Sunday, August 24, 2014

Howl O Scream Williamsburg 2014

This year Busch Gardens in Williamsburg has a new theme for Howl O Scream.  This theme is called Cursed and replaces the Darkside of the Gardens, which was the theme for the past 3 years if my memory serves.

I was not, you might recall, overly impressed with the Darkside theme.  The over-reliance on Scare Zones, which simply meant that the patrons could choose to walk through a monster filled area or walk around it made it very kid friendly.
I don't do kid friendly.
I don't dislike children and indeed I like a light-hearted Halloween experience very much.  A trip to an Autumn harvest festival with pumpkins and a hayride is a fun thing for me.  Before 6 PM the park is merely a festively decorated theme park with rides and souvenirs.
After 6 PM it becomes scary.  Or rather it threatens to do.  We shall see.  They use Terror-tories, which I assume to be rather like the Scare Zones of previous years.  They claim they have actors ready to jump out at you, and I hope they do.  I do so miss the year that the scare was everywhere and no place in the park was safe, not even the toilets.
Or maybe that was just me that happened to.

Here's a few pics downloaded from the website.  They provided nice desktop backgrounds this year.  That's quite new and a nice feature.  Only took them 10 years to get with the internet on that one.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Playing the Wizard

Whilst reading an old issue of The Strategic Review from 1976 (the TSR magazine that preceded Dragon) I came across an article that the late Gary Gygax wrote about magic in Dungeons & Dragons.  It was most enlightening and I discovered that far back in '76 Gary was thinking many of the things I have thought myself without realizing Gary thought them too.  Allow me to quote the piece:

      "The four cardinal types of magic are those systems which require long conjuration with much paraphernalia as an adjunct (as used by Shakespeare in MAC- BETH or as typically written about by Robert E. Howard in his “Conan” yarns), the relatively short spoken spell (as in Finnish mythology or as found in the superb fantasy of Jack Vance), ultra-powerful (if not always correct) magic (typical of deCamp & Pratt in their classic “Harold Shea” stories), and the generally weak and relatively ineffectual magic (as found in J.R.R. Tolkien’s work). Now the use of magic in the game was one of the most appealing aspects, and given the game system it was fairly obvious that its employment could not be on the complicated and time consuming plane, any more than it could be made as a rather weak and ineffectual adjunct to swordplay if magic-users were to become a class of player- character."-G. Gygax, The Strategic Review, Vol.2, Issue 2, April 1976.

Note the bit where he says that the magic in Tolkien is "generally weak and relatively ineffectual".  Harsh stuff.  Magic is a complex concept in both fiction and reality.  Yes, I said "reality".  Unlike a sword swipe or arrow hit (both of which can be problematic as well in gaming) we often don't know what to do with it.  As gamers we know we need magic, for it is a staple of fantasy, but how powerful should it be and how much of it should a player have are the problems we often face.  Again I quote Gary:

     "Magic is great. Magic is powerful. But it should be kept great and powerful in relation to its game environment." Ibid.
A wizard doing wizard shit
Now here's where my point begins to show itself.  Magic is a matter of scale.  In a superhero game wizards are like Marvel's Doctor Strange, characters of vast and vague powers on par with the superheroic greats.  Doctor Strange seemingly has no limits save those directed by the plot.  When he shows up as a guest in a comic he is often a powerful guide or deus ex machina while in his own title he must face all the trials and travails of any other hero.  An in-universe explanation is that in his own title he must face powerful dimension-ripping threats that only he can and thus his powers are taxed by the threat level.  The meta-logical reason is, of course, that a hero must always face conflict in order for the story to be interesting and thus he must face conflict that is a real threat else the story is of no interest.  The scale becomes an issue only when the hero, in this case Doctor Strange, must interact with other heroes in their own title, which is set up for their level of conflict.  Thus in a game with a variety of characters of different types, such as the classic Fighter, Cleric, Mage, Thief archetypes, the scale must allow for all characters to experience conflict and resolution more or less together.

Yet magic is great and powerful.  It is the "rules bender", but not breaker.  A sword is predictable, as is a mace, a bullet or a fall from a great height.  These physical items obey physical laws, but magic is the great exception to the rules.  Thus magic and its practitioners are themselves exceptional, but as it is a game there must be rules for magic as well.  Gary Gygax noted that the rules that scaled back magic users presented in Supplement 1: Greyhawk were done because he observed that wizard types were just too powerful.  It was all done in the name of balance (Gygax uses the term balance, but this is not the MMORPG balance that is so disgusting to me today).  Not a balance of outcomes, mind you, but for scale.
What you don't need is your wife coming home and finding a bunch of wizards in her kitchen doing wizard shit.
Playing the wizard can be a pain in the ass.  Some games (I'm looking at you 3rd edition DnD and Pathfinder and you, MMOs, don't think you aren't guilty too) have gone so far as to give EVERYBODY magic.  Well that's not good, dammit.  More and more super-special abilities means you have to increase the wizard's magical powers or do away with him altogether.  Sadly being a wizard is rather like being Sherlock Holmes in a war movie.  Holmes is a detective and that is where his skills and abilities shine.  If he is also a 23rd level ninja assassin then what is the point of having the rest of the group?  If everyone is a super detective what is the point of having a class devoted to it?  One of the truisms of MMOs, and of gaming in general, is that everybody fights.  Everybody fights because combat is the chief (and easiest) means of conflict and resolution.  Can you program a game full of puzzles?  Of course you can but once you know the solution to a puzzle it is no longer a conflict.  Hundreds (nay thousands) of monsters, however, are always a threat thus always a conflict to be resolved.  Since everybody fights the wizard must fight as well and he must be given the tools to do so.  It is not much fun to sit at your computer just buffing and healing your buddies (although some people seem to like it and specialize in it).  If everybody else is a ripping fun pirate you don't want to be a dockmaster.  Or maybe you do, I'm not judging.  On the tabletop the GM is expected to make a game where everyone can interact and have fun.  If the game itself keeps pushing more and more toward pure combat to solve all problems (now I am DEFINITELY looking at you 4th edition) the wizard must become just another combatant.  Thus the weak dagger and lack of armor become supplemented by magical force armors, blasting spells and no place for the subtler spells that divine information or warp reality in minor ways to the benefit of the team.

A result is that players start to look to classes with some magical abilities but much more combat prowess and just blast and chop their way through any problem they encounter and if that doesn't work they cast Bitch Until I Get My Way.  Let us not forget scale.  If you have wizards versus wizards you can see the scale must accommodate this concept.  Wizards versus warriors is a different scale entirely.  Ultimately you are part of a team and the team should succeed or fail together.  Trying to collect as many kills as the fighter is not your goal.  The combat-oriented members need to understand this as well.  At the highest levels the wizard types have some truly frightening abilities, but they need to be in scale.

But then what is that scale?
Look, if you will, at the Harry Potter series of novels and media derived from those novels.  Harry is a wizard in a "wizarding world" to use the accepted phrase.  In the wizarding world magic is used in place of technology both mundane and complex.  People don't listen to rock music, they listen to music that is more Ren Faire inspired.  Wizards and witches don't have electricity.  They use candles and lamps, but they do have clocks and doors with hinges.  J.K. Rowling has cleverly crafted a world that is inside our own but feels like it is stuck, more or less, in a medieval fantasy setting, yet existing side-by-side with the mundane, or muggle, world of buses, movies, and world conflict.  What is important to note, however, is that although magic is commonplace to the wizards and witches of the stories, it is still magic.  It still impresses and inspires wonder.  Not everyone has the same amount of skill or understanding of magic and it cannot solve every problem.  Hell, it can't even solve most problems.  That's the scale of Harry Potter.

The average RPG has to deal with the scale problem as well.  If your party is full of people that ROUTINELY SLAUGHTER THE SHIT OUT OF DRAGONS then the ability to summon and control a dragon is not that impressive.  Not at all.
If you have a list of purely mechanical spells that are just damage numbers delivered in a few different ways, then there is nothing magical about you at all.
If everyone else has abilities that are given spiffy names but are just debuffs, DOTs, and stuns, and really that is all your spells are, your game has a lack of scale.

You should never find yourself saying, "SIGH, I guess I'll play the wizard."  You should proudly say with a gleam in your eye, "Me?  Oh, I'm playing THE Wiiiizzaaarrrddd!"

When you cast even the simplest of spells the party should not be saying, "Ah, yeah, cast a minor cantrip there, didn't ya."  Nay, they should look on your simplest spells like they've just seen David Copperfield pull Criss Angel out of Miley Cyrus's twerking ass.
"How'd he do that?" they say.
Followed by, "No, why'd he do that?"
Because I can.  Because I command the forces of magic.  I'm a WIZARD, dammit!
For the imagination impaired
Ultimately Gary was wrong, really.  Gandalf's magic is not generally weak and relatively ineffectual at all.  He is a wizard in the truest sense of the word.  He is wise.  His wisdom is beyond the ken of mortals and his ways are subtle.  One does not just stand on a bridge and face down a balrog unless one is packing powers that man simply cannot conceive.  Don't think of it as a boasting old man, think of it as a man that knows the secret and true names of demons of the abyss (he should, they went to school together where Gandalf was voted most likely to be reincarnated from outside of space and time and the Balrog of Moria was voted biggest flirt) and was literally naming and invoking unseen powers too vast for human minds to contain in what LOOKED LIKE an old man boasting on a bridge.  And sometimes it is as subtle as knowing to say mellon to make a door open.  That is what it is supposed to mean to play the wizard.

That's what I want it to mean and in a perfect game, it would.

Adventures Of An Ersatz Aquaman

The time I played a Sea Ranger.
I love the ocean.  That should be obvious given how often I talk about pirates, sharks, Aquaman, or when I redecorate my page.  I love the sea and all that goes with it as much as I love Halloween, and that's saying something.  When AD&D 2nd edition released the Complete Ranger's Handbook in 1993 I was mostly unimpressed.  I didn't care much for rangers as a class and rarely played them, but upon finding the Sea Ranger kit I found myself excited about the prospect.  Clearly I had to play it.
So I made a character, picked the Sea Ranger kit and joined the game.
It was not, in retrospect, a judicious move on my part.
I was about to run smack into the Aquaman Problem.
What is the Aquaman Problem?
Well since you asked...
Aquaman is awesome. As a hero he has an amazing suite of powers that are really quite impressive. He doesn't just breathe underwater; he is adapted for life deep under the ocean surface. Every 33 feet of depth in the ocean is equivalent to a full atmosphere of pressure (sea level is 1 atmosphere). The pressure becomes crushing and in order to survive you must be tough. And he is. But it is more than that because he can quickly ascend and descend and move through it like it was air to a normal person. He is strong. On land, unencumbered by the pressures of the sea he is VERY STRONG, VERY TOUGH, and agile. True, he can only survive out of water for a short time (roughly an hour before negative effects begin but a quick dip cures it). A human can survive far, far less time underwater unaided. He commands sea life. He's a warrior king. He's awesome. The problem is that outside of his element, even though he is superior physically to most average heroes, he just isn't making full use of his abilities. Superman, by comparison, can just hold his breath and dive down into the sea and beat up the kraken. If you compare Aquaman to Superman he is not impressive. Of course he isn't. That's not the real problem though. The real problem is that the seas are his element and so his adventures need to be in and on the seas. Most supervillians hang out on the land. There are not many banks to rob, scientists to kidnap, or nations to rule beneath the waves. The result is that no matter how awesome Aquaman's powers and abilities, his element is just not very interesting to us. Thus Aquaman ends up on superteams, like the JLA, where he is seen as a 3rd stringer. If they have an adventure in the seas he's the expert, sure, but when Green Lantern makes glowing scuba gear for everyone (except Batman who has been just itching to pull out his BatScuba) and suddenly Aquaman is just another member of the team, not the mission leader like he should be. Back on land, while he is a formidible melee fighter most of his special abilities just don't come into play. Years of poorly written Superfriends episodes have left us with a low, comical opinion of Aquaman.  Which is just bullshit.
King of THE (definite article) Seas
Well that's what happens when you play a class tied to the sea in an RPG that is not, in and of itself, an aquatic campaign. See by the 1990s the 2nd edition was starting to drift toward bonuses, bonuses, bonuses as the baseline. The fighter might have been quite skilled in dealing out and taking damage but we, the players, wanted more and more special features, more abilities, more plusses. Thus the Complete Fighter's Handbook was released. As the first of the Complete series it provided minor bonuses and balancing hindrances to give the plain Joe Fighter more RPG punch. The success of that handbook meant more would follow and by the time of the Complete Ranger's Handbook things were getting a bit silly. Rangers were already specialized as a class, but the CRHB provided a list of completely unneccessary kits to give them more options. And bonuses. For the most part they sucked. Feral Ranger (Tarzan, Mowgli), Beastmaster (like the film), Justiciar (more fighter than ranger, which is bloody pointless) and more. One particular kit was the Greenwood ranger. More on that later. I was mostly unimpressed until I saw the Sea Ranger. I had toyed with the idea of making a Ranger that specialized in the sea instead of the forests sometime before the Handbook was released. It was purely a thought exercise until the kit made it official. The Sea Ranger had a number of neat special abilities and a few classic ranger abilities were removed. Where no note was made things stayed the same. Below is a short version of the Sea Ranger:

Sea Ranger Abilities:
Primary Terrain: Aquatic (which is expanded to include lakes, rivers, oceans, lakes, coastlines, beaches, small islands, and puddles but not swamps, which is odd)
Role: Sought out to be an expert in aquatic environments, but considered mild mannered on land, unsure of themselves, readily follow orders when not in environment. (Described in the text as professional sailors-clearly the authors had never met a real sailor; these are not mild mannered guys on land)
1. Sea Tracking-can use the tracking ability at sea.
2. Land Scent-Can smell the presence of land within 50 miles and has a 10% chance per level to ID it if he's ever been there before.
3. Sea Legs-good balance in situations such as a narrow beam or a rolling deck.  Takes no penalties to attack roll in THOSE SITUATIONS and gets a +2 to Dexterity checks and Saving Throws in THOSE SITUATIONS.
4. Aquatic Combat-No penalty to attack rolls when fighting in water, still must follow all other rules for Underwater Combat.
5. Parliament of Fishes-Starting at level 12, once per week, can call up some fish and ask them for a favor but must provide a gift or sacrifice.  Favors provided as examples included finding a treasure or asking about location of any nasty monsters.  Yep.
Using his amazing aquatic telepathy, AquaRanger summons dinner for his raccoon pal Toby.

1. Tracking-In non-aquatic terrain tracking chances are halved.
2. Move Silently/Hide In Shadows-Sea Ranger has neither ability.  They are replaced by Sea Legs and Aquatic Combat.

This is by no means the weirdest thing to come out of that book.  There is an option for a ranger to become a humanoid tree.  A damn tree.
This treeman grows bark skin, drinks water with his toes, photosynthesizes his food, can grow an extra limb (pun, but yes) and generally creeps people out. Oh, and has a pathological fear of fire, axes, and termites.
See?  I can't make this shit up.

Sadly he lasted one session then I junked him. Partly this was due to our tendency in those days to not stick with a single campaign or even characters within a campaign. Life's short, we thought, play everything. However in his one great adventure he did SFA. He was Aquaman hanging out on land. Being only level 1 he couldn't call up his fishy friends and even so we didn't do anything aquatic. You really have to make sure your DM wants to do an aquatic campaign, otherwise you end up never getting to use your special abilites. Even if you do they aren't that great. My DM at the time was more story oriented than detail oriented. He could come up with some memorable storylines and some crazy encounters but he was not one to hand out penalties and bonuses. What good is having the benefit of NOT suffering from penalties for fighting on a narrow beam or a rolling deck if the DM doesn't hand out the penalties in the first place? We just weren't getting into those sorts of games and if we did get near water, well chances are the players had to remind him to hand out the bonuses and penalties. As I said, story driven DM, not a number cruncher. Nothing wrong with that. The fault lies with me for picking the wrong kit. On top of that I had made the fatal mistake of preplanning my character's story instead of being ready to roll with the DM's game. DON'T DO THAT. I was tumbling chicken at Hardee's for 8 hours of the day and I got bored all the time. I created whole character backstories in my head back then to keep from losing my mind. It was only natural to advance that forward. So there I am playing this well-developed backstoried character with sealskin pants (to prevent water damage) and wrist claws made of Kraken claws (for fighting up close in the water) and ready for an aquatic adventure but I forgot to check what the game was going to be first. Yes, I was Aquaman in the adventure against the Sand Monsters of the Gobi! Mea culpa. So that was the short, tragic(ally boring) career of my Sea Ranger.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Critical Save Versus Corporate Influence

I like to think myself above certain corporate influence.  For example I watch commercials but I rarely remember what they are for.  I really don't much care.  I like what I like and for the most part I am just not the demographic for advertisers.

And then the Halloween season rolls around and I find myself unable to resist anything with seasonal packaging.

Which explains why I bought the item below at PetSmart yesterday.
It's for the dog.  That makes it okay.

Yes, those are dog biscuits.  I have a dog.  He likes biscuits.  (Okay, he likes cat shit too, but I'm justifying here) There is Halloween packaging.  Yes, I bought them.

But he can't have them yet.  Not until at least September.

Damn you, corporate devils!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Is Robin Hood a Ranger?

Lest you think the title of this post is a strange, out-of-left-field type of question, let me explain.  With the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook mere days away from release I find myself thinking of all the editions that have come before.  Each edition can be viewed as part of the larger history of a still developing game or as an entity unto itself.  How you choose to view it is up to you.  Some persons of my acquaintance have strong feelings, both positive and negative, about each edition, others less so.  In 1989 TSR released the 2nd edition of the AD&D game (AD&D 1st edition was released in 1978 and represented the first great split in the game that itself started in 1974 with 3 booklets in a box.  In my opinion the 1st edition AD&D was not much different from the OD&D of 1974.  It was still a fantasy game that took inspiration from a wide variety of sources, many of them what we would call science fiction (and even cosmic horror, yes, I'm talking H.P. here).  The 1989 2nd edition was, at least in terms of setting and tone, a great departure from that which had come before.  The Player's Handbook (PHB), and indeed the 2nd edition as a whole, was chiefly the design work of one David "Zeb" Cook.  Zeb's 2nd edition PHB had something that was absent from the 1st edition PHB, namely little blue boxes that helped explain things in the text.  Sometimes these were just notes to clarify the rules but at other times they were background information.  Looking at these blue box notes we can see that the 2nd edition shifted focus from the wide ranging fantasy ideas of the 70s' work and into a more historically-based fantasy tone.  (You, in the back, stop snickering)

If a player in the 1970s wanted to make a character the PHB assumed (inasmuch as an inanimate object can be imbued with an anthropomorphic behavior) that the player was already familiar with RPG, possibly also wargaming, and had an idea, likely gained from Tolkien, what a Ranger was.  Generally speaking.  A look at the abilities of the AD&D 1st edition Ranger shows us a character that is very much Strider (or Aragorn if you like) from LOTR.  A look at the OD&D Ranger (from Strategic Review) shows us the roots of the character.  It's Aragorn.  Bonuses against giants (into which group Trolls and even Orcs were placed), healing abilities, extra hit dice, required to travel alone (well not allowed to group with a bunch of other Rangers) for the most part.  This was the Middle Earth Ranger all over.

Keep in mind that this was in the days before anyone named Do'Urden decided to run around swinging scimitars and fucking up gaming for everyone.

In 1989, however, Zeb, et al, decided that new players would not, necessarily, have an extensive gaming and/or fantasy background.  To help the players choose and understand the classes available to them, and to keep those players into the new way of AD&D thinking (a way that removed the words "demon" and "devil" from the product due to some unfortunate press in the 80s) the PHB included inspiration notes for the classes that referenced historical or literary antecedents for the classes themselves.  The Ranger class read as follows:
     The ranger is a hunter and woodsman who lives not only by his sword, but also by his wits.
     Robin Hood, Orion, Jack the giant killer, and the huntresses of Diana are examples of rangers
     from history and legend.  The abilities of the ranger make him particularly good at tracking, 
     woodcraft, and spying.

There it is.  The PHB specifically refers to Robin Hood as a Ranger.  We all know Robin Hood, right?  He's that guy that split an arrow with another another arrow at an archery tournament and had a band of Merry Men wearing tights.  You know, that guy.  Green Arrow.
What else do we know about Robin Hood?  Robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.  Yep, that seems like a thief.  Only he did it by waylaying people in a forest so that doesn't really fit the urbane nature of the housebreaking, lock picking, hiding in the shadows to stab you in the back thief type.
I seem to remember his having an animal companion.  A bear I think.
Ooo-da-lolly, ooo-da-lolly, and so forth.
I might be wrong.

Ultimately this image of the 2nd edition Ranger, at PHB launch, was the idea of a woodsman-warrior.  Aragorn could still apply, but the idea was to make him more of a man of the forests in a pseudo-medieval sense.  To appreciate this we have to forget all that business about King Richard and Prince John and look at a Robin Hood from a much lower social class.  A forester, not a noble in hiding.  Ranger seems a good candidate for Robin Hood.
Admit it, you prefer the fox.  This is not Robin Hood.  I don't know what this is, but it is not Robin Hood.  Dances with Outlaws?  
Or it did.
3rd edition really changed the way we saw Rangers.  Arguably the change was a slow evolution that started with the 2nd edition's Complete Ranger's Handbook, a book that put forth many other types of Rangers, many of them more woodland protector than woodsman-warrior.  By the time of 3rd edition the Ranger was on his way to becoming the martial hippie of the D&D world.  3rd edition gave Rangers animal companions nearly from the start where before animals were possible followers a Ranger could gain at 10th level (along with fighters, other rangers, and similar character types).  Rangers had much more reliance on dexterity and archery became a line of improvement for them if they so desired (with the other being that heinous two-weapon fighting bollocks...thank you Drizzt...ass).  The key shift here is from the 1st and 2nd edition warrior who is at home in the forests, experienced in that dangerous and rugged terrain, to a character that is some sort of mystic mumbo-jumbo protector OF the forests.  Greenpeace but more effective with weapons.  Which is to say effective at all, really.
There is an actual feat for this in 3rd edition.  I shit thee not.
4th edition, I don't want to talk about 4th edition.  The obsession with Rangers shooting things, a very MMORPG concept no doubt linked to a simple misunderstanding by MMO developers involving the RANGE portion of RANGER, continued on and players were not having it any other way save for that duel weapon nonsense.  I don't know what to expect from 5th edition but I hope it is not the trend that started with 3rd and kept spiraling downwards.  A tracker, a survivor, a man at home in the forests who lives in defiance of the dangers there, always aware and a guide and protector of humanity in the wilds.  You know, like this guy:
That guy, up front...come on, you know who I'm talking about.
Yep, that's a Ranger.
And so, I think, was Robin Hood.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

But What About the Paladins?

The 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons will officially release on the 19th of August.  I have already pre-ordered my copy partly because I am damned curious about the full new release and partly because I entertain notions of actually playing.  I have downloaded and read through the free basic rules, 100 pages of pdf with no pictures but the essentials to play.  I was impressed enough with the basic rules to make the order.  One thing that the free rules do is point to the Player's Handbook as having more options and I want to see those options.  I have reason to believe there will be paladins.
I have reason to believe this because the Basic Rules mention paladins a few times (and bards as well) but only has the four basic classes of Fighter, Cleric, Rogue and Wizard.  I have every confidence the other favorites will be in the full PHB but what I do not have every confidence in is that they will not suck.

This is my major concern then: will the paladin suck this go round?

I've explained this before, I seem to recall.  Twice to be more accurate.  In the days before the horribly egalitarian method of play we see today, the post MMORPG method of play, paladin was one of those special classes that had entry requirements.  Yes, it is a pain when you don't roll well enough to get the requirements but that was what made those classes special.  These days not so much.  Of course once everybody can be everything everybody has to be on par with each other and play their role and the poor paladin gets left out in the cold.  Doesn't heal or turn as well as a cleric, doesn't fight as well as a fighter.  It's a sad hybrid if you take away the special qualities required to get the job.
Then of course there is the problem where players confuse a special ability with the "only thing a class can do".  That's a shame because the ability to put a hurting on evil, into which undead and demons fall, should not be the only thing a class can do.  However it happens, with the stat addiction fully in effect players foolishly think that if there is no bonus to something then that is something a class or character does poorly.  "Oh you don't even get a +1 unless we are fighting undead.  You should just let the real damage dealers handle it."
Which is total bullshit but that's people for you.  Now if you are getting negatives I can understand that attitude.
"I shall pick the lock!" Sir Hopeless said bravely.
"Let me handle that, plate-boy," said Skulky McShadow, the party thief.
That makes sense.
So I don't know if I should be foolishly optimistic that with the new streamlined rules I will again see the furious warrior paladin or be stuck with the less useful than a stick of spaghetti in feeding frenzy paladin.
I've got my fingers crossed for a return to the glory days.  I'll keep you posted.

Less of this:

And more of this:

Now.  Dammit.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ah Hell

Well I'm watching Hell On Wheels again.  I know, I swore if off last season because I felt the season finale was complete and utter bullshit.  I wasn't going to watch it.  I really wasn't.  Then the Chief (my father-in-law) talked me into giving it another go this season.  He was quite looking forward to it, you see.  So I DVRed last week's premiere and watched it.  I DVRed last night's episode and watched it today.
I guess I'm watching Hell On Wheels this season.
I'm big enough to admit when I have been a bit hasty.
This season's new baddie for Durant and Bohanon...provisional Wyoming governor and General Grant's bully boy, Governor Complete Bastard
This week's episode.  What can I say?  Preach, Cullen, preach.  That's my summation.
Anyway, where the hell else am I to get my fix for westerns and trains?
So far a promising season ahead for the only western about the building of the transcontinental railroad on television currently.

In other news...

I'm trying to fight it.  I really am.  I'm trying to keep my mind on Summer things so as not to rush into THE season too soon.  If the weather in Virginia would just comply instead of providing an August that seems like Autumn too much too soon, I think I can make it.  There's too much crossover.  My general love for all things spooky, the end of the Pirate Renaissance with the cancellation of Crossbones, and the presence of pumpkin scented candles showing up in stores are all conspiring to blur the lines.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Crossbones: It's not like I actually TOLD you so

I mentioned that the Pirate Renaissance was drawing to a close, but then I sounded hopeful for NBC's Crossbones, so you would be well within your rights to tell me that I didn't say specifically that Crossbones was not going to do well.  So I won't say, "Told you".  If we consider that great post linked above, however, well...I told you so.
According to my online sources Crossbones started strong with the target 18-49 demographic (how the hell is that a single demographic) with over 5 million viewers of its opening episode but dropped to less than 3 million shortly thereafter.  Oh shit.  Only 3 million people to see the commercials?  If Lifetime or FX used that metric they'd never have a damn show on the air.
Now who to blame for this?
Well I start by blaming NBC.  Friday night at 10 PM for a demographic that is traditionally out at that time, you know, 18 to 49 year olds.  Having dinner, going to sporting events and such.  Then we have to consider that it ran during the Summer.  It's still light out until after 8 PM during this time.  People are doing things.  That's why they have DVR.  They also preempted the July 4th episode.  You know, because people are out doing things.
When you put a show in that time slot you are basically cancelling it at launch.
So, yes, I blame the network.
The show was actually quite good.  I admit if it were on HBO, Showtime or STARZ it probably would have done better, but even then I have said before that the Pirate Renaissance is basically over.  It's back to the geeks and hardcore fans now.  Away you day sailors.  It ended on an appropriately dramatic note and I thought the story was well told.  Maybe it is better to have one good season instead of hitting that horrible third season nightmare slump.
And now a short emotional outburst:

Fuck you, you lackwitted bastards at NBC and the bloody demographic at which you pander you whores shilling product for a brainless consumer base.  You soulless, dickless turds who would not know quality if it came up and waved its naughty bits in your collective faces.  And a double fuck you to the jaded television viewing audience that can't appreciate story or character development, you who cannot handle even 3 minutes of exposition unless some naked hookers are fisting one another in the background for your sordid amusement.  Go back to watching your witch porn on WGN that has done more to harm the reputation of actual Wiccans and the victims of Salem than 300 years of inaccurate history ever could.  And finally fuck you to Johnny Depp for making pirates marketable and then ruining them all in one fell swishing Nancy Boy swoop.

Outburst ends.

So farewell and following seas to Crossbones and the Pirate Renaissance.  We'll see you again in an another 20 years when the cycle comes back around.