Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Reading, Watching, Prepping, and Playing

Wow.  It's been a while since I did an overview of what media I've been consuming.  Previously, I'd only covered books and game materials, but I've also been watching a bit more television. A few shows have both caught and held my interest - and they're shows that I think more people would enjoy.

I've been reading a ton of Ian Rankin novels.  I'm more than half-way through the Inspector Rebus series, and am absolutely loving it.  I've read more mysteries in the last two months than I have in the last decade. I think you could very easily replicate the feel of these books using Gumshoe (which you'll see a lot in this post) or FATE (which you will also see a lot of).

I'm also reading through Castles & Crusades, which a friend sent to me as a gift. It's ... it's not bad.  If you've played d20, you'll feel right at home in this one.  It's not amazing mechanically, but it's solid and functional - and I'm really enjoying the sourcebooks. Enough that I backed one of them on Kickstarter.

And I'm continuing to read through Legend of the Five Rings.  The Fourth Edition books are a mixed bag.  There is a ton of good stuff in there - they've done their best to make the books era-agnostic.  There are things in there that are useful for games set in the era I'm most familiar with (pre-Coup, for those of you who were curious), but there are a lot of pages devoted to the post-Toturi era and have things that don't fit all that well into my vision of Rokugan (like the Spider Clan).  But the two Imperial Histories books are remarkable. Especially the second one, which is a sort of What If? for Rokugan.

There are really only four television shows I watch regularly. I tried to watch a few others, but they just didn't click.

The Blacklist is an NBC network show that is the single most Night's Black Agents show I've seen in a very long time. It reminds me a bit of Silence of the Lambs - there is a supercriminal working with the FBI to catch other supercriminals. The characters in the show seem to get all the clues - the struggle is interpreting them. The show can get a bit dark at times, but it's a ton of fun. You could probably also replicate it using Cortex Plus, but it's more gritty than any of the Cortex Plus interpretations I've seen so far.

Person of Interest is a show I've been watching since the beginning. When it started, it was a little rough, but as it's continued, it's gotten both better and more intricate. Originally, there were two lead characters with a handful of supporting characters. Now there are more leads, and it's more gameable.  I think that the Leverage implementation of Cortex Plus would be a good one for this show.

Arrow is ... it's a guilty pleasure. The first season was bad. Really bad. But it had a great deal of potential. This second season, it's been less a guilty pleasure and more of an actual pleasure. Because somehow it got good when I wasn't looking. It's a bit more action-oriented than Smallville was, but it fills that same niche, scratches that same itch, and could be easily played using the same system.

Intelligence failed to hold my interest. It was an interesting premise - it was essentially a Chuck that took itself seriously. But they wrapped up the only interesting story thread from the pilot in the second episode. By the third episode, it was squarely in my "not interested" category - it went nowhere new and was essentially a tired retread without all that charm.

Our twice-monthly Dresden Files game is nearing its end. They are apparently starting a Pathfinder game to replace it. I ... I don't know.  I love the group. The players are among my favorite people. But I don't like Pathfinder. The more I read it, the more it clunks for me. To the point where I don't know if I'm willing to play it anymore. Regardless of the group.

Our 13th Age game, meanwhile, is slow-moving due to scheduling. The GM's been laid up with a back injury for a bit. Our last session was the best so far. And I'm still really loving the system. I can't wait for the next few supplements, because they are going to probably work their way into the game.  +Wade Rockett is good like that.

Our Dungeons & Dragons game (4e) has been on hiatus. The DM has been in process of moving from California back to Washington - and it's nice to have him back. It means we can probably do some of our gaming face-to-face instead of online.

I've started my GenCon prep. Yes, already. I've copied a whole bunch of rulebooks to my tablet and am studying and reading during my day job's breaks and lunches. Even for games I don't actually own, but that will be in the booth. Five months to go - and I intend to be ready.

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