Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In Which the Warlock Learns from His Pain...

I have learned to dread Christmas. For the last two years, my beloved (and if you can't hear the sarcasm dripping off of that word, you're deaf!) Witt-Weggers have felt it necessary to 'gift' me with movies at each YuleTide. Now, by movies, I don't mean new releases, or the various blockbusters I've blogged about while here. Nor do I mean movie classics like Excalibur or Apocalypse Now.

I mean horrible, decrepit pieces of filth...the likes of which are not fit for human eyes. I mean movies like Blood Gnome, Elektra, and the dreaded Transmorphers.

You'll note that I don't link any of these. This is for your own protection. If you are so foolish as to look up any of these...well, do so at your own risk.

This tradition culminated this week with Wittenberg Role-Playing Guild's first ever "Iron Butt, Iron Gut" Marathon. Three of the worst movies ever made, in order, on Valentines' Day evening. While the task was a difficult one: Transmorphers followed by Mazes and Monsters, then ending with Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, we survived (relatively) unscathed.

However, my enduring mental anguish has not gone by without some amount of learning. If anything else, each horrible flick has taught me a valuable lesson for GMing, which I share with you now...so that these movies may forever be buried and forgotten.

Zardoz--It doesn't matter how rich a world you create or how vast a world you populate; if no one can understand what the hell you're talking about, it's a lost cause anyway.

Mazes and Monsters--Plot twists are simultaneously overrated and underappreciated. Keep your players on their toes and they won't see the train through the coming headlights.

Idiocracy--Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers.

Dragonlance: DoAT--Lens flares make everything better. That is, I mean...you can have all of the voice talent in the world, but if your NPCs have dialogue that makes them sound like cardboard cutouts, your players will still be miserable.

Death Race 2000--Orwellian corporations controlling Roman-style deathmatches, regardless of arena, is an over-used trope. Just once, throw in a mega-corporation that generally HAS the world's best interest in mine, and see how your players squirm!

Flesh Gordon--Captured PCs are fun PCs because they're out of their element. While it's always a plus to see a group at their strongest, sometimes the best role-playing moments come out of when they have to improvise to survive.

SS DoomTrooper--Killing Nazis is always fun. Doesn't matter what system.

Raptor--Always have your setting details in order. Nothing's more infuriating than not being able to figure out what county your crime scene's actually in...to say nothing of "brushing" for fingerprints...

Transmorphers--In all games, the special effects are key. Magic, psionics, super-powers, Cthulhian spells, what have you...if they sound fake in your descriptions, they look fake in the minds' eye of your players. Describe!
Oh, and make sure your sounds syncs up...

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