booth, it was clear that he had suffered a gruesome injury to his neck. The Lions medical staff were just able to save his life, but with an injury so severe, Lary may never be the same.
With so many players nursing wounds on the bench, it was inevitable that one team or the other would find an opening to strike. Krookhacka finally handed the ball off to Blitzer Jumm ‘Edwakka and he made a break for the endzone, putting Da Vulchas up, 1-0, and the home crowd went crazy!
After the kickoff, the Lions had just seconds left in the first half to try even the score. Lions Thrower Jake Rudock scooped up the ball and attempted to lob the ball to Barry Randers as he streaked down the field, but pressure from Da Vulchas caused him to fumble the pass as time expired.
The Lions received the ball at the start of the second half. Da Vulchas, over-confident due to outnumbering the beleaguered Lions, mistimed a strike into the backfield leaving their defense out of position. The Lions capitalized on the mistake as Star Blitzer Barry Randers took the hand-off around midfield and bolted towards the endzone. Da Vulchas attempted to catch the speedster, but a couple of well-timed blocks kept the Human Blitzer clear. Racing down the sideline, Barry racked up his third touchdown of the season, accompanied by the jeers and boos of Da Vulchas fanbase.
As Da Vulchas lined up to receive the kick-off, the fans made their displeasure known. With uncanny accuracy, a bench from section 328, all the way in the nosebleeds, sailed onto the pitch and caught “Night Train” in the side of his head. The big Ogre slammed face down in the mud, and his large, limp form had to be dragged from the field before play could continue. Da Vulchas Head Coach immediately dispatched a team scout to that section of the coliseum with instructions to sign to the practice squad whoever had hefted the bench that far.
Down several players and without their linchpin Ogre to hold the center, there was little the Lions could do to prevent Da Vulchas from driving back down the pitch. Jake Rudock, determined to prove who was the best Thrower on the field, laid out Morkid Krookhacka with a vicious block that drew a confused response of anger and respect from the crowd. Although the Lions continued to throw themselves in front of the Orcs in a last ditch effort to run out the clock, Jumm ‘Edwakka brawled his way into the endzone for his seventh career touchdown and sealed the win!
With two touchdowns on the day, ‘Edwakka was awarded the match MVP. Goblin Taktot also received recognition for filling in during the first half without screwing anything up or getting killed. The Lions, frustrated at the loss, apparently took out their frustration on the visiting team locker room, doing nearly 20,000 gold pieces worth of damage to the facility.
Head Coach Vomad the Vicious didn’t seem overly concerned. “Da Visitas Locka Room wuz too fancy for dem gitz inny-wayz. Dey kin change pantiez in da squig stalls fer now. Da gobboz kin fix it win dey git to it.”
With three games left in the regular season, Da Vulchas need to finish strong to maintain their lead in the division and secure the best seed for the playoffs. Next week, Da Vulchas will host another divisional rival in the Grudge Bearers. Check your Cabalvision listings for broadcast date and times.