Archive for November, 2012

D&D & sex: the morning after

, | Features

When D&D Fourth Edition was released, there was a huge backlash from the player community. The game that they had known and played for years had been changed completely, and there was no denying that it shared a lot mechanically with modern video games. In an attempt to gain new players, Wizards had alienated a portion of their player base; never a good idea in the niche hobby market. Paizo Publishing – a former partner of WotC – even went so far as to continue adding rules and modules for D&D 3.5 under the name Pathfinder, and it’s still one of the most popular RPGs being played today.

But as I went to bed that night, so very alone, I couldn’t help but think that D&D Next might bring a lot of those die-hard 3.5ers back into the fold while keeping their 4th edition audience as well. Is WotC having their cake and eating it too?

After the jump, more food metaphors Continue reading →

D&D & sex: leader of the pack

, | Features

With the intro fight thugs dead, James got the pre-written adventure provided by Wizards of the Coast into full swing. The mayor told us how his town had been harassed by a Medusa and her loyal band of kobolds, but it had recently stopped (which was great!). Unfortunately, it had been replaced by a evil cult who had been uniting all types of baddies in a uneasy alliance with the goal of destroying the town outright (which was not great!). They also want to bring doom to the world because blah blah evil cult blah.

The point being: we had to stop them. With murder.

After the jump, how it went down Continue reading →

D&D & sex: thuggish advances

, | Features

“Roll initiative?” Vegas asked. “But we aren’t even fighting!”

“Yes, you are,” James corrected him. “You’re all in a tavern having a drink when a group of thugs bust down the door. ‘Give us all your gold,’ they sneer.”

James is big into voices. One time we played a game online through Google Hangout, which allows you to put silly effects on yourself that sync up to your face on your webcam. He also downloaded a program that alters the pitch of his voice. For every NPC we encountered, he put on a virtual mask he had drawn and used a different voice. It was both really cool and incredibly surreal.

“I draw my sword!” Vegas exclaimed. “Let’s fight!”

After the jump, fighting! Continue reading →

The best thing you’ll see all week: The Dead Outside

, | Movie reviews

As boys continue to make zombie movies, the female characters will continue to be boy fantasies. Danai Gurira’s character in Walking Dead, Michonne, consists mostly of tight pants and a samurai sword. Even Laurie Holden as Andrea confesses that she loves the thrill of the kill, which we already knew from how quickly she plunges knives into zombies. The most recent [Rec] movie exists only to show a woman in a wedding dress taking a chainsaw to a zombie, even if it’s a bit more than the actress can handle. In the Canadian thriller The Day, Ashley Bell (one of two reasons to see The Last Exorcism*) plays one of the most bad-ass zombie killing chicks you’ll see in any zombie movie with or without zombies, and she makes it worthwhile sticking around for the final scene. Michonne wishes she was that bad-ass.

But what kind of bad-ass zombie killing chick do you get when a woman makes an arthouse zombie movie? The answer to that is April in the very Scottish horror movie The Dead Outside, directed by Kerry Anne Mullaney. April is a closed book behind her needlepoint, her porcelain figures, her hunting rifles, and her steely blue eyes. This last character trait is the exclusive and invaluable contribution of Sandra Louise Douglas, an actress with only this film to her credits. She plays April with a raw unfocused anger and she does a remarkable job revealing something else as the movie progresses.

You have to watch The Dead Outside closely and you have to listen carefully. If the quiet sound mix isn’t bad enough, the Scottish accents can make the dialogue impenetrable to American ears. The cinematography is deliberately dreary. A nighttime scene is, sure enough, shot at night. And it’s slow because it’s about the relationship between the characters rather than April’s prowess with firearms. But if you want a new take on chicks killing zombies, The Dead Outside reveals that a tight outfit can’t hold a candle to the fire in Douglas’ fierce bright eyes.

The Dead Outside is available on Netflix instant watch.

* The other is Caleb Landry Jones who, as far I know, has never killed a zombie.

D&D & sex: creation & relations

, | Features

“I’ve never played D&D with a girl before,” James confessed when I first told him that Audrey would be joining us. “I don’t want her to feel uncomfortable or anything; it can get kind of juvenile.”

“Are you talking about that one time you farted?” I asked. “You apologized like twenty times.”

“I, uh, well, we do other guy things.”

“You mean when Alex and I talk about UFC? You always tell us to be quiet and focus. One time you threw pretzels at us.”

“Yeah, well, good. Who wants to hear about dudes just laying on each other?”

“Listen,” I said, plopping a bag of dice on the table. “It shouldn’t be an issue at all. She owns a 360 and has a Live account. She even asked me if I play Call of Duty.”


“Yeah, I know, but still. It doesn’t sound like she’ll be the judging type.”

“Fine. But she better bring snacks.”

After the jump, oh she brought snacks Continue reading →

War in the East: weird twilight

, | Game diaries

It was often said in the Stalingrad pocket that it was better to have a cousin in the Luftwaffe than a Father in Heaven.

–Heinz Schroter

Seventy years ago this month, in a place between the Don and Volga Rivers, the Soviet Red Army broke through the front lines of the Germans and their Italian, Rumanian, and Hungarian allies. The 250,000 men of the Sixth Army were encircled, and over the course of the next ten weeks, starved, defeated, and destroyed. Few of its survivors saw their homes again.

Some years later, people with overactive imaginations and a lot of time on their hands invented a way to recreate these events using cardboard squares with numbers on them, paper maps covered in hexagons, and some six-sided dice. Want to drive a make-believe German tank over your dining room table? At one point in time, you could walk into many Toys R Us in the United States and buy a boardgame with a panzer and some German landsers on the cover, or Hitlerian code name for a title, like “Wacht Am Rhein”. Right down the aisle from Raggedy Ann and Andy. Now we download complete games about the war on the Eastern Front from the Internet and leave the stuffed dolls by themselves.

After the jump, we’re doing the War in the East thing again Continue reading →

QatQi throws Scrabble into a dungeon

, | Game reviews

Scrabble, like football and dealing with roommates, is all about controlling territory. Anyone can drop letters on a board to make a word. Bug! Nation! Crass! Veal! Expressly! But you’re not actually playing Scrabble until you’re watching the triple score squares as closely as you’re watching your tiles. QatQi, a new iPad game that understands the importance of the territory under the letters, takes worldplay to unexplored depths.

After the jump, yeah, it’s called QatQi and no, I have no idea what that means Continue reading →

D&D & sex: hero meets heroine

, | Features

I dig tabletop RPGs. More specifically, I dig the tabletop RPG: Dungeons and Dragons. Yeah. So? I like D&D. Don’t look at me that way. Unless you want a fight on your hands. Brah.

Honestly, most people are more curious than dismissive when I mention playing D&D. I always explain it as an interactive story that you tell with your friends, but with rules for combat. And when your friends are actors, or improv comedians, or writers, you can tell a pretty neat story.

Recently, Wizards of the Coast released their newest iteration of the rules (called D&D Next) for public playtesting. Over the years, countless Nerds have attempted to court Nerdesses while using this ever-evolving social game as a backdrop. Last weekend, I joined those hallowed ranks. Jealous? Cause you, uh, totally should be. Seriously though: I will fight you.

After the jump, an explanation Continue reading →

What you missed if you didn’t play Guild Wars 2 last weekend

, | Games

Last weekend, Guild Wars 2 tried something new with a one-time event that was variously spectacular, clever, and disastrous.

I have the utmost respect for how ArenaNet puts drama, action, and storytelling into its open worlds. But [last weekend’s] battles against the karka on Southsun Shoals were a misbegotten spectacle of epic misproportion. I was there for four hours on Sunday afternoon, and it was four of the worst hours I’ve spent in Guild Wars 2 thus far, because I knew what ArenaNet was trying to do. I could tell how it was supposed to go, and so I was keenly aware of how it wasn’t going.

Read about it in this week’s Guilded.

Mapping the extremes in online worlds and olden times

, | Features

I was walking around in a local bookstore this weekend. The kind that has a cat, and you pet the cat, and then browse for books, and then you think that there isn’t anything interesting here but you can always go back and pet the cat again. Except on the way back to the cat part, I got sidetracked and took a trip I wasn’t expecting. That’s the best kind of bookstore.

After the jump, taking a trip from Greece to Greyhawk Continue reading →

Qt3 Movie Podcast: Lincoln

, | Movie podcasts

Considering our differing opinions, the Lincoln podcast pits brother against brother against brother. Not since that movie where Daryl Hannah and another chick and some dude go to the Greek isles has there been such a spirited three-way. Then we start the 3×3 somewhere around the forty minute mark. This week’s topic is exceptional acts of cowardice, such as Dingus stealing Tom’s #1 pick.


Another year, another Call of Duty, another surprisingly good game

, | Game reviews

Although the campaign begins with Activision’s usual “hey, we’re going to get super edgy and we might offend you!” disclaimer, Black Ops II is an almost entirely harmless war story, except for a few grim burn victims. Okay, so a skyscraper collapses. But it’s free of any civilian massacres or conspicuously killed children. Pretty much everyone who gets killed deserves it.

After the jump, world conquest, undead mass transit, and bronze leagues Continue reading →