Sunday, May 10, 2015

[Weekly Geeky Report] Ultron, Child of Fire and other stuff...

Inevitably, I went ahead and preordered the Doctor Who Series 8 Soundtrack, so I should be getting that on or before the 20th of May. I've been able to listen to a few leaked tracks on Youtube (sadly taken down for copyright infringement) and I have to say I'm probably more excited about this album than I've been about some of the more recent Doctor Who albums. 'A Good Man' and all the variations of the Twelfth Doctor's theme I've heard in the leaked tracks are worth buying it for alone.

I also downloaded A Spark in Fate Core from DriveThruRPG for free. The booklet is an expanded version of the Game Creation from Fate Core which uses some of the methods from The Spark Roleplaying Game. I've never actually tried Spark myself but the way this handles setting creation is pretty clever; it starts with everybody listing their favourite media and builds from there, integrating the things they like about those media into the setting as it's created. One of the options I'm going to offer for our summer campaign is to just run a custom game of Fate Core, so if we end up doing that this is definitely how I'll be going about it.

Finally, I bought and downloaded Strange Tales of the Century (STotC) supplement for Spirit of the Century (SotC). I'm hoping to get in on the playtest for Shadow of the Century, but if I don't then I'll offer Spirit of the Century as one of the options for my group's summer campaign. If it comes to that, I want to run it in Fate Core, and STotC has an appendix on adapting SotC to Fate Core. That's not my only reason for getting it though, as it's also chock full of extra setting detail for use in SotC campaigns which will come in handy if I do end up running it.

Achievements Unlocked
I finished Crossroads of Twilight (Wheel of Time book 10) by Robert Jordan and, as I predicted, there wasn't much in the last three hours of audio to raise it above just being an average filler story. There was some foreshadowing of some dark goings on elsewhere, and some small excitement for Mat, but the only really interesting thing was a cliffhanger involving a major character. Hopefully this one doesn't take another book and a half to be resolved.

I watched the Dead of Winter episode of Wil Wheaton's Tabletop and that's definitely another game I'll be adding to my wishlist. Why? First of all: zombies! Second of all: I love co-operative play, but I don't have nearly enough co-op games in my collection. Last: hidden motives and betrayal, just to mix things up. Besides, all the best zombie movies have the real threat be human nature, so it's a nice reflection of that trope.

On Tuesday night, we had a couple of games of Red Dragon Inn, and a couple of games of Betrayal At House on the Hill. To my utter disappointment I wasn't the traitor in either game of the latter, and the explorers lost both games! I managed to win the second game of Red Dragon Inn as Gerki the Sneak; the first time round I wasn't really paying enough attention (I was busy eating), but in the second game I was more focused and thought about things more tactically as I played. Yeah, I was thinking tactically about how to drink my fellow players under the table (not literally, just in the game), strange as that sounds. Of course, it was just as much down to luck with the cards as anything else, but I still had a lot of fun playing.

On Thursday evening I did a bit of catching up with Agents of SHIELD, watching episodes fifteen through seventeen of the second season. I really don't want to say too much about the plot to avoid spoilers, but the pacing is still really tight compared to the series arc for last season and I'm still really enjoying it. Whereas the first season lacked a clear antagonist until pretty late on, Agents of SHIELD has kept things interesting with multiple opposing factions shifting in prominence throughout the season. Don't know how they're all going to collide in the end yet, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

On Friday afternoon, I went to see The Avengers: Age of Ultron and it was every bit as awesome as I'd been promised it was. Though, I can see why Black Widow/Scarlet Johansson fans were annoyed with a certain part of the movie. And the romance subplot between her and Banner felt like it came out of nowhere. Those points aside, the movie was a lot of fun and Ultron himself was pretty entertaining as a villain. I also loved that Hawkeye had more of a role in it than the first Avengers, and we even get a little more backstory on Black Widow which even ties in with some elements that were featured in Agent Carter. I haven't seen the last few episodes of Agents of SHIELD yet, so I don't know how they tie it in with that, but I'm sure there'll be something. (Though I doubt Age of Ultron will be as strongly tied to the show as The Winter Soldier wound up being.)

Yesterday, I listened to most of Child of Fire by Harry Connolly. I'd read the Kindle edition once before and, while I was still in my urban fantasy mood recently, decided I wanted to give it another go in audiobook format. I enjoyed the book the first time round, and it hasn't lost anything in translation to audio. In fact, the narrator does a pretty good job of giving voice to Ray Lilly, though his voices for the female characters comes across as a bit whiny, even with Annalise. This is not a book for the lighthearted reader or listener though; in fact, it's about as dark as urban fantasy gets. It's a shame that, from what I hear, the Twenty Palaces series got cancelled after three books. I haven't read the other two, but from this introductory novel I'm pretty sure it's a world I'd be interested in exploring further and just two more books is probably not enough to really dig into the setting if they're the same length as this one. Still, I'll probably check them out in due course all the same.
Works In Progress
I spent a good deal of time on Wednesday night writing up a Character Creation guide for Spirit of the Century using Fate Core. If I get accepted for the Shadow of the Century playtest it won't be necessary, but I though I'd get the prep done as a contingency plan all the same. Still, I'll try not to get too ahead of myself.

I did a bit more editing of the Doctor Who/Evangelion fanfic; it's slow going, but I'm getting there. I still really need some beta readers to go over it once I'm finished resolving the notes I got on the previous draft, but for now I just need to get this draft out of the way. I also need to outline my plan for the rest of the 'season'; once that's done, I'll outline and then write the next 'episode'.

Listening to Child of Fire has got me thinking about my own urban fantasy idea again. The problem I've been having with the idea is that the plot I keep coming back to for the first novel is pretty much just an origin story for my protagonist, and one which I haven't even filled all the blanks for yet. Child of Fire kicks off post-origin story for Ray Lilly (and so did Storm Front for Harry Dresden), and that's what I want to do with my novel. Still, I keep thinking that writing out that origin story would help me get a handle on the character, and maybe give me a direction for the 'first' book. And yet, every time I start writing the damn thing, it doesn't feel right.

In my head, I know I need to stop worrying about getting it right; just write it first, worry about what's wrong with it when it's done. I just need to push myself harder, I guess. I'll start taking another crack at the urban fantasy story this week, alternating between that and editing the Doctor Who/Evangelion fic. So that's one editing project, one outlining project and one...well, I guess it's sort of an outlining project too. One thing I've learned for certain about myself as a writer is that I work better if I plan ahead at least a little bit.

So that's what I've been up to, and those are my plans for the week ahead. I'll post during the week if I have anything interesting to post. See you later folks!

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