Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Deadlands television series!

A Deadlands TV series!

Microsoft announced on Monday that it’s developing original television shows for the Xbox, and the list of programs is about what you’d expect for that audience: reality competitions, sketch comedy, and an adaptation of the multi-billion dollar Halo video game franchise. 
But one program stands out because of its unusual origins: “Deadlands,” a genre-bending Western filled with undead cowboys, card-slinging sorcerers and horrific monsters, is based on a pen-and-paper role-playing game.

“I’ve always loved the game and thought it would make an awesome film or TV series,” says George Strayton, a writer and producer who’s worked on films including Alive Inside and Transformers. “I’m psyched to see someone had the brains to make it.” 
Deadlands is set in 19th century America, but in an alternative timeline where a group of American Indian shamans tried to drive out European settlers with magic spells, and accidentally opened a conduit to a demonic realm. Powerful evil beings known as the Reckoners use the conduit to begin turning the Earth into a haunted wasteland, starting in the “Weird West,” where lawmen and gunslingers battle zombies, ghosts and mad scientists. 
The game was created by Shane Lacy Hensley and first published in 1996 by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. In the years since, Deadlands books have won nine Origins Awards and been converted to multiple RPG systems including the d20 System, GURPS, and Savage Worlds
Deadlands is being developed into a pilot for Xbox Entertainment Studios, a Microsoft subsidiary created in 2012 in order to make “interactive television content.” A dozen “Xbox Originals” have been commissioned by the studio, and if they make it into actual production, will be distributed exclusively on Microsoft platforms, much like the original programming developed by online networks like Netflix and Hulu.

Other Xbox Originals in development include “Humans,” an adaptation of a Swedish science-fiction program about robot servants that develop free will, and a series based on the hugely popular Halo video games, which is being produced by Steven Spielberg.
Microsoft hasn’t released any details about the team working on the Deadlands pilot, but the game’s creator, Shane Hensley, says he’s been involved in the creative process from the beginning. “I’m very happy with my level of involvement,” he says. “Everyone is working together to make the best show possible.” 
Hensley says the series will be set in the Deadlands universe, and may use specific characters and stories from published RPG adventures, but will also feature new stories developed for the program. “There’s lots of great original ideas the creative team has added alongside plenty of elements from the property our fans will love,” Hensley says.
Still, you can’t blame any fans who might be worried. Hollywood has a poor track record when it comes to adapting games into TV shows and movies. Since the 1980s, dozens of beloved video games including Super Mario Brothers and Street Fighter have been turned into critically reviled, high-profile flops. Tabletop games have fared no better: The 2012 film Battleship was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture, and the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons has spawned three execrable features of its own. (D&D owner Hasbro is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with Warner Brothers over who can make a fourth, and hopefully better, film.) 
“The studios have always had a difficult time understanding games and how to turn them into franchises… especially RPGs,” says George Strayton. “I’ve been to so many meetings where it’s clear they’re overwhelmed by RPGs and just don’t even know where to begin, and therefore don’t trust it as a viable intellectual property despite the massive fan base.”
Strayton says he pitched a film based on Deadlands to movie studios back in 2001, and came close to cutting a deal with Dimension Films, which at the time was owned by Walt Disney. He’s not involved with the new Xbox Originals production, but says Microsoft may have what it takes to finally turn a game into a great TV series.

Deadlands creator Shane Hensley is optimistic, too. “This is all new territory, of course, for them and us,” he says. “But everything I’ve seen from Xbox and the creative team so far has given me great optimism that this is exactly the right home for the Weird West.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tin Star for True20

Tin Star is a mini-campaign setting for the good old True20 RPG. It started as a short science fiction story written by a Cecil Castellucci.

Cecil is a friend of one of the creators of True20 and Green Ronin, Chris Pramas. It was this connection and a bit of punk rock that lead to a new mini-setting for True20! Here's that story...
This past October I was in Seattle for Geek Girl Con and I went and stayed at my friend Chris Pramas house for a couple of nights. We met in college when I was the front desk person at our dorm and he and his friends would stay up all night in the lobby playing RPGs. He also liked punk rock and we’d run into each other at rock shows. A friendship was sealed. Chris grew up to become a game publisher – he owns and runs Green Ronin Publishing. They do games like Freeport Pirate, Dragon Age RPG, Game of Thrones RPG, DC Comics RPG to name a few. I love the video game Dragon Age and was curious about the table top game so when I was visiting, he ran a game of Dragon Age for me and his family. I was so excited to be playing in Ferelden! When I fall in love with a story, I fall in love with a world. And when I fall in love with a world, I want to live there, visit there, eat there, love there, dance there, swoon there, be there. That’s the great thing about playing a game that takes place in a world that you love. When I was writing Tin Star, I knew it was a galaxy that I wanted to explore more of. There are so many stories to be told there! Sitting in Chris’s kitchen I wondered if I could make a mini adventure within the Tin Star world. Chris said, “Of course you can!” And he even had an easy way for me to start: Green Ronin is the creator of the open license True 20 Game system. That means that anyone can use those rules to create their own game. 
The idea was born and I was determined to do it! But I had never written a game before and I knew I couldn’t do it alone. So I turned to my brother Laurent who I had played RPGs with all my life and who had been a first reader for Tin Star. He had always talked about creating his own RPG one day so I knew that when I told him of my plan, he’d jump on it. As a bonus, he knew the characters and the world as well as I did because I had worked out a lot of the Galactic Politics with him. Besides, it was a fun project for us to do together. It was kind of like being kids again. 
Why write a game? 
We live in an age where we digest stories in many different ways and on many different platforms. Books are made into movies, comic books, tv shows and games. Stories have become transmedia and people find them and engage with them in all ways or just one way. I am a big gamer. I always have been. I started playing D&D and other RPGs with my brother when I was a kid. This seemed like fun on so many levels. 
Creating the Game 
It was fun to try to figure out with Laurent what the adventure should be. I wanted the players to be able to interact with Tula and some of the other main characters of the book, but I also wanted it to be something that someone could play without knowing the book at all. The trick was to find that balance to let people who already love Tula hang with her and learn more about her and for those who don’t get to know her and the others. I wanted the game to be a short contained adventure that could be played in one or two sessions.
Laurent and I jammed out some ideas and we finally settled on the story of a group of aliens on a ship that hauls cargo to colony planets who dock at the Yertina Feray to stock up on some last minute supplies. Things go wrong and they have to get some stuff with help from Tula, Heckleck, Tournour and Thado. I set the story in the time just after the beginning of the book and before the other humans arrive on the station. It’s a chance to get to know Tula doing what she does best, bartering with aliens and surviving. We wrote a few versions of the game and then we playtested it a couple of times with a mix of friends who know and don’t know how to play RPGs. They gave us feedback and we simplified and streamlined the course of action. It was so much fun to run a game with them. Pretty thrilling to see people interacting with your characters and going through their own story in your world. 
What do you need to play the game? 
You need someone who is willing to run the game. It’s helpful if that person is a good story teller and can move a story along no matter what the players through at them! You need a group of friends who want to have an adventure! You need a twenty sided die. You need your imagination. The person who runs the game should read through the adventure module Tin Star: A Simple Favor and also the True 20 Quickstart Rules
We created 6 pre-generated characters that you can choose to play and the game is run by a Game Master whose job is to take you through the story. You as the player can do whatever you want to try to accomplish the tasks given you and whether you succeed or not is determined by a roll of a 20 sided dice. My brother and I tailored the True 20 Quickstart Rules to go along with the Tin Star adventure. We also tried to make it easy for first time gamers. 
I hope you have a great time hanging out on the Yertina Feray and working with Tula Bane on your adventure. If you have any questions, feel free to tweet me @misscecil or @tinstargame and let me know how your adventure goes! 
Have fun!

Here is a link to the Tin Star True20 Mini-setting
Here is a link to picking up a copy of the short story

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Star Wars Hero Kids Fudge mashup

R4.5 MnM's character sheet
We tried some gaming this afternoon. It started with a Hero Kids Star Wars hack but ended up using more Fudge rules and dice. The adventure was the one that was published in the very first Star Wars RPG book- Rebel Breakout. (The classic where you start on Mesa 291, but Tiree didn't make it. So he left his astromech D0 who railroads you through the adventure! So good!)

My kiddos are 6.5 and 4.5 years old. It went a bit sloppy and awkward which I think might be typical for Fudge games. It was a delight to see my daughter (the 4.5 one) actually getting into the role of her R4.5 MnM droid (purple!). She might be a bit of a LARPer.

My wife is a trooper to participate for their benefit.

A satisfying Saturday afternoon.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Leviathan Wakes on Sci-Fi

Off to find out more about this book series. Sci-fi Game of Thrones, they say...

SyFy has ordered a 10-episode adaptation of James S.A. Corey’s space opera novel Leviathan Wakes, which will be titled The Expanse. The novel, which was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel and the Locus Award Best SF Novel in 2012, has been praised by both Annalee Newitz and Jo Walton, and described by George R.R. Martin as a “really kick-ass space opera.” Appropriately, The Expanse is being billed as “Game of Thrones in space.”
According to the network, the series will follow “the case of a missing young woman who brings a hardened detective and a rogue ship’s captain together in a race across the solar system to expose the greatest conspiracy in human history.” The series will be written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, whose previous credits include the first Iron Man and Children of Men, for which they received an Academy Award nomination.
Syfy’s president Dave Howe, said: “The Expanse is epic in scale and scope and promises to be Syfy’s most ambitious series to date… [it] joins a killer line-up of high-concept, high quality series, along with recently announced original projects Ascension, 12 Monkeys, the renewal of Helix, and the soon to premiere Dominion.”

So, what do we all think? Will SyFy do the series justice? Who’s your dream casting for Jim Holden and Det. Miller?

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Three Musketeers

BBC's The Musketeers is finished and it was fantastic. With enthusiasm running high for this genre, I picked up a copy of the Triple Ace Games' All For One: Régime Diabolique.

To continue my obsession enthusiasm, I present all 18 episodes of Hanna-Barbera's The Three Musketeers...

  1. The Littlest Musketeer
  2. The Jewel of India
  3. A Letter of Peril
  4. The Ring
  5. The Plot of the Puppetmaster
  6. The Moorish Galley
  7. The True King
  8. The Pirate Adventure
  9. The Evil Falconer
  10. The Mysterious Message
  11. The Challenge for the Crown
  12. The Red Duke
  13. The Outlaw Archer
  14. Tooly's Dream
  15. The Haunted Castle
  16. A Fair Day for Tooly
  17. Tooly's Treasure Hunt
  18. Tooly's Surprise

I feel I've finally come to accept Savage Worlds as my go-to home RPG system. For a long time I was longing for and preparing to collect the Original Ubiquity version of the game, but I'm going with Savage Worlds mainly because it is a generic system and it enjoys a vastly healthy supportive community. So I'm throwing in my lot with the rest of the Savages.

As for the BBC show, I long for the next season- which has been confirmed!

Masters of the Universe gets a director

Progress with a Masters of the Universe film...
According to The Schmoes' Phantom scooper, Jeff Wadlow has signed on to direct Sony's planned reboot of Masters Of The Universe. That's signed, sealed, delivered -- they reckon it's only a matter of time before this one hits the trades. Wadlow had been lined up by Fox to direct their X-Force movie, but obviously that doesn't look good if he's chosen to bring He-Man, Fisto, Ram-Man, and the rest of the slightly pornographically monikered heroes to the big screen. Previous versions of scripts have veered away from the original cartoon quite a bit, but we have no idea what type of story Terry Rossio (Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lone Ranger) is currently working on. What do you think of this? Would you have preferred if Wadlow had stuck with X-Force? Is a Masters Of The Universe movie even a good idea in your opinion?

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