Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Show Must Go On, and On, and On

Last time, the characters were headed out to Henderson to try and find evidence of a missing baby. They found the neighborhood, which consisted of several cul-de-sacs (much like the development in Fright Night), but weren't sure how to proceed (Delphine, likewise, was nervous because her grandsire, also her biological grandfather, dwelt in the area). They drove around and checked for abandoned houses, and decided to use their heightened Kindred senses to check for blood. And, indeed, the first house they checked (through sheer luck), they found it - the scent of blood so overpowering that it drove Mordecai to show his fangs. Heath lashed out with the Competitive Beast and cowed him, and they headed toward the house.

Mordecai and Delphine went to the front door, and saw, through the window, that the walls had blood-smears. Heath and Myra went around back and found the back door open, and bloody footprints leading out toward the desert. Heath listened (and the player got an exceptional success and the Focused Condition) and heard footsteps - whoever it was, they weren't far away. The vampires took off, Heath using Celerity to catch up. He saw the woman - a vampire he recognized, an unaligned Gangrel name Mo Fuji, carrying a bundle. She saw Heath and looked terrified, and then threw the bundle behind her.

Heath, deciding to gamble on that bundle being the baby, jumped to catch it. Moe zipped off into the desert (Mordecai tried to catch her, but the Competitive Condition skunked him a bit).

The vampires regrouped and discovered that the child was, in fact, in the bundle and very much alive, if hungry and scared. Heath called Detective Moore and asked her what she'd like to do about this; Moore said to give her the address of the abandoned house, wait until they saw police lights, and then skedaddle. They did, and in the house, Mordecai found a burner cell phone, completely dead. Heath tossed another burner down, and they headed back to town. As they left, Heath got the nagging feeling he'd been here before.

Heath called up Pilate and told him they'd found the baby and that he had a suspect, but didn't reveal who (knowing that Pilate would probably tell Martin, Martin would probably summon Mo and then kill her). He told her makeshift coterie what he knew about Mo; she was unaligned, sold information to Heath on occasion, fancied herself an artist. Mordecai also mentioned that her name had come up in the context of "Heath has stuck his neck out for this person". He charged the burner cell they found, and discovered calls to Heath, a couple of other burners, and a house in the same neighborhood in Henderson - which Delphine recognized as her grandfather's. Reluctantly, she called the number and got an answering machine. Her grandfather, it seems, is out.

They weren't sure what to do next; they knew they wanted to find Mo, but weren't entirely sure how. And then Delphine got a call from Las Vegas General. Rachel was in the ER.

Delphine drove there, as the sun was rising, and managed to keep her roused (with the Lethargic Condition) and get into the ER with minimal crisping. A doctor told her that Rachel has stumbled out of her apartment, knocked on a neighbor's door, and collapsed. She was presenting with symptoms similar to massive blood loss...but there were no wounds.

Left alone with her, Delphine scoured her body and found a dropped of blood on her neck. Licking it up, she realized it came from a vampire...of her line. Grandfather? Or had her father finally reappeared? We shall see.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monsterhearts: End of Season Two

The second "story" in games I run always tends to be shorter than the first. Partly, that's because much of the first story is taken up with establishing the characters and laying the groundwork for further stories, but some of it is because I'm still, even after a good solid decade of gaming in Cleveland with some solid folks, paranoid that I'll get a repeat of shit that happened in Atlanta and people will suddenly decide that no, they don't like my games (or me personally) and don't want to play anymore. One of the hardest moments in my life was when a player told me (months after I could have done anything about) that coming to the weekly Mage game was a chore and he hadn't had any fun for the last few weeks or months.

(That player turned out to have some deep-seated issues, and is now a Tea Party blogger and therefore is of suspect outlooks anyway, but still, it stung.)

I say that because this story in Monsterhearts lasted four sessions. The first one lasted eight. I rather suspect that the third season is going to have some scheduling hiccups, but it's also only a monthly game, so I'm hopeful that we'll muddle through without losing players. I hope that's what happens; I really like this game.

With all of that out of the way: Here's the finale of the second season of Monsterhearts: Perdido.

Last time, the characters found out their titles, Briar asked Rook to the dance, Cassi got stabbed (by Briar!), good times. This time, we pick up the morning of the Sadie Hawkins dance. It's been a few days, people have healed up from their wounds...at least physically. Rook is angry with Cassi for abandoning the group after she found her One True Love with Austin, the looming specter of death remains a constant niggle, and Genesis increasingly wonders what she has in common with these people.

As school begins, Dora goes to her sanctum and gazes into the abyss, looking for a way to control the Winter-Heart. She fails, and just feels a sensation of looking up into a snowstorm at night - endless black and cold. In home room, Dora approaches Skylar and asks if he could steal the Winter-Heart from Rook (who carries it around in an insulated bag in his backpack. Skylar agrees.

Cassi, meanwhile, talks with Briar and Austin about plans for tonight; Rook is cold and distant from Cassi. She gazes into the abyss to see if Rook is OK. She fails, so I give her the choice: She can see what's coming, but she'll be powerless to change it. She agrees, and sees Rook at the dance, the whole place covered in ice. Rook forgives Cassi, but he is immediately impaled by a falling icicle.

Homeroom ends, and Skylar gives Rook a String to be able to steal the Heart. Skylar sneaks off and texts Dora, but has second thoughts about giving it up to her (particularly after Dora's texts, which talk about controlling the Heart). Skylar gazes into the abyss to learn if giving the Heart to Dora is wise, and sees Dora covered in ice, facing off against a sword-wielding Rook. Skylar decides this isn't a great idea, steals a teacher's keys and tries to head for the parking lot. Dora uses the watching hex to find Skylar, and pursues her. Skylar tries to run away, but fails, and drops the Heart. Dora picks it up, and heads back into school.

Dora finds Julia (one of her coven) and they go to the sanctum. Skylar watches, and texts Briar for help (but doesn't say with what). Dora attempts a binding hex on the Heart, which succeeds, but we unexpected side effects - the Heart melts over the fire.

Briar arrives and manipulates the nurse to get in to see Dora. Dora is there, but her eyes have gone completely white and she is cold to the touch. The nurse notices, but Briar covers ("Wow, those contacts look amazing!") and they head out into the hall. Dora is unconcerned - she's had weird effects from magic before. This will fade. Skylar isn't so sure.

Rook, meanwhile, realizes the Heart is missing and gazes into the abyss to find out what happened. He sees Dora as a wooden doll with a hollow in her chest, and Skylar putting the Heart into it. They wind up in Chemistry class next period, and Rook confronts her about the theft and her melting the Heart - Rook feels that he had it under control. Dora shuts him down (and he loses a String on her).

Next period, Cassi talks with Julia and manipulates an NPC into getting information out of her. She tells Cassi what happened with the Heart, and Cassi informs Austin and the others. Genesis skips class and goes to the pool to relax. She gazes into the abyss, but fails, and so I put her together with Rook (Rook was trying to leave school, but got rerouted by a security guard and wound up at the pool; Cassi follows him).

Rook and Cassi talk, and Cassi calls Rook on his secretive would-be martyrdom. She leaves, and Genesis surfaces, and effectively says the same thing; Rook might think he had it under control, but he wasn't sharing what he knew, if anything, and that made everyone uncomfortable and edgy.

Briar, meanwhile, gazes into the abyss to ask what to do about Dora. She fails, and sees Dora slipping into magic and becoming the enemy (which, for Briar, is a big deal). Cassi, leaving the pool, looks at her reflection in the window and gazes into the abyss to see what Rook knows, and sees him at the dance, dressed in a tuxedo made of ice, eyes mirrored.

Programming class, just before lunch, sees Austin talking with Cassi. She expresses concern, because Rook won't talk to her. Austin gets up and talks to Rook, saying that he knows that Cassi tends to be, well, focused, and that if you were her favorite you might not be when she changes again. Rook acknowledges this, and turns Austin on, not in a sexual way, but just to say that he's a good guy (and takes a String on him).

Skylar, meanwhile, wonders if there's anything about this Winter-Heart thing that he can find online, and recruits Cassi and Austin to help him go to the books (which he picked up from Briar using mimicry). The roll fails, though, and Ms. Blaise, the Programming teacher, sees them not working and gives Austin and Skylar detention.

Everyone goes to lunch. Genesis and Skylar decide to go to the dance together. Dora sits with her Mexican friends, rather than the other characters. Rook talks with her again, and she repeats that she has this under control. Rook says that that's what he used to say, and it didn't seem to be the case - maybe she really doesn't know what she's doing? Lunch ends, and as the students filter out, I spent a String on Dora to trigger her Darkest Self.

After school, Genesis, Rook, and Cassi go to see the Proprietor at the thrift shop. He sells Genesis a dress, but isn't able to tell them much about the Heart - they've gone off the rails since Dora melted it. But then again, the story always goes off the rails; that's how this works. They ask if anyone's ever come through this before, and he says one of their teachers, with a "name like fire," has. Genesis figures it out - Ms. Blaise.

Skylar and Austin are in detention with her. Cassi texts them, and Skylar asks her. Turns out Ms. Blaise, when she was a student here, had an encounter with the Heart that left a boat burning and her and her friends swimming to shore...except the one who'd found the Heart. He went down with the ship. Not especially heartened by this, the characters went to prep, and eventually arrived at the dance.

Cassi works the punch table, trying to keep busy. Rook dances with Briar, and Briar tries to convince him that maybe there will be a tomorrow, maybe this story doesn't have to end badly. Rook just shakes his head.

Austin dances with Briar ("Titanium"), and they laugh together and talk about the absurdity of all this. Cassi, at the punch bowl, and notices this happening. Cassi finally gets out from behind said table, and dances with Austin...as a Spanish version of "Let It Go" starts out. Dora and her friends have arrived.

She walks up to Skylar and attempts to use the illusions hex, but fails, and it starts to snow indoors. Genesis, realizing something is wrong, tries to hug Dora. She lashes out physically to push her away, and fails; Miguel grabs Genesis and pulls her back, inflicting Harm. Dora, continuing on with her Darkest Self, fires off a wither hex at Cassi, but Briar takes the blow and collapses. Cassi gazes into the abyss to try and see how to stop Dora, but sees an icy plain, and Dora alone on it, in command of the winter.

Rook confronts Dora, and demands that she return the Winter-Heart. Dora responds with a wither hex, and Rook shuts her down. They each put a Condition on each other (Dora gets surrendered, Rook gets guilty), but the hex freezes the ceiling, and the ice shards fall, impaling Rook. Skylar attempts to take the blow (again using mimicry) but fails. Rook collapses, dying.

Cassi runs to Rook, trying to do something to save him. Rook gives her the silver key around his neck, and smiles at her. Dora collapses, weeping, free of her Darkest Self. Austin runs to Briar and wakes her with a kiss. Cassi sees this, but is too overwhelmed to process it.

Flash forward to Rook's service. Everyone recounts Rook and his confidence, his passion, and his quirks. Genesis tries to speak, but can't, and as she walks away it starts to rain. The characters drift off to face the remainder of their junior year...

...and from behind a headstone steps a man who looks like Rook, but with mirrored eyes. He looks down at his hands as though seeing how they fit, and smiles.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

People Are OK, Mostly

People occasionally ask me what, since I'm an atheist, I believe. It's a valid question, since "atheist" as a position doesn't tell you what I do believe, just what I don't believe. It's not necessary to have beliefs, I don't think, but I've come to realize I have some: Some things that I hold as personal truths, regardless of whether they would stand up to objective scrutiny.

(That said, I am, as always, willing to put my beliefs up for debate or objective scrutiny, if such a thing can be arranged.)

So here are my beliefs: I believe that people are generally understandable. I believe that most people, given an actual, immediate chance to do the right thing, would do it. I believe that people are self-interested, but that they understand, on some instinctive level, that what benefits the people around them benefits them.

Now, understand, when I say "around them", I mean literally the people physically nearby. I mean the people in the monkeysphere. It should be obvious to anyone paying the least bit of attention that when people can be abstracted, when they become nothing more than a screen name and 140 characters, that it's easy to think of them as not-human (to say nothing of how easy that is when they're thousands of miles away, entirely different culturally, and functionally invisible).

I don't believe that "good" and "evil" are fixed positions. I believe that evil is as evil does. I believe that even someone who is an avowed anti-person (choose your poison; homophobe, racist, sexist, misogynist) can change that position because they got to that position somehow. In short, I believe - well, this one isn't "belief" so much as "duh" - that everyone is on their own journey and comes to wisdom (or not) from different directions.

I think that I've managed to accumulate some wisdom over the years - but everyone thinks that. I think that I'm a generally good person - but everyone thinks that (if you want to say "but!", put a pin in it). I think that my moral positions are generally righteous - but everyone things.

I am not, at the end of the day, special, except in the nuances. But I like to think that paying attention to that nuance is important.

So here's that pin I mentioned: I know there are people who cheerfully say, "well, people are shit, but I'm shit, too, so whatever." Or some misanthropic variation; "people are stupid," "I hate people," "I don't want to live on this planet anymore."

I don't go in for that position. Not because it's wrong - people certainly are capable of being horrible to each other. Some moral positions are indefensible. But I don't go in for the misanthropy because it's lazy. It's avoiding any chance at education or interaction by just throwing up one's hands and saying, "well, it's all fucked."

I don't think it is. I think that people, individually, can figure it out, can grow some empathy, and can stop lashing out. I don't pretend to be a saint on the subject - I'm watching my Twitter feed go nuts daily over Gamergate, and watching some of the people responsible for perpetuating the worst of it sit smugly by and claim (falsely) that the "movement" was ever about anything other than one lonely, petty man's attempt at lashing out at his ex.

But I'm not quite ready to say, "yeah, it's all fucked." Because if I do that, if I agree that people are shit, then I have to include all people in that statement. And there are too many people that I know, personally, who are capable of such acts of love and compassion that they bring me to tears, for me to lump them in with the people who are capable of such acts of selfishness and bitterness.

So, I'm not going to say that people are good, because that's lazy, too. But I will say that, on balance, people are OK, and that it's important to remember that everyone is the hero of their own story. That's not to say that their story is good or a story you want to play a role in, or even a story you want to try and understand. Just that it's useful, to me, at least, to know the story exists. Maybe it'll help me make edits to my own.

Movie #277: Idle Hands

Idle Hands is a 1999 horror/comedy starring Devon Sawa, Jessica Alba, Seth Green, Elden Henson, Jake Noseworthy, Vivica A. Fox, and Christopher Hart. It's...not great, but it's watchable.

Anton (Sawa) is a lazy prick. He spends his days on his couch, in his room/attic, skipping school and smoking week, or hanging out with his buds Mick (Green) and Pnub (Henson). His parents (Fred Willard and Connie Ray) seem to be somewhat in denial, but it doesn't much matter because they die in the first 10 minutes of the movie. See, there's a killer loose in the tiny California town in which Anton and his friends live, although Anton hasn't noticed. Which is odd, because Anton is the killer.

Anton's right hand is possessed by an unspecified evil force, and it makes him kill. He murders Mick and Pnub when they realize the truth, but they come back as zombies because walking into the light was too much effort. In the midst of all this, Anton finds time to woo his longtime crush, Molly (Alba), whom the evil hand wants as a sacrifice. And then there's a druid priestess (Fox) who teams up with Anton's motorhead neighbor (Noseworthy) to find and excise the evil.

The title references the adage "idle hands are the Devil's plaything," and Anton interprets that as an admonition to keep his hands busy, but that line of logic kind of peters out. Really, the movie is a low-grade slasher flick, made tolerable because it moves quickly and the interplay between Anton and his zombies friends is fun to watch. (Easily the best moment belongs to Green; when Anton starts in on his moment of redemption, saying he's tired of wasting his life, Mick responds, "Oh, god, no Kevin Costner speeches, let's just go.")

Slasher movies always have some problematic content, usually around women, and this one is no exception. The movie tries to give Molly a personality, and I appreciate that. She's unabashedly sex-positive; she invites Anton in, clearly with the intent of jumping him, but only actually does it when the hand forces him to grope her. That's a little skeevy, but there's no real hesitation on her part, either, so eh. It could be worse (and usually is). She winds up damsel'd, of course, but on the other hand, the righteous warrior who tracks down the evil and slays it is the priestess, so again, could be worse. For the record, one of the writers and two of the producers are women, which might have mitigated some of the sexist bullshit you'd otherwise see. The movie fails the Bechdel, incidentally (two female characters, Molly and Tanya [Katie Wright] talk, but they talk about Anton and Pnub, and Tanya gets cut to hamburger shortly thereafter).

Also of note is Christopher Hart, aka Thing from the Addams Family movies, as the evil hand.

My grade: C+
Rewatch value: Medium high

Next up: In Bruges

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Show Must Go On, 4th Letter: Graves in the Desert

I ran the first session of my new Vampire story last night. Letter's in the last post.

We open in Binion's, with a poker gamer between Heath Newman (the Nosferatu owner of the casino) and Thomas Pilate, the Mekhet Sheriff of Las Vegas. Pilate informs Heath that the double murder of Lori and Ben Dennis in the parking lot of the Downtown Grand (and the abduction of their young son, Ben Jr.) is causing waves in the mortal, and therefore Kindred, community. Since his childe, Mordecai Pasternak, is the vampire claiming domain in that little area (since he owns the nearby Mob Museum), perhaps Heath would look in it? Or send some of those young vampires he keeps around him? Heath agrees, but says Pilate owes him a favor.

Heath grabs Delphine, a cocktail waitress (and also a Mekhet) working his hotel. He wants some backup, and it's a slow night. Myra, a pro-domme working out of Binion's (and a Ventrue), notes the news and feels compelled to investigate - she, too, has a young son, born before her Embrace.

The three of them head out to the Mob Museum. Mordecai's day employee, Carlos, tells him what's happened, and leaves. Mordecai is not only concerned, but hungry - he hasn't fed lately. The other Kindred arrive and enter. Mordecai denies knowing anything about the killings, but the conversation doesn't have a chance to go much further before Detective Sally Moore, LVPD Homicide, arrives.

Moore has dealt with vampires before; she's not fully savvy on what goes on, but she knows enough to know she doesn't want to know more. She asks Heath if this is beginning or ending; Heath isn't sure. She asks to take Mordecai's fingerprints to check against the crime scene. He agrees, but her machine won't read him - he's dead, and his fingers don't produce oils. This causes a breaking point (the player succeeds on the roll, but picks up the Bestial Condition - his hunger is getting to him).

Moore takes his prints with ink and leaves. The characters discuss the situation, and decide to go across the street and have a look at the crime scene. Heath, however, tells Mordecai to go feed - he's not going to do anyone any good like this. Mordecai grumbles, but agrees, and goes to a nearby casino to try and pick up older ladies playing slots. He fails miserably several times, and leaves in disgust.

Thomas Pilate finds him, and motions to a limo, in the back of which is a passed-out woman. Pilate tells Mordecai he needs to get himself together, and reminds him not to kill the woman. He also transfers his debt to Heath over to Mordecai.

Mordecai gets into the limo and feeds on the woman, managing to keep his Beast under control - only barely. He picks up the Tempted Condition as well. The Beast is lurking very close to the surface.

Meanwhile, the others go to the parking lot. Delphine looks around at the crime scene and sees blood in an arterial spray - whoever killed Ben Dennis, they didn't do it with their fangs. Myra goes into the hotel and Dominates the clerk for more information. He remembers that the couple hadn't checked out, and on the night they did an Asian woman came into the lobby from one of the rooms (where she'd been squatting, which the clerk says happens around here). Myra comes back, Mordecai joins them, and they go up to the couple's room. They don't find anything, but Myra smells the scent of baby powder, and feels a pang.

Stumped for a new lead, Delphine calls Maeve Blackwell (the local face of the Circle of the Crone) and asked if she knows any uses for the blood of a child. Maeve knows several, and none of them are good. She hasn't heard of anyone in the city who would do this kind of thing, but admits that Vegas has a high vampire tourist rate. Shortly after, Delphine's mortal girlfriend, Rachael, calls, asking if Delphine will come over this morning. Delphine says she can't, and Rachael bids her good night, dejected.

Mordecai belongs to a little club of people who pay attention to (and enjoy) the dirtier side of Vegas, so he gets on the phone. 45 minutes later he has a conversation with a school bus driver who picked some kids up in Henderson this morning, and two of them were talking about hearing a baby crying in an abandoned house.

That's the best lead they have, so Heath orders up his SUV and they head out to Henderson. Delphine points out that she's from Henderson, which is probably a coincidence.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Vampire Notes

Running Vampire: The Requiem tonight. Should take notes. Now that all four of my players have return the little questionnaire I sent out two weeks ago, I can do that. :)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Of Gods & Heroes - Notes, Actual Play, Comments

So, I'm doing this thing now where I run a one-shot a month for the good folks in the IGDN, and then review the games over on RPG.Net. This month's offering is Of Gods & Heroes, for which I made a character recently. So I am going to take some notes, and then kinda "live blog" the game (really just make any notes that I think might be relevant for the review) and then tomorrow I'll do a proper game write-up.

Opening up Eureka!, I find a plot called "In the Kingdom of the Blind," which, with some tweaking, has the feel I want. The characters will crash with their ship near a village in which 90% of the people have been blinded by evil spirits. This is all due to Amenides, an evil man who desired to see what the winds so, so he caught one of the children of Boreas, the North Wind, and cut out his eyes. Boreas flew down and drew Amenides up and dropped him, killing him, but he tricked his way out of Hades' realm using his superior sight, and came back to his village. He murdered the priests of Athena, Zeus, Ares, Artemis, and Apollo, but bartered with Hecate, giving her one of each of the eyes. Hecate then cloaked the village from the sight of Olympus - only someone who can't see can find the place.

The characters' ship gets blown off course by the blind wind child, who wants his fucking eyes back. To the characters, this is going to look like he's fucking with them. But then they get there, and the people tell them about the nightly wind-demons. A blessing from the priestess of Hecate can keep them from getting blinded, if they can convince her.

And then it's just a matter of finding Amenides, for which they need a blind person (Follower or someone can get blinded, which would be more badass). Let's find some creatures!

OK, so let's use the Harpies for the spirits, aaaaaand...Oni, I guess, for Amenides? (I would normally just stat him up myself, but I'm out of time.) I think that'll work.

And I think my first player is here, so the next thing will be PCs.

  • Balendin the Smith: Descendant of Hephaestus. Prowess: Beloved of Hephaestus. Fatal Flaw: Trusting. 
  • Aedeleus the Deadly: Former solider in the Peloponnesian War. Prowess: Deadly. Fatal Flaw: Red Rage.
  • Tellus the Skein: Blind oracle (which the player came up with entirely independently, it was just really serendipitous). Prowess: Wise. Fatal Flaw: Trickster.
  • Zetis the Hunter: Child of Zeus and the Golden Hind, hunted by the gods and goddesses forever. Prowess: Fast. Fatal Flaw: Sacrilegious.
  • Dolophous Kouneli the Assassin Rabbit: Another child of a god whose mother was in animal form, this one is a child of Hades after he sent a rabbit to retrieve the Golden Apple for Persephone. Prowess: Beloved of Hades. Fatal Flaw: Proud.  

Our story begins at sea. The characters are sailing back from an adventure, when a thick fog blows up and a strong wind takes the sails. Tellus is at the wheel, until Dolophous takes it, reasoning that he can do better. He is wrong, however, as he fights the wind and wrecks the ship up on the rocks (and gains a Legend Point for being proud). Tellus and Balendin are thrown into the water, but the others rescue them, and with their surviving sailors they head inland.

Led by Tellus (who can find his way unerringly, which is strange), they find a village. But most of the villagers are blind - their eyes sucked out by some horrible force. Looking around, they find that the temples are largely abandoned, and the priest of Poseidon is dead. It seems as though the gods have forsaken this village.

Villagers speak of horrible demons that fly at night and suck out the eyes of those they catch. Dolophous orders the soldiers to gather the dead and bring them to the temple of Hades for burial (there's a hole in the temple floor leading to the sea, which is where this village disposes of their dead). Aedelphus finds one temple that remains intact - a temple to Hecate, the goddess of magic.

Tellus speaks with the wind, and learns that the man responsible for this is Amenides, the Cruel. The heroes learn from the priestess of Hecate that Amenides stole the eyes from a son of Boreas, the north wind, and then after Boreas killed him, used those eyes to find a way back to the land of the living. He then made an agreement with Hecate to blind the gods to the village, and lives like a dictator. The heroes offer a sacrifice to Hecate (and Dolophous uses the ram's blood to cast a ritual making his eyes appear already gone). Hecate's priestess, sensing her goddess is pleased, casts a similar ritual on the heroes, protecting their eyes. And then night falls, and the demons come.

They attack, but Dolophous fires an arrow over their heads and grounds them, making them corporeal (using a Legendary Feat). The others best the demons with nary a wound taken, and then the Heroes wait for morning.

Come morning, the priestess shows them Amenides home - on a mountaintop. They climb the cliffs (Balendin making a pulley system for Tellus to use, since he's not much of a climber), and they come to the home of Amenides the Cruel.

He steps out of his hut, and Aedelphus attacks (Legend Point for Red Rage). Amenides, though, wears the eyes of the priests on a necklace of sinew, and grabs an eye, becoming muscular and fast, and backhands Aedelphus away. But then Tellus slips in unseen, and cuts the sinew with his blade (Legendary Feat). Zetis runs and grabs the necklace. Amenides grabs the other end, but Dolophus shoots his thumb off. Aedelphus lunges in and runs Amenides through with his spear.

The Heroes take the eyes back to the village, and restore everyone's sight. Dolophus carries the head of Amenides, and Boreas and his son arrive to reclaim the wind-boy's eyes. Tellus takes the eyes of the dead priest of Poseidon, restoring his sight, and the Heroes set to work rebuilding the village and getting a ship together, to take them on to their next adventure.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Promethean notes!

So! Here's what we've got for The 7th Angel going into the next story:

  • Avalon: Up the mountain, had adventure, followed Amanda Palmer around on tour, wound up in Chicago with the tour. Currently working on the Follower Role. 
  • Grimm: Got license to bounty hunt (Alternate ID: Craig Wizowski), learned grappling, stole body parts from morgue (Spare Parts), acquired car, drove to Chicago to meet throng. Currently working Stalker Role.
  • Feather: Worked on establishing a new identity (Alternate ID: Robin Schwartz), joined JCC in Skokie, IL, got basement studio apt. Currently working Bodyguard Role.
  • Matt: Hung out in Hollywood to research James Canaday, bus to Chicago, (Alternate ID: Matthew Paul Anderson). Currently working on Mystic Role. 
  • Enoch: Got a place on the west side of Chicago and is working on Scientist Role. 
So we ended in January, 2008, and we're gonna take 4 months downtime, picking up in later April, 2008, in Chicago. 

OK, then, let's take some notes. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Movie #276: The Hunt for Red October

The Hunt for Red October is a 1990 spy movie based on a novel by Tom Clancy. It stars Alec Baldwin, Sean Connery, Sam Neill, James Earl Jones, Courtney B. Vance, Fred Thompson, and Tim Curry.

Here we are in the Cold War, and the Russians have developed a "first strike" sub that moves silently and undetectably, but is bigger than a WWII aircraft carrier. On its maiden voyage, Captain Ramius (Connery) murders the political officer aboard, falsifies the orders, and makes for the US, intending to defect. Most of the officers, including the first mate (Neill), are in on it, though the crew at large is not.

Meanwhile, in the US, Jack Ryan (Baldwin), who is a doctor of something, but they never say what; he's an analyst for the CIA, talks to a buddy of his who makes subs (Jeffrey Jones) and realizes that the sub with the "caterpillar" drive really exists. An American sub hanging out near Russia figures out that the Red October exists, though not what it really is, and follows it. Ryan gets aboard said sub, and convinces its captain (Scott Glen) that the Red October isn't going to blow up the ocean, but that the captain is trying to defect. There are thrilling sub maneuvers, a shootout below decks, and the Russians get to defect while the crew gets sent home.

I saw this movie when it opened, so I would have been about a sophomore in high school. I like it well enough; it's a good Cold War flick that doesn't make the Russians into mindless goons or the Americans into cheerful heroes, and it's a good look at sub combat and tactics, I think. Plus, the neat little trick at the beginning of having the Russian characters speak Russian until you kind of get "pulled in" by the politico speaking in English is fun, and helps to convince us that Connery's accent isn't pure Scottish.

OK, not really. But it's a well-acted piece, the pace is steady but not languid, and we get a sense of at least a few of the characters. You can tell from the moment Sam Neill starts talking about Montana, though, that he's fucked. No one else gets that much monologue.

My grade: B+
Rewatch value: Medium

Next up: Idle Hands

Friday, October 3, 2014

Teagan singing a creepy song

Vocaroo Voice Message

This is my daughter Teagan singing the "Bloody Mary" song. Use it in your modern horror games (like Chill) if you need a ghost or something.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Movie #275: Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the sequel, of course, to The Hunger Games, based on the second book in the trilogy. It stars the same folks as before (Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland) and adds Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffery Wright, Sam Clafin, Jena Malone, and Lynn Cohen.

Some time after the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss (Lawrence) and Peeta (Hutcherson) are trying to adjust to be celebrities forever, and also having PTSD. Their role, as their mentor Haymich (Harrelson) puts it, is to be a distraction, forever, so that people don't rebel. Trouble is, President Snow (Sutherland) views their little stunt at the end of the Games (in which they threatened to die rather than kill each other) as exactly what it was - an act of defiance, and now the people are rebelling.

This being the year of the 75th Hunger Games, the powers that be announce a Quarter Quell (special games!), in which the tributes are all former victors. And these victors are fucked up individuals - they're all people who killed a lot of other people, and Katniss is advised to make allies. She chooses the brilliant Beetee (Wright), and Haymich hooks her up with the young and skilled Finnick (Clafin) and his elderly, mute friend Mags (Cohen), and into the arena they go. Joana Mason (Malone), unhinged and violent, joins them as well, and they kill off the Careers fairly easily...

But the Games are small potatoes. The Gamemaster (Hoffman) is a rebel, and rigs it to get Katniss, now recognized as the face of the revolution, out. She escapes with Finnick and Haymich, and learns that Peeta and Joana and in the capitol, captured. And, her home district has been razed (though her mother, sister, and boyfriend Gale [Hemsworth] escaped).

Which sets us up for Mockingjay, opening soon!

Catching Fire serves as a nice bridge for the story. It's good, but long, and I kind of feel like they stayed on the first half too long (setting up how shitty things are in Panem) at the expense of making the Games feel rushed and not letting us get to know the other tributes. But it's a minor thing. Hoffman and Sutherland both turn in great performances, and Lawrence is amazing as usual. It's interesting to see the pain and obvious damage that all the tributes have suffered - as Haymich mentions, no one wins the Games, though some survive.

It's hard to view middle movies like this in context without seeing the whole thing, and I'm sure I'll be reviewing Mockingjay in a year or so, so here's hoping!

My grade: A-
Rewatch value: Low

Next Up: The Hunt for the Red October