Sunday, June 21, 2015

[Weekly Geeky Report] The Gathering Storm, DWAiTAS Finale (finally!) and other stuff...

It's been a while since my last post, so rather than recap everything I've been doing in the interim, I'll keep this Weekly Geeky Report to just the past week.

This week I bought Soth, Steve Hickey's new game in which players play as small-town cultists trying to summon a dark god, and it's pitched as a mix between Breaking Bad and HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. I'm not usually keen on 'evil party' roleplaying, but this sounded like it might be worth a look, so I went ahead and got it.

Achievements Unlocked
I finished The Gathering Storm (Wheel of Time book #12) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. Much as I like Brandon Sanderson as an author, I wasn't sure how well this book (and the two which follow it) would fit with the rest of the series, having been written by a different author (even though he was working from extensive notes left by Jordan). However, any difference in writing style is barely noticeable. The most I noticed were some slight quirks in the way the more prominent characters behave. It's not that they behave differently from usual, it's more that some of their personality traits seem amplified at times, though not by too much. These minor quirks aside the book was brilliant. Knife of Dreams started picking up the pace in the story again after it had been crawling along for a bit, but this one is where the crap really starts hitting the fan. One aspect that was a little frustrating was that the activities of one of the three main protagonists are only alluded to in this book through visions but never actually shown. Presumably parts of the next book will take place in parallel to The Gathering Storm and show us what the other character was up to during that time.

Real life interfered with my prep time for Camelot Trigger this week and, with my long-postponed finale for the Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space campaign The Exiles of Time finally due to take place on Wednesday, I had to use what time I had left to finish preparations for that instead. This unfortunately meant taking a break from Camelot Trigger for this week, but I'll get back to running it with the second session this Tuesday.

The Exiles of Time finale still ended up feeling a bit rushed to me, but my players enjoyed how it played out and we finally brought the campaign to a satisfying conclusion, so all's well that ends well. I even managed to slip in a well-received sequel hook for a potential follow-up campaign using the Timewatch RPG I backed on Kickstarter last year, which I might run for the DWAiTAS group once the finished game is released.

After the game, I stayed over at Heather's and we watched The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome. The Road Warrior is still my favourite out of the original Mad Max trilogy, with Beyond Thunderdome a tentative second. I found it oddly lighthearted in comparison to the previous films, especially in the second half when the tribe of kids shows up. I'm also on the fence as to whether I love or hate the inclusion of the child tribe. Their presence in the movie is jarring, inserted halfway through with seemingly little reason except to give Max a more sympathetic group to help than Tina Turner's Aunty and her corrupt Bartertown. Not to mention the fact that they are, at the end of the day, a tribe of annoying kids. On the other hand, I liked the way the tribe shows us how events from the fall of civilisation and aspects of the old world became mythologised over time even if I have doubts as to whether enough time has passed in-universe for it to have happened to the degree shown in the film.

The following evening, I sat down and watched the latest live stream of Adam Koebel's 'Roll20 Presents Apocalypse World' campaign on Twitch. If you haven't been following it so far, I recommend you check out Roll20's Youtube channel and catch up with the recorded episodes. It's a really cool example of how Apocalypse World is run and played, and Adam follows up each session with an hour-long 'Post-Apocalypse World' show the following evening, in which he does his prep for the next session live so people can see how it's done. Once you're caught up, the live streams take place between 11am-3pm Pacific Time on Thursdays on the Roll20App Twitch channel, and the 'Post-Apocalypse World' sessions take place between 11am-12pm Pacific Time on Fridays.

I had to drop out halfway through the third hour of the stream this week, as I joined a new game of Worlds In Peril which is starting up on Roll20. I'm resurrecting my character of Mentalista/Psychick for the third time with this campaign, and I'll probably post a write-up of the character once I'm finished fleshing out her backstory in our campaign journal over at Obsidian Portal. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to a) give the character another shot, b) give Worlds In Peril another shot, and c) playing in a campaign again rather than just running one. I've probably said it before, but I find that all running and no playing generally makes for a rather disillusioned GM (at least, it does when I'm the GM in question).

I've also finished watching the first season of Hemlock Grove and I'm still somewhat on the fence about it, though I'm leaning towards the negative side of the fence. There were things about the show I liked: the slow-burning occult detective story with two teenage monsters as the detectives, one of the best werewolf transformation sequences ever filmed, the subtle allusions to supernatural elements between the more overt and usually gruesome reveals, and the way magic works in it. But there were also things I really did not like, mainly the way women are treated in the show. They're either regularly sexualised, victimised (none of the murder victims are ever male, and one of the male protagonists crosses the moral event horizon in a rape scene mid-season, yet the show continues to try and paint him as a sympathetic character after the fact) or the villains of the series. Even one of the most interesting and strong female characters in the show ends up dead by the time it's all over, leaving her brother to pick up where she left off, and I hate the show for wasting a good character so. I'm honestly not sure whether I want to continue with the series or not at this point. As I said, though, I'm leaning towards not.

Works In Progress
As mentioned, I spent much of my free time at the beginning of the week doing prep work for the Exiles of Time finale. With that out of the way, I'll be able have prep for Camelot Trigger done in time for this Tuesday.

I've reshuffled my schedule a bit, moving my volunteering to Thursdays instead of Wednesdays, which should hopefully help me focus better on prep. I can write up my notes on Tuesday night sessions when I get home without fear of oversleeping the next day, and work on prep for the next session once I've awoken the following day, instead of leaving it until I get home from volunteering. At least, that's how it should work out in theory. I'll see how well it works in practice this week.

That's all for now, see you later!

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