Sunday, January 26, 2014

God Warriors from Nausicaä - fan film trailer

Holmes and Morstan

A couple of cool facts about the wonderful Sherlock series [and some possible spoilers].

 John H. Watson's fiance and then wife, Mary Morstan, was played by his real life significant other, Amanda Abbington.


Sherlock Holmes' parents are played by Benedict Cumberbatch's real parents, Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham.


Ghost in the Shell - live action

Ghost in the Shell by Nency-Chan
Reports of a live-action Ghost in the Shell in the works!
DreamWorks has made a deal with Snow White And The Huntsmanhelmer Rupert Sandersto direct Ghost In The Shell, a live-action film based on the Japanese manga futuristic police thriller that has a new script from William Wheeler. The film is being produced by Avi Arad, Ari Arad and Steven Paul. Fueled by the personal passion of Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks acquired the project several years ago with ambitious plans to shoot it in 3D.
Created by Masamune Shirow, Ghost in the Shell was first published in 1989 by Kodansha, one of the largest publishing companies in Japan. It went on to generate two additional manga editions, three anime film adaptations, an anime TV series and three videogames. DreamWorks released the second anime film.
The story follows the exploits of a member of a covert ops unit of the Japanese National Public Safety Commission that specializes in fighting technology-related crime.
Wheeler scripted Hoax and The Reluctant Fundamentalist and most recently completed the Robert Schwentke-attached serial killer Entering Hades for New Regency as well as Queen of Katwe, a true story about a young female chess prodigy from Africa, which has Reluctant Fundamentalist helmer Mira Nair attached. The UTA/Anonymous Content-repped scribe also scripted Brand, a USA Network project that has Jodie Foster attached to direct.
Sanders has several directing projects percolating, and it isn’t clear which film he’ll helm next. He’s got 90 Church with Universal and producer Joe Roth, an epic about the bloody battles of Napoleon Bonaparte at Warner Bros, and he’s developing Juliet for Sony and New Regency, with Charles Roven producing, as well as the screen adaptation of the Frederick Forsyth thriller The Kill List for producers Steve Schwartz, Paula Mae Schwartz and Nick Wechsler. Sanders is repped by CAA and attorney Carlos Goodman and in the UK by Duncan Heath and Jack Thomas at Independent Talent Group.
Ghost in the Shell by Perrozzino
Ghost in the Shell Motoko by an09

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Best of the Web - Zapatou

Luc Bergeron is Zapatou- He is the best of the web. Master editor. Enjoy... (I know I have...)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Musketeers 01

It was quite entertaining. Many of the literary elements were recognizable. For a first episode, I can see how they're setting up things for the series. The strengths, I'd say were casting and costumes. This is clearly not an accurate adaptation and it was curious some of the choices jettison were some of the more charming introductory plot elements.

Peter Capaldi's performance was chilling. I fear this will make it more difficult to win me over as a fan of his new Doctor [Who].

Jake Sully and Neytiri return

by flairset

Jake Sully and Neytiri are locked in.
We already knew that James Cameron had some big plans for the Avatar franchise by making not just one but three sequels, and now he's officially signed the stars from the first film to reprise their roles. According to The Hollywood Reporter, both Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana have signed on for the new trilogy. In case it's been a while since you've seen the 2009 original, Worthington played Jake Sully, the human who ends up having his consciousness permanently transferred into the body of his Na'vi avatar, while Saldana (Star Trek) plays his love interest Neytiri. 
The other cast member that will be appearing in the new films is Stephen Lang, who played the brutish military commander that dies in the original film. Whether his character will be appearing thanks to some mind-body transfer trickery, in flashbacks, or another capacity altogether isn't yet clear — but the Reporter does specify that Worthington and Saldana's characters will have children of their own in the new films. The first Avatarsequel is schedule to be released in December of 2016, with the subsequent films appearing at yearly intervals.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Disney cuts Star Wars EU

as long as Clone Wars remains canon in my opinion...

Star Wars Canon is now determined by the Lucasfilm Story Group," which he and fellow Lucasfilm employee Pablo Hidalgo are part of. When asked specifically whether the group's goal was to eliminate the mainline/EU canon arrangement and its tiers of official-ness, Chee respondedwith a definitive yes. "More so than ever," he said, "the canon field will serve us internally simply for classification rather than setting hierarchy.

Op-ed: Disney takes a chainsaw to the Star Wars expanded universe
And good riddance, because almost all of it is crap.
by  - Jan 10 2014, 6:30pm CST 
Star Wars is sacred to geeks. Characters in Kevin Smith movies refer to it as "the Holy Trilogy," and for almost as long as Star Wars has existed, fans have wanted to know more about the universe outside of the movies—and the canonicity of all the elements of that universe is the subject of almost ecclesiastical-scale debates. The movies are unquestionably official—they are the foundational elements of Star Wars, even Episodes I-III. However, the combined mass of video games, board games, tie-in novels, cartoons, and anything else branded with a Star Wars logo occupies a lesser tier in the hierarchy: all these things are still "official" in that they carry the logo, but they are merely part of the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
The Expanded Universe—the "EU"—sprawls like a bloated dead thing with tentacles stretching in all directions. Everything is in there: Timothy Zahn's Thrawn series (which introduced the eponymous Admiral Thrawn, as well as fan favorite Mara Jade, the former Emperor's Hand-turned-smuggler who overcame her hatred of Luke Skywalker and became his wife). Clone Wars and The Old Republic. The Yuuzhan Vong and the death of Chewbacca. Kevin J. Anderson and all the unspeakably, unreadably bad literary atrocities for which he's responsible.
A sci-fi universe with as long a tail as Star Wars can be death for new stories, though. Finding space among the EU to make a mark without being hamstrung by established ideas is difficult, and even keeping the EU somewhat organized is challenging. Its growth has been cancerous—like a tumor, it has no plan and no organization—it simply expands, blindly, as the collective fan engine shovels in new material.
And like a tumor, Disney is going to rip it out.

Enlarge / Fan favorite Mara Jade—on the chopping block?

The mouse and the chainsaw

Word began trickling out over Twitter last week that Disney will be drastically redefining the state of the Star Wars lore, eliminating the bifurcated mainline/EU arrangement and in its place constructing a single official canon. All things that are part of the canon are "real," as far as Star Wars is concerned; all things not in the canon are "not real." This eliminates the quasi-real EU tier—going forward, things will either exist officially, or not at all.
Lucasfilm employee Leland Chee, who currently maintains the internal Lucasfilm database that tracks the different elements of the canon, will be one of the folks making this decision. He tweetedthat "Star Wars Canon is now determined by the Lucasfilm Story Group," which he and fellow Lucasfilm employee Pablo Hidalgo are part of. When asked specifically whether the group's goal was to eliminate the mainline/EU canon arrangement and its tiers of official-ness, Chee respondedwith a definitive yes. "More so than ever," he said, "the canon field will serve us internally simply for classification rather than setting hierarchy."
Now, no longer will there be a complex multi-level hierarchy of canonicity—there will simply be canon, and not.
This is an excellent decision, and one that a certain other science fiction franchise whose name also includes the word "Star" made long ago. For Star Trek, the tie-in novels and other ephemera have always been non-canonical. At times, this has been a good thing, because some of the novels have been truly terrible, although at other times it's prevented Star Trek from going down what might have been some truly wonderful paths (like an on-screen exploration of John M. Ford's beautifully poetic take on the Klingons, or a far less idiotic tale of Human-Vulcan first contact).

The slap-dash, anyone-can-add-to-it nature of the existing Expanded Universe and its tiers is great for detail-oriented fans who want to write a Mary Sue fanfic that includes a perfectly accurate depiction of
 the seven prime forms of lightsaber combat, but it's absolute poison for Disney. The company will be releasing their next Star Wars movie in 2015, and the giant swamp of the EU stretches out before them, threatening to ensnare and swallow up any potential ideas they might try to include. They need to be able to re-launch the franchise in a direction that they control, and that requires the freedom to let Empire Strikes Back writer Lawrence Kasdan pen the script without worrying about stumbling over years' worth of baggage. In fact, Kasdan's unfamiliarity with the EU is a strength here—and one that Disney is capitalizing on by drastically reducing the number of things he has to worry about.

De-crapifying the universe

Most of the EU is simply layers and layers of garbage. It's filled with thinly veiled Mary Sue characters, ludicrous minutiae, and a ponderous and plodding history (past AND future) of the galaxy. It's creaky under its own weight, and Chee's pruning is a welcome change. In him, Disney has a person who intimately understands the core elements of what makes Star WarsStar Wars.
It's unclear at this point what in the EU will be pitched out into the trash, and what will be promoted to canon. When asked, Chee himself responded that he can't say when fans will be able to see the results the trim's impact on the universe's lore. Still, it's a safe assumption that every single bit of EU story set after The Return of the Jedi will have to go—and, for the most part, good riddance to it, because almost all of it is terrible.
Ironically, nuking all post-RotJ material would remove Timothy Zahn's Thrawn trilogy, which Lucasfilm authorized and provided limited collaboration on. Zahn's three books are easily the best of the often-literally-vomit-inducing tie-in novels, but they also are set shortly after the events of RotJand deal specifically with the aftermath of the fall of the Empire. Losing them would mean losing some of the best content the EU has to offer; it would also, however, mean considerably more latitude in following up Episodes IV-VI.
Regardless of what gets kept, the chainsawing of canon is unequivocally a good thing. It's time to dump the EU into the garbage chute and feed it to the dianoga.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Savage Worlds Interludes and FUDGE

I have been re-reading my Savage Worlds rules lately. Mainly because of the attention the system gets from the guys on Happy Jacks Podcast. It's a great rule system with a lot of unique and innovative rules. The particular rules I've been liking lately are the Interlude rules.

The other interesting thing lately is a rekindling of interest in the Fudge RPG system. This is mainly due to a post on Google+ from Teo Tayobobayo. With that it was off to necro old threads about Fudge and Savage Worlds.

One interesting post uncovered was this post back from ten years ago! from Alcamtar...
Having played both extensively, and considering that they are probably my two favorite systems at the moment... I'm pretty solidly in the Fudge camp. That's not to say SW isn't great -- I love it -- but in the end, Fudge does more.
When I first encountered SW, it really grabbed me. After playing a long campaign with it, I realized it had warts, but most of the warts were with the way the dice worked and the overall balance. Once I sat back and really looked at it I realized that what grabbed me were the ideas and the overall organization. And I also noticed that you could easily stamp that structure onto Fudge and end up with nearly the same thing.
SW freely borrows from many other games, and it is not the new mechanics but the synthesis that is compelling; you can graft the same things into Fudge. In fact, SW itself is surprisingly similar to Fudge. Try sitting down and playing Fudge, but using the SW attribute list, skill list, edges and hindrances. Substitute Fudge Points for Bennies, "Fair" for "4", fudge levels for raises, scale for size. Redefine "Scratched" as "Shaken". Assume all the skills and systems interacted the same with each other. It works. It's the same system, only using polyhedral dice and cards, and with a fixed structure. Even the skill levels map over directly: d4 = mediocre, d6 = fair, d8 = good, d10 = great, d12 = superb. Levels and XP are a metagame concept that work as well in Fudge as SW: each 5 XP gains you a level, each level gains you two skill levels or one Gift, etc.
SW can almost be seen as a subset of Fudge, a "custom build" using different dice. Given that, Fudge does more for me. The adjectives are more meaningful than numbers, the dice are more predictable, and the whole game is more customizable. (To be fair you can customize any game, but it feels easier and more natural in Fudge.)
The one thing in SW that is really innovative -- the "Shaken" system in combat -- is easily implemented in Fudge. Just say that Scratched (or Hurt if you prefer) is now Shaken, and you're all set. Balance will be slightly different from SW, but that's easily tweakable, and most importantly the flavor is there. The rest of combat in SW is remarkably similar to Fudge. For example, damage >= Toughness+Armor+Size is analogous to damage >= Armor+Scale, even moreso if you use the Damage Capacity rule. A broadsword does +3 in both systems, and chainmail is +2 armor.
In the end, the unique things SW offers are
(A) Ready-built structure to build characters with, providing very fast setup and character creation married to a crunchy skirmish wargame system. As described above, if you like this it is easily defined in Fudge terms, or you can steal parts of it. Once you've spent an hour mapping it over, you can quickly setup and play crunchy wargames in Fudge just like you can in SW.
(B) Shaken results in combat, reducing bookkeeping and making mooks easy to handle. This is so easy to port into Fudge it's really just a special case of (A), but worth mentioning separately because it is an innovative, major feature.
(C) Polyhedral dice. If you like'm, play SW. If you like a bell curve, play Fudge.
(D) Ready-to-run adventures. If you tend to buy and use them, might be better to stick with SW rather than porting into Fudge. OTOH if you tend to brew your own, this is a moot point.
So that leaves us with overall equivalence, but IMO Fudge does more. There are four things in SW that I find limiting.
FIRST, SW is not free, while Fudge is newly OGL. That means I can write my own stuff and publish it on a web page or even sell it if I want. The rules are forever mine, and my kids and grandchildren can continue to use them. Not a big deal for many people, but it is to me. Shane is a great guy of course and I wish him success, but SW is his baby and he doesn't hand out licenses liek candy.
SECOND, some things in SW are a little clunky. I'm not fond of card-based initiative, or the way really big monsters are nearly bulletproof, or how powerful tricked-out PCs become at high levels. The exploding dice are fun, but sometimes annoying. Magic doesn't feel very magical, and lacks the detail I'd prefer.
THIRD, it takes a lot longer to create stuff in SW than in Fudge, and frankly I'm spoiled. Not nearly as bad as d20 of course, but I've sat down and converted some modules for D&D and GURPS to SW, and each NPC or critter takes a bit of thought -- there are a fair number of mechanics to define and a full stat block is fair-sized. Edges and monster abilities and powers have to be looked up (at least until you've memorized them). Most SW supplements do ignore things like prerequisites for Monsters, which helps, but Fudge is lightning fast by comparison.
FOURTH, that very same rigid structure that attracted me to SW is also limiting. Sure I can build upon it and add skills, but that's not really the SW way. Fudge already has a lot of optional systems ready to use, many of which I really like. I really love simultaneous combat in Fudge, for example, or I might want to use Aspects or Gramarye or any of dozens of other fan-created variants. Creating a new combat or magic system in SW would be more complicated, because of it's existing metasystem, and would really kind of miss the point anyway: SW is designed to be a fast pick-up game, light and streamlined and not worrying too much about the rules. Pick an existing rule that's "close enough" and use it.
Therefore I prefer Fudge, because it does not have these limitations. If I create an exact SW-clone in Fudge it of course has ALL these limitations (including the "derivative work" legal aspect). Fudge has a lot of options, and I like to use different rules and different options for different campaigns, to tailor the feel and simulation to match the genre.
Also, Fudge is borg-like. It is the nature of Fudge to embrace and extend. I can import my favorite bits of SW, alongside my favorite bits of Ars Magica, D&D, Traveller, or whatever, and use them all together to create something new and tasty. I can combine SW character creation and levels with Ars Magica spells, D&D monsters, add a Shaken result to Fudge's simultaneous combat, and I'm ready to roll.
Fudge has limitations of course, but they don't really bother me That's really the key to choosing an RPG, in the end: which game has limitations that don't annoy you, or even that you find enjoyable? There are a lot of folks that love AD&D precisely because of the quirks that make other people shudder.
I"ll certainly keep SW around and play it from time to time. For a gritty pickup skirmish game it can't be beat, and I think it would adapt very well to playing with green plastic army men in the backyard grass. And like any game, it has a fine flavor of its own that is worth savoring on its own merits.
For a general purpose game I prefer Fudge. 
I'm latching on to this idea that Savage Worlds can be viewed as a distant relative of Fudge. This post illustrates the strengths of Fudge in a clear way. Great stuff.

Sa-Fudge Worlds!    sorry.

Friday, January 10, 2014

cosplay interlude - SARK

"I need those!"

photo by Andy Ihnatko

Comments from the photographer...

Maria Sark

I'm way behind on posting photos of cosplayers from the cons I've attended. This is one of my favorite cosplayers ever: she's Sark from "TRON." While I will humbly take credit for posing and composing and Photoshopping well, it's a fantastically well-executed and wearable costume, and she made some terrific and simple modifications that give Sark a cool, lighter, Deco-inspired riff. The movie costume (designed for a male actor) looked clunky and boxy.

Her facial features also elevate the costume. I often "see" a costume differently when I dump my photos and look at them onscreen. I got a "Maria" (of "Metropolis") vibe from this photo immediately.

I wish I always had both the guts and the clarity of thought that I brought to this photo. I loved the costume at first sight, so I broke my usual "five seconds" rule. I took...well, as much as twenty, asking her to move to a spot with a workable background and strong downward lighting, and directed her "pose" a little bit. It was worth it, because I got the shot I wanted.

So often, I'll look at a photo and think "Rrgh. I should have asked Superman to rotate his shoulders a bit to show off the logo better. And asked him to walk fifteen feet to the left so I could shoot him in front of that big window with the city behind him."

But this isn't a model I've's a fan who's walking around a public place in a costume. So I usually don't feel very good about asking this nice person to go into Performing Monkey Mode for the sake of a random guy with a camera.

I shot this in 2011 at New York Comicon. I bumped into Sark again during the 2012 Comicon at a diner near the convention center and I frantically searched my iPad for this photo, to no avail. Ach. I imagine she'd like to have a copy.

Oh my goodness, hey there! I'm the Sark in this overwhelmingly impressive photo of yours, lol. First, please let me thank you from the bottom of my heart for such overwhelmingly kind compliments - but I must say that I honestly don't think me or my costume live up to your wonderful words, ahhhhh. I mean, once you've been compared to Maria, welp, there's really no higher on the compliment ladder you can possibly go. You've completely ruined the chances any future suitor of mine has to flatter me, lol. And while I can't thank you enough for just going out of your way to take and create an such amazing photo of me in my my outfit, you actually have no idea how gracious I am to you for actually taking the time to give me some direction! There are a number of photos of me out there where parts of my costume are falling down or my helmet has shifted and is way too far back on my head, and I see these photos and wish somebody had told me as to prevent me from looking ridiculous in what would have otherwise been a fantastic photo. I bomb my own photos constantly, it's terrible, lol. But yeah, there's never any harm in asking - we'd generally like to look our best for you guys, so if it takes and extra 15 seconds and 15 feet, so be it, haha. You're the ones going out of your way to take breathtaking photos of us, and for that we are flattered, humbled, and grateful. But gosh, oh there are happy memories here - this was my very first time wearing the completed outfit, and your photo caught some of the little quirks and 'glitches' it had that I've since fiddled with. And you actually got a shot of me in my contact lenses! I only wore them for a few hours, as I had gone near-blind from them in one eye because of a bad reaction to them in conjunction with all the ridiculous high-garlic cooking that was going on in a lot of the con for some mysterious reason. I really do apologize for the awkward squinting going on here; you caught me with light was painful and I was an incoherent allergic mess. AND OH GOD THAT DINER FROM THE FOLLOWING YEAR. I swear, everyone from the entire convention and also several other conventions must have been in that diner that night - it has become a giant running joke among the group I was with, because of the sheer number of people in crazy places who saw us at that diner, lol. Like, as an example, I went to an event in California and there were people who recognized me from that diner. It's mind-boggling. I hope the food you got there was better than ours, lol.
Andy Ihnatko's reply
Hey, I'm glad you found the photo! Yes, there's an interesting interaction between the people with cameras and the people in costumes at cons. I try to find the balance point between "They're here to enjoy the con, not to be hassled by people who think a camera is a license to order someone around" and "Well, look, he or she is walking around in public wearing a costume that they clearly take a great deal of pride in; I'm sure they're expecting to be photographed." Your costume was fab. Exact accuracy and impeccable construction aren't as important as creating an "effective" costume. Point Two is that you're a great match to that outfit. Above all, the cosplayers who always attract my eye at cons are those who are clearly enjoying themselves, and you were obviously doing that.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Clone Wars finale comics

Darth Maul by Ferradine 

Dark Horse comics will have the honor of presenting the finale of the prematurely cancelled Clone Wars series.
The ending of Star Wars’ Clone Wars is shrouded in mystery, both in-story and in real life. In March 2013 Lucasfilm announced that the long-running animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars would be cut short, robbing fans of the intended finale of that CGI series. Since then, various personnel at Lucasfilm have talked about potential outlets the final episodes’ story could be told, either as televised episodes, online content, or possibly a DVD release. But now in an exclusive to Newsarama, Lucasfilm has told us the finale to Star Wars: The Clone Wars is being told as a comic launching this May. This doesn’t preclude the fully produced episodes from still airing somehow, but does let fans jump right to the ending and the unproduced final arc.
In this last year of Lucasfilm’s epic decades-long partnership with Dark Horse Comics, the Oregon-based publisher will be releasing a four-part limited series titled Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir that will adapt the screenplays for what would have been the series finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. Written by seasoned Star Wars comics scribe (and former editor) Jeremy Barlow with an artist to be announced, Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir sees the full-scale return of Darth Maul to the Star Wars universe and into a head-to-head battle with his former master Darth Sidious – aka, the Emperor. Barlow promises to fully delve into the world of Dathomir, as well as some of its inhabitants like Nightbrothers and even a new character called Brother Viscus. Barlow spoke exclusively to Newsarama in our “Galaxy Far Away” Star Wars column.
Newsarama: This is a story that many fans, including myself, thought we’d never see. What can you tell us about this upcoming comic miniseries?
Jeremy Barlow: Due to the Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV show’s sudden cancelation, Lucasfilm wasn’t able to film the final episodes of the series, which is a shame because the story is an important — and action-packed — chapter in Darth Maul’s continuing evolution as envisioned by George Lucas.
Never ones to let a good story slip away, Dark Horse and the team at Lucasfilm saw an opportunity to save these teleplays from obsolescence and we’re adapting them into a four-part miniseries called Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir.
Nrama: Although there are many fans of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars show, I know some of the people reading this weren't able to get up to speed on them. For those coming in fresh, how would you explain the set-up leading into this miniseries?

Barlow: We’re making these as new-reader-friendly as possible, understanding that some folks will be coming to this series without prior knowledge of the television show. All you need to know is that Darth Maul has returned, that he’s really pissed off, and that his former master Darth Sidious is determined to put him back in the ground, permanently.
Beyond that, Maul now serves a Dathomir Witch named Mother Talzin and together they’ve raised a ragtag army of hired soldiers and criminals, causing all kinds of trouble for Sidious’ plans for galactic conquest. There have been victories and losses for both sides, and as we come into Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir, Sidious has captured Maul and stashed him away on a remote prison planet made of obsidian. How cool is that?
Nrama: Pretty cool. Darth Maul is known to people from the movies as squarely a bad guy -- but the Star Wars: The Clone Wars cartoon and this series looks to be putting him in a new light. Can you explain what's happened to Darth Maul since Episode I, briefly?
Barlow: It’s safe to say that no one expected Maul to come back — that goes for everyone in the Star Wars galaxy, as well. Obviously, his final scene in The Phantom Menace wasn’t the end of him. He lived through being cut in half and dropped down the chute, survived on his own hate, and was restored by dark forces on Dathomir.
But he returns to a galaxy that’s moved on without him. His master, Darth Sidious, has chosen a replacement, and the Jedi have bigger problems on their hands, so he’s yesterday’s news, which only fuels Maul’s rage. He’s out for revenge on everyone and everything, and against all odds he builds an army and comes back roaring.
Still, he’s an underdog in this fight — up against the Republic, the Separatists, the Jedi,and the Sith — with only his patchwork military and his own determination. He’ll discover that those elements still might not be enough, though.
NramaStar Wars stories aren't just solo tales -- the universe offers a multitude of characters and races to play with here. Who are the other characters involved here you haven't yet touched on?
BarlowDarth Maul: Son of Dathomir’s supporting cast is a lot of fun. Maul has amassed this army of mercenaries, cut throats, and criminals—some really colorful characters—and while they’re intimidated by Maul’s strength and his audacity, their convictions aren’t as solid. Their very nature makes them an untrustworthy bunch, which Maul learns the hard way.
We also meet more of the Nightbrothers — Maul’s brutal cohorts from Dathomir — and spend some time with a scary dude called Brother Viscus. These guys are wild and a lot of fun.
Nrama: And places -- oh the places Star Warscan go. What are the primary locales for this story?
Barlow: That’s one of my favorite aspects of writing Star Wars—there’s no end to the varied and imaginative locations you can create.
In this story, we start at that secret prison carved out of massive obsidian blocks and from there we bounce to the harsh moon of Zanbar, hit the Black Sun stronghold on Ord Mantell, and finally make our way to Dathomir, which is as dark and dangerous a place as you can get.
Nrama: You're well known as a writer and former editor of various Star Wars comics at Dark Horse. How did you get involved to do this series?
Barlow: Randy Stradley invited me aboard. It’s been a while since we’ve worked together—since The Enemy Within a couple of years ago—and this project seemed like a good fit. This is an adaptation of an existing storyline, so a big part of this series’ process required sharp editing skills and making judicious choices about how to keep as much of the screenplays intact as possible while still giving the comics their own exciting and natural flow. So I brought that to the table, as well.
Nrama: Obviously the optimum plan for these stories was for it to be among the final episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but things happened to prevent that. How do you feel about being the one to help these stories see the light of day?
Barlow: It’s really flattering. I’m being trusted with bringing home an important storyline that George Lucas, Dave Filoni and the team at Lucasfilm Animation had been building over several seasons, and I appreciate the confidence that Dark Horse and Lucasfilm have in my ability to pull it off. I’m a lucky guy.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Sherlock series 3

Sherlock, as a show, is becoming a symphony of perfection for me personally. I'm not sure when I've geeked over a show so hard before. Every aspect of this show hits home for me. Cast, writing, music, production- it's all perfect. The Empty Hearse was a fantastic premiere episode. (no spoilers here)

My wife and I watched The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on New Years' day and I picked up Star Trek: Into Darkness over the holidays.

So, it has been a Cumberbatch and Freeman filled winter break!

FrontierSpace new plans

One Last Smoke by Blinck
(not artwork from FrontierSpace,
just cool sci-fi art)
DwD responded to an overwhelming response to a discussion on their own forum. BareBones Fantasy laid down the ground work for a simple and elegant d100 system. DwD expanded that foundation with the very recent Covert Ops (this was my in to this system with an invitation to review the preview). The forthcoming series is FrontierSpace which was to further expand the rules over a threshold leaving "light" behind and being a proper crunchy RPG. This plan was unknown enough for the question to be asked (by yours truly, actually)- will it be d00Lite (the same system powering BareBones Fantasy and Covert Ops). When the answer was kind of No, fans unanimously said they'd prefer it to be so, but also have the complexity to add on top if desired. Compatibility was the most desired feature. DwD re-thought their model and this was the reply:
Similar to Covert Ops, we'll release a GM's Manual with FrontierSpace core rulebook. It'll contain a lot of optional rules we'll pull from the core rulebook to help make that core book "lite." Therefore, the initial offering concept will likely be as follows:
FrontierSpace Core Rulebook - basically all you "NEED" though descriptions of technology will be lite. For instance, equipment tables will include a "ground car" or "scout ship" or "maintenance bot" without much more than a couple of stats. It will also include a broad brushstroke setting called "Astra Incognita" (basically a map, a brief history, political divisions, corporate powers, and some tables describing the different worlds depicted by the map).
FrontierSpace GM's Manual - not technically required for game play. This book will have a bunch of extra modular plug-in rules many GMs will want to use to help tell their sci-fi tales. More alien races, optional technologies (such as allowing a player to play a robot or full conversion cyborg), hit location, creating more specific weaponry, subsystems for creating star systems, spaceships, robots, vehicles, and more. It will also consist of some GMing advice and some guidelines on creating different settings with different types of faster-than-light travel.
FrontierSpace: Faces of the Frontier - an archetype-like book of pregenerated illustrated rank 1 NPCs. They can be used as quick PCs for a one-off game or for new players who might not come back, or as quick non-player characters when the GM needs stats quick-like. We did this for Covert Ops and had great deal of positive feedback. We'll do the same thing for FrontierSpace.
FrontierSpace: Sci-Tech - all the science/technology described in the brief tables in the core rulebook will be more fully described here. In case you don't want to be vague and lite with tech. For instance, it might describe more concepts and configuration options for a "ground car" or modifications and detailed stats for a "scout ship" (perhaps even a deck plan) and will give more detail to a "maintenance bot" (such as which types of sensors it has, what modes of transport, etc.). If this book turns out to be too large, we may break it up into smaller books - providing a "Frontier Tech: Equipment," "Frontier Tech: Starships," "Frontier Tech: Vehicles," "Frontier Tech: Robots," and "Frontier Tech: Cybernetics." It all depends on how many pages they end up with and feedback from folks.
Astra Incognita Sourcebook - this might not be in the core product release but might follow. It will provide more detail to the setting while still allowing room for GMs to tell their own stories, similar to how the Keranak Kingdoms book filled in a mid-level of detail for the setting from BareBones Fantasy. In addition to filling in details of most everything presented in the core rulebook, this book will also provide a great amount of detail for one large corporation, one or two star systems, one world, and a handful of movers and shakers. Also, just like we did for Keranak Kingdoms, this book won't have any statistics in it so you can actually use it with any game system with no conversion required.

The future looks bright!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

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