It's been a busy month for me, as all Octobers are....work accelerates at an exponential rate for me around September and doesn't let up until mid December. In years past I have preloaded blog posts to simulate a presence, but over the last couple of years I just haven't got time for that sort of stuff anymore...
Anyway, here's a sort of truncated scoop of the last couple weeks:
Shadow of the Beanstalk
In case you hadn't heard, Fantasy Flight's first SF setting book based on the Android universe is being released soon. The link above takes you to the preview page, and it looks like a great setting, and an excellent choice for the system's first foray into non-Star Wars themed science fiction. I'm definitely looking forward to this.
Although I've had my reservations about the system after a campaign earlier this year, overall I enjoyed it a lot, and I am thinking carefully about the idea of running another campaign again soon. I may stick with fantasy for now, and then explore SF once the new sourcebook comes out. We'll see.....I've been debating that, or possible (finally) exploring Fantasy AGE in more depth.
The House With A Clock In It's Walls
We saw this movie at my son's behest two weeks ago and it was quite fun, more fun than I would have expected it to be. For a "kid's movie" it did not pull many punches, but still managed to be a creepy fun dark fantasy film with surprisingly tight pacing. I am still perplexed that I never knew of this series of books growing up, as it would have been right up my alley in the seventies.
Then we saw this one (also by request of my son, who is a big Spider Man and Venom fan) and guess what, it didn't suck like all the critics said it would. I went in expecting a trainwreck and came out genuinely enjoying the movie. It had some odd moments, but the actual pacing and style of the movie worked well for me, and the banter between Tom Hardy's Eddie Brock and Venom was a high point of the movie, well worth seeing. We'll be adding this movie to our permanent collection once it's out on blu-ray.
This is another example of a movie where you can see that the interests of critics do not always align well with the interest of the general audiences. Critics (especially on Youtube) have a habit of denigrating the general audience when they seem to like things that they "shouldn't," but maybe in this case the critics should take a moment to try and figure out why this film works so well for the non-critic crowd; it's sitting at 89% audience approval on Rotten Tomatoes, for example, vs. a 31% critic score. Many of the complaints I have read about this film now seem trite and petty having watched it....and I have no bones at all in this fight; I went in to Venom expecting to hate it!
Cypher System Combat with Low Levels vs. High Tiers
I was running my Cypher game Saturday when I realized I had put my party up against a foe which they essentially roflstomped, and I realized that as they are hitting tier 3 I need to pay more attention to how I design encounters to be challenging. It did demonstrate for me a slight problem....that lower level foes, against higher tier characters, can be viciously wiped out and the only cost of the combat to the PCs is time and maybe a few points out of the pool.
I need to read a bit more in the sundry Cypher books about encounter design, see if it offers some advice. One comment on a random post I read suggested that grouping lower level foes into higher level mobs (so take 20 level 3 orcs and make them one level 7 mob, for example) might be a good solution. It would definitely feel a bit epic.....but also provide a better challenge.
This is why I like Cypher....the game system is very flexible, but demands you think outside the box.
Chronicles of Future Earth Kickstarter
If you recall the Chronicles of Future Earth for Basic Roleplaying, this is the successor. I'd be tempted to back it for the reading value alone, but the new edition will be powered by FATE....a system which I ultimately learned to play a while back and even found intriguing, but realized that in the end it is not a good fit for my GM style (unlike Cypher, which very much does fit my GM style). Still, if you are liked me and loved that BRP book this is worth checking out.