I have been on Google Plus for a week now and I really like it. There is so much more customization especially with the brilliantly simple idea of Circles, being able to group your audience into different sections and edit the posts and updates so that only certain people see certain things is a game changer.

I have not yet gotten into the Hangout (video chat) yet but in conjunction with the circles it certainly makes for an intriguing way to run a Tabletop style of RPG,

Imagine wanting to run a game of  Dungeons and Dragons, the DM could create a circle for the players. He (or she) could then post updates for the game group that wouldn’t be seen by others. then on the designated game night simply start a video hangout just for that circle and the players could then join for the game. You could use public Google docs for the character sheets and maps, with the exception if dice rolls it would automate the entire game, if playing a Pathfinder or 3.5 edition game the rules are even available online as SRD.

Below is the inevitable Downfall video when Hitler is informed of the G+ rising popularity (some strong language):

 

 

 

<a href="Contemporary Japan: History, Politics, and Social Change since the 1980s (Blackwell History of the Contemporary World)"" “>My friend Jake Adelstein posted some very interesting excerpts from an early book detailing problems that Tepco had before the Fukushima disaster and how it was almost inevitable that a disaster involving the TEPCO Nuclear plants would occur. This book tracks previous incidents that were a direct result of the corner-cutting and willful negligence by the Company in the past.

There have been disasters in the past but obviously nothing on the scale that has happened after the tsunami and earthquake in North Japan. I am still of the opinion that the meltdown’s full extent has never been told and will be hushed up, much as people do not realize the full extent of the meltdown that occurred at Three Mile Island.

Adelstien also has an interesting op-ed piece exploring whether the incident would have occurred whether or not the tsunami hits, just on the effects of an earthquake, its an interesting speculation given the gross mismanagement.

When you keep running the same nuclear reactor for over forty years, ten years past the date it was supposed to be closed down—that’s insanity. Because any rational person would you tell you that the risk of a nuclear disaster taking place increases every year, with every unfixed problem, with every sloppy inspection, with the normal wear and tear on each part of a reactor that was never designed for an earthquake ridden Japan in the first place.

 

 

 

I decided to watch this movie a few weeks ago with a friends recommendation. A desire to see Elijah Wood in a non-Frodo role and some interest in the soccer hooligan subculture sealed my interest. I actually liked this movie, the plot was very predictable and formulaic but some excellent performances especially by Charlie Hunnam as Pete, and well done fight scenes rescued this and elevated it to one of my favorites. Elijah wood plays a push over who learns to stand up for himself by running with a British soccer firm. From the Wiki:

Matt Buckner (Elijah Wood) is thrown off his journalism course at Harvard University after cocaine is discovered in his room. However, the cocaine belongs to Jeremy Van Holden (Terence Jay), his roommate. Buckner is afraid to speak up because the Van Holdens are a powerful family, and Jeremy pays him $10,000 for taking the fall. Matt moves to the United Kingdom to live with his sister Shannon (Claire Forlani), her husband Steve Dunham (Marc Warren) and their young son, Ben (James Allison). There, Matt meets Steve’s brother, Pete (Charlie Hunnam), a loud and thuggish Cockney who runs a local football hooligan firm – a group of football supporters that arranges fights after matches – and teaches at a local school. Steve asks Pete to take Matt to a football match between West Ham United and Birmingham City, though Pete reluctant to take a “Yank” to a football match, because of the xenophobic nature of his friends. He is persuaded only because Steve will give Matt money. After defeating Matt in a fight, Pete decides to take Matt to the football match, thinking the yank might learn a thing or two.

Elijah’s portrayal as having no confidence and the total change in himself by the end is effective. Pete is riveting and really steals the show, Charlie Hunnam is an actor to watch in the future.

the fight scenes are well done highlighting Matt’s ineptness at the beginning to his strength at the end.

Green Street is reputably becoming a cult classic and despite its flaws, its easy to see why.

 

The Man From Nowhere is an excellent action movie from Korea. Very good action scenes and well choreographed fights. Bin Won stars as a pawn shop owner who befriends a little girl who comes to the shop at times. Cha Tae Sik is a loner but obviously has a violent past that he is avoiding. The girl’s mother gets in the middle of a dispute between rival drug gangs and is in need of rescue. I won’t give away the rest of the movie because while it seems formulaic the script and acting make this one a standout. Gun-Fu, Kung-Fu, Car crashes, etc. etc. ece;;ent movie all around. From the Wiki:

Operating a pawn shop in a small neighborhood, Cha Tae-sik now leads a quiet life. His only connection to the rest of the world is a little girl, So-mi, who lives nearby. A heroin addict and So-mi’s mother, Hyo-jeong, smuggles drugs from a drug trafficking organization and entrusts Tae-sik with the product without his knowledge. When the traffickers find out about this they kidnap both Hyo-jeong and So-mi. The gang sends a number of thugs to Tae-sik’s pawn shop to retrieve the stolen drugs, but is easily overpowered by Tae-sik, making his identity ambiguous. However, upon learning that the gang now has in their possession both Hyo-jeong and So-mi, Tae-sik gives the beaten gang members what they are looking for.

Cha’s initial reluctance to get involved with the girl and his mysterious past are played very effectively. They come up with a reasonable background without the heavyhanded feel of a lot of “mysterious strangers who happen to be deadly assasins” so common nowadays.  His feelings toward the young girl go from coldness to warm smiles as he regains his humanity through his pursuit of her captors. Just an excellent action movie.

 

 

 

[Friday Map] Give your players the shaft with… “The Circle of Doom”.

Dyson Logos’ really fun little map for dungeons centered around a central shaft with multiple levels,  This would work well in a temple for a Cthulhu Mythos game.

This is the movie adaptation of Terry Pratchetts’ Discworld story of an aged warrior looking for one last shot at glory.

The production values look very good especially for an amateur film crew. From the Kickstarter pitch:

Troll Bridge is an epic short film based on a fable written by Terry Pratchett.  Set in the phenomenally successful Discworld series, Troll Bridge is about the world’s last Barbarian hero (now at the age of 87) embarking on a suicide mission to battle a bridge troll in mortal combat.

I asked if this project would be subtitled and immediately the response came back as “yes, we want to do this in as many languages as possible.”

I backed the project right then 🙂

The following teaser trailer shows Cohen the barbarian in his youth and glory:

Tonight I am hosting the weekly #RPGchat on Twitter. Our usual hostess – @d20Blonde is away visiting family so I volunteered my services for the chat lead.  The topic is chosen and reminders have been tweeted, stop in if you can ..

The other project I have gotten into via Kickstarter is d20 Morningstar. This is a RPG using smartphones and GPS to play out a fantasy RPG. From the d20 Morningstar website:

d20 Morningstar is a mobile role playing game that mashes geo-location with d20 game mechanics. Players search their world for monsters, traps and other player characters; and then interact with those encounters to earn experience and loot.

This sound intriguing especially from the standpoint of being a Dungeon Master and setting up quests for other players. Think of setting up a quest in a park where the players smartphones/GPS are leading them through to the goal and fighting the monsters along the way, intriguing blend of reality and fantasy…

 

I was turned on to Jeremy Keller’s role playing project on Kickstarter called Technoir by one of our Twitter chats. Technoir is a hardboiled cyberpunk role-playing game set in a bleak and desperate future. I am certainly a sucker for Cyberpunk games and settings, I love that blend of tech with the bleak despair of a cyberpunk near future …

Technoir is a roleplaying game. You play protagonists like cyber-tweaked couriers, hard-nosed investigators, and drugged-out hackers making opportunities for themselves in a despairing world. Using a rules-light system with enough intricacies to spark new fires of hardboiled crime novels and cyberpunk science fiction, Technoir lets you coax, hack, fight, prowl, and shoot your way through a dark future. It features Transmissions—city guides brimming with plot nodes to inspire your high-tech adventures—that the GM uses to create tangled and compelling plot webs that expand and evolve as the players’ characters engage it.

This game funded at way over the goal and looks very interesting .

I sat in on a session of  Technoir in order to get a feel for the resolution and mechanics, I liked what I saw of this. The system is built for a narrative style of gameplay the RPGs have trended to lately. I like the simple dice pool mechanic the game uses for action resolution. It seems to be one of those systems which is complex at first but then rolls very quickly once you get the hang of it. In the below video Jeremy explains the basics or action resolution.

I really want to see more games going to the narrative style where the dice roll resolves the action, but the player comes up with the explanation of what actually happened. This makes the GM’s role that of filling in the blanks and moves the gaming experience much closer to the collaborative storytelling that tabletop RPGs have as their potential.

I picked up a copy of Matt Alt’s Yokai Attack! book recently, Folklore in general always interests me and since I picked up a copy of Reality Blur’s Iron Dynasty campaign setting to use for fantasy games set in old Japan with dark magic. Yokai Attack is an encyclopedia of monsters from Japanese superstition and tradition.

My favorite so far would be the neko-mata which are cats grown very old and which have gained paranormal powers. After a cat grows to a certain age its tail is said to split into two and the powers manifest. It is easy to imagine an random encounter for a group of adventurer’s in Iron Dynasty as meeting with a ferocious twin tailed cat who has the ability to raise and control the dead and has a taste for human flesh.

from the Wiki entry for bakeneko:

bakeneko (化け猫?, “monstercat“) is, in Japanese folklore, a cat with supernatural abilities akin to those of the fox or raccoon dog. A cat may become a bakeneko in a number of ways: it may reach a certain age, be kept for a certain number of years, grow to a certain size, or be allowed to keep a long tail. In the last case, the tail forks in two and the bakeneko is then called a nekomata (猫又?, or 猫股 “forked-cat”). This superstition may have some connection to the breeding of the Japanese Bobtail.

The connection between the folklore of the twin tailed monster cat and the Japanese bobtailed cats is one of those interesting crosses of superstition and reality.

Fish in the pond by Bryan - oz4caster
Fish in the pond, a photo by Bryan – oz4caster on Flickr.

Woke up to an absolutely beautiful morning and decided to run out to a local park to get some fishing in. I have been fishing since i was a lad and have never really lost the bug. the peace and solitude, just being on a pond casting your line in the water and watching the water. Its a wonderful thing, just a perfect marriage of nature and man.So calm and clear, of course I did not get a bite. It was more about relaxing in the moment than anything else.love this photo of a sunfish from Bryan on flickr.