Sunday, January 27, 2013

Character Creation: It's a Dog's Life

It's not easy making all these characters, y'know. It's not like the movie project, where I don't have to read anything or grok rules or swallow my distaste for d20.

But anyway, I'm running this game (making characters tomorrow), and chargen looks quick. Also, this:



The Game: It's a Dog's Life
The Publisher: Beyond Belief Games
Degree of Familiarity: None. I've read it, gonna run it. Michelle likes prairie dogs.
Books Required: Just the one.

OK, so the "dogs" in the game are, as you may have guessed, prairie dogs, and they have this quasi-Native American culture going on, complete with feathers that they use as status. There's a substantial amount of the book dedicated to their legends, which I think is cool, and their kewl powerz are barks, which is neat.

My first step in making the character is to roll for my Attributes. I'm not usually a fan of random chargen, but what the hell, we'll try it. Since I actually have dice handy, I'll use them. I roll:

Size 6
Agility 2
Wisdom 3
Spirit 5

I'm evidently a pretty plump little dog. OK, now I choose what physical or social feature is most prominent. Well, with Size 6 and Agility 2, I think it's that I'm fat.

Now I choose dreams. No slot on the character sheet for those, tsk, tsk. My dog's dream is to find the Blue Grass. He dreamed it one night, this grass with a slightly blue tinge that is so delicious and so filling that everyone can eat for a year off a single patch. Plenty for everyone!

Feathers: I just get one, because I'm a starting character. That's easy.

Wound points: Size + 6. I'm built like a tank and hard to hit.

Now I choose a Role. Kind of my "splat", if you will, my place in dog society. A quibble, here: There are prerequisites to have these from Attributes, but you roll your Attributes. A pool of points might be better? Eh. Oh, wait, now that I read it, the only one that has a pre-req is Wildling, and the pre-req isn't stated up front, it's buried in the text. BOOOOOO.

Anyway, for my chubby little dog's role, I pick...oh, wait. God dammit. If my Attribute totals are less than 16, I get to make up the difference. Well, shit, might that not have been a good thing to point out under the section? GUYS. As it happens I have 16 exactly, so that doesn't apply. Moving on.

Speaker appeals, but actually I think my guy will be a Sentinel. He's fine with staying in one place and watching...he just tends to nibble while he watches. That gives me the Ability of Watching and the Bark of Warning.

Oh, for fuck's sake. The character sheet is wrong. There's actually no Spirit Attribute. And, there are minimum Attributes for the Roles, but they're not listed under the roles, they're listed under the Attributes. GUYS. STAHP. BAD GAME WRITING.

OK, no worries. Cross off Spirit, fill in Alertness, and that gives me a 5 in Alertness which is, as it happens, the Attribute I need at 4 or better to be a Sentinel. Christ.

Anyway, now I do Abilities/Barks. I have Watching, Critter Lore, Bark of Command and Tribal Bark at 1. I then get 4 points to split among those, so I put one into Watching and Critter Lore and two into Bark of Warning. And then I get 4 more points to put into those or any freely available Abilities or Barks (which took me a while to figure out; the book is not clear, though there is an example of chargen, which is what cleared it up). So I put two into Tooth & Claw (gotta be able to fight if someone does roll on the colony) and two into Bark of Stunning.

Right, now I need a name. My prairie dog's name is Boulder. Yes, it's a fat joke. No, he's not offended.

OK, so, another annoyance: As written, this game has you roll a d20 and roll under your Attribute + Ability or Bark. So let's check. If I'm rolling, say, Agility + Tooth & Claw, I have a 4. I'm not gonna succeed. But then my Agility sucks. How about Alertness + Watching? There I've got a 7! I have almost a 50% chance.

Yeah, fuck that. When I run it we're using d10s, not d20s. Seriously, did you people playtest this at all? Or were the players those weird d20 player people who think that having starting characters that suck is fun? (It's not.)

Anyway, here's Boulder:


Character Creation Index


Make a character, buy more RPGs, make a character...

This is the post for my character creation project. It's been going since late June 2008, and shows no sign of ever stopping because I'm never going to stop buying RPGs.

Some of these links lead back to my old Livejournal or Dreamwidth journal, but the newer ones are posts on this blog. If you read one and you want to comment, and it's on an older post, I'd recommend commenting on this post; I don't check the LJ anymore.

If you have a request or you want me to do a character for your RPG, I'm happy to do so! Contact me and we'll chat.

Done:
Mage: The Awakening - Raytwontoo
Godlike - Sean William Niall
Changeling: The Lost - August Boykos
Cartoon Action Hour! - Tyris
Promethean: The Created - Donnie Whiteside
Little Fears - Luis Collazo
Kobolds Ate My Baby! - Taem
World of Darkness - Mike Dashell
My Life With Master - Grush
World of Darkness:  Innocents - JT Behrent
Desolation - Olm, the Bitten Man
Werewolf: The Forsaken - Osman Seif
Houses of the Blooded - Drial
Paranoia (2nd Ed) -Tyrannis-R-OUS-1
Vampire: The Requiem - Salt
Dread - Eric Maholic
Prawn - Karate
The Secret Lives of Gingerbread Men - Ingredient Master
Run Robot Red - Hothead
Cat - Marshmallow
With Great Power... - The Wraith
The Batman Roleplaying Game - Joseph Basel/Crybaby
Hunter: The Vigil - Wyatt
Adventure! - Malcolm Danvers/The Querent
All Flesh Must Be Eaten - Nick Houser
Arcana Unearthed - Houn Stargazer
Deadlands - Easter
Whispering Vault - The Mountain Man
HoL - Bob Satanson
In Nomine - Variel/Dr. Alvin Kohler
Chill - Kelley Travis
Nightlife - Luke Bailey/Doc
Vampire: The Masquerade (2nd Ed.) - Trick
Changeling: The Dreaming (1st Ed.) - Elliot
Heroes Unlimited - Seth Stein/The Warden
Nobilis - Riz, Marquis of Cognitive Distortion
Army of Darkness - Brock
Aletheia - Peter Bodine
Dark Ages: Werewolf - Cautious Eyes
Hollow Earth Expedition - James Hart
Monsters and Other Childish Things - Mikey Robard
Fading Suns - Amat Lee
Dark Ages: Mage - Alessi
Silver Age Sentinels - Greg West/Gremlin
Dark Ages: Vampire - Troy
Legend of the Five Rings - Kazuo
Wraith: The Oblivion, 1st edition - Mr. Sly/Sylvester Cotto
Edge of Midnight - Mitch Wiley
Unknown Armies - Adam Yancy
Æternal Legends - Tink
It Came From the Late, Late, Late Show - Trap Martindon
Shadowrun - T'Kor
Aberrant - Victor Ford/Dog
Dungeons & Dragons, 3rd. Ed. - Os Brao
Nephilim - Richard Stokes/Lone
Orpheus - Brayton "Smitty" Smith
Fireborn - Rob Henry/Belatucadros
Archangel - Gad
Marvel Super Heroes - Hans Holmer/Fragment
Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Revised - Skin Deep
Scion: Hero - Gibbs Richard Boxer
Dreaming Cities - Noond
Mummy: The Resurrection - Scott Byrd
Toon! - Peabody
Dark Ages: Inquisitor - Pons Gaudet
Don't Rest Your Head - Trace Carter
Savage Worlds - Petros
Conspiracy X (2nd Ed.) - John Rostov
Exalted 1st Ed - Sirocco
Slasher Flick - Anthony
Spirit of the Century - Dr. Green
Low Life - Hosse, Tess of Stainless Creme
Exalted: Lunars 1st Ed - Lolk
Bushido - Hibiki
Necessary Evil - Dosage/Burt Bannister
Ex Machina - Gavin Croy
HARP - Alin
True 20 Adventure Roleplaying - Fox Kai
Geist: The Sin-Eaters - Anton Crist
Dogs in the Vineyard - Arthur Stone
Midway City - Nevin the Sparrow
Trail of Cthulhu - Dr. Ludwig Fuchs
Trinity - Yori "Lucky" Tanaka
Exquisite Replicas - Horace "Deak" Deakins
Shattered Dreams - Elwin James "LJ" Taft
Weapons of the Gods - Numbered Rain
Asylum - Anyone
Dark Ages: Fae - Ledirc
3:16 Carnage Among the Stars - Coop
Colonial Gothic - Skinner
50 Fathoms - Aes Lyrria
Terra Primate - Earl Donald
Hellas: Worlds of Sun and Stone - Gentle-Voiced Iphicles
GURPS (3rd. Ed) - Creatures of the Night - E. Lewis Paver
Alpha Omega - Reverend
Serenity - Louis "Dex" Beech
Feng Shui - Banning Gully
CthulhuTech - Desmond Marsh
Rippers - Emil Stahl
Mouse Guard - Siddel
Mutants and Masterminds - Kirk Olsen/Grimoire
Vox - Max Lloyd & Maximilian
Barbarians Versus - Ru'ak
Shambles - Josh Wilson
Dark Aeons - Ryan Pickman
Dawg - Threedy
Heaven & Earth, 3rd Edition - Benjamin Yarrow
Burning Wheel - Crier
Mutant City Blues - Prescott Marple
Maschine Zeit - Braden Weiss
Eclipse Phase - Vic Johnson
The Veggie Patch - Tum
GURPS Bunnies and Burrows - Ripples
Ars Magica, 4th Ed. - Vulpes
BASH - Michelangelo de Novo/Il Spettro
Witch Hunter: The Invisible World - Etienne Lefevre
Seven Leagues - Peat
Unhallowed Metropolis - Bernie the Black Sheep
Blowback - Logan Meyer/Emory Winstead
Agone - Nydaria
Dresden Files RPG - Aidan Brannagh
MARS - Talh Maltash
Pirates of the Spanish Main - Domingo Santiago de Compostela
Beast Hunters - T'kech
ICONS - Toph Volger/WYSIWYG
MSG - Van DiSteffallo
Ganakagok - Shuntuk, the greedy ice-climber
Misspent Youth - Wanna
Marvel Universe Game - Manic/Ellis Zimm
The Squared Circle - Mr. Arana
Cybergeneration - Copper
Hellcats & Hockeysticks - Stella Dunwich
Strike Force 7 - Joseph "Black Cat" Heber
The Seventh Seal - Thomas Daughtry
Corporation - Ahmed Maazouzi
Little Fear - Nightmare Edition - Hunter Doromin
Interface Zero - Savir McMahon
Truth & Justice - Alexander "Zane" Zanbridge/Monster
Labyrinths & Lycanthropes - Sol the Wanderer
Hunter: The Reckoning - Samuel Callahan
Dying Kingdoms - Kurg
Leverage - Oscar Kimball
Deadlands Reloaded - Dr. Charlie McDermott
Haiiiii-Ya! - Rays
The Secret of Zir'an - Gui Mellenae
Mortal Coil - Ogma
Fae Noir - Fish
Slipstream - Plep
Summerland - George Swinton
Haven: City of Violence - Ivan Koltay
Contenders - Isaiah "Ice" Colon
Sorcerer - Jay Marley
Atomic Highway - Simple Simon
Ephemeris - Diogenes
Privateers & Pirates - Homer Market
GURPS Cabal - Joost Visser
Tales from the Wood - Gulper
The Play's The Thing - Thom Orsino
House of Cards - Jesse Northup, the Wheel-Bearer
Chronica Feudalis - Forrest
Mermaid Adventures - Prince Neon
Fear Itself - Ross Landau
Cortex - Bryn Garlon
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying - Shapeshifter/Miles Farley
It's a Dog's Life - Boulder
Night's Black Agents - Diego de Calderon Iglesias
Farewell to Fear - Micah
Lady's Rock - Ulrich
hollowpoint - Gillette
Earthdawn - Rejik Malirin
Monsterhearts - Cask
Part-Time Gods - Milo Covey
Cold City - Ivan Nikolaevich Osinov
Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. - Jack Talbot
Lashings of Ginger Beer - Witch
Better Angels - Henry Hanson/Hellhound
Demon: The Descent - The Courier/Jacob Grettinger
Full Light, Full Steam - Trevor Vaughn-Smythe
Dragon Warriors - Bahadur
@activ8 - Martin McAllister
Perfect, Unrevised - Ransom Thorley
Diaspora - Myler Shaunessy
School Daze - Isaac Williams
Valherjar: The Chosen Slain - John Forster
Psi Run - 33421
Ghouls (Vampire: The Requiem) - Rodney Abrams
Ghost Dog RPG - Jay
Piledrivers & Powerbombs - George Glam
Ninja Burger 2nd Ed - Bill We/Inaba Toshiro
DC Universe RPG - Flicker/Paul & Laura Winter
Edge - Daman
Anathema - Bleed
Little Wizards - Surki
Of Gods & Heroes - Ardhem
Edara - Luten Miletan
Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition - Amon
Toypocalypse - Snake-Man
Blue Rose - Aminipha
World of Dew - Saburo
Changeling: The Dreaming 2nd Ed - Ronny
The Silver Kiss of the Magical Twilight of the Full Moon - Phaeton
Spark - Franz Twain/The Benedictine
Covenant - Osmundo Caraballos
Verge - Orson
One Shot - John "Blaze" Blaisdale
The Aegis Project - Giles Phillips
Streets of Bedlam - Manny Clay
Men in Black Roleplaying Game - Y
Mechwarrior 3rd Edition - Chu Ziao
Werewolf: The Forsaken 2nd Edition - Robert McTeague
Starchildren: The Velvet Generation - Jericho
Fortune's Fool - Calondrucio
Bulldogs! - Killy
Chill 3rd Edition - Clark Randolph
OmegaZone - Hunny Bother
Supers! - Tyrone Douglas Jr./The Reckoning
Witch: Fated Souls - Brian Arcott
Atomic Robo - Adriago Valetti
Ashen Stars - Ezha
Beast: The Primordial - Stan Ronson
Nefertiti Overdrive - Tjepu
Beyond - Jeff Tylinski
A Dirty World - Clarence William Feldman III
Call of Catthulhu - Altair/Merthus
Unwritten - Leslie Ruck
Feng Shui 2nd Ed - Wo Dan
In Flames - Gaius Sael/Drez Ma
MADS - "Spooky" Daniels
Scavengers - Fritz
Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies - Bomani
Infestation - Panther
Sundered Skies - Tellin
Headspace - Jones
Chariot - Aumec
Iron Edda: War of Metal & Bone - Einar Vatnsson
East Texas University - Drake Stephens
tremulus - Samuel Hale
Tales of WynD'Mere - Hrundle
Byron Falls - Perry Byron
Storytime Chimera - Brother Amber
Laser Kittens - Boxing Day
Our Last Best Hope - Amos Bracken
Promethean: The Created 2nd Edition - Jefferson
Wizards of the Three Moons - Malinus the Themisite
Action Planet - Graplz Grazin
Strays - Ruffles
QAGS - Maynard Milton/The Pedant
Riders - Kevin MacHeath
Belly of the Beast - Speet
Jadepunk: Tales from Kausao City - Myon the Baker
Helix - Binary
A Song of Ice & Fire Roleplaying - Ser Remlin Orlych
Remember Tomorrow - /sub
Masks - Whatever/Roger Royce

Still to do:

Roma Imperious
Karma Roleplaying System
Wayfarers
Gear Kried: 2nd Ed
Angel
Operation: Perfect Blue — choose character, copy sheet
Against the Darkness
RunePunk
Hardnova Sovereign Space
Immortal: The Invisible War
Vampire Hunter$
Chosen
Exalted, 2nd Ed.
Spycraft
Undiscovered: The Quest for Adventure
Unsung
Sufficiently Advanced
Hot War
Legacy of Maela
Phaetos
Wild Talents 2nd Ed.
Adventures in Oz
Gaslight OGL
Karmic Revelations  — print Karma sheet
BRP
A|State
Iron Kingdoms
Eberron
Big Eyes, Small Mouth
Big Eyes, Small Mouse — no sheet; use BESM
Slayers
Red Star
D&D 4th Ed.
Beat to Quarters
The Dark Fantasy of Sundrah
Armageddon
Tales from the Floating Vagabond
Ingenium
Supernatural
Blue Planet
Legend of the Burning Sands
Remnants
How We Came to Live Here
Buffy: The Vampire Slayer
Authority
The World of Necroscope
The World of Species
The World of Tales from the Crypt
The World of Indiana Jones
Rune
Noumenon
Esoterrorists
War of the Dead
Amaranthine
Castle Falkenstein
Bob, Lord of Evil
Geasa
Smallville
Flatpack — no sheet
Teenagers from Outer Space
Super Heroes Unite!
Kidworld
Yesterday's Tomorrow
Wilderness of Mirrors
Wicked Heroes
Enemy Gods
Eldritch High
All the Days of My Children Hospital
Evernight
Chi Chian the Roleplaying Game
HarnMaster 3rd Ed.
Blood Games II
Breaking the Ice
Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade
Azamar
Heart Quest
Jumpers
Time & Temp
Argyle & Crew
eCollapse
Mecha
Starblazer Adventures
Eldritch Ass-Kicking
Game of Thrones
Lord of the Rings RPG
Orkworld
Outlive Outdead
Triune
Jumpers
Rotted Capes
Full Moon
Psi-Punk
Killshot
Candycreeps
Broken Rooms
Fate of the Norns: Ragnorak
Mummy: The Curse
Mythender
Magicians
Ghosts of Albion
New Fire
Demon Hunters
Tomorrow Knights
Parsec
Terror Thirteen
Ehdrigor
Nobilis: The Essentials
They Became Flesh
Reign
Pantheon
The Day After Ragnorak 
Deadlands Noir
Shadows of Esteren
Hillfolk
Phantasm
S.P.L.I.N.T.E.R.
Iron Kingdoms
Singularity System
Critical: Go Westerly!
Project Ninja Panda Taco
Dungeon World
A.C.E. Agents
Demon: The Fallen
Base Raiders
World of Darkness (God-Machine Chronicle)
Westward
Inverse World
Invulnerable
Atlantis: Second Age
Corporia
Golden Sky Stories
Blood Red Sands
Dystopia Rising
13th Age
Kuro
Yggdrasill
Accursed
Interface Zero (SW)
Battle for Oz
Adventure Maximus
Out of the Blue
Wield
Tenra Bansho Zero
AMP Year One
Epyllion
Dr. Who
The Ministry Initiative
Cold Steel Wardens
Chill 1st Edition
Secret of Cats
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition
Whispering Road
Questlandia
Baker Street
Cartoon Action Hour Season 3
Thimble
Becoming
Cairn
Kingdom
Low Life ReDredged
Thou Art But a Warrior
The Clay That Woke
Tianxia: Blood & Jade
Torchbearer
Fear the Living
Spirit of ’77 
Strange Voyages
Savage Worlds Super Powers Companion
Night Witches 
Mecha vs. Kaiju
Sagas of the Icelanders
Monster of the Week
Psionics
TimeZero
Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. Savage Worlds
Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. 2nd Ed.
Widening Gyre 
Shock: Social Science Fiction
Cartel 
Sword Noir
Keltia
Clockwork Dominion
Urban Shadows
Of Dreams & Magic
The Warren
Ten Candles
Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition
Legend of the Five Elements
Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition
Mage: The Awakening 2nd Edition
Bubblegumshoe
The One Ring
Lone Wolf Adventure Game
Eldritch Skies
All for One: Regime Diabolique
When the Dark is Gone
Small Things
Nemesis 382
Before the Storm
Starguild
Guild of Shadows
Trials of the Magi
The Sprawl
Velvet Glove
Shadows Over Sol
Technoir
Ultima Forsan
Young Centurions
Venture City
Manic Pixie Dream Girl Commandos
Simple Superheroes
The Dig
7th Sea
Adventurer Conqueror King
1001 Nights
Trollbabe
Circle of Hands
Adventures in the East Mark
Age of Arthur
Godsend Agenda
Kiss My Axe
Starfall
Unbound
ScreenPlay
Wurm
Noirlandia
Vow of Honor
With Great Power (Master Edition)
Sins of the Father
Honour
After Zombies
BASH Ultimate Edition
Broken Earth
Champions Complete
Glimpse the Beyond
Judgement Day
Kaiser's Gate
Prowlers & Paragons
vs. Ghosts
Xandoria Galaxies
Lotus Dimension
MASHED
Spookshow
Last Parsec
The Hour Between Dog & Wolf
Circles of Power
The Underground: A Sam & Fuzzy Roleplaying Game
Preppiepunk
Firefly
The Strange
The Veil
Home by Dark
Eden
Paranoia Ultraviolet Edition
Rockalypse

Game Soundtrack!

Happy Sunday!

When my longer chronicles finish, I like to make CDs for my players with a "theme song" for all the PCs, as well as for some of the more important NPCs, crucial events in the chronicle, maybe even one for opening and closing credits. For example, here's the one I did for my long-running Werewolf: The Forsaken chronicle. The one for Edge of Midnight was different in that I did a song for each game session (the game only ran about 21 sessions, which I know is long to some people and really short to others, but it was such an awesome game, really). I also tried to keep it to period music or jazz, though I didn't always succeed (but the Vitamin String Quartet arrangement of "Goodbye Blue Sky" was perfect).

Anyway, at the end of September we finished our four-year Changeling chronicle, Snowblind. I had such a great time running this game, and although by the end I know people were ready to see it conclude, I didn't get the sense that anyone was dreading playing it, either. People seemed to have fun. Anyway. Today I want to work on the soundtrack a little bit, and at least figure out what I still need.

OK, so first off, lists of characters that get songs:

PCs:

  • Hod - "Rain King," Counting Crows
  • Lisa - "Letters from the Sky," Civil Twilight
  • Nox - "Scene of a Perfect Crime," Concrete Blonde
  • Felix - "Strange Days," The Doors
  • Wisp - "Full Moon," The Black Ghosts
  • Mickey - "I Can Change," Violent Femmes
  • Stan - "I Don't Remember," Peter Gabriel
  • Ellie - "Dead Hearts," Stars
  • Sissie - "Had a Dad," Jane's Addiction
  • Gloria - "Now They'll Sleep," Belly
  • Madeline - "Downtown," Tom Waits
  • Vivian - "Night of the Dancing Flame," Roisin Murphy
Good lord, that's a bunch of characters (see, Mickey's player changed characters after almost every story), and there were secondary PCs that would show up sometimes. 

NPCs:

  • Mike Hadrian - "Watching the Detectives," Elvis Costello
  • Pretty Bill - "Sinister Kid," The Black Keys
  • Bethany Blackwell - "Mountain Sound," Of Monsters & Men
  • Hailey Tice - "Favor House Atlantic," Coheed & Cambria
  • Silas - "Darkness Into Light," Matisyahu
  • Alice Whitefall - "Closer," Burn Season
  • Alice Whitebrook - "Still Alive," Lisa Miskovsky
  • Devourer - "The Hollow," A Perfect Circle
  • Skin & Bones - "Troll Lullaby," Jarboe
  • The Man Jack - "No One Believes Me," Kid Cudi
  • Lofn - "Chained", The xx
  • The Cat (That Isn't a Cat) - "Virtue the Cat Explains Her Departure," The Weakerthans
Mostly this is just so I can keep track, but if you have suggestions for songs, hey, I'll listen. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Snow Day Post #1: God-Machine Chronicle Update

Snow day! Wheee!

One of the nice things about working in a public school district is that I still get to enjoy snow days. Of course, it puts me closer than I'd like to out of compliance on an ETR, but I can manage that.

So! Anyway! Last night we finally got to play World of Darkness again.

The characters were in Erie, PA. It's the next morning, the day after Mallory shot and killed a man named Peterson, who'd pulled a gun (seemingly on Mallory, but some evidence suggested he was pointing it at something behind Mallory, except there was nothing there). All of the reports, however, were very much in Mallory's favor - it was a good shoot. That didn't mean Mallory was doing well. He'd been up all night filling out reports, and only the dedicated efforts of Agent Lundy kept him on the team and armed.

King, meanwhile, hadn't had a great night, either. He'd had dreams of stabbing a man in a thunderstorm, and he woke up to find he felt as though he'd really done it (Mind of the Madman Merit; he lost an effective dot of Integrity and picked up the Spooked Condition, which he still has. He'll get the dot back when the killer is apprehended). Upon awakening, he thought through the dream. He remembered the man's hat coming off, and he remembered seeing a car with a Kentucky plate.

The characters got together in the morning to talk about their next move. They'd gone over most of the forensic and technical evidence. Cochrane had the post-it note overnighted from Detroit, and compared the one from the crime scene here. They were identical in terms of fibers, the handwriting was a perfect match, it's just that the one from Erie seemed slight older. But that wasn't possible - there couldn't be two of the same item. She also analyzed the paper that the note from the killer was written on, but couldn't find a match. Frustrated, she sent some to her labbies in Tulsa with instructions to pull it apart.

The characters decided to go and visit Cohen, whom they'd put in protective custody. They found him in his hotel watching the weather channel. Lundy interviewed him, and Cohen revealed that he'd suffered from bouts of lost time, the worst being a three-week period when he was 14. He thought he was schizophrenic for a while, tried medication, nothing worked. And then finally he learned to control it, but now he'd sometimes experience the future before it happened. He described it as similar to deja vu, except that he would see multiple possibilities and would never quite know which one was coming. He also knew that Lundy didn't believe him, but that was fine, there was no reason he should. He did tell Lundy, though, to plug his phone in to charge.

King asked if Cohen had ever been to Kentucky; he said he had, he'd lived in Berea, Kentucky briefly, but hadn't been there in years. At this point, Lundy's phone rang. "Coincidence," said Cohen. "Of course, you're getting calls."

It was a detective in Lexington, KY named Dysart. They'd had a murder there last night, a man named McAndrew had been walking home from his office, got caught in a thunderstorm, and stabbed in the neck, once, with what looked like an ice pick. Lundy told them to get their best CS people to process the scene; Dysart said there wasn't much to work with because of the storm, but he would.

Cohen told Lundy to make sure they talked to the first on scene, because there would be a temptation not to. They headed out, and Lundy told Cohen to stay in the room and not even get ice without an escort. Cohen said that he would be careful, but really, "if he wants me dead, a cop isn't going to stop him." Lundy, maybe despite himself, nodded.

As they left, Cohen called Justine back, and said that he thought she would be OK. He wasn't sure why, and he wasn't sure about the rest of them. She thanked him and made sure he had her cell phone number, and the team left for Lexington.

They arrived, touched down, and went to the crime scene, where Cochrane and King got out. The others went to the police station to talk to the first officer on scene, an old man named Pat Sayers. Sayers didn't have much to say about the crime itself - some sanitation workers out to remove a fallen tree branch had found the body, and Sayers had just called it in. But he did remember a similar, almost identical case, up in a small town in New York called Binghampton. A man stabbed in the throat, one wound, no one was ever caught. He gave Lundy a name of a cop up there ("Probably chief of police, if he hasn't retired") and left.

Mallory, not having much to do without people to shoot, started going through Internet sites looking for locked-room murders. He found one on an old "mysterious murders" site - a woman in New Jersey who'd been stabbed in the throat with a knife (one of hers), but he apartment was locked up tight. The knife was found across the room, and finally it was called a suicide because she'd apparently convulsed and flung the knife as she died. But a commenter on the site called "brootncheer" said that no, he'd seen the crime scene photos and there had been two other people in the room.

Berry, seeing this, thought it was significant, and tried to track down the commenter. But the account (traced back to ATT) was old, and all she could easily get was the city (Toledo).

Meanwhile, King and Cochrane processed the crime scene. They found no footprints in the mud. No evidence that anyone else had been there. This scene was more like Detroit than Erie; one wound, perfectly place, and scraped on the victim to indicate that his coat had been yanked back (just as King had dreamed). King went looking for, and found, the guy's hat, which had a hair (not the victim's) on it. They processed the scene and headed back to the lab for the autopsy.

The characters got together again, and quibbled a little about how much weight to give "brootncheer"'s comment. They called New Jersey and requested the files, and Cochrane got her staff working on finding similar cases, going back as much as 30 years. Steve, her tech-in-charge, said that they'd found a match for the paper - it was made by a small company in Utica, but they'd been out of business for over 15 years, and they'd mostly sold to hospitals, schools, etc. Cochrane told him to start his search there.

He called back a few minutes later, because they'd found something right away - a doctor named Halliday had been murdered by his car, in 1996. They called Utica and got the file faxed over, just after the one from Jersey arrived.

Jersey was a mess - they'd not done half the work they should have. There was no way Christensen had flung the knife; she was drunk when she died. Looking at the photos, they found a key rack - in the shape of a key - with two trace marks around it. King, analyzing the writing, determined it was from two different people.

The Utica filed revealed that Halliday had been stabbed in the throat from the front, standing at his car, keys in hand. At this point, Cochrane suggested they split up - some go to Hackensack, some to Utica - so they could investigate both crimes.

Berry's phone rang - Cohen. He warned them not to split up, and told her to make sure all the pages from the Utica file were there. They weren't (one page had fallen on the floor from the fax machine). It was a list of contents of Halliday's briefcase, so far as his assistant knew. Paper, pens, tape recorder, and a patient file: A woman named Anne Cote.

Berry told them they couldn't split up, but offered no reason except Cohen's warning. That, of course, wasn't good enough for Lundy - they were going to drop off Cochrane in Hackensack (plus whoever wanted to go with her) and then continue on to Utica.

Before they left, though, they ran analysis on the hair samples. They were from the same person - but the one from Kentucky was older by several years. They were both recent samples, but one was from an older version of the same person. This, of course, was not possible.

Next time: The exciting conclusion!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying - Greenspace: The Exciting Conclusion!

Last night was, as the post title suggests, the final session in our digression into Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.

Overall, I have to say I'm really enamored of this system. I loved supers games, and I collect them, but it's hard for me to find one that makes me want to run something other than TSR's Marvel game for pure four-color superheroics. I'll do With Great Power... if I want to go all indie, and I'll do Mutant City Blues if I'd rather have a strong investigative element, but I think MHR has perhaps become my game of choice for this genre.

Now, if I have a complaint, it's that it's too tied into the established Marvel universe. I'm not a comics fan, honestly. Superhero comics are too sexist, overall, for me to be a huge fan. But I love superheroes, and for me, RPGs are the perfect place to express that love, because I can tell superhero stories without anybody getting put into a fridge. It would be nice to have some sourcebooks to draw on for MHR games that don't require me to either use canonical characters or file the serial numbers off, but fortunately statting characters isn't all that hard (and FTR, I don't at all begrudge MWP for doing a purely licensed game; it's just lacking, slightly, for my purposes).

Anyway, I really do want to revisit these characters again, and when I do I plan on doing a more classic "organization of evil supers" kind of thing.

For the moment, however, last night's game:

The characters, recall, were being attacked by a giant wave of moss. Pink, thinking quickly, grabbed it and threw it, buying everyone some time. The moss attacked, punching at the group, but not really doing any damage. Arcanix used his magic to pull the remaining moss spores out of the Inquis Sorcerer Supreme and Inferno torched said spores. Arcanix then donated his magical energies to the Sorcerer, but he fell over and started sputtering (too much magic?).

Pink dodged around and tied up the moss-tendrils, and Duplex blasted it with his lasers, weakening it. And then Inferno cut loose with a fire blast that incinerated it.

In between scenes, the Sorcerer woke up. He told the characters that Inquis was less a magical sort of society and more about science. The whole planet was powered by solar lenses and cells, which the heroes realized explained why the Phylum had targeted it. Arcanix asked if, between them, they could find a way to blot out the sun for a while, and the Sorcerer said that they could probably nudge the planet's moon into an eclipse. Duplex figured that, with a sample of the moss, he could find a way to create a ray that would act as an herbicide for the Phylum, but he needed a lab in which to work. The Sorcerer said that the main medical facility had been scrubbed clean of the Phylum by the automated sterilization systems, so that might have what they needed.

The characters took to the air, but as they approached, found a huge field of thorns. It started throwing up thorns, and Inferno and Pink got cut up a bit (this was good for Pink, really, because her milestone involves taking trauma). They got to the hospital and Duplex blasted through the thorns, and Pink forced a window so the others could get in.

Immediately, the sterilization measures kicked on and Spore was nearly destroyed by them. The Sorcerer put up an umbrella (magic!) over him, but then the robots came and zapped him with lasers. Pink punted the robot down the hall, and Arcanix covered Spore in mystical armor to protect him. That scene over, we entered a Transition Scene.

Spore rebuilt his body (healing all of his physical stress). Inferno tried to get the alien machinery to work, but couldn't figure it out. Pink remain injured (see earlier issue). Arcanix and the Sorcerer worked their ritual to cause the eclipse, and Duplex used the robot that he zapped Spore to create a computer program that would alter the satellites controlling the solar lenses so that they fried the planet's surface with the anti-Phylum ray. And then we started the last Action Scene, up on the roof.

The opposition was the Phylum itself, represented by the doom pool. The moss and thorns attacked, but Inferno whipped up a Fire Shield d12 to protect them. Spore spread out so that the Phylum would come after him, and the Sorcerer tossed up a magical shield around the pylon sending the signal to the satellite.

But remember: The Inquis are technologically advanced. The sent in an incendiary missile, but the characters largely avoided that damage. All the managed to do was torch the encroaching plants. The next volley of smaller, explosive rockets did some damage to Spore (who absorbed a rocket), Arcanix (who mis-timed a teleport), Pink (who threw debris at one when it was too close, and became stressed out because of it) and Inferno (who blew one up too close).

Arcanix realized then that while the prophecy said that the chosen one was meant to die to save the world, he'd thought the "world" in question was Earth. But now he realized that Pink was meant to die to save Inquis...and he couldn't let that happen. He grabbed her and moved her inside the mystic shield (which made him his milestone but cost Pink hers, so that's a bummer).

The building was collapsing, and Duplex and Spore held up the pylon. Inferno torched the base of the building and then quickly put out the fire to solidify and stabilize it (comic science!), and then titled the dish back up into position. 

Just then, the Inquis aircraft swooped in...and blew away the next volley of rockets. The Phylum had been cleansed.

The characters met with the leaders of the Inquis nations, and received their thanks and a promise of friendship. They went back to Earth and the Inquis established inter-dimensional relations with Earth (Carlson was thrilled), and Duplex carried back a cartload of alien tech ("Look, this one cures cancer! For the Inquis. Don't know what it'll do to us."). The heroes were welcomed back to St. Louis as, well, heroes.

Epilogue: In deep space, the Phylum homeworld. "We've lost two worlds. Activate fifty more spores." And then the last page, a room the size of a football field, covered in spore-pods, ready to launch.

(Hey, it's me. Gotta end on a somewhat creepy note.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Game Notes and Spies

I ran the first session of Night's Black Agents yesterday. Rather than letting the write-up bounce around my brain's to-do list for a week like I have of late, I'm gonna do it now, and then take some notes for the MHR game I'm running tonight, and then probably build a fire in my kitchen because it's fucking cold in here.

Moving on!

Well, although my last entry was some notes on the game itself, I realized that I didn't talk at all about the characters. So:


  • John Smith, ex-NSA spook, trained as muscle, bag-n-burner and an asset handler. Smokes a cigar at the completion of a mission (Symbol), sees his landlady Rossa (in Barcelona) as a source of Solace, and has a Safety refuge in his summer house in Zurich. 
  • Wolfgang von Hanover, formerly of the BSI, trained as a cobbler and bagman. Carries a silver mark (Symbol), has a brother named Fritz (Solace), and a nice family hunting cabin in the Alps (Safety). 
  • Delia Lockwood, formerly with the IRA, a black bagger, cuckoo and hacker (the player is trying very hard to keep her distinct from Clarice Focault, her character in my Edge of Midnight  game). Delia carries her mom's rosary (Symbol), has a younger sister named Sharon (Solace) and a beach house in the south of Spain (Safety). 
  • Amelie Rousseau, formerly of the French Police Nationale. Amelie is an investigator, analyst and watcher. She holds on to a label from her father's vineyard (Symbol), has an 8-year-old niece named Jacqueline in Normandy, and enjoys staying at a hotel in Morocco (Safety). 
  • Saul David, original of Moussad. Saul has a photo of his dead brother (Symbol), confides in Samuel, a bartender (Solace) and has a condo in Punta Cana (Safety). 
As I mentioned in the notes, I ran (S)Entries, the starter in the NBA book. An aside: I really like it, because it assumes that you're going to write up your own vampire conspiracy and leaves room to tailor things accordingly. 

So we start off in Croatia, as the characters arrive at a little motel to take a meeting with a fixer name Georg Rudek. They arrive severally, and the folks who hadn't met introduce themselves (most of them know Wolfgang, as he's prepared papers for them in the past). In retrospect, I wish I'd milked this scene a little more and had the players be more specific about how they were contacted and so on, but hey. 

So then Rudek arrives, and presents the operation: The characters are to steal a laptop computer from Brigadier-General Malcolm Lennart, a Canadian working for NATO. He's leaving Sarajevo in six days, flying home to Canada, and Rudek's principals want it stolen before then. After that, they make contact with Anton Dedopovic and travel into the Serbian zone of Sarajevo to deliver the goods and get their remaining cash. They don't want Lennart killed, necessarily, because that will put scrutiny on what he was doing.

And what's he doing? Rudek doesn't know (and it isn't relevant anyway). Some of the characters speculate Lennart may have stumbled upon a Bosnian or Serbian war criminal and he's playing it close to the vest, for whatever reason. But Rudek notes that he's taking that laptop home every night and he hasn't filed any reports, so that's a breach of protocol. 

Rousseau calls up a contact she knows in the area for dirt on Rudek and Dedopovic. Rudek, she says, is pretty much a standard fixer; in the pocket of the Russian mob, but sticks to his word. Dedopovic, however, is a killer, rapist, war criminal and all-around bastard, but he does stay bought, at least for the duration of a given job. This does not fill Rousseau with joy, but the operation continues. 

The characters head to Sarajevo and do their intel. Lennart is pretty clean; not much money, steady girl in Alberta to whom he remains faithful, and a pretty boring life. No addictions or unsavory appetites, and no way to buy him or pressure him easily. Smith notes that he was supposed to finish out his NATO training in Naples, but requested a transfer to Sarajevo (the characters guess this may have had something to do with his investigation). Rousseau obtains a nondescript delivery van and spies on his house, noting the security system, while Smith reactivates an old Cover identity of his (William Hayne, an American solider working for NATO) and has Hanover forge him some new papers. He goes on base to watch Lennart there. 

From all this, the team builds up a pretty good picture Lennart's schedule. Lockwood breaks in one morning before the cleaning lady gets there and plants bugs and cameras, and hacks his Internet connection so they can see what he's looking at. They find that the data on the laptop is locked up pretty tight, but he seems to be using online searches for information about a variety of topics, many of them energy or electricity related. 

The characters decide to build a clone of the laptop with some identically named files, but corrupted data. They accomplish this (and I gotta say, I love Tactical Tag-Team Benefits), and then David mixes up a knockout drug and has Lockwood put it on Lennart's toothbrush. He falls asleep in bed, Lockwood breaks in, swaps the computers, washes the place for all her bugs, and leaves.

They watch him the next day (making sure that he doesn't have any copies), but Lennart leaves work in the middle of the day, comes home and makes a call, which turns out to be an order to move his flight to Canada up. The team initially suspects he's got copies stashed with his girl in Alberta, but nothing else supports that - he doesn't have the training to do online stash safely, and he hasn't sent anything overseas in a long while. The characters decide they're done (and figure if Dedopovic wants to have them go to Canada to follow up, that's a new deal they can negotiate). 

They look into the area where the dropoff is supposed to happen - it's a cemetery, and a good place for an ambush. Rousseau half-heartedly reminds everyone that Dedopovic supposedly is good for the job, and they make contact.

Next time, we'll run the drop. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Night's Black Agents - Game Notes

I'm running my first session of Night's Black Agents on Sunday. I had meant to take a bunch of notes before today, and then I didn't because I had other things going on, and then I caught a cold (AGAIN DAMMIT), so here we are.

If you're going to play in said game, don't highlight the stuff below. If you're not, which is most of you, g'head, and tell me what you think.

OK, so first off, I want to design my vampires. I don't want to do supernatural or damned, because I do that kind of thing all the time and I'd like a more horror/sci-fi vibe to go with my spy game. So that leads me to aliens. One thing I always liked about the movie Species was the notion that hostile aliens "invade" not with big metal ships, but with data. So let's do that. 

Ooh, also. One of the cities given some love in the NBA book is Belgrade. Want to know what's there? The Nikola Tesla Museum. Want to know what he did (well, one thing)? He posited that his Tesla coils could be used to receive transmissions from other goddamn planets. Yes.

So the vampire's Origins are Alien. Good. Spread. I want them to "infect" people, but the way they do that is by killing people and consuming a "cocktail" of bodily fluids: blood, lymph, and CSF. They then "cook" that mixture within their bodies for a half-hour, and spit it back into the corpse of the victim. It only works for that particular body (you can take someone's cocktail and then spit it into a different corpse), though that probably has some kind of effect, maybe makes a monstrosity that kills vampires. I'll deal with that later. 

Oh, wait, "Spread" refers to "how far have vampires spread." Well, let's say that Tesla received the message in 1940, close to the end of his life. He interpreted the message and then got to work on what he thought was a way to remix and alter bodily fluids to improve longevity. He wound up, in the process, becoming the first vampire. The mixture was imperfect, in his case, because it was injected into a living body (his). This accounts for a lot of the behaviors and sensitivities toward the end of his life (though he was always brilliant, and always strange). So Tesla "died" in 1943, but what really happened was that the American government froze his assets and used Thomas Edison to discredit him and otherwise screw with his reputation. 

Tesla fled back to Serbia and started rebuilding his resources, but without much of his research, he was at a loss as to how to make more vampires. He turned his attention toward getting his equipment shipped from America, and managed that in 1952. With the much more relaxed security in Yugoslavia, he gained access to his notes and learned how to transform corpses into vampires. He then slowly began to build a power base throughout Eastern Europe. 

At present, there are fewer than 20 vampires in the world, most of them in Eastern Europe. Because a vampire retains its pre-death memories, however, all Tesla's people need is a half-hour alone with a person to kill them and turn them. I think I'd also like to have half-vampires or slaves or something. Hmm. Maybe an existing vampire can "infect" a corpse, making it a short-term servant. Hell, I'll make those more like traditional vampires - sensitive to sunlight to the point that they blister, need to feed on human blood (or lymph or CSF, blood's just easier to get to). 

OK, moving on. Variations and Divisions, I think we've covered. But let's us have some terms. "Vampires," for my purposes, are the second-tier creatures. They're what happens when a higher-up infects a corpse, dead no more than five hours (or longer if kept cold so rot doesn't set in, likewise, shorter under warmer conditions - this might explain why they've kept to Eastern Europe rather than, say, Spain). The higher-ups are "puppeteers", at least until I find something I like better. So only 20 puppeteers, but as many vampires at any given time as necessary. I'll say a vampire lasts only a few nights without fresh blood, and only a few months with. 

Life and Death: Puppeteers are functionally living humans. They eat, drink, excrete, and are capable of reproduction. All of their bodily fluids carries weird alien DNA that can be revealed with a test (and Diagnosis or Chemistry) once the PCs learn how. An x-ray will also reveal them, as they have tentacles that curl up under the tongue, causing a slight change in vocal quality post-infection. The tentacles can whip out and pierce human bone, allowing for the collection of lymph and CSF (and blood, but again, that's not hard). 

Killing a puppeteer can be done via conventional means (shoot it, burn it) but they're highly resistant to damage and can stimulate cell growth by absorbing genetic material and rewriting it (that is, drinking fluids). Beheading them kills instantly. 

Vampires are corpses, and at first they'll be room temperature. Once the PCs figure this out, they'll be able to correct it for short periods. They're stronger and faster than people and have higher Health, but they can't repair damaged tissue. They require fresh blood every few days or else their muscles lock up and they die. They don't have heartbeats (or rather, they do but they're slow and irregular) and they don't eat normal food. 

Humanity: Obviously, neither critter was ever human. Puppeteers can access human memories but what they don't have a good grip on is theory of mind, so they're lousy at guessing what other people know. 

Cure: No cure. Sorry. 

OK. Now it's just a matter of filling out the sheets. The vampire worksheet is easy; these guys don't have much in the way of vampire powers beyond raw strength and speed, but they don't have a lot of weaknesses, either. 

The Conspyramid is a little more work. Tesla's at the top, obviously. I don't want him at the museum anymore - he's gone through all the data there and memorized it. However, he keeps a "lab" there for the purposes of making more vampires, so I'll put that at level 3. Since three of my five players have "I Never Left" as their Drives, and since we're doing a game with some Mirrors influences (no one wanted Dust, we all liked Burn, Mirrors and Stakes better so I'm incorporating aspects of all of them), I think I'll put a puppeteer at the German BSI. That's actually perfect; they cover security technology and that puts a mole in Glen's organization. Her name is Renate Bauer. She's definitely a source of protection for the conspiracy. 

We need money and we would need blood, but these aren't traditional vampires. I think, actually, that what we need in place of blood is medical supplies (for extracting the cocktail, keeping bodies cold, transporting them to Belgrade so that the museum curator can change them, etc.). So we'll say that Tasse Medical Supply, based in Marseilles (since it's detailed in the book) is in on it. The CEO is a puppeteer, and the nature of the corporation means that he can obtain fresh bodies and keep them on ice for conversion into vampires. Simon Thibault is his name. He deals directly with Renate and has been investigated by the French Police Nationale (so Michelle's character can be involved). 

Now, for money, we've got a good start in (S)Entries, which I enjoyed reading and I'm going to use for our first op. It takes us through Belgrade, which is good because I want to introduce the city but not give the characters a reason to stay. So the Paymaster needs to be elsewhere. Let's do Zagreb, and let's make him a Renfield: Davor Klobucar. If the characters telegraph that they're coming, then he's already a vampire when they get there. If not, he's still Renfield and has a security team. 

OK, but I still need some nodes in my pyramid. I'll do those later; I've got enough to run the first game and I'm crashing out. 


Movie #174: Flight of the Navigator

Flight of the Navigator is an 80s Disney flick in which a young boy teams up with a mechanized Paul Reubens for a cross-country trip involving a backwoods truck stop!

OK, sounds bad when you say it like that. Lemme try again.

David Freeman (Joey Cramer, who apparently quit acting in the 90s) falls into a ravine on July 4, 1978. He wakes up what seems to be a few hours later...but in fact, eight years have passed. He hasn't aged at all, but he's been declared legally dead and his parents and brother have all but given him up. Turns out he was abducted by an alien and taken for "study" on the planet Phaelon, 560 light years away.

Taken away for study by the well-meaning but pushy Dr. Faraday (Howard Hesseman), David escaped with the aid of an intern (Sarah Jessica Paker) and gets into the spacecraft. Said spacecraft crashed into some power lines and now has lost its memory. So why does it need David?

Well, in some science that would seem stupid if you don't know what asinine things people have done "because fuck it, science", the Phaelon...ians filled David's brain with star charts and other information just to see what would happen. See, turns out we only use 10% of our brains ARRRRRRRRRHG CAN THAT CLICHE PLEASE DIE.

It's OK, 80s movie. Deep breath.

Anyway, David winds up transferring some of his personality to Max (the spaceship), which turns it into Pee-Wee Herman. Credit yourself as "Paul Mall" all you want, Reubens, you're not fooling anyone. He gets home, but the cops and NASA are already there, and so he instructs Max to take him back in time, even though humans are apparently fragile enough that Max was afraid he'd be vaporized. This doesn't happen, it being a Disney flick, David rejoins his family as though nothing happened, and Max departs our planet.

The movie is cute. I don't think it's aged especially well and, as usual, time-travel raises questions. Watching the scene were Faraday asks questions of David and star charts pop up on the screen, I have to wonder why they didn't just anesthetize the poor kid (since he obviously didn't need to understand the questions for his brain to answer them), but whatever, they're probably saving that for the reboot. Teagan's assessment was that the movie was "weird." Honey, the 80s haven't shown you nothing yet.

My Grade: B
Rewatch Value: Medium-low. The beginning drags.

Next up: Frailty, eventually, but it's Oscar season so those movies take precedent.





Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Movie #173: Elf

Elf is a comedy starring Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel, James Caan, Ed Asner and Bob Newhart. It's a Will Ferrell comedy that I enjoy, and that's saying something.

Ferrell plays Buddy, an orphan who crawls into Santa's (Asner) bag as he's out delivering presents. Not knowing what to do with him, the elves take him in, and Papa Elf (Newhart) raises him as a son. Fast forward to thirty years later, and Buddy is 6'3'' and can't roll like an elf (he "only" makes 85 Etch-a-Sketches in a day). He discovers his true lineage - human, born to a now-dead mother and a father (Caan) who never even knew he existed.

Buddy walks to New York from the North Pole and, still wearing his elf duds, tries to find his dad and discover himself. But he's an elf; he's insufferably happy and excited about everything, he's got no sense of sarcasm and can't imagine being unkind, and he's bubbling over with Christmas spirit. In the end, it's his enthusiasm that saves Christmas, gets the girl (Deschanel) and endears him to his father and his new family.

Gotta say, Ferrell sells this. Buddy could come off like an idiot or a creeper (especially when he sits outside the shower where Girlfriend is showering and quietly duets with her - doesn't help that the song is the date-rapey "Baby It's Cold Outside"), but he comes across as childlike and enthused. It's hard not to like him, and as much as I find Ferrell annoying in a lot of roles, he works here. James Caan is similarly tough in his role as the workaholic dad, and Ed Asner is the perfect Santa - he's got just enough of an edge to make him likable, but he's a big softie at heart.

I'm not crazy about Deschanel. I think she's a boring actress at the best of times, and she doesn't have a hell of a lot to do here other than sing (which she does well, credit where it's due). But the role is really written so that Ferrell's Buddy has a love interest, and it's appropriate that the Girlfriend is cynical and kind of jaded. I also think it's a nice turn of pace to have the Manic Pixie Dream Girl be a dude, who's actually an elf (OK, he's not really, but he might as well be).

Some logistical questions: Apparently there's some residual magic around Buddy, because he's almost impervious to physical harm (he walked to New York from the North Pole, which is more than 4000 miles, if you're interested) and he should be dead from malnutrition by now (since all elves seem to eat is sugar). And I wouldn't even mention it, except that much of the humor comes from Buddy not really being an elf, so maybe that should have gotten a mention? Or maybe I'm overthinking; I do that. Anyway, it's a sweet movie that has some good laughs, and it doesn't descend into fart humor, which is always a plus. And my daughter liked it, so there's that.

My Grade: B+
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: Flight of the Navigator

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Movie Resolution - An Ongoing Project

As I mentioned in my last post, some time back (like, it was January 2011 when I started) I decided to watch every movie I own. At first I figured I could do it in a year, and then I thought, who am I kidding? I have a wall of DVDs. So I'm going to watch them, in alphabetical order (except for sequels/series that might fall out of that order), however long it takes. During this time, I'm going to curb movie-purchasing (but I know myself well enough to know I can't abstain entirely). I'm not going to curtail my movie-going habit, though, because I loves me my movies.

 Anyway, below the cut is my list. Be warned: It's 452 505 570 618 625 651 708 or so movies long as of now, and that's assuming I'm not missing any up in my daughter's room or summat. Feel free to peruse and say, "Jesus, why do you own that?" In some cases, it's due to feminine influence in my life. In others, I have no excuse and must hang my head in shame. But just remember that your favorite movie sucks, too. :)

ETA: I'm going to review all of these movies as I go, too. Not, like, in-depth, necessarily (because how much analysis does Ghost in the Machine really need?), but just a few thoughts.
10 Things I Hate About You
101 Dalmatians 
12 Angry Men 
12 Monkeys 
13th Warrior, The
28 Days Later 
40-Year-Old Virgin 
8 Mile 
9 
Abyss, The 
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective 
Adam's Rib
Addams Family, The 
Adventures of Tintin, The 
Air Force One 
Airplane! 
Aladdin 
Alexander 
Alice in Wonderland 
Alien 
Alien Nation 
Aliens 
Amazing Spider-Man, The
American Beauty 
American President, The 
American Tail, An 
American Werewolf in London, An 
American Werewolf in Paris, An 
Anchorman 
Animal House 
Annie
Ant-Man
Arachnophobia
Argo
Aristocats, The
Army of Darkness
Arsenic & Old Lace
Atlantis
Attack the Block
Avengers, The
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Babadook, The
Babe
Bambi
BASEketball
Basic Instinct
Basic Instinct 2
Batman (1989)
Batman Returns
Batman Forever
Batman Begins
Be Cool
Beaches
Beastmaster
Beauty and the Beast
Bedazzled
Beerfest
Beetlejuice
Best in Show
Beverly Hills Cop
Beverly Hills Ninja
Big Hero 6
Big Lebowski, The
Big Sleep, The
Big Trouble in Little China
Black Beauty
Black Rain
Black Swan
Blackmail
Blade
Blazing Saddles
Blues Brothers, The
Bolt
Boogie Nights
Boondock Saints, The
Borat
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Brave
Braveheart
Breakfast Club, The
Bride of the Monster
Bridesmaids
Bridge Too Far, A
Bridget Jones' Diary
Bringing Up Baby
Brokeback Mountain
Broken Arrow
Brotherhood of the Wolf
Bruno
Bubba Ho-Tep
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Bug's Life, A
Bulworth
'burbs, The
Cabin in the Woods, The
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Captain America: Civil War
Cars
Casablanca
Ca$h
Casino Royale
Castle in the Sky, The
Cats and Dogs
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory
Charlie's Angels
Chicago
Chicken Run
Chorus Line, A
Christmas Carol, A
Christmas Evil
Christmas Story, A
Chronicles of Riddick
City Slickers
Clash of the Titans
Clash of the Titans
Clerks
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Cloverfield
Club Dread
Clue
Conjuring, The
Conspiracy Theory
Constantine
Contagion
Copycat
Coraline
Corpse Bride
Count of Monte Christo
Craft, The
Crank
Creepshow
Crimes of Passion
Crimson Peak
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Crow, The
Cube
D.O.A.
Daredevil
Dark City
Dark Crystal, The
Dark Knight, The
Dark Knight Rises, The
Darkman
Dave
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Day of the Dead
Dead Man
Dead Poets Society
Deadpool
Death at a Funeral
Death to Smoochy
Deathtrap
Deep Blue Sea
Deep Star Six
Demolition Man
Descent, The
Desperado
Despicable Me
Despicable Me 2
Devil's Advocate, The
Devil's Backbone, The
Die Hard
Dirty Dancing
Dirty Pretty Things
Disclosure
District 9
Doctor Strange
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
Dog Soldiers
Dogma
Donnie Darko
Don't Look in the Basement!
Down with Love
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
Dr. Strangelove, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Dragnet
Dredd
Drop Dead Fred
Drop Dead Gorgeous
Drumline
Dune
Earth Girls are Easy
Eastern Promises
Easy A
Ed Wood
Edge of Tomorrow
Edward Scissorhands
Eight-Legged Freaks
Elf
Emperor's New Groove, The
Empire Records
Enter the Dragon
Equilibrium
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 
European Vacation
EuroTrip
Ever After
Evolution
Expendables, The
Explorers
Face/Off
Fallen
Fanboys
Fantasia 2000
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Few Good Men, A
Fierce Creatures
Fifth Element, The
Fight Club
Finding Nemo
Finding Neverland
Fish Called Wanda, A
First Strike
Flatliners
Fletch
Fletch Lives
Flight of the Navigator
Flubber
Frailty
Freaks
Fried Green Tomatoes
Fright Night (1985)
Fright Night (2011)
Frighteners, The
From Dusk Till Dawn
Fugitive, The
Galaxy Quest
Game, The
Gattaca
Get Carter
Get Shorty
Ghost
Ghost, The (1963)
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
Ghost in the Machine, The
Ghost Ship
Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters 2
Gift, The
Girl Next Door, The
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The
Glen or Glenda
Glengarry Glen Ross
Godspell
Goldeneye
Goldfinger
Gone in 60 Seconds
Good, Bad and the Ugly, The
Good, the Bad, The Weird, The
Good Day to Die Hard, A
Good Night and Good Luck
Goonies, The
Gothika
Grandma's Boy
Grease
Great Escape, The
Great Gatsby, The
Greedy
Green Hornet, The
Gremlins
Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Grosse Pointe Blank
Groundhog Day
Gruffalo, The
Guardian, The
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guys & Dolls
Hairspray
Halloween
Happy Feet
Hard Way, The
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
Harold and Maude
Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows part 2
Haunting, The
Heathers
Hellboy
High Fidelity
High School High
Highlander
History of the World, Part I
Hollow Man
Honeymoon in Vegas
Hoodwinked!
Hot Fuzz
House of Flying Daggers
House of Wax (1953)
House of Wax (2005)
House on Haunted Hill (1958)
House on Haunted Hill (1999)
House on the Edge of the Park
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
How to Train Your Dragon
Howl's Moving Castle
Hudson Hawk
Hunger Games
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Hunt for Red October, The
Ideal Husband, An
Idle Hands
In Bruges
Inception
Incredible Hulk, The
Incredibles, The
Independence Day
Indiana Jones & the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade
Idiocracy
Illusionist, The
Innocent Blood
Inside Out
Interview with the Vampire
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Iron Giant, The
Iron Man
Iron Man 2
Iron Man 3
Island at the Top of the World, The
It Follows
It's a Wonderful Life
Italian Job, The
Jacob's Ladder
Jason X
Jaws
Jeepers Creepers
Jeepers Creepers 2
Jennifer's Body
Jerry Maguire
Jewel of the Nile
John Carter
John Wick
Judgment at Nuremberg
Jumanji
Jungle Book (non-Disney)
Jupiter Ascending
Jurassic Park
Karate Kid, The
Kill Bill vol. 1 & 2
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Knight's Tale, A
Kubo & The Two Strings
Kung Fu Hustle
Kung Fu Panda
L.A. Confidential
Labyrinth
Ladyhawke
Lake Placid
Land of the Dead
Last Dragon
Last Man Standing
League of their Own, A
Left Behind
Legally Blonde
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
Lego Movie, The
Leon: The Professional
Les Miserables
Let the Right One In
Lethal Weapon 2
Lethal Weapon 3
Life of Brian
Lilo & Stitch
Little Mermaid, The
Little Shop of Horrors
Little Women
Live and Let Die
Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels
Long Kiss Goodnight, The
Looper
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Lost Boys
Love Potion #9
Machete
Mad Max: Fury Road
Madagascar
Magic Mike
Magic Mike XXL
Magnificent Seven, The
Major League
Mallrats
Maltese Falcon, The
Mama Mia!
Man from UNCLE, The
Man with the Iron Fists, The
Mary Poppins
Mask, The
Mask of Zorro, The
Matrix, The
Matrix Reloaded
Maverick
Meaning of Life, The
Megamind
Memento
Memoirs of an Invisible Man
Men in Black
Mexican, The
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Midsummer Night's Dream, A
Milk Money
Milo & Otis
Mimic
Miracle on 34th Street
Mirror, Mirror
Misery
Miss Congeniality
Miss Congeniality 2
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Mission: Impossible
Money Pit, The
Monster House
Monster Squad, The
Monsters, Inc.
Monsters vs. Aliens
Monty Python & the Holy Grail
Moonstruck
Mortal Kombat
Moulin Rouge
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Mr. Holland's Opus
Mr. Nice Guy
Mrs. Doubtfire
Much Ado About Nothing
Multiplicity
Mummy, The
Mummy Returns, The
Muppet Christmas Carol, The
Muppet Movie, The
Muppets Take Manhattan, The
Muppets, The
Musketeer, The
My Best Friend's Wedding
My Cousin Vinny
My Fair Lady
My Fellow Americans
My Name is Bruce
My Neighbor Totoro
Name of the Rose, The
Natural, The
Net, The
Neverending Story, The
Neverending Story 2
Next Karate Kid, The
Night at the Museum
Night of the Creeps
Night of the Living Dead
Nightmare Before Christmas, The
Nightmare on Elm Street
Nightmare on Elm Street 2
Nightmare on Elm Street 3
Nightmare on Elm Street 4
Night Watch
North by Northwest
Now & Then
O Brother Where Art Thou?
Ocean's Eleven
Office Space
Oklahoma!
Oliver and Company
Omen, The
Once Bitten
Only Lovers Left Alive
Orphanage, The
Others, The
Outbreak
Over the Hedge
Pacific Rim
Pagemaster, The
Pale Rider
Pan's Labyrinth
Paranorman
Parent Trap, The
Patch Adams
Paths of Glory
Patriot Games
People Under the Stairs, The
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Perfume
Peter Pan
Peter Pan: Return to Neverland
Phantom Creeps, The
Phantom from 10000 Leagues, The
Phantom from Space, The
Phantom of the Opera, The
Phantom Planet, The
Phenomenon
Philadelphia
Philadelphia Story, The
Pied Piper of Hamlin, The
Pirates: Band of Misfits, The
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Pit & the Pendulum, The
Pitch Black
Pitch Perfect
Plan 9 from Outer Space
Planes, Trains & Automobiles
Pleasantville
Pocohantas
Point Break
Pooh's Heffalump Movie
Powerpuff Girls
Practial Magic
Predator
Predator 2
Predators
Prestige, The
Pride & Prejudice
Princess and the Frog, The
Princess Bride, The
Pulp Fiction
Puppet Masters
Quest for Camelot, The
Quick & the Dead, The
Quigley Down Under
Quiet Man, The
Rainmaker, The
Rat Race
Ratatouille
Raven, The
Ravenous
Real Genius
Reality Bites
Rebel Without a Cause
Relic, The
Repo! The Genetic Opera
Reservoir Dogs
Resident Evil
Ring, The (2002)
Rise of the Guardians
Road to Bali, The
Road to Rio, The
Robin Hood
Robin Hood (Disney)
Robin Hood: Men in Tights
Robocop
Romancing the Stone
Rosemary's Baby
Roxanne
Rumble in the Bronx
Rush Hour
Ruthless People
Sabrina
Saint, The
Salt
Santa Clause, The
Saw 2
Say Anything
Scooby-Doo
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Scream
Scrooged!
Se7en
Sense and Sensibility
Serendipity
Serenity
Seventh Sign, The
Shanghai Noon
Sharks in Venice
Shaun of the Dead
Shawshank Redemption, The
Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
She's the Man
Shining, The
Shoot 'em Up
Short Circuit
Shrek
Shrek 2
Shrek the Third
Shrek Forever After
Shutter Island
Sicko
Sideways
Signs
Silence of the Lambs, The
Sin City
Single White Female
Sixth Sense, The
Sky Captain & The World of Tomorrow
Sky High
Slammin' Salmon, The
Sleeping Beauty
Sleepy Hollow
Sleuth
Slither
Snake People, The
Snakes on a Plane
Sneakers
Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs
So I Married an Ax Murderer
Soap Dish
Some Like It Hot
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Sound of Music, The
Song of the Sea
South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut
Spaceballs
Species
Spellbound
Spider-Man
Spider-Man 2
Spirited Away
Spy
Spy Who Loved Me, The
Stand By Me
Star Trek
Star Wars: A New Hope
Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Stardust
Stargate
Starship Troopers
Steel Magnolias
Sting, The
Strange Days
Street Fighter
Stuart Little
Stuart Little 2
Sucker Punch
Suicide Kings
Sunset Boulevard
Super Size Me
Super Troopers
Surf's Up
Swan Princess
Tales from the Crypt: Bordello of Blood
Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight
Tales of Terror
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Tango & Cash
Tank Girl
Terminator, The
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
There's Something About Mary
They
Thing, The
Third Man, The
Thirteen Ghosts
Thomas Crown Affair, The
Thor
Thor: The Dark World
Three Amigos!
Tigger Movie, The
Titan AE
Titanic
Titus
To Catch a Theif
To Die For
Tombstone
Total Recall
Touch of Evil
Toy Story
Toy Story 2
Toy Story 3
Trading Places
Transformers: The Movie (1986)
Transporter, The
Trick 'r Treat
Tropic Thunder
True Grit
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
Twilight
Twister
Unbreakable
Unleashed
Untouchables, The
Up
Urban Legend
Usual Suspects, The
Vacation
Vampire Academy
Van Helsing
Vanity Fair
Vertigo
Videodrome
View to a Kill, A
Wag the Dog
Walk the Line
Walking Tall
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Wererabbit
Wall-E
Warlock
Warm Bodies
Warrior's Way, The
Watchmen
Wayne's World
Wayne's World 2
Wedding Singer, The
Werewolf in a Girl's Dormitory
What Women Want
When Harry Met Sally
Where the Wild Things Are
White Christmas
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Wild Things
Wild Wild West
Willow
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Witch, The
Witchboard
Wizard of Oz, The
Wolf
Wolfman, The
Wolverine, The
Woman of the Year
World is Not Enough, The
Wreck-It Ralph
X-Men
X-2
X-Men: First Class
X-Men: Days of Future Past
XXX
Young Frankenstein
Young Guns
Zodiac
Zombieland
Zoolander