Sunday, May 17, 2015

[Weekly Geeky Report] Jhereg, Mad Max and other stuff...

Achievements Unlocked
Having finished the audiobook of Child of Fire (Twenty Palaces book 1) by Harry Connolly on Sunday morning, I moved on to Jhereg (Vlad Taltos book 1) by Steven Brust. I found out about the Vlad Taltos novels through the Blades In The Dark Kickstarter, since it was one of the primary influences for the game and a setting hack based on it was even one of the later stretch goals of the campaign. Seeing as how I like stories about assassins in fantasy settings, I decided to give it a go and got the audiobook of the first novel from Audible.

When I first started listening, I didn't much care for the narrator's delivery; it felt flat and boring when he was doing straight description, but he did put more feeling and effort into performing dialogue. As I continued listening though, I found that I didn't mind so much. Maybe it was just that I was getting into the story and was able to move past my issues with the narrator, but I think it was more that his delivery actually improved along the way. That might just be me being a bit easy-going though.

The book itself was pretty good though; I like 'problem-solving stories' like detective novels, and this is essentially a detective novel in reverse; instead of figuring out how the murder was committed and who did it, the protagonist spends much of the book trying to figure out how to pull off the murder and get away with it. There's also the odd action scene thrown in to add more danger and excitement. The book also drip-feeds details about the setting pretty nicely, while leaving enough room for exploration in future books. Plus, I really enjoyed the banter between Vlad and his various friends, acquaintances and rivals. This is definitely a series I'll be reading more of in the future.

As part of my effort to better familiarise myself with Arthurian legend in case I end up running Camelot Trigger setting for Fate Core in the near future, I started reading The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights by Sir James Knowles. It's a little hard for me to get into, but I tend to find that with any story told from a third-person omniscient perspective. It's probably a decent enough primer on the Arthurian myth, but really that's all it feels like: an academic textbook. Add to that the anti-Scottish sentiment that pops up in the narrative here and there, and...yeah, I'm finding it a bit of a difficult read.

On the subject of Arthurian stories, I finally started watching Merlin again after finding the complete series on Netflix. I know, it diverges pretty sharply from any of the usual mythology, but I enjoy it nonetheless. I finished series 1 a while ago, but never got around to picking it up again since I switched from Lovefilm to Netflix. Rather than start over again from the beginning, I started watching series 2 on Tuesday night and got halfway through it since then.

So far the only episodes I haven't really enjoyed - boy, is that an understatement - were the two parts of 'Beauty and the Beast'. They reminded me of the Doctor Who season one two-parter with the Slitheen and all the flatulence jokes, except this was worse than that. It goes further than flatulence to full-on gross out...'humour'. A younger me might have found it hilarious, but as it was I just found it really difficult to watch. And they made it a two-parter why exactly? Ugh.

With Mad Max: Fury Road being released this week, I decided to watch the trilogy boxset I got a while back, starting with Mad Max on Wednesday. This time I actually followed what was going on a bit better, though the film still doesn't do much to establish what exactly has happened to the world to cause society to break down the way it is (what I do know, I got off the film's synopsis). I still find it odd how the actors are re-dubbed in English on the DVD's default audio track, with the 'original Australian' as an optional alternative. I guess maybe it's in case the Australian slang goes over peoples' heads? Yeah, that's probably it. Anyway, Mad Max was...okay. It's a bit of an uncomfortable film to watch and, to be honest, it felt more like a prologue to the events of the later films. It was all about how Max becomes 'Mad Max', basically.

The next night I watched The Road Warrior and somehow I found it much more enjoyable than the first movie. It was still uncomfortable to watch at times, but it felt like it had much more going on in terms of an actual plot. Plus, I guess I just like a good old-fashioned siege defence story which is kinda what the movie was. Plus, I bought this trilogy boxset to expand my post-apocalyptic media knowledge and this film was much more clearly post-apocalyptic than the first.

I haven't got around to watching Beyond Thunderdome yet, I'll probably watch that tonight or tomorrow night, depending on whether I've got my writing done tonight or not.

Work In Progress
I'm pretty close to finishing the current draft of the first 'episode' of my Doctor Who/Evangelion fanfic. I just have to address the feedback notes on part four of four, then re-read the whole thing for continuity issues and such. After that, it should be ready for another round of beta reading.

As for original fiction, I've started outlining the 'prequel' to my urban fantasy series using the Snowflake Method. So far, I've only done the first part - the elevator pitch - but I'll do more work on it this evening after I get home from my shift.

Roleplaying-wise, I'm still waiting for word on whether I'll be part of the Shadow of the Century playtest. In the meantime, I've been working on finalising my prospectus of potential game choices for the summer campaign in case that falls through. The list needed some serious narrowing down because I had twelve games on it; having already suspected that was too many, I asked on G+ for a second opinion and got a couple replies.

As I had thought, I was advised that three or four options is better; twelve would only lead to decision paralysis. One suggestion given was to split the twelve options into broader categories and then offer the games in whichever category the players chose. While I liked that idea, the twelve didn't break down equally into different genres. Well, not all of them.

They do, however, break down fairly equally into Fate Core settings and Powered by the Apocalypse games. After some consideration, I decided to dump the PbtA options. I can run PbtA games just as well online as offline, but with Fate Core I want to try out the Deck of Fate I recently bought and I can't use that with an online group. Besides, I'm not sure PbtA-style play is a good fit for all of my players.

That cut my list down by half, and I eliminated a few others because I'd decided whatever I'm gonna run it's going use Fate Core. That left six options which I managed to cut down to just four. So, I have options to present to my group if it comes to that.

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