Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In Which The Warlock Posts on Life...

A few posts ago, I made mention that there really weren't a whole lot of summer movies that I was really looking forward to and, because of such, I didn't do my usual "Summer Movie Rundown". Perhaps, in the end, that's for the best.

You see, it appears that I'm going to have more than enough to do as it is!

The PlatinumChick and I, as I've mentioned before, are preparing for our wedding in October, which has taken up a good deal of our time. While much of the "big stuff" has been taken care of--the hall, the catering, the ceremony itself--there are a ton of odds and ends that are still on-deck, which we're wrapping up.

On top of this, I'm still plugging away at Dungeon Slam!, and will hopefully have my elusive 4th draft out sometime this summer. I have a ton of playtesting notes that I have yet to really put into effect, which will hopefully streamline the draft and give it that final push towards submitting it for publication. Here's for hoping, right?!

Oh, and the big news. Just this weekend, the PlatinumChick and I put in an offer on a house in Englewood, just north of Dayton proper. After some negotiation, we settled on a price and are now in the stages of getting the house inspected and getting all of our mortgage paperwork signed. With any luck, we'll be closing on the house before we ship out for Origins!

The whole process right now is massively intimidating--no lie. The sheer massive amounts of money getting bandied about in paperwork scares the poo out of me, but it's been something that we've really been wanting to do for a long while. The apartment we're currently in is affordable, and good for what it is...but it's always been lacking in the things we really wanted: a sizable kitchen, a true office in which we can work, and space to entertain (and game!). Luckily, this house has it all... :D

And so, the madness begins this week. Just as the school year ends, it seems like everything's actually heating up!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

In Which The Warlock Makes the Best. Map. Evar.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, our Friday night group had decided to re-boot the "Pirates of the Underdark" idea that we had attempted to play about a year and a half ago, before life decided to interfere.

So, this past weekend, at our session, we continued the introductory storyline: a gnomish arcanist had borrowed a huge amount money from a powerful drow house and Mathir (Jules' drow sorceress) was charged with collecting on the loan...one way or another.

The chase led them to a drow-owned warehouse, being rented by their gnomish loan-jumper, which led to a huge, pitched battle...which utterly confused the players as I began setting up the map.

We've started gaming at Ken (our newest player)'s house, so I roamed about his dining/living room, picking up whatever objects I could find: back massagers, plastic containers, a box from a "Pokemon" booster pack. They laughed, as my map became a maelstrom of found objects....all of which were interactive with them in the warehouse. "Crates" could be moved, gratings pushed away and used as cover. You name it, it was there.

The best part, though, was something I can't take credit for. El Willy created a creature for WEGS, known lovingly as the Column-Golem.

The Column-Golem is a stupid, yet devastating creature. It moves only in straight lines, and aggressively pounds any poor soul that gets in its way. I took the Column-Golem and re-skinned it, making it into a Gnomish Crate-Loader Golem. During the battle, with spells and arrows flying, the Crate-Loader just roamed about, calmly loading boxes....

...that is, until it got a hold of Will's drow rogue, and attempted to box him up. Twice. Will, luckily, didn't fight back--I used the stats for a Iron Gorgon (level 13 Elite!) as a template for the Crate-Loader--but both times he was grabbed, and placed calmly in a crate, packed away for safe-keeping.

The best environments really are the interactive ones. With surroundings like that, you almost don't need enemies!

Nah...you still need enemies. :D

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

In Which The Warlock Presents His 2009 Origins Schedule!

After all the anticipation (and some near-"no-go" status!), the Witt-Weggers finally got their registration sorted out. As such, here's my schedule for this year's excursion!

One thing to keep in mind: You'll notice that nearly every day (except Friday), I have nothing scheduled from 2pm-4pm. During that time, Lionel, Ebbs, and myself will be over at El Willy's WEGS booth, helping out with the WEGS Power Play Hour! If you're in the area, come by for a quick tutorial on the one-and-only Wickedly Errant Gaming System, and some of the nastiest baddies on the block!


500--Origins Premiere Track-- Playtest Event--10am-12 noon
6105--The Hunt for Heresy Continues!--Dark Heresy--7pm-11pm

6253--A Dead Man's Party--D&D 4e--9am-1pm
6506--SG-1: White Plume Mountain--Stargate d20--7pm-11pm

3758--Chrononauts Demo--Chrononauts--10am-12 noon
6794--The Ghosts of Mistmoor--Ravenloft 4e--1:30pm-9pm (!!!)

4263--Giant Settlers of Catan--Mayfair Games--10am-12 noon
7233--The Dragon Helm of Hador--D&D 4e--6pm-10pm
4664--Trailer Park Wars Demo--10pm-midnight

7461--Intro to CthulhuTech--CthulhuTech--10am-12 noon
4786--CutThroat Caverns--Smirk and Dagger Games-12 noon-2pm.

See you in Columbus, cats and kittens!

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Warlock's Review: "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"

Rare is the movie that I come to with no expectations. As any of the Witt-Folk will tell you, I'm a fiend for movie spoilers. I'm one of those rare jerks that like knowing the ending before anyone else, and will use the utmost of his Google-fu to find out.

However, this entire Summer movie season, I've been ambivalent. Normally, as in years past, I'd be making my "Summer Movie Geekdom Roundup" post, but this year...the whole slate is "blah". Star Trek? The whole reboot looks trite and miserable. I didn't even see the first Transformers movie, so I have no interest in the second, particularly with Shia "The Beef" LeBoeuf at the mainstay. And Harry Potter 6? No, thank you. I refuse to even read the books.

The only real film of any interest to me for this blockbuster season was this weekend's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, to which I entered the theater of this past Sunday....and left with a resounding "Meh."

As you can imagine, the film revolves around the ORIGIN of the iconic X-Man WOLVERINE as he proceeds through the Weapon X storyline, getting a shiny new skeleton and a pile of enemies to boot.

This is now the 4th X-Men film that Hugh Jackman has been a part of, playing (yet again) the titular fuzzy Canucklehead. He comes at the role with non-chalance that says more "been there, done that" than actual interest. The film begins with a montage of himself and Victor Creed (better known as Sabertooth, and played here by Liev Schrieber) fighting their way through the last century and a half, as near-indestructible eternal warriors are wont to do.

The film proper, though, begins with the pair joining up with William Stryker, a conniving little Army major who leads a mutant-based black-ops force into various world "hot spots". Not the least of these places is the Congo, where we find Stryker's team pumping the locals for a rare mineral...adamantium, perhaps?

Ironically enough, the strength of X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not Jackman or Schrieber, though Schrieber does a much fuller job as Sabertooth than his predecessor, Tyler Mane. The supporting cast of the movie shines brighter than its stars, though time and again the scripting and plot hang them out to dry. Ryan Reynolds (of Blade: Trinity noteriety) and Taylor Kitsch (of Friday Night Lights) both deliver as much as they can as fan favorites Deadpool and Gambit, respectively, but they get so little screen time, and are so inconsequential to the plot that they might as well not be in the movie at all. Gambit serves to be little more than a plot device, while Deadpool maybe has 2 lines in the entire movie--so much for "The Merc with the Mouth". Similarly, this movie's 'Agent Zero', serves well as the stoic, gun-for-hire, working for Stryker...but is offed shortly after the Weapon X experiment, leaving the plot without his menace. (And, oh yeah...don't forget your adamantium bullets, Agent Zero--too late, you're dead.) Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas provides a refreshing character, in the teleporting Wraith, but again...he doesn't last throught the majority of the movie.

Therein lies the problem: the scripting. The dialogue of X-Men Origins: Wolverine is laughably bad. As Jackman and Schrieber trade banter before one of their numerous throw-downs, it becomes hard to take the pair seriously, as one tries to out-macho the other. Similarly, random appearences by Cyclops and Emma Frost seem tacked on so badly that, despite her appearance in trailer after trailer, I'm not sure that the actress who played Emma Frost had a single line. They have no point in being a Wolverine movie aside from one niggling detail: fans like them.

The fundamental problem with X-Men Origins: Wolverine lies with the fans. This movie was written by one, and it shows--scriptwriters David Benioff and Skip Woods crammed so many homages and pastiches to comic book minutia into this movie, that it comes out looking like a piece of bad fan-fiction, with a B-list cast. The special effects look cheesy and stilted, particularly through the final portion of the film, as Wolverine fights off 'Weapon XI' at the top of a nuclear reactor cooling tower. Plot holes big enough to drive a truck through permeate this movie.
For example, Gambit drops Wolverine off at "The Island", leaving him to fight on alone...only to return for no reason, just as all the action is ending. Agent Zero, as mentioned, goes to confront the newly-chromed Wolverine with his normal arsenal...while Stryker sits back at base, loading a gun with adamantine bullets, which Zero doesn't have.

In the world of geekdom, Ben "Yahtzee" Crowshaw (of Zero Punctuation fame) has it right. Fans are "clingy, complaining dipshits" that will never be thankful for what you give them. The X-Men movies had a good run, which ended on a mediocre note with The Last Stand. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is nothing more than a new bullet in a dead dog's corpse--pointless, and full of wasted effort.