Monday, October 31, 2011

Favorite Movies I Like to Watch at Halloween

This list probably changes a little from year-to-year, but not much.  Halloween is a great to break out those old black and white movies and dig through the archives of Netflix and find something you haven't seen in a while.

Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price.  I love this movie.  It's based off of Richard Matheson's short novel, I Am Legend.  It is a standard read for me around this time and I am reading it right now.  I find new things each time I read it.  Not sure if that's because the book is so fantastic or I have a lousy memory.  Two other movies have been based on this book, Omega Man with Charlton Heston and more recently, I Am Legend with Will Smith.  Omega Man is bad.  The Will Smith version while good (Smith did a fantastic job) and it keeps the basic concept does not match the image of the book in my mind as I read.  Last Man on Earth hits all the right notes with me.  How can you not love a single man alone against a planet of vampires.  Although in the movie they look like very early versions of Night of the Living Dead zombies.

Speaking of Night of the Living Dead, yep that is on my list also.  How could it not be.  Living an hour away from where they filmed it and having a festival every Halloween to celebrate the movie it is a part of our celebration every year.  Actually Ivy and I plan to go to Evens City Graveyard this vacation, where they filmed the opening sequence of the movie.  The grand daddy of zombie movies is a lot of fun to watch.  Like the above movie you have them barricading themselves inside a house trying to keep the zombies out.  Although in the movie they kept calling them ghouls.  They were such newbs back then.

There are three giant classics of horror, Dracula, Frankenstein and Werewolf...four if you count the Mummy, five if you count the Creature from the Black Lagoon.  Those are all fantastic, but the one movie I grew up with that I think fits into is own special category is Plan 9 from Outer Space.  I absolutely love this movie.  The cheese is thick, the acting horrible, props laughable and the plot of the movie is ridiculous.  Combine it all to gether and I think you have one of the best movies for the Halloween season.  Of course if you like this movie please check out Ed Wood, a movie Tim Burton did on the director.  And to no surprise Johnny Depp is in it.

Another brilliant lead in for our next movie.  Nightmare Before Christmas.  This is Ivy's all-time favorite.  She likes to thank the Emos (or as she says the Emus) for keeping this movie's never ending paraphernalia around.  I am an anti-singing person for movies.  One reason why you never catch me at a Disney flick.  Something about singing cartoons makes me violent.  Anyway, the songs in this movie aren't that bad.  It's a cool concept that personifies the vision Burton's has been reproducing for years.  This is Ivy's all-time favorite so it has become one of mine.  It isn't Halloween at the Manor until she has the soundtrack cranked up in the kitchen as she makes skull shaped sugar cookies.

And here is a simple list of the many other Halloween movies we like.  Not a complete list just a few.
Halloween with a very young Jamie Lee Curtis.  Second was okay and then it went to crap after that.
Monster Squad.  Who knew the wolfman had nards.
Poltergeist.  This is a scarey movie even with all of its 80s special effects.
The Exorcist. There was something more frightening about those 70s flicks.
The Omen, there is a reason why there are so many remakes of these horror films.  And there is a reason why most of them are a complete waste of time.  Like this film, it had the right cast, feel and in the 70s they seemed to capture creepiness that in remakes comes out as derivative crap. 

And a question to anyone reading this.  I am looking for the title of a movie I saw a long ago.  The details I remember was dracula's skeleton was in a carnival sideshow.  Then someone took out the stake and flesh and eyes and all the gooey parts started to reform.  Any help would be appreciated.

Enjoy your Halloween everyone.  It is the funniest holiday of them all. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Master Pumpkin Carver

I posted a few pictures of Fantasy Pumpkins and the real pumpkin carving master, Noel, visited and provided an address to see more of his pumpkins.  Please go check them out.  They are incredible.  Thanks for sharing the information Noel.

The Real Fantasy Pumpkins site.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Missing Sleestak Sunday?

Enik has gone missing.  Any information you might have about his whereabouts would be helpful.  He is harmless, although engaging him in conversation can cause confusion and a fetish for crystals.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fantasy Pumpkins









Wednesday, October 19, 2011

After Game Discussion: Adventure Paths

I thought I would start a new series of blogs called, The After Game Discussion.  I realized how much good gaming stuff was discussed after the game.  This last week we discussed Adventure Paths or Adventure Series which ever you prefer.

At the beginning of the summer Rusty started a C&C campaign and he decided to use an adventure series for the foundation.  It was short lived.  I think about three sessions (real life took Rusty away for a few months).  He discussed how he thought running a canned series would be easier on him, but found out it wasn't.  He said that if the players didn't do certain things the entire adventure came to a halt.  That some of the things that needed to be done were no in the players best interest or even of interest.

Campaigns and character development are more sophisticated even with the stripped down rules of the basic systems.  GMs are creating elaborate worlds.  And because of this there are fewer pick up games.  In the early 80s I carried around a folder of characters in case I found a game, those days are gone.  Back then I didn't worry about my character other than the equipment he had and his level.  The GM would usually run a canned module and everyone was in.  No need to explain our motivation.  We would usually skip the long reading introductions and get right to the meat.  The only motivation needed at that time was there was a game and we were about to roll dice.

Today, I don't do pick up games anymore (unless at a con).  I like having a period of time to run my guy and see what what happens.  When I first make a character I have certain personality marks determined.  Maybe a short backstory.  Then I am ready to dive into some adventure and see what happens.  If the GM tells me ahead of time we will be playing a certain adventure series I will try to gear my guy to make that transition as easy as possible.  But even when I do this there a certain things that come up in an adventure series that if you do not do it comes to a halt.  And in the case the adventure series Rusty was running there were a couple of times when what the players needed to do was...well, a bit stupid.  After playing through the first of the adventure series I am positive they did not playtest it.

The whole point of getting the adventure series was to save time.  But after reading through the adventure Rusty said it would have taken almost as much time to go redo the parts than to have done his own thing.  I found this true of Pathfinder's King Maker adventure path.  Where it had a lot of great stuff to mine from, running it would have been difficult if you had players who liked to explore and were not playing within the limitations of the AP.  It is set up to be a sandbox and it is to a point, but should they party stray to far this way or that then they go into an area where everything is set for higher levels or there is nothing.

Those damn players, like myself, like freewill.  I want to go where I want when I want and let me suffer the consequences.  Don't restrict my movement because I failed to be interested in your village quest.  That's what they do in video games.  That stupid north gate won't open until you gather seven more hogs and deliver them to Herman the Half-Wit.  Once you gather the pigs the gate opens.  Adventure Paths/Series kind of do this also.

I guess what it boils down to for me is these canned adventure series don't save time for me unless I mine them for bits and pieces I can use during the running of my own world.  In this way I think it saves time, but trying to run it as is I've found to be frustrating.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Into the Horror of a Child's Scream

Session 4 ended with the players returning with the survivors of the village. The player told Sterling about what happened and he was very concerned about the shape-shifting leader fearing it could still be among the people.

I wanted to use the 5th session to RP some of the dynamics going on in the fort.  I wanted the first part to be a capsule situation.  Sterling, the leader of the fort, a paladin, had Grim question the refugees that came in because Grim had the sword that detects enemies.  After some interesting conversations, they spoke of being kept in pits and that some may still be alive in the pits that were south of the village.  The children were taken elsewhere.  The sword glowed when it encountered the leader of the village.  Many of the villagers were angry with him.  The village leader broke and shouted he was glad the others died.  He wished they all had died.  A group of the other villagers jumped him and he was killed.

After the the murderer was arrested and found guilty, the players returned to the village to find survivors.  They found the pits to the south of the village and out of nearly three dozen people four more were saved.  Still no children were found.  One of the survivors said which direction they were taken. 

The players approached a large cave in the hillside.  As the got closer they path was lined with gruesome standards and black vein like stands ran through the ground.  And singing.  As the players neared the cave they could no see within even with their infravision.  After a few safety precautions the players went inside the cave and came out  next to a deep crevasse.  As they descended the singing became louder and more discorded.  When the players were able to see they saw the children set in small niches within the wall of the crevasse screaming.

End of session 5.

There was little to no combat in this session.  The only thing the players fought were a few stirges while they camped.  Damn big bugs.  This session was about establishing the dynamics of the fort.  A lot of RPing went on and this always helps me a the DM develop plot hooks down the line.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Session 4 and Breaking off the DM Rust

This post is a week late.  I decided to take a break from the blog for a week.  Just a break.  Some things going on in the blogosphere pissed me off a bit so I gave it a rest.  Played some Rage on the 360.  Very cool game.  And now back to my regularly scheduled program.

My group finished its four session last Monday Night (I'll do one of last night later) and like always we had a good time, but I think it was the first time that I didn't feel like I was struggling.  I haven't DMed in many years and I can feel the rust.  The good thing is I developed a campaign land I really like, a hex crawl, sandbox with a "it's us against the world" feel.  I definitely have the players.  The three I have make a diverse and interesting group.

The session before I had the adventure planned out.  I didn't have time to get the maps done which would have definitely helped.  I made due with generic maps and the drawing feature on FG2.  The basic set up was the village the players were going to save was already captured by the hobgoblins.  There would be an encounter outside the village with a group of axe beaks.  The hobgoblins trained the axe beaks to act like guard dogs.  Then BAM!  The players are hit with a sleep spell.  It works both ways and there is no save either way.

When the players awaken, they are separated and shackled.  The hobgoblins kept them alive to participate in their blood games.  Grim was thrown in with a group of women.  The hobgoblins didn't think much of the tiny halfling.  I won't go into the details of the fights.  The main setup was the leader disguised himself as one of the party members, Dickson, an NPC.  Boog ended up killing Dickson by mistake.

In the end all the hobgoblins lept into the pit arena falling to their knees and chanting.  The blood from the kills revealed an ancient symbol of the God of the Dead.  The hobgoblins poured oil into the pits where they kept the prisoners and burned them alive.  The players saved as many as they could.  Boog still furious about killing his friend grabbed the oil kegs and broke them into the arena pit and set the praying hobgoblins aflame.

Battered, burned and horrified, the players journeyed back to the fort with 26 survivors out of 130 members of the village.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Redesigning an Adventure, Part 2

Last month I wrote a blog about redesigning an adventure because my players needed to enter and leave the goblin caves a few times.  As a DM I needed to take a look at the situation from the goblin POV.  Here is some of the background.  The earthquake that slid part of the mountain into the pass trapping the players in the Dark Lands, also destroyed much of the goblin tunnels and killed hundreds of them.  The goblin chief saw this as a sign the goblin god was angry with him. 

Being impulsive and superstitious the ran to the goblin shaman to ask how he could appease their god.  The shaman said the only way was for the chief to sacrifice his only remaining son.  Of course the shaman saw this as an opportunity for his own son to take control of the tribe.  The chief did as he was told and sacrificed his son.  To the chief's surprise and the shaman's horror something happened.  From the open cavity of the sacrifice a Goblin Lord arose.

*The Goblin Lord I used is heavily influenced by the one in JB's B/X Companion. 

So this event, this desperate act not only changed the features of the goblin cave, but has effected the surrounding area.  Although the Goblin Lord is an unknown factor, the players still recognize he is a force to be respected and treated with care. 

So with a little imaginary role-play in my head.  The assistance of an excellent old school product I came up with something I really liked and it evolved organically with the situation. 

I look forward to tonight's game.  I have a little gonzo planned.  Muhahaha.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fear the Stak Attack