Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New Comics Wednesday: What I'm Getting This Week

Today's Wednesday and that's New Comic Book Day, and as always I'll be heading over to my local comic book shop with my daughter after I pick her up from pre-school.

Last week was a really heavy week for me - I picked up 11 titles, 10 of which are normal ones that I have on my pull-list, and I still have five of them to read. This week is a bit lighter - looks like I'll only be getting five:

  • Batman & Nightwing (since Robin is no longer in the picture, at least temporarily, the Batman and Robin title has gone to featuring a different cast-member of the Bat-family each month). If people aren't up-to-date on what's happened in Batman: Incorporated, I won't say any more for fear of spoilers, but at this point it's been long enough that you should really either catch up if you have any interest.
  • Dream Thief: A really dark, interesting comic about an anti-hero type who dons an aboriginal mask which gives him the abilities and memories of people who have been "wronged" so that he can exact revenge on their behalf. The interesting thing is that many of these "wronged" types aren't always good guys. He's channeled drug dealers and such. Not normally my kind of comic, but it's a short limited series and I think this is the last, or second-to-last, issue.
  • Justice League Dark: I've written about this comic before. This is a Trinity War tie-in.
  • Superman Unchained: By far the best Superman book I've read in the New 52, and that's saying something considering it's only on the second issue. Grant Morrison's initial run on Action was pretty good but then it started to get a bit odd for me. But Scott Snyder writing and Jim Lee on art is pure win for me, even if Lee's art is a bit "90's" in its style.
  • Trinity of Sin: Pandora: I'm reading this one mainly because it ties into Trinity War and I'm hoping that it's finally going to explain her role in the formation of the New 52 universe, but I'm still left thinking that it should've just been a limited series.

With that out of the way, a few other updates:

Joy with one of her home-made robots.
Check out that cool dress!
  • I didn't realize just how light posting had been recently. I got slammed at work and haven't really had time to do anything other than work and help take care of my little Superhero/Princess/Daughter. We had a ton of fun making some home-made robots with magnets and random tools and parts from the hardware store a couple of weeks ago. Here's a few pictures. 
  • I have however continued to play tabletop RPGs. I'll be posting the recap of my World of Samoth session from last Sunday as soon as I can, and also I've been playing in my Friday night Savage Worlds Cthulhu game. 
  • I've got a post on the horizon that delves into a bit more about why I like comics so much and also about how people who get caught up on saying "The hero sounds stupid" or "such-and-such comic book character is dumb..." but they haven't actually read the comics. 
  • Another thing that's been holding me back from posting is that I need to write a review on an OSR product I have, and I feel bad posting anything else until I just finish reading that one and posting the review.  
  • All-around Cool Cat Anthony, over at Once More Unto the Breach, posted about Grognardia last week. It's been interesting reading the comments. As I've mentioned before, Grognardia was directly responsible for me starting my own blog here at Daddy Rolled a 1, but head over and check out what people are saying now that some time has passed since all of the hubbub about the Dwimmermount Kickstarter and associated issues. 

More of our home-made robots
In the meantime, please drop a comment below - let me know you're still reading, and what your own thoughts are on comics (even if you don't read, you can say why you don't read them), any cool geeky project ideas you have for kids, what RPGs you're currently playing, and your thoughts on Grognardia.

Cheers!

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Listening: "Bohemia After Dark (Diamond D Remix)" by Cannonball Adderly
Drinking: Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA



Sunday, August 4, 2013

"Professional" Comic Book Reviews

A few weeks ago, I was asked by the fine folks over at ComicAttack.net to write some reviews for them, based primarily on the reviews I've been writing here for my New Comics Wednesday posts.

It also helps that the owner of ComicAttack.net is also the manager of my local comic book shop, Collector's Paradise, and I've gotten to know him and his staff fairly well over the past six months or so.

My reviews at ComicAttack are mainly going to focus on either #1 issues, independent comics, or "events," as they already have writers who are dedicated to the mainstream stuff like Batman, the Avengers, etc. So far, I've done two reviews for them. The first one is for the first four issues of Über, a World War II era comic about a scenario where, just a few days short of the end of the war in Europe, the Nazis are able to field some medically modified super-soldiers. These soldiers aren't enough to "save" the Third Reich - Germany and the areas it conquered during the war are in ruins - but they are enough to keep the war going to Hitler can get his revenge by causing as much destruction as possible. It's brutal war storytelling, and you should check out my review if you're into war comics, history, or "what if?" style scenarios. The second review I did was for the first half of this summer's big event from DC Comics - "Trinity War" - about how the three Justice Leagues (the main team, Justice League of America, and Justice League Dark) are manipulated by a mystery villain into fighting each other, presumably to keep them occupied to the villain can accomplish his true goal (which is yet to be revealed).

Later this week, they'll be publishing my third review, of all-ages comic Scratch9: Cat Tails, which is cool because my daughter, my wife, and I got to meet the writer and one of the artists at Collector's Paradise yesterday, and they kindly signed the first issue for my daughter.

Although I'll be doing reviews for ComicAttack.net, I'll still be writing my own reviews here on Wednesdays as well, and I'll try not to overlap the two. That may mean less of a focus here on Daddy Rolled a 1 on independent titles for the time being, and more of a focus on stuff from DC and Marvel. Since I've already established before that I'm a huge fan of DC's characters, that shouldn't be a problem. And, you can always follow my Twitter account, where I post short 140-character reviews of the titles I pick up each week and post links to the reviews I do at  ComicAttack, so that you don't miss anything that might interest you.

Hanging: Home Office (laptop and iPad)
Listening: "Rooster" by Alice in Chains
Drinking: Newcastle Brown Ale

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Game Inspirations: Cthulhu, Pandora.com, and Google Images

We really liked this photo - it gives you a good overview of the
city and we liked the loneliness of the one guy sitting there.
Sean found this at Propnomicon.
I'm sure that's a bit of an odd blog post title, but hopefully it piqued your interest enough to come check out what I was talking about.

As readers of my blog know, I'm currently playing in a Call of Cthulhu campaign that's been running on-and-off for about seven years now. We started with the d20 Version, mainly because that was the rules set everyone was most familiar with at the time. However, we quickly discovered the d20 didn't really "work" for Cthulhu, mainly because we were just so used to playing overly-powerful characters in fantasy-based d20 games. It was very difficult to "get into character" in a Cthulhu game using d20. Power creep slowly kicked in as we kept modifying the rules to add in things from other d20 compatible source books to upgrade our characters.

Finally, a little more than a year ago, the guy running the game, my friend Sean, made the switch to Savage Worlds, and we've never looked back. The rules system seems to work perfectly for Cthulhu and a pulp-era 1920s Earth setting. As players, we've also matured a bit to realize that our first inclination to adversity shouldn't be "shoot first and ask questions later." Again, after decades of playing fantasy D&D where it's expected that you'll just pretty much have your characters kill anything or anyone that doesn't agree with them, it was a bit of adjustment for us to remember that in 1920s London, for example, gun shots on the street would be almost unheard of, and our characters would certainly be brought to justice for any killings they committed.

Our team of investigators consists of the following:

  • The uncurably curious Professor Jackson Mirande (played by Brian as a sort of Indiana Jones manner, but one who can't help trying to read every single mythos text our team comes across). One of my favorite things about Mirande is that he's good at languages and when Jeff Franz and I were updating his character from d20 to Savage Worlds (Brian wasn't there at the time), we ran out of languages to assign to him, so we wrote "Jive" on his character sheet and then just waited to see when Brian would notice.
  • Father Campion (played by Jeff Franz, a Catholic priest with a lot of secrets and an excellent hand-to-hand fighter who eschews guns). It's difficult to describe much about Campion because Jeff plays his very close to the vest (which I've noticed is somewhat common for him in his role-playing). It's clear that Campion knows a lot more about mythos-related activities than he's letting on, but so far he's not sharing anything.
  • Zack [Something - his last name escaped me right now], a Cajun-born Master of Fine Arts (it says this right on his character sheet) and current antiquities dealers from Louisiana, played by Jeff Ferguson. Zack is a fun, interesting character but unfortunately Jeff hasn't been able to attend too much of our more recent sessions, ostensibly turning Zack into an NPC much of the time. 
  • Detective Richard [Something - I also can't remember his last name] is a former police officer turned private investigator (played by Curtis) whose family was slaughtered by some cultists before our game began, so he has a bit of a grudge. Curtis unfortunately doesn't play with us very often, but we continue to utilize his character as an NPC that we've nick-named "Dick Dick" as a combination of his professional and first name. He's basically our muscle and also have some good investigative skills.
  • Julian (he doesn't have a last name), a man raised in a special "monastery" and trained specifically to fight things of the "unknown." This is my character. He was trained to fight things, but he doesn't actually know what he was training to fight, so he doesn't really have any extra information on mythos creatures or lore necessarily. He's been cloistered his whole life and only recently let out of the monastery to join the group of investigators, so he doesn't talk much, and doesn't always fit in. He's good with a gun, though. Recently he destroyed a bunch of mythos text that Mirande had appropriated earlier in the team's adventures just to keep them from falling into the wrong hands. 
 Recently our team of investigators, in the course of playing through the mammoth Masks of Nyarlothotep campaign, made our way to Cairo, circa 1925. And really this was the main point of my post. I've mentioned before that my buddy Sean has always impressed me with his skill at providing props for his Cthulhu games, but he really outdid himself this time. Based on where we had left off from the last session, we had decided as a group that we were going to Cairo, so Sean had ample time to prepare. And, prepare he did.

This photo is actually from 1898 of the Shepheard's Hotel.
Image © Tulipe Noir, via Flickr. Lots of good period
photos here for pulp adventure games in Egypt.

The session started off with a somewhat lengthy (in a good way) slide show that Sean put together utilizing old photographs from 1920s Cairo that he found online on Google Images. We were immediately transported into the time period, with overhead shots of the entire city, samples of period architecture, various shots of typical city streets, photos of both residents and tourists of the time, and even a photo of the actual hotel that our characters chose to procure rooms at. Obviously pictures are worth a thousand words, so being able to see exactly how the city looked back then was immeasurable in terms of helping us get into character and into the mood for playing. I have a life-long fascination with Egypt, dating back to the Tutankhamun exhibit that came to the U.S. back in the mid-1970s. However, I have to admit that I knew nothing about the layout of Cairo and its modern history. Sean's slideshow was perfect to help ground us in the time period. The images I've included here are only drop in the bucket of the number of period photos and Sean put into his slideshow. He must have had 30+ images, and all of them were relevant to our game and helped illustrate a point Sean was trying to make about what life was like at that time in Cairo, both both residents as well as tourists such as our characters.

A typical city-street scene near the Al-Azhar mosque
in Cairo, 1934. I can't actually find the copyright indicia
for this photo.
And, just to take things a step further, Sean grabbed a playlist on Pandora by finding a Middle Eastern music station, which he played softly in the background while the slides show was running and he was explaining the various pictures and maps to us. However, I think Sean must have done a lot of work to "fine-tune" the station before we met, because the music I'm finding on Pandora's Middle Eastern station is mostly modern. I think another choice for this kind of music would be to head over to Songza and try their Middle Eastern Instrumentals station.

This was the start of the session, which we ran through while the food was being delivered. By the time the slide show was over and the food arrived, we were all suitably in character and ready to explore a pulp-era version of Cairo. As I think about it, having this kind of material easily available online is a huge boon to any semi-modern games - the sepia-tone photographs just immediately transported us to the scene and were so much more effective than trying to do something similar with some crude line drawings for a fantasy-based, such as when I used the art supplement pack while running the group through S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.

Probably the only other thing Sean could have done would have been to order some Egyptian food for us for dinner, but I think for a Friday night, I'm more of a pizza and beer type of fellow.

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Listening: "Giant Steps" by John Coltrane
Drinking: Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA
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