Sunday, December 20, 2015

[My Geeky Week] Leviathan Wakes, Star Wars, and other stuff...

Having finished Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson on Sunday, I decided to go ahead and spend an Audible credit on the sequel, Firefight, right after I was done. I also bought the Kindle edition of the novella Mitosis, which takes place between Steelheart and Firefight.

Later, I ordered a Navy SR2 Joker Cap from the Bioware store. My old Script Frenzy baseball cap is past its best, and I need a new cap to replace it with. I'd been considering getting Joker's cap since ME2 anyway, so I figured I might as well go for it now. I doubt it will arrive until after Christmas at this point, possibly not even until the new year, but it's been ordered anyway.

When I went to Tuesday GUGS this week, I got a surprise birthday/Christmas present from Peter: a copy of Coup: Rebellion G54, the sequel to the original Coup and I got to play a few games of it. More on that in a bit.

On Wednesday, I decided to spend some of my birthday gift money and ordered Star Wars: Force and Destiny online. Then, fresh off the adrenaline high of seeing The Force Awakens, I picked up the theatrical poster for the film from Forbidden Planet and also bought the soundtrack the following day.

Lastly, I got the Borderlands 1 & 2 double set for the Xbox 360 as a late birthday present from Angela. Haven't started playing yet since I still have prep to do for Masks tonight, but I'll get around to playing it later this week.

Achievements Unlocked
As mentioned, I finished off Steelheart on Sunday, and I was pretty satisfied with the conclusion. The twist I thought I saw coming wasn't exactly as I expected, but it was close, and the main character was transformed as a result of it in much the way I'd hoped. I followed up by reading Mitosis; it was a shorter story that showed a bit more of how things have changed with the setting and the characters after the ending of the first book. I doubt it's really necessary to read this before moving on to Firefight, but it is a decent interlude all the same.

On Monday, I got back to watching Hannibal season three with the sixth episode, Dolce. This one was really quite harrowing compared to the previous episode. I saw most of the events of that episode coming, having seen the movie Hannibal before, but this episode...damn. Sure, this episode also featured events that were familiar from the movie - the whole season is basically based on that book - but I was still on the edge of my seat when the moment came, especially given how it had been reimagined here, and it left things hanging in a way that almost made me break my 'one a week' rule when it comes to this show. I resisted though. As compelling as I find the show, I can only stomach so much of it in one sitting.

Once again, Tuesday night nWoD didn't happen and - since this Tuesday was the last GUGS of the year - it's unlikely to happen again until January. Instead of RP, I broke open the copy of Coup: Rebellion G54 that Peter had given me. I played three games, two with Peter and a few other friends, and one with James (the GM for the nWoD game) and the two other players from our campaign who showed up. Rebellion G54 expands upon the original Coup by adding a wider range of character cards and randomising which of those cards is available in each game session. It requires a bit more setup time as a result, but the random selection of available characters removes some of the sameness that resulted in repeated play of the original. Many of the new character abilities are quite entertaining too, although I still think having two players both play the Politician card against me in the first round and stealing all my money was just a little bit mean. James felt that the new character abilities formalised some of the stuff that occurs between players with mechanics a bit too much, but I'd need to play a bit more to see if I really agree or not.

Despite having bought Firefight right after finishing Steelheart, I decided not to move on to that right away. Instead, since I was in a sci-fi mood because of Star Wars this week and because I'd been seeing a few posts on Google+ about SyFy's new series The Expanse, I decided to listen to Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey.

Leviathan Wakes is the first book in the Expanse series of novels that the new TV show is based on. The story switches perspective between two different characters with every chapter, both on their own journeys which seem unconnected at first, but are soon set on a collision course with each other. I loved the way the story mixes old-school sci-fi and hardboiled noir, the sharp dialogue between characters, and also the juxtaposed world-views of the two main protagonists: the classic idealist space captain Holden who strongly believes in truth and justice, and the cynical burnt-out cop, Miller. When the two of them meet up, their ideologies inevitably clash and they fail to agree on what the 'right thing' is, and I always find those sorts of moral conflicts intriguing. Another interesting thing is the way the book's genre gradually evolves from one kind to another. This genre shift is foreshadowed early on in the prologue, so it doesn't come across as jarring or out of place. You know it's going to get there, and waiting to see how it did that was another thing that kept me hooked. Now that I've finished, I'm definitely going to check out the TV show and the next book, Caliban's War, as soon as I can.

Moving on from the Expanse to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...I had worried that going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens on opening day would lead to a viewing experience marred by screaming kids and the like, but my fellow cinema-goers weren't as disruptive as I'd feared. Well, not any more disruptive than the audience for most cinema viewings are, at least. As for the film itself, I don't want to risk unintentionally spoiling it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet, so I'll just say that it was every bit as much fun as I could have hoped for, but I do have a couple of fairly minor complaints. Bottom line: if you're a Star Wars fan, go see it. You will not be disappointed with what you get for your admission fee, I promise.

Works in Progress
I spent most of my evening on Friday replaying last weekend's session of Masks and writing down a few notes about points of interest to focus in on for potential scenes in the next session. Once again, I'm leaving the actual prep work a bit late. Tomorrow morning, before work, I'll be using those notes to come up with a few scenes for the PCs tomorrow, and I'll also be working out the villain's next move. I'm aiming to wrap up the Christmas mini-arc I've been running for this playtest tomorrow, after which we'll take a break to finish off Tears of a Machine. While we're doing that, I'll take what I've learned about the characters in this playtest to work out some fronts to use when we return to the campaign sometime early in the new year.

That's all for now, see you later!

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