Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Kitbashed Dungeon of Doom!

Part of the fun of working on my own RPG system "Legends of Steel" is the chance I've had to do some honest to god face to face gaming. The only problem was that 99% of my gaming supplies are sitting in a storage shed in Hawaii. Well piece by piece I have been able to gather together some supplies here to try and make the gaming experience a bit more visual for my players. I started off by haunting EBay looking for a dungeon building system called Dungeonworks. These are plastic dungeon wall sections placed on a metallic board and held in place by magnets in their bases. I was quite lucky to win a series of auctions at a great price giving me a total of six sets for under $40.00
I then used a combination of AD&D miniatures, Mageknight dungeon dressings, Heroquest pieces and various toy snakes and spiders. The result looks pretty decent if I do say so myself.

My thanks to Ed W. and Fred J. for their help in getting some nice startup pieces.

up on the "header" you can see some of the pieces used by my son Anthony for his "Dungeon of Doom. He built a dungeon featuring a torture chamber, wizard's lab, evil chapel, and a big snake room. Enjoy!

Monday, December 27, 2004

"Man, you come right out of a comic book."

King Arthur came out in DVD last week. It sunk at the box office but I still found myself liking it, not loving it mind you, but liking it in my own gamer geek fan boy way. It's a dirty gritty re-telling of the Arthur legend. No chrome armor, jousting tournaments or fairy tale castles this time. This movie tries a more historical slant (as historical as Hollywood allows anyway). Arthur is a Roman/Briton commander; his "knights" are indentured cavalrymen from Eastern European barbarian tribes. And his lovely Guinevere is a Celtic warrior chick. Merlin is a holy man and tribal leader but doesn't have any magical powers per se. The "bad guys" are the Saxons, who surprisingly are the "good guys" a few hundred years later in Robin Hood.

When I saw the movie in the theatre I remember being disappointed that the battles seemed so tame. Now with the DVD I understand why. It seems that the director was going for a hard R rating when he was filming, but in postproduction he was told by Disney that they want it toned down to pg-13, hence the tame, bloodless battles. Well that isn't the case with the DVD version.

This movie is bloody as all hell now with limbs and heads being severed left and right. For me the violence helped sell the movie. Another little concession I made was to watch the movie and not think of it as an attempt at the Arthur legends- I saw it more as a war movie where this commander is in charge of an outpost facing overwhelming odds. With him are his elite team of warriors: the strong guy, the bow chick, the sword master, the "kid", the Axe dude, the knife guy, and the loyal friend guy who uses two swords. And suddenly it becomes the testosterone charged guy flick (Dirty Dozen, Magnificent Seven, 13th Warrior, etc.) that its supposed to be.

Hell, all we needed was Jim Kelly as the kung fu guy.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Conan Christmas

it was quite a REH Christmas for me. amongst my gifts were the new Conan TPB, the Frazetta Calender for 2005, A copy of the "whole wide world" on DVD. and a chance to get caught up on Kurt's work in the Conan comic. I haven't gotten to the stories yet in the Bloody crown book,but I must say I enjoyed Rusty's introduction.

the Calender is always a treat. I'm from the generation where Conan is personified by Frazetta's artwork. I'm one of the "unwashed masses" that enjoyed the hell out of the ace books, only later did I learn the joys of pure Howard. but in my teenage years those paperbacks with the frazetta covers always had a place in my backpack, as did the Gor books, but thats another story...(slave girls, yummy).

I hadn't seen the "Whole Wide World" in quite a long time. and ever since i found out that it was in the $5.00 bin at the Wal-Marts, I've been looking for it. the wife spotted it for me. It was a nice story, I enjoyed Vincents portrayal of Howard, My wife enjoyed it as well and it gave her a glimpse of this man whose work I talk of often. she was sad for him.

I had a growing stack of Conan's to read, so during a holiday lull i dived into a few issues. I didn't care for the Hyperborean adventure (still couldn't get over the fact that the Hyperboreans looked like Dr. Seuss had drawn them). but I was very pleased with the stories from then on. the childhood tale was good as was the two Nemedians in the bar story (did anyone else think that the two Nemedian bravos resembled Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser?).

Monday, December 20, 2004

They got it so right!

Over the weekend I finally had a chance to watch my copy of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King-extended version. Needless to say I was impressed. Now I know my accolades are nothing new to any fan of the genre or of the literary work itself, but I just want to say that watching the whole thing unfold in front of me was just such a cool experience. And to think that these folks crafted THREE movies of this scope to tell a rendition of a piece of classic literature is really amazing.
When you stop and think about it, I mean damn - the sets, the props, the technology, the editing of the story, the sheer damn magnitude of the whole effort of creating three movies, together, at the same time is just unheard of. The effort itself should be considered one of the greatest achievements in cinematic history.
I don't know, maybe in this pop culture- instant gratification- short attention span world we live in today, it's easy to become jaded and toss this aside while we wait for the next episode of Survivor. But in any other time a movie series this huge would be a cultural event.
The attention to the smallest detail, the meshing and melding of the written story into a screenplay, the epic scale of the battles- this is the type of movie our genre needed. This is our "Casablanca", our "Sound of Music", and our "Godfather". "The Lord of the Rings" movies are what we lovers of fantasy adventure knew could be made if folks making it had the right amount of dedication, love of the story, and strength to fight for the integrity of the project. Thank goodness for Peter Jackson and his team. They set the bar so high with this trilogy, that if nothing ever comes close, at least we know that Professor Tolkien's vision was done justice.

Oh, and did you catch Bruce Spence's portrayal of the Mouth of Sauron? It was too damn cool!