Saturday, April 20, 2013

Defiance Review

Last night, I finally sat down and watched Defiance, SyFy’s latest highly anticipated original series.  I mentioned this show a while ago. The short version of the review is:  equal parts Star Trek, Mad Max, and Firefly, right down to the scruffy rogue who was a veteran in the war but would rather not talk about it.  I did love a couple of things about it:  the overall setup; the worldbuilding, which has a pretty hardcore SF feel; and the characters of Amanda and Kenya, two very different community leaders and sisters who love each other.  More of them, if you please, but only if it doesn’t turn into some ridiculous love triangle with the scruffy Nolan, which I’m sadly afraid the show is setting up for.  Also, appearances by Captain Power alums Peter MacNeil and Graham Greene.

Unfortunately, a lot of the show didn't click with me.  They spent all this time and energy on the world and background, then threw the most familiar, predictable story on top of it.  They’re going to have to come up with some better stories and characters that are far less cliche ridden than what they showed us.  Every trope in the story was exhaustingly predictable.  Beloved elderly sheriff gets killed? Check.  The Rogue with a Heart of Gold gets offered the badge at the end? Check.  ”I ain’t in it for you, sweetheart, and I ain’t in it for your rebellion…” Check.  The Battle of Helms Deep?  Check.  Deftly using classic tropes is one thing.  But this show never gets past the top drawer.  Pretty tiresome.

I was waiting  for the aliens to be a bit more... well alien.  So, the goth alien nightclub?  I think the dancing was supposed to be alien-looking, but I’ve actually been to goth clubs with dancing like that.  So really that was kind of hilarious. Also, there is apparently a race of Steampunk aliens — no lie, one of them was wearing a top hat with goggles on it.  All I can think is, "Holy crap guys, really? You couldn’t come up with anything better?"  Because aliens arrived and immediately thought, “Hey steampunk, that’s cool!”  I mean, I can’t blame them. But really?  That’s not thoughtful SF, that’s just designing your show based on what the Wall Street Journal says is the next big thing.

So yeah, I’m not sold on it yet.  I’ll give it a couple more chances, but it’s going to have to work hard to win me over after the pilot.
The preceding was (mostly) said already by Carrie Vaughn.

In case your wondering why I re-posted most of it here, it's because while I pretty much shared her opinions she happened to get them out there in the blog-o-sphere first.

Edit: Update May 3, 2013
I've since watched the second episode, and have the third queued up, but I just can't get up the interest to actually watch it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

S&W Day (unofficial)

 Hey Everybody,

I'm sure by now that most if not all of you know that this is the Swords and Wizardry Appreciation Day.  While I'm not officially signed up to be a participating blog, I did want to chime in supporting Swords and Wizardry.  I'm a supporter of all the various "retroclone" systems out there. Although I must admit to being more heavily in the OSRIC camp since I prefer AD&D 1ed; this being the reason I didn't sign up. Anyway, if you've played any of the older editions, you know it's a snap to convert between most of them.  At any rate, Swords and Wizardry is a great system.  Matt Finch, the mastermind behind this, was also the originating force behind OSRIC before turning it over to Stuart Marshall.  The main point of all of the clones, regardless of what you play, is to get out there and play!

So, go check out all the listed blogs and all of the activity going on in support of Swords and Wizardry.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dragon Crusaders

Dragon Crusaders
Inspired by Carrie Vaughn post

Dragon Crusaders trailer. The best Asylum film I’ve ever seen. I know that’s damning with faint praise, but seriously — I would watch this again.  Plus, this introduced me to Cecily Fay, a super badass martial artist and stuntwoman who plays the Halfling ranger. (They didn’t actually call her a Halfling ranger, but that’s what her character is.) Also, there’s a whole troop of scruffy knights Templar on Andalusian horses. This movie had my number.

Envision this scenario; Cecily Fay and Zoe Bell should do a female version of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Isn’t there some kind of petition we could sign to make this happen?

Friday, April 5, 2013

D&D PC Games

For any folks who are into the old PC Dungeons & Dragons or those folks who never had the chance to play here is an interesting offer.

Games like; Neverwinter Nights, Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale and The Temple of Elemental Evil. I still have the Baldur's Gate CDs around somewhere. They were definitely fun to play, although people might find the graphics lacking these days.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


"Pelinore is a lesser-known Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting was developed by TSR's UK offices in its Imagine magazine.
Pelinore articles primarily focused on a major urban center, the City League, and the surrounding county. Articles in Imagine detailed small locations within the City League that could also be used in any setting, as they were almost generic in execution.
Imagine presented a slice of this campaign world with each new issue from issue 16, up until its cancellation at issue 30. NPCs were usually numbered with a small printing of their ability statistics and a key number. If a building had code number 25, people within would for instance be 25A onwards.
After the demise of Imagine the former assistant editor, Paul Cockburn, created GameMaster Publications. This series of unofficial D&D modules was set in Pelinore with newly drawn maps and some renamed locations (eg, the "County of Cerwyn" became "Caerns"). Some modules described places beyond the boundaries of the established setting. From issue GM4 onwards Game Master Publications returned to the use of the original names and even reprinted the official maps from Imagine. Game Master Publications was canceled at issue GM5 in 1987."
Source: Wikipedia, "Dungeons_&_Dragons_campaign_settings", available under the CC-BY-SA License.

I had run into this a few years ago and downloaded the setting. Quite an interesting and detailed reading material. I particularly loved the artwork and cartography. For example, I think this layout of the inn along with the attached illustration is pretty cool.

Image of the Inn

If nothing else some good fodder for anyone’s campaign. Unfortunately I never saved the original location until someone else recently posted a link to this article and so I thought before I lose the link again I would post it here and share it with (the very few folks) who actually read this. Excerpted from (Phil Gyford’s website);

Pelinore from 'Imagine' magazine

Imagine was a magazine published in the UK by TSR in the early 1980s. While sorting out some of my role-playing past recently I found a folder of pages cut out of the magazines that describe a campaign world called Pelinore for Dungeons & Dragons. I googled and found a few forum threads in which people ask about it but not much else. So I’ve scanned everything I have and put them into this PDF document:

Given the size it’s probably best to right-click to download it, rather than trying to view it in your browser. It’s mostly complete from the various issues that Pelinore appeared in.

The articles from Imagine are as follows:
  • July 84- a new world
  • August 84 – The city league
  • September 84 - The Wynd
  • October 84 – Law and Order / North Docklands
  • November 84 – The city League/ Pablo Fanquays Fair
  • December 84 – The city league / The Arena
  • January 85 – The city league/ Gibbet street/ Guilds
  • February 85 – the big wide world
  • March 85 – The city league / the old bastion
  • April 85 – The cornucopia
  • May 85 – the Gods of Pelinore
  • June 85 – The county of Cerwyn: Burghalter
  • July 85 – the gods of the domains
  • August 85 – The city league/ monument square
  • September 85 – The city league / the Asylum

Looking around a little I also found a similar article from evilDM who also made it available on  Dropbox.

For a color map of County Cerwyn from the Pelinore setting, with hex grid and numbers look here.

Web links:

The Piazza-

Pelinore Revived! - 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Defiance on SyFy

A new series starting on SyFy on April 15, 2013. Check out the preview it looks intriguing enough. We'll have to wait and see how well this plays out. For me just the fact that they have Julie Benz makes it worth checking out. An interesting twist on the post-apocalyptic alien invasion. Hope they're able to make it work. It certainly looks like they're spending some money on the CGI, but will the story hold up its end? I'm guardedly optimistic.



Joshua Nolan is a former lieutenant in the Earth Military Coalition who fought in the alien conflict. Born prior to the Arks’ arrival, he saw his comfortable life turned upside down when the war between the humans and Votans began. The conflict took its toll, and in the aftermath of Arkfall, he found himself a wanderer in a dangerous new world. There he was joined by Irisa, a young Irathient he raised as his own, and who served as his lone companion in the lawless badlands.

Amanda Rosewater

Amanda Rosewater is the Mayor of Defiance. Every day, she uses her political wits to give this struggling town a chance for survival. Born in New York in 2011, Amanda shouldered a great responsibility at an early age, serving as a stand-in parent for her sister when their mother and father died during the Pale Wars.
Adrift in a post-war world, Amanda eventually heard of a town where humans and Votans were attempting to coexist. She traveled to Defiance and accepted a job cleaning the mayor’s office. Despite these humble beginnings, she so impressed then-Mayor Nicolette Riordon that, upon her retirement, Nicky appointed Amanda to finish out her term. Now, Amanda is determined to maintain peace in the community, an ambitious task in this deadly new world.


An attractive Irathient woman, Irisa is Nolan’s tacit second in command. Smart, independent and feisty, Irisa still struggles with the weight of her unusual upbringing. A drifter since birth, she only stays in Defiance due to the loyalty she feels for Nolan.
Nolan has encouraged Irisa to leave behind her traumatic past. He rescued her at a young age, and the two have been inseparable ever since.