Friday, December 21, 2012

7 RPG's (and 20-Something Years)

Red Box D&D:  Aleeta... Nooooo...  Hey, this is a lot of fun.  Oh, I have to DM?  Seems like a lot of work, but whatever.

1E:  There are so many rules I have no idea what I am doing.  I like the random treasure tables.  Monty Haul ensues.

TMNT: Character creation is awesome.  Making up adventures/stats for enemies is BRUTAL.  I will play this game but I won't DM it.

2e:  Soooo much content.  Activate collector mode.  Hey - I can do ANYTHING with this ruleset and all the splatbooks.  I'm going to make an Iron-Age Celtic-themed low-magic game in my homebrew world/rules and run that for YEARS.  2e, I still love you.

Palladium:  Kinda like D&D but with parrying and armor damage and psionics that actually work and I CAN USE TMNT CHARACTERS!  I love to play this game, but I still won't run it.  I won't RUN anything by Siembeda, but I'll play them all day.

Vampire the Masquerade:  Ouch, I have to unlearn my D&Disms.  This is a really fun and flexible game.  We still do quite a bit of combat.  Man, lots of the other people that play this game are pretentious, condescending douches.

4e:  As a DM, I love this stuff.  Easy to build, easy to run - scratches my tactics itch.  But I can't really homebrew.  It moves soooo slooowwlyyyy...  Roleplaying feels somehow harder.  Not EXACTLY doing it for me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Hobbit is the Great Goblin's Neck Wattle

I mean, look at this fucking thing!
Bloated, sagging and unnecessary, yet animated with care and attention to detail.

So, as you can probably already tell, I was not a fan of the new Hobbit movie.  Which sucks, because I was genuinely excited about this movie.  Hugely excited, since I adored the Lord of the Rings movies, and I've been a Tolkien fan from way back.  

Heck, this BLOG is named after a Tolkien line, and some of my most-read posts have been about Tolkien and his influence on me as a gamer.

Simply put - Peter Jackson was the wrong director for this movie.  He knew that, though, which is why Guillermo del Toro was initially tapped to do it.  Delays and general movie business made del Toro bow out, so Jackson picked up the reigns... and pulled a Lucas - smashing the movie into the bloated hubris of a director who has been so successful that people are no longer able to tell him things that should be self-evident.

Things like:

"Peter, rocket-powered rabbit sleds are FUCKING IDIOTIC."

"No, Peter, you don't need an additional nemesis sub-plot involving an albino orc with a prosthetic arm."

"Personally, I don't think that the bird shit on the side of Radagast's head looks good at all."

"Why do we need a 5-minute scene were an unnecessary minor character brings a HEDGEHOG BACK FROM THE DEAD?"

"Do we really think we have enough material to stretch a short YA book out into 3 3-hour movies?  It sure doesn't seem that way to me."

"Are all these really long CGI fight scenes really necessary?"

"Do we have to come up with a whole new, untested technology for making this movie?"


Things like that.

Ultimately, the movie is neither fish nor fowl, and that is why it fails.  It can't decide if it wants to be big, sprawling, epic Lord of the Rings, or tight, slightly slapstick Hobbit.  It's OK when it's one or the the other, and miserably, execrably bad when it tries to be both.  Which it does in pretty much all the action scenes involving the dwarves.

I wouldn't have minded a harder-edged version.  A group of dwarven warriors heading out to reclaim their kingdom sits just fine with me.  Some of the battle scenes, the early scenes with Smaug, the encounters with Azog, those all fit this sort of movie, and they were fine and good.

I wouldn't have minded a slapstick, slightly comedy Middle-Earth road trip movie.  The party at Bilbo's, the encounter with the trolls, cooking with busted-up elven furniture, Bilbo's arc generally, even the Radaghast the brown (the brown is shit, btw) - those all worked fine for that sort of slightly goofy movie.

But having them all in the same movie was just, schizophrenic.  Some parts weren't even that.  The entire stone giants scene was solid shit from start to finish, as was the entire underground fight with the goblins.  The action was largely Keystone Kops, which clashed horrendously with the faux-epic stuff they tried to cram in.

Jackson, like Tolkien before him, needs a better editor.  And Christopher Tolkien will no doubt hate it and weep himself to sleep atop the vast pile of money his father's work earned him.