Sunday, November 27, 2022

Not so Social Media

 


It's been a long time since I posted on here, and things are definitely going to change. 

Why? Well... social media... 

Over the last few months I've realised something about social media - it can be a wonderful place to share stories, gain news, spread the word of some great new product you have coming out. But it can also be a complete dumpster-fire of hate, and there have been times when I've looked on Twitter to discover my heartrate has increased, and I'm getting angry at the world. Yes, I am that "Old man shouts at cloud" guy. 

With the takeover of Twitter by that megalomanic billionaire, I've realised the best thing I can do is just delete Twitter. I mean, how many movies or TV shows have you watched at home and found yourself only really half watching it while one eye is doomscrolling through Twitter? 

Possibly why I've been watching so many subtitled series these days to actually make me get off of the phone or tablet, and actually concentrate on the series I'm watching. And wow have I been watching some brilliant series thanks to this - Alchemy of Souls, Sell Your Haunted House, All of Us Are Dead, Hotel Del Luna... amazing. 

So, at the end of this month (November) I'm deleting my Twitter account. A bit of a shocker after twelve years, and it could be interesting for #RPGaDAY next year, but I think I'll be better off without it. 

Means I can get back to posting on this blog instead!

Meanwhile, you can keep up to date by following this blog, or liking my Facebook page ( /autocratik ) 

Stay safe.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Jean-Luc Godard - Alphaville

The final movie in that Godard bluray set I reviewed way back in 2016 for the old Geekologists blog was Alphaville. For the last few days I've been republishing the reviews after the legendary director died earlier in the week. If you've never watched any of Godard's work, I've heartily suggest Breathless or Alphaville as your starting points...


(Originally published February 2016)

Today, the 1st February 2016, STUDIOCANAL is releasing a boxed set of films by the legendary director Jean-Luc Godard on blu-ray. Over the last few weeks I’ve been reviewing the disks one at a time, and this week I turn my attentions to the final movie in the set, 1965’s “Alphaville”.


After the bright colours of the previous movies, Godard returns to black and white again with this film-noir set in a strange and distant city across the galaxies called Alphaville. Eddie Constantine plays Lemmy Caution, an American private-eye that originated in a series of books from the 30’s and 40’s, sent to Alphaville with a number of missions. He arrives under the alias of Ivan Johnson, a journalist for Figaro-Pravda, and quickly discovers that the city is under the control of a massive computer - Alpha 60, created by Professor von Braun.


The computer has outlawed emotion and love, in favour of logic and control. Those who show emotion are executed. Bibles in the hotel rooms are replaced with dictionaries, constantly updated as words are outlawed and replaced with authorised ones. 


Lemmy Caution meets Natacha von Braun (the wonderful Anna Karina again), daughter of the man who created the computer, hoping to gain access to the Professor in order to either capture or kill the Professor and destroy the Alpha 60 computer. However, he falls for Natacha, and she starts to show feelings for him - a criminal offence that could lead to her execution.


Alphaville is a stunningly clever bit of science fiction, carefully presented as a classy film noir. Godard uses his experimental eye again with the use of negative film, and some amazing tracking shots, following the actors into elevators and filming from another elevator through the glass as they travel. Fantastic cinematography, especially for 1965. 


The city of Alphaville was filmed in Paris, focusing on the new architecture and building that is a long cry from the loving portrayal of the city in Breathless, and in black and white it really can feel like an alien city at times. But it is the portrayals of Caution and Natacha that once again make this film. Constantine looks like he’s been pulled straight from the novels that inspired his character, and Karina once again brings sensitivity and emotion to a place and movie that is otherwise devoid of these things.


It is a slow and brooding piece of cinema that is not for everyone, but is hauntingly mesmerising and presented in a restored blu-ray that maintains the the gorgeous black and whites, and keeps the cool grain of its source. The only let down is the lack of extras on this disc compared to the massive amount on the other discs in the set. We have the introduction by Colin McCabe, a trailer, some poster images, and a new interview with Anna Karina (under 5mins). 


However, with the other four movies in the set that I’ve reviewed over the last five weeks (Breathless, Une femme est une femme, Le Mépris, and Pierrot le Fou), the Essential Godard collection blu-ray is exactly that, essential. A perfect way to add some class, some beauty and a whole lot of cool to your blu-ray collection. 






Friday, September 16, 2022

Jean-Luc Godard - Pierrot le Fou

This week I've been reprinting the reviews I wrote back in 2016 of the bluray boxed set of movies by the late, great, and legendary director, Jean-Luc Godard. The fourth film in the set, and the fourth movie in my reviews, is for 1965's 'Pierrot le Fou'.


(review originally published in January 2016)

On the 1st February 2016, STUDIOCANAL is releasing a new boxed set of films of the legendary director Jean-Luc Godard on blu-ray. Over the last few weeks I’ve reviewed the first three discs in the set - now it’s time to look at 1965’s “Pierrot le Fou”.


After the attempt at a big budget “Hollywood” movie with “Contempt”, Godard returns to his simpler roots with a familiar tale of a criminal couple on the run, discussing the meaning of life and art, while on an unstoppable course for self-destruction.


Jean-Paul Belmondo, one of Godard’s regulars, plays Ferdinand Griffon, a former TV writer whose marriage to a wealthy Italian wife bores him. At a party designed to introduce him to a potential employer, he realises he is surrounded by idiots. The party-goers dialogue sounds like fake television commercials and everyone is so dull, compared to Ferdinand who spends his time reading, looking at art, and thinking about life.


He leaves the party early, and runs off with his babysitter - a former lover, Marianne, played by another Godard favourite (and wife at the time), Anna Karina. At her apartment filled with guns and a dead man killed with a pair of scissors, he discovers she is gun running and being chased by gangsters involved in the Algerian war. They steal the dead man’s car and drive off to the country.


Marianne quickly gets bored of hiding in the idilic countryside, and the gangsters soon catch up with them, but it will eventually be their own self destruction that will end their relationship.


Pierrot le Fou is typical Godard. Beautifully filmed, with striking colours, with a feel of “make it up as we go along” that has become so synonymous with his movies. Sequences are shown out of chronological order, and characters break the fourth wall repeatedly - there is a great moment where the leads are driving, and Ferdinand turns to the camera to talk over his shoulder. Marianne asks who he’s talking to - “The audience!” is his reply. Obviously! 


Continuing the feel of Contempt, this one is not a cheery film. It has its moments of surreality and humour, and even a couple of almost musical numbers. But in the end, the feel is that of loss, betrayal and dislocation. Of wanting more from life, to truly experience one’s feelings, but finding a lack of sense. 


It also hammers home some political messages in a less than subtle way - not in the least when they put on a “play” to raise money from tourists that depicts the Vietnam war.


A moving and cerebral film that will stick with you long after the dramatic ending.


The blu-ray is suitably gorgeous, as you can imagine, bringing out all of Godard’s colour use beautifully. The audio is clean and cool as well. 


Extras include a 50+ minute documentary (Godard, Love and Poetry), and introduction by Colin McCabe, a subtitled “commentary” of the entire film by Jean-Bernard Pouy analysing the film, and an interview with Anna Karina.


Godard: The Essential Collection Blu Ray is released on the 1st February 2016, and I’ll be reviewing the final disc in the set, Alphaville, next week.




Thursday, September 15, 2022

Jean-Luc Godard - Contempt

Continuing my week of reposting the reviews I did of the late Jean-Luc Godard's movies for the old Geekologists blog, the third movie in the bluray boxed set I was sent to review thanks to the lovely folk at STUDIOCANAL is 'Contempt'.


(Originally published January 2016)

On the 1st February 2016, STUDIOCANAL is releasing a boxed set of films by the legendary director Jean-Luc Godard on blu-ray. Over the last few weeks I’ve been reviewing the disks one at a time, and this week I turn my attentions to the third movie in the set, 1963’s “Le Mépris”, aka “Contempt”.


The previous film, “A Woman is a Woman” was Godard embracing colour and cinemascope in a tale of woman wanting a child, and the conflict with her partner over that.


In stark contrast, “Contempt” tackles another couple falling out, but instead of the playful fun of the previous film, we’re presented with the harsh frustrations of a couple failing to communicate. Failed playwright Paul (Michel Piccoli) is hired to rewrite a movie of The Odyssey, currently being filmed by the one and only Fritz Lang (played by himself). Paul brings his wife, former typist Camille (the legendary Brigitte Bardot), who catches the eye of the film’s producer, Prokosch (Jack Palance). 


Prokosch wants to make the movie more of an action Hollywood movie, but Lang wants to make an art film. However, when Paul allows Prokosch to drive his wife home, Camille changes. Thinking Paul has offered her up as some form of payment to get his job on the film, she finds Paul utterly contemptible (hence the title of the film) and their relationship breaks down.


The whole film can be read on many levels. It could be that the lead characters are mirroring the Odyssey, with Paul and Prokosch as Odysseus and Poseidon, and it can also be taken as a mirror of real life (with Paul as Godard, Camille as Godard’s wife, Anna Karina). The parallels between the movie and the making of the movie is also seen in the way that the producers want a big budget Hollywood movie, demanding more action and nudity, when Godard wanted to make art. The opening shot of Brigitte Bardot’s naked (but not explicit) body was not in the version Godard wanted to make, but the producers insisted, claiming he couldn’t make a film with Bardot without a nude scene.


The film itself is gorgeous as you’d expect. Filled with colour, beauty and lush cinematography. In fact, the cinemascopic widescreen is utilised in true Godard fashion for a protracted argument scene. In “A Woman is a Woman”, and to some extent, “Breathless” before it, Godard had a lengthy apartment scene, letting the characters communicate their feelings, their motivations, and argue. In “A Woman is a Woman” this argument was fun, witty and clever, with a humorous take by using book titles to express their words when they were not talking to each other. In “Contempt” words are the characters downfall, and the widescreen pans slowly between the characters, often in different rooms, emphasising the distance growing between them. 


Like “A Woman is a Woman”, I’d not seen this one before, and it is heralded as a masterpiece of cinema. The film is gorgeous, looks fantastic, and is beautifully made. But the film isn’t a happy watch, filled with frustrations, lack of communications that ultimately ends in tragedy. Godard was making a big budget Hollywood-esque film, with most of the budget being spent on one of the biggest actresses at the time. Godard was intrigued about making a big budget movie, and this really wasn’t one he enjoyed. After this, he’d go back to the movies he enjoyed making.


The blu-ray is simply gorgeous, with a marvellous and pristine presentation, keeping the beautiful colour. Included on the disk is an introduction, as well as two hour long documentaries (“Once upon a time there was… Contempt” and “The dinosaurs and the baby” - a discussion between Godard and Fritz Lang) and a half hour making-off “Contempt-Tenderly”, as well as a conversation with Fritz Lang and a trailer (that blows the ending of the film, so don’t watch it first!)


Definitely worth watching, but not as much fun as “A Woman is a Woman”. 




Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Jean-Luc Godard - A Woman Is a Woman

Yesterday I posted a review of Breathless I wrote back when STUDIOCANAL released a five movie bluray set of Jean-Luc Godard's work, as the news had just hit of the legendary director's passing. 

Today, I'm continuing the reposting of those reviews from the long gone blog, this one of the movie "A Woman Is A Woman".



(Originally posted Jan 2016)

On the 1st February 2016, STUDIOCANAL is releasing a boxed set of films by the legendary director Jean-Luc Godard on blu-ray. Last week, I had a look at the first film in the box, the stunning and ultra-cool “Breathless” (À Bout De Souffle). This week, I turn my attentions to Godard’s first work in Cinemascope and colour, “A Woman is a Woman” (Une femme est une femme).


Still oozing in cool, Godard embraces colour and cinemascope and feels like it is paying tribute to the big budget, colour musicals of Hollywood. But it still retains its originality, its playfulness with the medium and film language, to make it unmistakably Godard’s, and genuinely wonderful.


I’d not seen the film before, but reading the synopsis it sounds horribly dark. Angela, an exotic dancer in a strip club is in a relationship with Émile. She wants to have a baby, but he doesn’t, fearing it’ll tie him down and stop his chauvinistic galavanting. She turns to his friend Alfred, who is in love with her, and threatens to sleep with him to get what she wants.


It could be seen as a dark, and slightly depressing story of a love that has gone cold. A relationship coming to an end, and Angela’s desperation to have a child. But it’s not. Far, far from it. 


Instead the film is bright, colourful, filled with humour and music that feels more like a modern independent romantic comedy, like “(500) Days of Summer”. It’s no surprise that “A Woman is a Woman” is one of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s favourite films. 


Anna Karina plays Angela with such vibrancy and humour, she is absolutely mesmerising. You wonder why the cold Émile, played by Jean-Claude Brialy, isn’t worshipping the ground under her feet. They have a strange relationship, and most of the film they are arguing, but not in a horrible way. There have been films where couples argue or hate each other (“War of the Roses”, “The Breakup”) which I have absolutely hated, coming out of the film feeling depressed. This, the arguing is sweet and amusing. There are segments where they refuse to talk to each other, highlighting words from book covers to insult each other. But in between her arguing and telling Émile that she hates him, she looks to the camera, breaks the fourth wall, and tells the audience that she really loves him.


The other man in her life, Alfred, is played by Breathless superstar Jean-Paul Belmondo. Playing it cool and rogue-like again, but in a more subtle way that before, and showing a real affection for Angela. 


I won’t tell you how the film is resolved, it seriously should be seen. It has lovely quirks - like Angela going to answer a phonecall, throwing a frying egg up into the air, answering the call, coming back to catch the egg - and plays with Godard’s signature jump-cuts perfectly - one of Angela’s dancer friends changes clothes by simply walking behind a post. Add fourth wall breaking, cycling around an apartment, and captions on screen to add to the mix, and you’re presented with a wonderful treat that has already become a favourite in my books.


The blu-ray is suitably gorgeous, though the music track seemed a lot louder than the rest of the film (probably more a problem with my TV set up than the film). Extras on the disc include an introduction, and an interview with Anna Karina. 




Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Jean-Luc Godard - Breathless

Many moons ago I used to write movie reviews and go to press conferences and all those exciting things. I was in the room with 95% of the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the cast of Antman, and more. When doing those movie reviews, I was given the opportunity to review a new BluRay set of Jean-Luc Godard movies that came out in 2016, and I leapt at the chance.

I have fond memories of my A-level Film Studies class, being told how Godard filmed almost ad-lib and composed the story in edits. How the iconic jump-cuts worked, and the super-hip style of the movies. I was mesmerised. It was like a whole new door of movies was opened to me, and I eagerly watched as many movies of his as I could. 

With his passing this week, I thought I'd republish the reviews of that boxed set as the site they were written for has long since gone, starting with the first Godard movie I saw - Breathless.


(Review from 2016)

On the 1st February 2016, STUDIOCANAL is releasing a new boxed set of films of the legendary director Jean-Luc Godard on blu-ray. When the lovely people at STUDIOCANAL offered to send an advanced review copy of the set, my thoughts flew back to my dim and distant youth - sat in my film studies class and being shown Breathless (À Bout De Souffle) for the first time, mesmerised by the freedom, the cool and the style.


The chance to see it again and review it? I couldn’t pass it up.


Breathless is simple, underground, and the very height of cool. Made in 1959, using new lightweight cameras, Godard went out into the streets of Paris to film without the baggage of a huge film crew, or even permission to film. Writing the script usually on the morning of each day’s filming, the movie is a true guerrilla film-maker’s dream. 


The story follows relative newcomer Jean Paul Belmondo as Michel Poiccard, a gangster and criminal who returns to Paris after shooting a cop. There he reunites with a beautiful young American, Patricia Franchini (played by the wonderful Jean Seberg), and he tries to convince her to run away with him to Italy. He just needs to get the money owed to him before the police track him down.


A simple plot that frames a love story that is so beautifully played with such natural ease, you cannot help but be mesmerised by the performances. 


Breathless is often heralded as the birth of the French New Wave, the “Nouvelle Vague” movement of the 60’s. Movies were created with little or no script, sometimes completely redubbed with new dialogue to make a plot in editing. The jump-cuts quickly feel natural and while an audience brought up with purely Hollywood movies will be shocked at the sudden cuts and odd continuity, the freedom this style brings infused cinema with a fresh breath of creativity and cool that remains just as smooth today.


The blu-ray has been lovingly restored, overseen by the film’s cinematographer, Raoul Coutard, and given a gorgeous enhancement that retains the grain of the original film. While it may not be the super-crisp picture you’re used to with modern movies, this looks just like the film was intended and how it would have looked when first shown. (Though there are some missing frames that could not be restored).


The disc also includes a host of extras, including an introduction to the film, a 50min documentary about Godard’s influence on American directors, an 80min documentary (Room 12: Hotel de suede) looking at the making of the film, as well as a feature on Godard and one on Jean Seberg. 


All I can say is it’s incredibly cool, and I’ve still got four discs to review! It may not be your average geekdom for this site, but it’s well worth checking out if you’re interested in film.




Wednesday, August 31, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 31: When did you first take part in #RPGaDay?

 


Quite an easy question for me today, as I first took part in #RPGaDay when it started nine years ago.

However, I'd like to take this opportunity in this final day's post in #RPGaDay2022 to thank everyone for getting involved this year, and in previous years. It's great to see so many people share cool stories and positivity about tabletop gaming. Thank you for your support.

Big thanks to those who translate the posts into other languages for me, it is greatly appreciated.

And especially big thanks to Anthony Boyd who created most of the questions this year.

Thank you all. 

Until next year!


Stay multi-classy!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 30: What should #RPGaDay do for its 10th Anniversary next year?

 


This is quite a big question really, and one that could have quite an impact on next year. As you know, this is the 9th #RPGaDay, so for its 10th Anniversary next year I felt we should do something cool. But what?

Different format? Charity fundraiser? An award a day? 

Suggestions will be logged, and we'll see what we can do to make next year's celebration of positivity even better.

Monday, August 29, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 29: WHO would you like to see take part in #RPGaDay?

 


We're down to the last few days of #RPGaDay2022, and we're asking a few questions about #RPGaDay itself. First up, who would you like to see take part in #RPGaDay?

Well, I'm really just happy that anyone takes part, but I'd love to see some of the bigger names in the industry join in to spread the word a bit further. Maybe next year we could convince Eric Campbell or Matt Mercer to get involved. That would be amazing.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 28: Style Sunday

 


Day 28 of #RPGaDay2022 and it's Style Sunday, and it's all about your favourite cover art. That's tricky, because there's a lot of really cool cover art to choose from. One that really stood out for me when I was a kid and just discovering RPGs was the awesome cover for Star Frontiers


Really sold the game to me, and I couldn't wait to play it. 

The other game that I bought purely because of the cover was CJ Carella's WitchCraft.


That cover, along with the way that the book is smaller, digest sized, really sold it to me, and started me down a slippery slope buying all of Eden's games, and eventually writing some of them!


West End Games' Star Wars RPG was just perfect as well. Okay, so it wasn't original artwork, but it was everything I could have hoped for in an RPG, and that cover was wonderful. 


Saturday, August 27, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 27: How has your character changed?

 


Day 27 of #RPGaDay2022 and it's the final part of the 'look at your character' posts, asking how has your character changed? I must admit, I have very little attention span at the moment, far too much going on in my head, so I'm just happy to be playing with friends, rather than thinking about something like narrative progression for my character. I'd be happy if they got better at doing what they do - I feel like Edrahil stumbles from being on the verge of death to the next encounter where they end up in a similar state.

He is, however, becoming more attuned to the world, rather than being an elitist and isolated Rivendell elf, and sees the denizens of Middle Earth as being a mixed bunch who are in serious danger of the rising shadow.

Friday, August 26, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 26: Why does your character do what they do?

 


Day 26 of #RPGaDay2022 continues looking at your current character and asks WHY does your character do what they do? 

Edrahil is an elf from Rivendell, and is aware of a rising darkness in Middle Earth. It is his duty to find the influence of the Shadow and put a stop to its spread.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 25: Where has that character been?

 


Day 25 of #RPGaDay2022 continues looking at your current character, asking where has that character been?

Typically for The One Ring, he's been everywhere. He's been from Rivendell to Bree, south to barrows, further south to the forests, then across to the city divided by the river, upstream to Rivendell again, over the Misty Mountains, into Mirkwood, back to the inn, south to the forests teeming with bandits, and back to Rivendell, and now back to Bree and north to his impending doom.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 24: When did you start playing this character?


Day 24 of #RPGaDay2022 continues asking questions about your current character, asking when you started playing them? 

Not sure. Must be about four months ago. We'd finished our bizarre and weird game of Heart, and I know our GM was particularly excited by the Rings of Power trailers, so suggested we play The One Ring. We did a few sessions as an intro, playing different characters who all ended up supposedly killed by the 'big bad' of our campaign, then started with our proper characters. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 23: What situation is your character currently in?

 


Day 23 of #RPGaDay2022 continues the theme of your current character, asking WHAT situation are they currently in? Well, Edrahil is constantly battling between being at full endurance, or completely unconscious and on the verge of death. Last week we were fighting orcs, so many orcs, that threatened to eat his rather luxurious white horse, and nobody messes with my horse. However, unlike John Wick, Edrahil and his companions were cut down, though the hobbit managed to do the most damage to the dozens of orcs. We were saved by some rangers, healed up, rested, and we're heading to the downs north of Bree to the place where all of our previous characters met their untimely end. So it's not looking good...

Monday, August 22, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 22: Who is your current character?

 


Day 22 of #RPGaDay2022 starts a week looking at your characters. Today's question asks WHO is your current character? 

I'm currently playing The One Ring, and my character is a High Elf of Rivendell called Edrahil - he's a bit of a snob, has a lovely white horse called Percival, and spends all of his time fighting, getting lost, and getting almost killed repeatedly. He's not great at things, but that may just be my dice rolling...



Sunday, August 21, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 21: Setting Sunday!!

 


Day 21 of #RPGaDay2022 is another one of those odd Sundays, and this time it's SETTING SUNDAY! Share an intriguing detail from a game setting you enjoy. Here's an intriguing detail that only some people know - the Conspiracy X Kickstarter from ages ago that had some signed editions (I think that was the Extraterrestrials Sourcebook) I was sent a load of bookplates to sign that I posted to the publishers to add to those who'd backed a signed version.

What I didn't tell anyone was that 50% of those signed ones also have messages and clues about the conspiracy that can only be seen under UV light. Some of them listed members of the MJ-12 conspiracy, some other clues were in there as well... 

Did you get one of those? 

Saturday, August 20, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 20: How long do your games last?

 


That's a weird one - How long do your games last? Session-wise, I'm getting old and tired. Gone are the eight hour sessions of my youth, not to mention that 90-hour marathon we tried to raise money for the local church roof. Though my current D&D sessions seem to be about 5-6 hours, we're happier with nice 2 1/2 hour sessions every week. 

If it's campaigns you're talking about, well most of those last about a year before we switch to a different game/setting. 

So that's my answer to Day Twenty of #RPGaDay2022!!!

Friday, August 19, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 19: Why has your favourite game stayed with you?

 


Day Nineteen of #RPGaDay2022 asks a slightly more complicated question - why has your favourite game stayed with you? As I mentioned a couple of days ago, my favourite game rotates between three, with some close runners knocking on the top 3 (yes, I'm looking at you Mage and Buffy).

WEG Star Wars as stayed with me because I've been a hardcore Star Wars nerd since I first saw the first movie in 1978 (yeah, I couldn't get to see it until 78). I started gaming and wanted that Star Wars feel, and while my first game (Traveller) was close, and Star Frontiers was closer, when WEG Star Wars came out it was the ultimate thing as far as I was concerned.

Ghostbusters was a similar case. Massive fan of the movie, bought the RPG and loved it - it inspired me to write RPGs, and is the reason I am where I am today. Still love it, and would love to do a new version with the same level of humour and excitement. 

Finally, Tales from the Loop was a revelation - minimal rules, set in the 80s, masses of atmosphere, what's not to love. It's the sort of game I aspire to.


Thursday, August 18, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 18: Where is your favourite place to play?

 


Day Eighteen of #RPGaDay2022 asks where is your favourite place to play? I'm really weird but I like playing at home, on the sofa, connected by Skype or Roll20 to players anywhere in the world. No need to lug books about... I guess I'm just naturally lazy!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 17: Past, Present, or Future - WHEN is your favourite game set?

 


Day Seventeen of #RPGaDay2022 asks when your favourite game is set? Oh, if only I had a favourite game! It changes depending upon the mood, from the 1980's (Tales from the Loop or Ghostbusters) to a galaxy far, far away (WEG Star Wars). I'm not much of a fantasy gamer, so that's probably the furthest in the past I'd prefer (though I did have a great game of Victorian era Changeling recently). 

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 16: What would be your perfect game?

 


Day Sixteen of #RPGaDay2022 and we're nearly halfway through the month! Hurrah!! Today's question asks "What would be your perfect game?" 

Tricky? Short of saying I'd love a game of something like The X-Files or Twin Peaks, or some other supernatural investigation game, or Stranger Things to capture that vibe of Tales from the Loop meets Stephen King, I don't know...

I'd like something that's relatively light, like Scott Pilgrim - a surreal but fun experience, where there's a little fighting but it's not the focus, and lots of cool and wacky happenings - maybe in a Ghostbusters style.

Other than that, you know my weird tastes!

Monday, August 15, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 15: Who would you like to Gamemaster for you?

 


And we're on to the next week of #RPGaDay2022, and the question is once again WHO? Who would you like to Gamemaster for you?

I honestly don't know! I'm not a great GM, so I certainly appreciate other people GMing for me. Stoo is doing a grand job with our games to date, having GM'd Tales from the Loop, Star Wars, Alien, Scum & Villainy, and currently - The One Ring

If I could get anyone to GM, it'd probably be someone cool like Eric Campbell, running something like Star Trek Adventures or Doctor Who. That'd be great.


Sunday, August 14, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 14: Suggestion Sunday


Day Fourteen of #RPGaDay2022 is one of those Suggestion Sunday things where you're supposed to tag some friends and suggest an RPG to try. Well, I'm not really a big fan of tagging people in things, and I already know some friends I'd like to see get involved, but the game I'm going to suggest is Broken Compass

A cool game that came out a year or more ago by Two Little Mice publishing, that immediately caught everyone's eye by its great corebook design. The game is little bit Tomb Raider, a little Uncharted, and a whole lot of Indiana Jones, with a corebook designed to look like a leatherbound travel journal, complete with an elasticated loop to hold a pen or pencil (logo emblazoned pencil is included). 


The system may take a little getting used to, as the dice rolling is very 'one roll for a whole encounter' and I would have thought a more segmented roll for each part of a trap or fight would be more in keeping with the tension-raising stakes of a high-adventure game. But I'd really like to see it in action and find out how it plays. 


Saturday, August 13, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 13: How would you change the way you started RPGing?


 Day Thirteen of #RPGaDay2022 asks HOW would you change the way you started RPGing? 

I don't think I would. Great games, even better friends, the only way it could be improved would be to have started playing earlier. The groups in my little town had been playing for a while by the time I got involved, so I missed out on a year or two of gaming! I didn't even know these things existed before then!! 

Friday, August 12, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 12: Why did you start RPGing?

 


Day Twelve of #RPGaDay2022 asks an odd question - Why did you start RPGing? 

I guess the answer to that one is fairly simple. I was obsessed with Star Wars and science fiction in general. My first RPG was Traveller, and while it wasn't the Star Wars that I loved, it was as close as I could get for a while. I enjoyed D&D and Runequest, I loved the company - having a growing group of friends that I'm still in contact with (and still gaming with) today. And then along came Star Frontiers, which was even more Star Wars-y than Traveller, and I was hooked. 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 11: If you could live in a game setting, where would it be?

 


Oh boy, today's question is a tricky one. Day Eleven of #RPGaDay2022 asks 'If you could live in a game setting, where would it be?'

I guess my problem is that I LOVE licensed games, so a lot of the RPG settings I'd pick are licensed settings. I mean, who wouldn't want to live in the idillic future of Star Trek, or run around with a lightsaber in Star Wars


Sadly, I'd have to say that my ideal choice would be Tales from the Loop. I know it's licensed, but who wouldn't want to return to your childhood in the 80s, surrounded by that cool music, iconic imagery, and add some (usually) helpful robots into the mix? Count me in!!


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 10: When Did you Start Gamemastering?

 


Day Ten of #RPGaDay2022 is 'When did you start Gamemastering?' and that was kinda answered in yesterday's question. My first GMing was the awesomeness that was original Star Frontiers. So the "When" answer is probably around 1983. I wasn't a great Gamemaster - I don't think I am now either. I think I peaked in the mid 90's with Kult. But I had a blast GMing Star Frontiers, and then I went on to things like TSR's Indiana Jones, WEG's Ghostbusters, WEG's Star Wars, Victory Games' James Bond (you can tell a trend there).


Tuesday, August 9, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 9: What is the Second RPG you bought?

 


Day Nine of #RPGaDay2022 asks the question, what is the second RPG you bought? That's a tricky one, because I bought two fairly close to each other, and I can't remember which came first!! I think it was this way around...


After my first couple of games, I was introduced to Traveller, Runequest, and AD&D, and it was clear to me that I really needed my own copy of the AD&D Player's Handbook. So, after a trip to the aforementioned secret shop hidden above a picture framers in the city 13 miles away, I purchased my own AD&D Player's Handbook. Not the one everyone started with, I had the blue one with the wizard. not the group stealing the stuff from the big demon statue. 

After that, I wanted to run my own game, and when I was buying the Player's Handbook the cover of Star Frontiers caught my eye and kinda stuck in my head, so it must have been shortly after that I purchased the original Star Frontiers Alpha Dawn boxed set. 

I loved Star Frontiers, we played the heck out of it, and Knight Hawks, and Zebulon's Guide. Loved it, and would have loved to have seen it make a comeback... but not like it is... dear god, no... You've ruined my youth... 

Monday, August 8, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 8: Who introduced you to RPGs?

 


Wow, week 2 of #RPGaDAY already, and the question for Day Eight is 'Who Introduced you to RPGs?'.

This kinda flashes back to the answer on day 3, of when were you introduced to RPGs... It was that moment when Crud (sorry, I know you never liked being called Crud, but I don't want to use real names here) decided that we weren't going to spend that afternoon creating lightcycles programs for the ZX Spectrum, and he was going to drag me along to JR's house to partake in my first game of Traveller

So, technically, the answer to 'Who' was Crud, along with JR and Pete. It was only a matter of time before that lead to me gaming with two different groups, which eventually merged into one.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 7: A Cool Part of a System


Day Seven of #RPGaDay2022 is one of the weird Sunday questions - this one is "Describe a cool part of a system that you love". Oh, man. So many to choose from. There have been many times over the last few years when I've read or played a relatively new game and thought "Wow, I wish I'd come up with that". 

Some cool elements that I particularly admire include the whole "Blades in the Dark" thing of rolling against a difficulty and the result determines if you succeed, succeed but with a consequence, or fail. That's bloomin' brilliant, and I think it's something that's been adapted from Powered by the Apocalypse - however, it was my first game of Scum and Villainy that I first encountered it. 

The other "wow" moment was experiencing Tales from the Loop for the first time. Just the simplicity of the game system, how the rules were a fraction of the size of most of the games I'd been playing, allowing the players to build their 'character' rather than a bunch of numbers. Flippin amazing. I guess that's my only frustration at the moment, is that there are no more official in-house Tales from the Loop books. I'd snap them up in an instant. 
 

Saturday, August 6, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 6: How would you get more people playing RPGs?


Day Six of #RPGaDay2022 asks 'How would you get more people playing RPGs?'. At a time when more people seem to be not only aware of what tabletop roleplaying games are, but also playing and streaming games, it's almost like TTRPGs are in a second renaissance! A new golden age, so to speak.

I remember having this discussion about 2006 when we were trying to work out how to get more people involved in RPGs, and we were talking about how licensed properties were the way to go. Get more kids introduced, a new generation of gamers, by bringing out games of properties they'd be interested in. We talked about James Bond, and (of course) Doctor Who - which eventually led to the game! 

Now, everyone's aware of tabletop roleplaying games thanks to streaming, Stranger Things, and more. You can find Dungeons & Dragons everywhere - no longer do you have to find out about secret, unmarked game stores hidden above picture framers.

That said, the best way to get more people playing RPGs is to NOT put them off. Put an end to the gatekeeping, and let everyone have a go! 

And that really is the great thing about the hobby at the moment - you really can have a go pretty easily. Or, at least, see what it's all about by watching streams. There are so many games out there if you fancy something different from Dungeons & Dragons, and so many indie games that are simply brilliant. And it's easier to get into making games now as well. We really are in a new golden age.

Friday, August 5, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 5: Why will they like this game?

 


I've kinda painted myself into a corner. After establishing the people I'd like to have introduced to RPGs being my dearly departed parents, and establishing some games I'd have used to introduce them to games, the question on Day Five is 'Why will they like this game?'

Answer should be because they enjoyed Ghostbusters, and would find it funny, but I have to say, in truth, they probably wouldn't have liked it. They'd have probably enjoyed West End Games' Star Wars more - they both loved Star Wars. Dad dressed up as Darth Vader one year for the town carnival, and when my mother was in care, the only DVD she wanted with her was the original Star Wars trilogy. Strange, but I wasn't going to question it. 

The West End Game Star Wars RPG was quick, pretty easy, and very accessible. Really lovely production on them as well. Love those first hardcovers. 

Right, tomorrow's question is a tricky one, so I'm going to go and think about that. 

Until then, stay multiclassy!!


Thursday, August 4, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 4: Where would you host a First Game?

 


Day Four of #RPGaDay2022 and the big question kinda follows on from the previous ones. We've asked who you'd like to introduce to RPGs, and what game would be a great choice. So now the question is 'Where would you host a first game?'

So you're all set, wanting to host this new game to show off to make a good impression for a first game. Where do you host it? 

Easy answer for that is wherever you're all comfortable and at ease. You could set the scene in a grand hall or a castle, with an epic table of minis, with candles and cool music, but it's not really necessary. The best thing I'd suggest is somewhere comfy, with few distractions, plenty of snacks. Heck, these days it doesn't even have to be in the same room as the other players!

My first game was at a friend's house on their dining room table. Most of our games were like that, at our houses around respective dining room tables. Some of the best times ever. But some of the coolest and most epic games I've had haven't even had that. One of the scariest Kult games was just in a little bedsit without even a single chair, while some of the most epic Star Wars games I've had have been mostly online with players in their own respective houses.

Just play wherever you like, and have fun. The more at ease and involved your prospective new players are, the more they'll enjoy it. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 3: When were you first introduced to RPGs?


 Day Three of #RPGaDay2022 and the question is 'When were you first introduced to RPGs'

Hopefully this prompt will inspire everyone to share how they got into tabletop gaming. For me, it was early 1980s. Must have been about 1983, because I remember I was going over to a friend's house on a Saturday afternoon where we'd work on the ZX Spectrum, trying to program a lightcycles game based on Tron. I say we, but in actual fact, I wasn't great at programming. I used Sinclair BASIC okay, but 'Crud' as he was known (though he didn't like being called Crud, sorry) was a far better programmer than me, and could use all that machine code stuff that just baffled me. So Saturday afternoons were him tapping away on the squishy Spectrum keyboard, and I sat there reading old issues of Computer and Video Games magazine. 


Anyway, one Saturday I went over, expecting an afternoon of lightcycles - instead, Crud took me off to another house - JR's - where I'd never been before, to be introduced to the wonders of Traveller.

I had no idea what was really going on, but JR and Crud (and I think Pete was there, maybe) guided me through the wonders of character creation (and hoping I didn't get my character killed in the process) and we started playing. 

I was hooked, and they foolishly mentioned off-hand that there was an AD&D or Runequest game the following day... and that was that. Four or five games a week for the next three or four years at least...


And that was that!

How about you? How did you start?


Tuesday, August 2, 2022

#RPGaDay2022 - Day 2: What is a great introductory RPG?

 


Day Two of #RPGaDay2022 and the big question is - 'What is a great introductory RPG?'

Ah, this is more like it. But where to start? 

I know a lot of people would say 'Start with D&D' - very valid. Especially with some great starter sets out there to get to playing fairly quickly. But if D&D isn't your thing, or if it's a bit too complicated to ease the new players in gently, what could you go for?

I'd go with something extremely fun and simple - first suggestion would be Ghostbusters. I mean, who doesn't like Ghostbusters?

The West End Games Ghostbusters RPG is incredibly quick and simple. Really fast to play, hilarious to read, and just really cool. It's the game that made me want to write tabletop RPGs.

Of course, if you don't have access to a game that came out in the late 1980s, you could go for the next best thing - EN Publishing's 'Awfully Cheerful Engine' or ACE for short. The game system is basically a retroclone of Ghostbusters, so it keeps the character stats quick and easy and can be recorded on a character sheet the size of an index card. 

It has a host of great adventures that new players will recognise, not just ones that I've contributed to - Spirits of Manhattan is a Ghostbusters-like parody which was an absolute blast to write, and Strange Science will appeal to fans of Stranger Things, Weird Science, and Back to the Future

I'm all about the retro.


On the subject of Stranger Things, the other game I'd use for an introduction would be Tales from the Loop. I love that game - it's so simple and easy, but oozing in setting and feel. (I've used the image of a French supplement I'm still pondering getting, just for completists sake). 


Monday, August 1, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 - Day 1: Who would you like to introduce to RPGs?

 


Oh good lord, the graphics are horrible this year. I'm sorry. I just didn't really have the time for it...

Anyway, it's August again, so it's time for the NINTH #RPGaDAY!! Thank you for joining us on this journey through tabletop gaming and spreading a little positivity out in the world, showing off just how cool tabletop roleplaying games can be.

Thanks again this year to Anthony Boyd who came up with most of the questions, and I have to say, this is a first - the first day and I'm almost stumped.

DAY ONE: Who would you like to introduce to RPGs?

That one is really tricky, as most of the people I know are aware of RPGs, even if they don't play them. They know what I do, and get the basics of it, and a lot of that is thanks to tabletop gaming appearing more and more in general media (thank you again Stranger Things, for presenting gaming as something that isn't negative - and correctly depicting the hate and panic that it got all those years ago).

Back in the 80s, we desperately tried to introduce RPGs to new people at school, but I don't think it went down very well with most of them - probably due to the way it was introduced. Now it's a whole different matter. You can get people inspired by suggesting cool streams like Critical Role or Titansgrave, that way they can see what a game is like, even if it's done by professional gamers and actors.

Does make me wonder - did the cast of the new Dungeons & Dragons movie actually play D&D as research? 

This isn't answering the question. Who would I like to introduce to RPGs? I guess, if I could go back in time, I'd introduce my parents to it. They were supportive of me playing, and were happy I was hanging around with friends and rolling dice in a game rather than lurking on streets or getting drunk. But I don't think they really 'got' what we were doing. My dad was super-proud when the first RPG book arrived with my name in the front, and when I told my mum I was writing Doctor Who she kept watching the episodes expecting my name to come up on screen.

Of course, that's impossible now, they're both long gone and I miss them still. But it would have been cool if they knew what we were doing, and how those games formed friendships that would last 40+ years. 

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If you want to take part in #RPGaDAY, all you have to do is download the infographic (as hideous as it is) from here or the Facebook page, look at the questions, and get involved. Blog, vlog, podcast, tweet, or anything you like. Just tag it #RPGaDAY2022 or #RPGaDay2022


If you want the questions as text, or in a different language, check out the original post here:

https://www.autocratik.com/2022/07/announcing-rpgaday2022-in-august.html