Sunday, December 13, 2015

[My Geeky Week] Star Wars Despecialised, Steelheart, and other stuff...

I got Ant-Man on DVD as an early birthday present on Monday from my friends David and Angela. It's the only one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Phase 2 movies that I missed in the cinema, so I was pretty pleased with it when I saw what it was. I'll talk a bit more about that shortly.

Achievements Unlocked
On Monday, I went to visit my friends David and Angela, as mentioned earlier. We'd talked about doing a marathon of the original Star Wars trilogy the week before my birthday, so we set Monday as the date for that and David got his hands on the Despecialised Edition for all three movies in preparation for the night. We had a lot of fun watching the trilogy together, while David explained about some of the more bizarre edits Lucas made in the special editions (such as placing another rock in front of R2-D2 when he's hiding from the Tusken Raiders in A New Hope, for reasons unknown). It also turned out that David had not been aware of the 'who shot first' controversy until it was pointed out to him recently. Well, it's pretty clear Han Solo shot first in the Despecialised Edition, thank the maker.

In addition to watching the trilogy, David also showed me Elite Dangerous on his PC. He had a really neat flight stick and throttle set-up to make the interface feel a bit more authentic, and demonstrated a take off, flight and landing tutorial before letting me have a go. I did okay up until I reached the destination space station. I spent ages trying to find the docking bay entrance, and then screwed up my landing in the hangar and got blown up for tresspassing after my time limit ran out. Oops.

We spent a bit of the next morning watching Youtube videos on the Chromecast before I had to head home. I was supposed to be playing another session of nWoD at Tuesday night GUGS, and I wanted to get some writing done at home before I headed out to that. Unfortunately, I found out after I got home that our session had been cancelled due to several other players being unable to attend, so I could probably have stayed to hang out a bit longer after all.

With my Tuesday evening unexpectedly free, I decided to sit down and watch the Ant-Man DVD that David and Angela got for me. I've heard some folks say Ant-Man was crap, but it seemed decent enough to me. It might be a case of this being a movie that (I suspect) works better on the small screen than it would in the cinema? I don't know. In any case, I enjoyed it. It was much more of a fun romp compared to The Avengers: Age of Ultron and is likely lighter in tone than Captain America: Civil War will be. It offers a nice breather between these two darker, more serious movies. Also, it didn't hurt that this particular Marvel movie was riffing off of was the heist movie genre, which is totally my cup of tea.

The Apocalypse World PbP is still running, and my character has checked on the generator at the nightclub and moved on to the Muzak. This means interacting with Merican Eagle, who lives in the office where the Muzak machine is housed. He's a real macho type that my character hasn't got time for, and he had a hand in the previous hardholder of the Maul being unseated, so Cohen has good reason to be wary of this one. So far he's letting Cohen get on with his job, though. So far...

We had a Hangouts On Air session for the PbP around mid-week, where we did a group catch-up on what all our characters have been up to since the game kicked off. These catchup sessions are something I don't think I've seen done for PbP sessions, but I think they're a good idea. Rich thinks they'll help cut down on 'posting debt' - people losing track of what's going on because so many other posts have been made that they don't have time to read them all - and I think they'll definitely be useful in that regard. It was also nice to just chat with the other players in real time and get a bit more insight into their characters from the discussion.

On Friday night, I watched episodes seven and eight of Young Justice: Invasion to procrastinate get in the mood for prepping the next Masks session. Honestly, I suspected the reveal at the end of episode seven ever since the battle on the Krolotean island a few episodes earlier, but it still felt good when it was confirmed. Also, Roy...oh, Roy. Beware Luthor bearing gifts. (Seriously, just ask Superboy.)

I was stuck at work most of the day for my birthday yesterday, but as always I came prepared with something I could listen to for ten hours while I worked. This time, listened to the first half of Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson, sticking to the current superhero kick I'm on while running Masks. In Steelheart, part one of the Reckoners trilogy, not one of the people who have manifested superpowers is a hero. These people, known as Epics, are all completely corrupt, and normal people live in fear under their domination. One of the most powerful Epics in the US, Steelheart, has appointed himself emperor of the city once known as Chicago. The protagonist, David, is the only living witness of the day Steelheart bled, and holds the key to finding his weakness. The story follows David as he seeks out the Reckoners, a band of ordinary humans who make it their mission to find the weaknesses of powerful Epics, and then assassinate them.

I'll be honest, at first glance the story seems like a reskin of the first Mistborn novel. Unkillable emperor? Check. Ragtag band of outlaws trying to kill said unkillable emperor? Check. In fact, in terms of the story goal, I suppose it is pretty much the same. But there's enough difference in terms of genre and setting that I can look past the similarity. Besides, it hits all the right buttons for me in terms of what I like in fiction. Genre subversion, moral dilemmas, superpowers, underdog protagonists, not to mention the whole thing is basically a caper story. If I have one issue, it's that the main character is a tad one-dimensional due to how driven he is in his desire for revenge. I do like how he's basically a twisted version of a superhero fanboy though; he's spent his life researching these Epics, but with the intent of using it to destroy them, rather than as an act of hero worship. In any case, I suspect there's more going on with David than he himself realises, though I won't go into detail on that to avoid spoiling things for folks who might decide to read the book themselves.

Works In Progress
Once again, I suck at getting prep done in advance of running roleplaying game sessions. I had meant to sit down and prepare for the next session right after finishing my write-up of the first one. And...well, I kinda did? I did a bit of freewriting here and there, making up a scattershot list of scene ideas to use in the next session. I even came up with a threat - in the usual Apocalypse World style Fronts format - that ties in with one of the PCs' backstories, at least. But I don't have a villain for them to fight during the session yet, and I still don't have even one fully written up Front for the campaign.

Maybe it's a lack of experience with running things Apocalypse World-style (at least over the long-term). Or maybe it's because we're still sort of in 'first session' territory, and I still haven't explored the characters deeply enough to have all their dials and buttons worked out. Or maybe I should have spent less time worrying about the right way to prep for the session and more time just doing it. In any case, I'll be working on prep before my shift at work today, and for a couple of hours after I get home. It shouldn't take me too long to get something ready for this evening, now that I've got some ideas I'm already pondering.

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