Saturday, August 31, 2013

HBO is Making a "Westworld" Series

According to Variety, HBO has green-lighted a pilot for a series based on the Michael Crichton novel and 1973 film Westworld. The movie, starring Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, and James Brolin, was one of my favorites growing up. There was a not-so-good sequel, Futureworld, and a dismal failure TV series, "Beyond Westworld" that seemed to follow the plot from Futureworld.

I'm not sure if the basic concept ("malfunctioning robots kill guests at an amusement park") can sustain a whole series, but it's possible if they cleave instead to Crichton's broad theme ("technology is threatening" - pretty much the theme for every book and movie he ever did), it might work. According to the article, they've certainly got some proven talent behind the camera.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

More on The Sundering

There's a great interview over at io9.com with Erin M. Evans and Troy Denning, two of the authors whose books will be part of the Sundering series of novels. For those who don't know, the Sundering is Wizards of the Coast's big event to re-roll out the Forgotten Realms as the official setting of D&D Next (or whatever it ends up being called). Here's a few quotes, but the whole thing is well worth reading.
There’s huge things happening, nations going to war, gods changing the way they view their worshipers, or feeling like they’re going to be replaced. But the stories are about these people on the ground. 
Of course having written Waterdeep, Crucible, a lot of the stories I’ve written have involved gods acting as individuals and exploring their personality. So even when you’re writing on that grand scale, you have to bring them down to something that a person can understand. Just as when you’re writing Star Wars and you have to write an alien, you have to find something human in that alien for people to relate to.
It’s important to realize we’re doing two things. We’re telling a story on a grand scale of the world, and to get the idea of what’s happening on the grand scale, you have to read book one, two, three in order. Because what’s going on in the world directly affects the characters. But then the story is how the characters deal with what’s happening in the world.
I did read the first book in the series, and thought it was... okay. I should do a full-blown review sometime soon.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What Makes a Good Fantasy Movie?

Over at io9.com, Charlie Jane Anders asks "Why does live-action fantasy fail at the movies?" She then proceeds to give a few possible answers, including:

  • Terrible movies
  • Studio interference
  • Nobody's figured out how to do magic
  • Game of Thrones-mania hasn't hit movies yet
  • The dire influence of Joseph Campbell

As she herself points out, there have been some incredibly successful fantasy movies and movie series in recent years. Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, Harry Potter, and (ugh) Twilight all lead the pack. Against those 16 movies, she lists 17 box-office failures (including The Last Airbender and Eragon) and two mixed bags (Clash of the Titans and Percy Jackson).

However, I think she's asking the wrong question. To be honest, I'm not sure what amounts to a nearly 50-50 track record counts as "live action fantasy fails at the movies." I think the question is, "What makes a great fantasy movie?"

Here's a hint: it's exactly the same things that make a great science fiction movie, or superhero movie, or western, or horror film, or war movie, or drama, or romantic-comedy, or any other sort of movie you'd care to name:

  • A good script
  • Decent acting
  • A budget suitable to accommodate the first two points

And that's it! (The third bullet implicitly includes special effects.) I don't think there is any particular conspiracy among the movie studios to put out fantasy movies that don't hit all three of those points. There are enough awful science fiction movies, superhero movies, and romantic comedies that have exactly the same failings as the worst fantasy films.

Ms. Anders could have just stopped at her first point. A good movie is a good movie, regardless of genre, and there are no special rules that apply to fantasy movies that don't apply to other genres.

Many of the commenters in Ms. Anders' post make the point that the most successful fantasy films already have a built-in audience from fans of the books upon which they are based. Fair enough, but there are a ton of top-notch fantasy books and series that would make terrific books:

  • Elric 
  • Elfquest
  • Conan (if they do it more faithfully to the books)
  • Chronicles of Amber 
  • The Dying Earth (Rowan Atkinson as Cudgel the Clever!)
  • The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant 
  • Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser
  • Dragonriders of Pern
And from a gaming perspective, there's so much terrific Dragonlance material that would make excellent movie fodder that it's scary (yes, there was the one animated film, which I liked, but we're talking live action here). There's also a huge built-in audience for some Forgotten Realms movies using Drizzt and company. Why that's not being pursued rather than yet another generic D&D movie I will never know.

The point is that these movies don't need the studio to butt out. They don't need a "cool" visual for magic. They need a good script and decent actors and the confidence in the team for the studio to give them the budget they need to make it happen. If they can do it for superhero movies, it can certainly be done for fantasy movies. Just ask Peter Jackson.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Behold the new face of Batman

This just in... Ben Affleck will be playing Batman in the sequel to Man of Steel:


Yes, the Ben Affleck who did such a bang-up job in Daredevil, will now be playing an older Batman taking on Superman in the next movie. There's probably no middle ground on this one. It's either going to be great, or it's going to be a spectacular disaster.

Yes, I made sure to check the date of the story. It's not back-dated to April 1st.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

First they came for the saucy-sloganed panties...

Gen Con: The Best Four Days in Gaming! is dedicated to providing a harassment-free Event experience for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, or affiliation. We do not tolerate harassment of convention participants in any form. - GenCon No Harassment policy
No complaints here. Wait, is that
a whip in her hand?
No sooner do we hear a report of a victory against the PC Police in the Escapist Expo controversy, and now we have had an incident at GenCon, no less. (So much for the commenter in the previous post saying game conventions were mostly unaffected by this trend.)

In this case, it turns out that one of the vendors at GenCon, Belle & Blade, decided to add some women's panties to their usual stock of war movies. What do panties have to do with gaming? Beats the heck out of me, but then again vendors at conventions sell all sorts of things that to my mind have nothing to do with the theme of the convention itself. But sell them they did, and the panties bore slogans like "I could use a little sexual harassment" and "Get me drunk... and we'll see."

Charming.

According to the vendor, "the response to them was overwhelmingly favorable even at GenCon." Okay. Takes all kinds. Just because it's not my cup of mead doesn't mean that I get to ban it, right?

Wrong. Naturally, someone, in the interests of protecting womynhood disagreed, and complained to the GenCon staff. Certain corners of Twitter went berserk, and certain blogs decided to complain as well (even going so far as to call it "rapey"). The offending garments were moved to a position inside the booth, where they were not visible to casual traffic. Eventually, however, someone still complained, and the according to vendor, after what was apparently a civil conversation with the complainer...
"...after the gentleman and I had discussed everything, I again asked him which ones really bother him, and he pointed out the two I mentioned above.  I walked over, took both down and put them in a box.  I then said, I am not required to do so, but you made an adult presentation and even though I do not agree, I will respect you feelings and remove those two.  I believe we all must play nice." (from a private email, posted with permission)
Now, I am certainly not in favor of harassment, as I have stated clearly on previous occasions. No means no, and if you can't process that, you have no place being out and about in society, let alone in a fandom or gaming covention. Period.

Is she even wearing panties?
If so, do they have any slogans?
The question becomes, however, whether is it "harassment" or "advocating date rape" to sell women's clothing that implies sexual promiscuity on the part of the wearer? I would say it is not, because no one is forcing women to purchase or wear the slogans.

What this is, is another example of slut shaming by the forces of the feminist ultra-left. I remember a time when being a feminist meant being in favor of sex. You know, that whole "sexual revolution" of the 1960's? But now, sex has somehow been twisted into something bad, something that The Patriarchy inflicts on womyn to keep them oppressed. As Camille Paglia recently said in an interview at Salon.com:
"I am of course delighted that the fanatical puritan feminists of the anti-pornography crusade of the 1980s have been forced to eat dirt! Their arrogant success in pushing Playboy and Penthouse out of the convenience stores (a campaign where they allied with conservative Christian groups) evaporated when the Web went big in the ‘90s. ... Their shameless partisanship eventually doomed those Stalinist feminists, who were trampled by the pro-sex feminist stampede of the early ‘90s (in which I am proud to have played a vocal role). That insurgency began in San Francisco in the mid-‘80s and went national throughout the following decade. "
At least she is wearing a veil,
for the sake of modesty.
Alas, those puritan feminists have returned. Now we are to believe that it's "harassment" to sell something to a woman who wants to be flirty, or sexy, or even slutty. No one is forcing them to buy it, wear it, or agree with it. For those who don't want to, they certainly have the option not to. But that's not what this is about. This is about taking away the choice from women who do want to be flirty, or sexy, or, yes, slutty. Even at a gaming convention.

And because that choice bothers a certain Politically Correct segment of the population, they think no one else should make that choice, either. Ironic, isn't it, how today's "feminists" are now on the same side of the fence as the Pat Robertsons of the world?

The photos accompanying this article are from this year's GenCon, by the way. The very same place where this "incident" occurred.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

D&D Next playtest and production

It's been announced that the final open playtest packet for D&D Next is soon to be released into the wild. After that happens, they're taking the rest of the design process in-house (or semi-in-house, since they'll still have a large stable of playtesters, just not an open playtest).

If the goal is to have a GenCon 2014 release, and everything I've seen thusfar indicates that it is (also coincident with the 40th anniversary of the game), they're actually not leaving themselves a whole lot of time to make additional changes beyond the September open playtest packet.

In order to have physical books ready for mid-August 2014, they need to have the final version of the book - text, art, layout, everything - completely buttoned down by the end of May. That will barely give them enough time to have them printed and shipped to distributors.

Now, assuming that they will need a month or two to get all that nailed down, including the final editing of the text, they need to have the *content* of the text done by March. (That's consistent with the time-frame they were working under for the 4E Players Handbook, by the way.)

That gives them six months to do additional design work. I know they've got a lot of resources on this, but bear in mind that they are also working on the Forgotten Realms setting in parallel. The Sundering wraps up at GenCon as well. That's going to pull away resources that could have been working on the rules.

Based on that, giving themselves six months to finish what they are calling "...the repetitive grind of balancing out the math and finding and dispelling abusive combinations" seems reasonable. But that's not basic design work. That's polishing.

Based on these factors, I think that the version of the game we get in the next playtest packet is going to be pretty close to the finished product. They simply don't have the time to make any more major revisions. Of course, the last packet was still missing what many gamers would consider some key elements, like multi-classing. One can only assume that the last open playtest packet is going to cover those sorts of things so they can get a broad read on how they're received. If not, it means they're putting them in the "balancing out the math" category, and I'm not sure that's a great idea.

All that said, I think what we get in the next and final playtest packet is going to be pretty close to the finished product. Not in every jot and tittle, of course, and possibly not complete, but close.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Omni Reboot

Some of you may recall that I was an avid fan of the large-format, glossy science fiction/fact magazine Omni back in the 1980's. In fact, it was one of those things that tied the "geeky kids" together. I would go so far as to say that it colored my idea of what science fiction was for years to come. What came in its pages certainly colored what showed up in my science fiction games of the period.

Well, it turns out that someone has slogged through the nearly impossible tangle of legalities surrounding the original Omni and is trying to bring it back as a web-based venture called Omni Reboot.

They seem to be off to a good start, and the editor, Claire Evans, seems to have a good handle on capturing the "feel" of the old magazine. They're coming out of the gate with such things as an article on the failure of the Biosphere 2 project, the Hacker Ethos in the Renaissance, and a particularly well-received gallery of images from John Schoenherr from the original Dune novels.

On the whole, I'm very impressed with the Omni reboot and have added it to my regular list of things I read every day. If you were a fan of the original, or just interested in interesting science and science fictiony stuff, I'd encourage you to check it out.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A convention prudery counter-current

Over the course of the last week or so, the RPG Pundit has been examining the case of the anti-harassment policy at the upcoming Escapist Expo in North Carolina. It started with a typically understated post by the Pundit entitled Islamic Fundamentalists Versus the Geek Hobbies:
Because the Ada Initiative isn't about protecting women: its about believing that our hobby is a sick hobby, and a product of a society they despise, and wanting to tear it down.  They hate women who are unafraid of sexuality just as much as they hate men who dare to express an inclination to appreciating female beauty (and NO, we're not just talking about perverts who touch or inappropriately comment to women at cons; everyone agrees those need to be dealt with, but they're using that problem as an excuse to wage a Jihad against Sexuality in general!).  Their goal is to impose their puritan values on everyone else whether everyone else believes it or not.  And quite literally, Boris Vallejo or any (even potentially far milder) art of women showing any skin at all is now capable of getting you banned from Expo Con (not to mention if you ARE a woman who wants to show skin, or wants to talk freely and frankly about sex in a positive way), and soon from ANY con, if the Ada Initiative gets their way.
The Ada Initiative is a radical feminist organization that "supports women in open technology and culture through activities like producing codes of conduct and anti-harassment policies, advocating for gender diversity, teaching allies, and hosting conferences for women in open tech/culture." This is also the outfit that got Violet Blue kicked out of a conference because she was going to be talking about sex. So much for supporting women.

How very ironic that the very sort of repressive sexual mores the feminist Left started off by opposing in the 1960's are now the mores it is championing in the name of making the world safe for womyn. You want to talk about a "war on women?" It doesn't get much more warlike than shutting down positive expressions of female sexuality. Feminism used to mean that women should be able to dress the way they want to. Apparently nowadays, that only applies if the way they want to is the way the feminist leaders want them to.

But it is precisely those "codes of conduct and anti-harassment policies" that are at issue. Apparently the Escapist Expo used their model codes as the basis for their own code of conduct. And therein lay the problem.

Specifically at issue was language that stated:
"Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue, including talks. Conference participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference. ... Harassment is defined by the victim. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are required to comply immediately."
In other words, no "slave Leia" costumes, no Boris calendars, no chainmail bikinis at vendor booths; all things that are regular fare at conventions across the globe. But also no recourse if someone claims they're being "harassed" for whatever trivial reason might spark outrage. Literally anything... anything... could be deemed "harassment" and, according to the policy as written, there would be no appeal. Balloons are a "trigger" for you? Out they go. Period. Nazi imagery offensive? Out go the World War II wargames. Emotionally scarred by losing a heated OSR vs. 4E argument on RPG.net? Out goes Labyrinth Lord. And anyone wanting to sell or run Lamentations of the Flame Princess might just as well not even show up.

And that was the whole point. To get people to self-censor. To get people so paranoid about what could possibly offend someone else, or be considered harassment, that the whole thing would become an antiseptic, Politically Correct, asexualized, bunch of mush. And as the Pundit pointed out in a later post, that's no exaggeration:
...the only "room for discretion" would be if you actually turned around and said "we're going to arbitrarily decide which people we believe", in DIRECT contradiction to the nature of your policy; and that again leads to a situation where you are judging the PERSON and not the ACT, and where you just decide that some people are more "worthy" of being allowed to make legitimate claims of harassment than others. 
Now, this is not to say that harassment - actual harassment - is a good or acceptable thing. Quite the opposite. No means no, and a smile is not an invitation to grope someone. If you lack the basic social interactive skills to process those simple facts, you should be removed from any convention, with prejudice.

But that's not what this policy was. This policy attempted to get rid of anything sexual. It was borne of people who hate sex, and hate themselves, and hate anyone who is happy with themselves and comfortable with sex.

Fortunately, the Expo relented, and altered the policy to replace the references to "sexuality" with "obscenity" (fine), and removed the reference to "victims define harassment" (absolutely necessary). Of course the Ada Initiative hasn't altered their standard forms at all, and I have no doubt that they will continue their campaign to make the world safe for people who are afraid of, or hate the idea of, sex and can't stand the fact that some people aren't and don't.

But there is another bright spot in this whole sorry mess.

In the past few years, there have been several "geek burlesque" acts showing up at various gaming, science fiction, and related conventions. Exactly the sort of venues that the Ada Initiative is trying to target. I think this is precisely the sort of healthy expression of sexuality that is needed to combat the pernicious ideology that somehow sex is bad, sexuality is something to be ashamed of, and any expression of, or even discussion of, sex is somehow anti-woman and to be avoided.

The blog Zero Fortitude recently showcased the geek burlesque act The Glitter Guild. In fact, The Glitter Guild is going to be at GenCon this weekend. There are several others making the rounds. There's Epic Win Burlesque, and D20 Burlesque, and doubtless others that I'm not aware of.

The point is that there are people out there who are fighting the neo-Puritans who want to make our gaming, science fiction, and other conventions "safe" from things that have been a part of human society since before there were humans. They know that sex can be fun, and flirtatious behavior is perfectly okay (as long as people know that a smile isn't an invitation to grope), and that being okay with your body is okay, and that having others enjoying seeing your body is okay, and that there's nothing wrong with actually having FUN!!

To my mind, that's the sort of thing that those of us who want to fight the neo-Puritans should be supporting. Rather than only being reactionary, and fighting against the Ada Initiatives'... initiatives... we should be supporting these sorts of healthy, fun, expressions of human sexuality and suggesting that the conventions we frequent book them as entertainment.

I'm all for the war against the neo-Puritans, whether they come from the Left or the Right, but I think we can't afford to ignore the "Positive Front" of that war. Let's show folks that sexuality and fun can absolutely be combined, and is absolutely okay... better than okay... for conventions.

Previously: Has Fandom become too prudish and unoriginal?
Follow-up: First they came for the saucy-sloganed panties...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Glorantha as a model fantasy setting

News from Glorantha.com:
The legendary game world of Glorantha has been transferred to Moon Design Publications. This world has spawned outstanding games for 40 years and is one of the best-known and best-loved places for games and gamers. The roleplaying games of RuneQuest, with over 50 outstanding supplements, and HeroQuest, as well as boardgames and a computer game, have entertained and challenged gamers for a generation. As of August 12th, 2013 Greg Stafford has transferred ownership, creative control and all related intellectual properties to Moon Design Publications.
(Much more at the link.)

I confess I was never much of a Runequest fan myself, although I'm familiar with the basics. Ditto for Glorantha itself. One thing I do like about it was the way they integrated different types of games and non-game products into the setting.

I particularly like the fact that it wasn't just a role-playing setting. There were straight-out hex-and-counter wargames like White Bear and Red Moon (later republished as Dragon Pass), as well as what would today be called a "domain management game" called King of Dragon Pass, made for computer in 1999 and later released as an iOS game. Plus there has been fiction (five books), a comic book series, and, of course, a myriad of role-playing adventures, setting books, and other supplements. And several lines of miniatures.

That, to my mind, is a model for the way a fantasy setting should be handled. Not just as a fantasy roleplaying setting, but a fantasy setting that can be used for a variety of different purposes.

Friday, August 9, 2013

What makes an interesting campaign map?

I've been going through various campaign worlds, and especially the cartography thereof, and noticed something rather striking. Strictly in terms of cartography, most of the most successful fantasy gaming worlds have what I would call "interesting" cartography. Specifically, large inland bodies of water that allow for aesthetically pleasing and varied contours in what would otherwise be large dull areas of solid terrain. For instance:


The Flanaess has the Azure Sea, the Sea of Gearnat, the Woolly Bay, and of course the Nyr Dyv. All bodies of water that extend well inland, breaking up the large stretches of land with large bodies of water with "interesting" contours. Lots of bays, inlets, etc.


Faerun has the Sea of Fallen Stars, the Shining Sea, and the Lake of Steam, all of which perform a similar function. They break up large land masses and provide lots of visual texture for the lands around them.


Krynn, although smaller, has its own New Sea that also breaks up what would otherwise be a fairly uninteresting large blob of land.


The Judge's Guild City-State campaign world is almost the inverse of this rule, as it is more centered on the water than the land, but ultimately the cartography serves the same function. The contours of the Barbarian Altanis and its surrounding lands just scream out for attention. We have the Trident Gulf and Sea of the Five Winds, and their associated waterways, to break up otherwise-boring land masses.

And of course...

Given the history of the Mediterranean in the history of the world, one wonders if we would have seen any of the cultures of the Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, etc. evolve if they had not had access to its waters (which, in everything up to modern times, was a quicker and cheaper way to travel long distances than overland, with certain exceptions). And if you look at it from a cartographic point of view, it certainly divides Europe from Africa with intriguing contours.

Contrast these examples, then, with something like this:


Masterful storyteller and linguist though he may have been, no one claims Tolkien was an inspired cartographer. Middle Earth is, plainly, dull in terms of its geography. If the Brown Lands had been a sea or large inland freshwater lake, connected perhaps to the Sea of Rhun to the east, I think the map would have a lot more verve.

Speaking purely on an aesthetic level, what do you think contributes to a fantasy world map being interesting?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Sundering

Well, it seems Wizards of the Coast is certainly ginning up the chatter about the new Forgotten Realms reboot, "The Sundering."

For those who don't know, it's their new initiative to reintroduce the Forgotten Realms as the default setting for D&D Next, undoing some or most of the damage that was done to the setting by the Spellplague and the Time of Troubles (third time's the charm!). They're certainly doing what they can to grab folks' attention:



ICv2 has a two-part interview with WotC's Head of Publishing and Licensing for Dungeons & Dragons Liz Schuh, and Laura Tommervik, Sr. Brand Manager for D&D. In it, they discuss the plans for the "transmedia gaming event."

The year-long event kicked off yesterday, with the release of the first of five novels that will support the story arc, The Companions by R.A. Salvatore. The series of novels will reach its conclusion next June with a novel by Ed Greenwood, and soon thereafter (at and around GenCon) we'll see the official launch of D&D Next and the Forgotten Realms setting. I confess I haven't read a FR novel in 15 years, but I ordered this one, just to see what they're doing, after all, I was a huge fan of the Realms for many years. I may or may not get the rest of the series.

There will also be a mobile game app, comic books, and miniatures, but the capstone of the thing seems to be a special sort of organized play that will actually incorporate how players across the world handle the adventures. They're short on specifics as to the methodology, but they've set up a website that allows players to tell WotC how a given adventure was handled. They'll then presumably aggregate the results, and the most common, most interesting, one that catches their eye, etc. will be incorporated into the canonical history of the Realms.

It's a neat idea, in its way, although I have my doubts as to the practicality of the methodology. Still, if it turns out the way they're planning, it should be interesting.

Also interesting is the fact that the adventures will be compatible with 3.5, 4E, and D&D Next (you get the crunchy game-bits from an online download). Does this mean they don't have confidence in D&D Next? I don't think so. I think it's an admission that they would not get as firm support for a playtest rules set as they would for a "real" rules set, so they're simply covering their bases and not trying to alienate any of their large groups of supporters. And throwing the 3.5 players a bone is an especially nice touch.

Of course, I'd love to see a 1E conversion in there as well, but you can't have everything.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Vikings Season Two Preview

Here's a teaser for Vikings season two on History Channel starting next year (caution: looks like spoilers):


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Stuff I'd like to see in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

In no particular order...

The Kree-Skrull War (An Avengers movie? Fantastic Four reboot?)

The invasion of the Dire Wraiths (it spilled into a lot of Marvel titles at the time, but could come with an added bonus: a ROM Space Knight movie!)

Genosha (X-Men 5, perhaps?)

The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill (seems a natural for the third Thor movie)

And, if they finally make some deal in the future that allows them to get all the various properties in one movie, it absolutely has to be...

Secret Wars (Avengers, Spider Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and more all in one place... nerdgasm!)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Well HERE'S something odd...

Most Greyhawk fans are well acquainted with Gary Gygax's pre-Greyhawk map, created for the Castles and Crusades Society shared campaign world (due in large part to Jon Peterson's masterful history of the early days of the role-playing game hobby, Playing at the World):


I myself have looked at this map dozens of times, charting similarities between it and what would eventually become the map of the Flanaess. But tonight, as I was looking at it to answer a specific question, my eyes lit on a particular label and I noticed something very odd indeed that I never really processed before. I've circled it in the above picture.

Why would that particular body of water be called the "Western Ocean" when it is on the eastern side of the continent?

Is it a simple mistake, or could it portend something more interesting? Common sense tells me it's probably the former, but the DM in me wants to make up some extravagant explanation.

RIP Michael Ansara

Actor Michael Ansara, known in fandom circles for his roles as the Klingon Kang in Star Trek, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek Voyager, the voice of Mr. Freeze in Batman the Animated Series, the Technomancer Elric from Babylon 5, Killer Kane in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and a host of other roles in film and television, died today at the age of 91.

He and his wonderful characterizations will be missed.

He was one of only a handful of actors to play the same role in multiple incarnations of Star Trek, and his haunting portrayal of the ill-fated, vengeance-seeking Mr. Freeze in the Batman animated series redefined the character from a goofy villain with a "cold shtick" to one with real pathos and motivation that has influenced how the character has been portrayed ever since.




Canonfire! Chronicles Debuts

Today the first issue of Canonfire! Chronicles, a companion electronic magazine to the Oerth Journal, made its debut. The first issue consists of three adventures set in the World of Greyhawk, a set of rumors, and an NPC, the Oracle of Joramy. The three adventures are definitely the meat of the work:

  • A Little Problem (levels 3-8, set in Geoff, D&D 3.5 rules)
  • The Wailing at White Creek (levels 2-3, set in Perrenland, D&D 3.5 rules)
  • Agrosco Adventum (levels 8-12, set in Amedian Penninsula, D&D 3.5 rules)

The three adventures are all stand-alone and do not form an interconnected campaign.

The relationship between Canonfire! Chronicles and the Oerth Journal seems to be intended as analogous to Dungeon and Dragon magazine. C!C is for adventures, while OJ is for more general information on Greyhawk.

While I haven't read through all of the articles in depth, the artwork ranges from serviceable to excellent, and the cartography is very good throughout. I do hope they branch out to support other versions of D&D and other game systems in the future. Definitely worth checking out for fans of the World of Greyhawk.