August 30, 2010

Star Wars =/= Science Fiction: My reasoning

Alright, this has come up in conversation recently, so I'm going to try to talk about this in a short, concise blog.  We'll see if that happens.

Now, excluding the series in question, think about the major themes and elements that make a story a Sci-fi versus a Fantasy.

uses technology of the possible future, based in the theories and dreams currently, to mold a plot where the dilemma is caused or possibly fixed by technology.  Many stories of the genre have themes involving humanity, society and moral ambiguity.  A great example of a Sci-Fi movie is Blade Runner.  For a literary example, let's go with Brave New World.

uses a world where forces beyond scientific explanation and many times is mastered by an innate intuition of how it interacts with the world.  These forces are used to explain phenomena in the world, as well as a major plot device for progressing the main character(s) goals.  Many stories of the genere have themes involving good versus evil, family inheritance, and an epic journey (either internal or external).  Both The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series are great examples of fantasy books turned into movies.

When it comes to themes and story progression, Star Wars has a lot more in common with the Harry Potter Series than it does with  Brave New World, Star Trek or even Firefly.  It follows the journey of a young man who has to come to terms with a great power within in, and how to rectify the evil brought to his home without him even pursuing an adventure.  He's inherited a gift from both his parents that he uses to see and change the universe around him.  He has to believe in it first to work, and then he has to use that power to defeat one of the greatest evils ever known.  I just described the stories of Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker in the vaguest terms.  They really do have a lot in common and should go get some tea together.

"Set in space" does not mean "Sci-fi".  "Aliens in space" do not mean "Sci-fi".  There's a lot more to it than technobabble.  And I'm sorry, the addition of the force being "aliens in your blood" rather than just a mystical entity does not change the fact that science is unnecessary to any Star Wars plot.

Now this is not to say that the worlds cannot blend or meld into one another.  Strange, inexplicable things can happen in many sci-fi stories.  Fantasy will utilize science from time to time, especially if it's in a modern setting.  Usually though, the way the plot focuses on and resolves the main conflict is the key to seeing what a story is when it comes to these two genres.

Talking about this with my friend Proptart, she classified it as a "Sci-fi Fantasy", wherein there are some sci-fi elements in the story (space travel and such) but the story itself is of the fantasy genre.  Although I would accept this classification, I would prefer to go the extra step and call it a "Space Fantasy"--a fantasy story told in a galatic setting.

I doubt Blockbuster is going to rearrange their layout for that classification.

August 24, 2010

Mary-Sues? In my web comic?!?!

I have just stumbled upon a hilarious comic called Ensign Sue Must Die by Clare Moseley and Kevin Bolk.  It makes fun of the prolific use of Mary Sues in fanfiction on the internet.  Don't know what a Mary Sue is?  Well first look at the wiki article, and then go to and read a fair number of tales based on super popular franchises.  Mary Sue is a term first coined from a satirical Star Trek story, but they are ridiculously prevalent in a number of fandoms.  When I was in high school, the one was Pirates of the Caribbean.  I'm sure right now Avatar and the new Star Trek movie are being mercilessly ravaged with self-insertions of perfect characters who solve anything.

Oh don't think I'm being too judgmental.  I did it too.  I did it with the original series of Star Trek.  Her name was Amelia, she was McCoy's niece, Chekov's love interest, and a 17 year old Starfleet nurse who was raised on a ship by her captain father.  I at least had the forethought to not make her save the day all the time.  No, instead she was the reason the ship got in trouble.  In fact, if she did have a flaw it was that she ALWAYS was the reason things went to hell.  She should've been kicked off the Enterprise because she was a walking flight risk.

I feel ill just thinking about this horrible writing.

Anyway, this webcomic reminds me of the days when me and my friends would write self-insertions and pass them around and get all giddy about the cutesy parts.  Here's a sample of the hilarity.

Enjoy!  It's got a cute story arch and everything!  And it's now in a book.  Support making fun of Mary Sues everywhere and buy it!

I will when my new job gets sorted out.  That's right!  I have a new job!  *dances*

August 23, 2010

Recap, Session 3: Foes Small and Large

Let's just get to nitty-gritty, shall we?  And again, for anything pertaining to the world I have created:

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After ending last session divided, the PCs discussed not only how to conduct spells on each other (preferably not without permission), but what should they do to the meenlocks.  Starting last session with a common goal, they finally decided to destroy the meenlocks and make sure they did not come back to the dromites.  With stone shapes it took them two days to finally see where the meenlocks had finally ended up.  Escrow and Roto jumped in first, only to be paralyzed by the creatures.  Luckily, the rest of the group rallied and killed a good number of the foes, especially Bram with his psionic shredding crystals, causing the rest of them to run away.

Some investigation of the space revealed another room with a slain Dromite, which looked as though it was taking on some meenlock qualities.  The group followed the meenlock tracks for some time until the trail was completely lost.  Feeling that the threat to at least the dromites was gone, the PCs returned the next day to the Capital of the Cornwellian Kingdom.  Dreamatar brought with him some new dromite workers for his new plot of land, Roto wrote a report of his faith for Councilman Pullman (councilor of Religious Affairs) and Atreyu decided to pursue research on these creatures, in hopes of understanding them in case they came back.

In the middle of the day, Atreyu was told to assemble his team immediately to a disturbance that was happening in the royal  tombs.  As swiftly as possible everyone was found and ran over to the tomb to see 3 minotaurs running amok.  The PCs did some swift justice, killing two and saving one that had passed out.  And then the horrifying discovery: the tomb of the founding King of the land had been raided and left empty.  Atreyu immediately told the situation to Councilman Hughes, who told him he'd reconvine with the team possibly for witness statements later.  Questioning the lone Minotaur took a while, since Dreamatar decided to let out his anger on the beast with random blows.  Atreyu was finally able to get out that he and his brothers had been hired to merely make a ruckus.  All he could tell was that his employers were from the desert.  The day ended with research, questions, and some old fashioned government cover-up.


The PCs are slowly getting toward the meat and potatoes of the world, but they haven't discovered what a delicious buffet it is yet.  I'm excited to see where the investigating leads them.  

In other news, I don't know when the next session is going to be considering the first weekend of September is Labor day weekend.  Will there be game?  Who knows.

August 20, 2010

Gaming for a good cause

I may waste a lot of time playing video games, but I've never had the chance to do what Extra Lives does.

Right now they're doing a marathon of Sonic--the best and the worst of the series--to raise money for charity.  This time it's Charity Water, but they've given thousands of dollars to other good causes.  Extra Lives plays video games in hopes of making the world better.  Who would've though it possible?

Please give them a gander, and if you make a decent amount of dough, give something.  Hell, the boyfriend gave 20 cents.  Anything and everything helps.

Also, these guys will embarras themselves singing if they get more money.  It's hilarious, trust me.

August 19, 2010

Awesome Russian History Music Video

I know the title may confuse you, but don't worry:  the Tetris theme is involved.

August 16, 2010

Life Update

Hey Readers,

Although everything else in right is honestly great, my job life is sinking.  I don't want all you lovely, friendly strangers to worry, but this may affect posting.  Preferably for the better.  But I am going to pursue a couple of risky things right now.  I know I've said that before, but now I have nothing to lose.  I don't even have a career to leave behind!

Anyway, I am so still doing the D&D game, and I'm so still doing all my other nerd pursuits, and this may even help the 20 Sided Woman Project.  So wish me luck!

August 10, 2010

Left 4 Dead is a team game, people!

I've recently been getting my zombie-killing fix via the online games for Left 4 Dead 2 on Steam.  I love the game a lot, and I only play with my LAN group at most once a week (less since they're not always up for an undead apocalypse like I am) so I decided to try the online stuff.  Amazingly my wireless recently started kicking butt so I can play it in my room without hinderance.

Half the games I play are ridiculously fun.  If you get online at the right time you can be playing with some people who know the game and love it for the same reasons.  I'm totally in it for the team work as well as the shooting up zombies.  It's also a lot more fun for me since I suck at PvP games like Call of Duty.

The other half are full of selfish players with no thought of the team whatsoever.

I can understand wanting to be "that awesome dude" in a lot of other games.  Call of Duty and Counterstrike have been doing that for years.  There will always be games with that goal.  Left 4 Dead is NOT one of them.

The worst part is when it's the last scene of the map, you're at the crescendo when everything is rushing at you, and you're team is ready to go and that ONE JERK decides to fuck you all over and leave you behind.  The thing is in that game you cannot win alone in the entire level.  So essentially you used teamwork all this time and this one dude (or dudette) ditches you all to be the lone survivor, and then shoves it in your face.

I will say that this is easy to avoid if you get a bunch of people you know well enough online that actually play the game the way you want to play.  I'm slowly accumulating Steam names of people who I actually think are fun to play with, and over time it'll be easier.

But dammit, those ditchers piss me off!

On another note, if you'd like to join me on Steam for some zombie killing, my handle is of course d20sapphire.

August 9, 2010

Recap, Session 2: All together now

Hey all!  Even though I'm trying to do only the first and third weekend of the week for game, I decided to do the first weekend of August so that way we can get the schedule going.

And Dan Eastwood mentioned this, so I don't have to put an annoying IP announcement up!  This of course applies to the work I put into making the campaign:

When we last left Roto, Atreyu and Escrow they were in the midst of battle with a gang of men blocking the road with arbitrary tolls.  The PCs decided that kicking their asses into shape was the right step, and noticed one exhibiting powers that were not spells, but seemed to be magic. Unfortunately that one got away when the fight was over, along with another man.  They saved one of the fighters from death to get info, and then decided to let him free after they scared him enough.  The trudged along and found the base that Samsana had mentioned.  Two Yuan-ti battled them (one with snakes for arms), but fell.  Trying to question one proved fruitless, and so they killed him for being uncooperative.  The three searched the base, and discovered a secret room to a basement.  In this basement was a chest full of silver and copper that was guarded by a viper.  Escrow talked the viper away from the chest, and after splitting the spoils of war they found a couple letters that seemed to be en route.  Both shared interesting information, but was not sure as to whom each letter was intended.

Meanwhile, the King had hired two more adventures to the group.  Bram was a well adventured professional, a Maenad from their native island.  Dreamatar is a local teamster who has a plethora of useful contacts through his work.  The two had a formal dinner with King Franklin and his family, where they proved to be at least civil enough to work for the crown.

When Roto, Atreyu and Escrow returned they were introduced to their new team members and all awaited to here their next mission.  In the meantime, Dreamatar asked Escrow to use his very recent contacts to obtain a whore from the Jolly Hallow and buy her outright.  After Escrow was succesful in this endeavor, meeting a very strange but seemingly important figure at the Jolly Hallow, Dreamatar explained to the new hireling Jezabel what was and wasn't expected of her.

With that finished, the PCs embarked on their next mission in the northern part of the Cornwellian Kingdom, in the duchy of Garrison.  Immediately they were led through the snow covered plains to the underground domain of the Dromites, small ant-like people who have a hive structure in their subterranean home.  Recent expansions in their hive has caused some strange events to happen.  Workers and dromites living near the site have inexplicably become paralyzed with fear and had many paranoid delusions.  Three of the workers from the site were missing.  Dreamatar gathered some miners to continue some work (in hopes of evening the odds), and the party waited in the small rooms, knowing the incident would happen again.

Within a couple hours the miners were fearful and ran away from the site, and with a perfectly laid trap outside a suspicious hole, they caught one of the creatures and proceeded to shred it to bits.  Atreyu recognized it as a meenlock, and relayed what little information in his dungeoneering research he had discovered.  Quickly, Escrow stone shaped the small hole so the entire party could get through.   Dreamatar had a short, telepathic conversation with them and from that decided the best course of action was to fight.  While he, along with Atreyu and Bram, began to fight with the ones that did not disappear with simple Dimension Door spells, Escrow and Roto began to have thoughts of diplomacy.  Escrow merely walked away from battle, but Roto decided to cast Calm Emotions on the party in hopes of facilitating peaceful talks.  Melee ended quickly thereafter, with an argument following.  Should the meenlocks be killed outright, or are the dromites expanding into the rightful home of the meenlocks?  Roto and Escrow wish to talk things out, Atreyu and Bram wish to defend the dromites from hostile outsiders.


It was a crazy session this Saturday, with the group in full force and a lot of people anxious to show how awesome their characters were.  We'll see if they destroy the meenlocks outright or not.  Of course, that's not the only thing I have in store for them come next session... what?  I'm not that devious.

Most of the time.  

August 5, 2010

Great Gaming Tool Gone

A sad thing has occurred.  Google has announces that there will be no Google Wave at the end of this year.      Having used this for online RPGs, it is a fantastic tool, and I'm very sad to see it go.  But I can understand. It was popular for the first couple of months and then it just fizzled out.  Even though I admit that Wave is a superior tool for meetings and online collaboration, for some reason it just didn't catch on.  Maybe because it wasn't as easy as a chat room.  Maybe it'll be more useful to the market at a later date.  I can only speculate.

Google Wave, you will be missed in my nerd circles.

August 4, 2010

God of War Indie Movie

A friend of mine posted this video on facebook, and I decided to share it with you guys because it's pretty hilarious and intriguing at the same time.

I personally like it because it's actually an intriguing idea. But it's also funny, because of all the video games to make into an indie movie, that is not the first one to come to mine. You're more likely to think of something like Braid.

August 2, 2010

Recap, Session 1: Meeting (most of) the team

I have decided to post the recaps of my D&D sessions on the blog!  It encourages me to write on the blog a little more, about more than just video games (I'm always afraid this blog talks too much about video games) and it's also a great way to keep track about what happened in the campaign.  I find that as the DM you have to remember what happens in a campaign a lot, partially because your players won't remember the things they need to know later on.  At the same time, as a DM you want to keep some info to yourself before the PCs find it out.  Blabbing would be bad.  So recaps are my solution.


Feel like I have to post that just in case there are some thieves amongst you honest readers.  Sorry.

Roto, Atreyu, and Escrow (names maybe mispelled) first met each other on an overcast winter day in the Hughes Estate, home to Councilaman Fox Hughes, and his wife, Danancia.  Danacia actually greeted them, a strange sight with her violet hair and a halo over her head, along with being very pregnant.  She greeted the PCs since her husband was busy.  She explained that the Cornwellian Kingdom was concerned of reports of the Yuan-ti starting with organized attacks in the Unconquered Lands, south and west of the Cornwellian sovereign land Ashland.  They would be working for King Franklin Cornwell directly, and were told that the next night they would swear their allegiance with him.

The three decided to try out some of the not so prestigious faire and entertainment, so all three took a visit the the Jolly Hallow, an inn that is really a dirty brothel.  Escrow, a druid dwarf, decided to get information from some of the whores. Atreyu, a secretive half-elf, decided to enjoy the inn.  Cleric of a lesser known god Roto left early out of displeasure of the situation.  Roto and Escrow did join the Hughes for dinner, and only Roto spent the night in the Hughes guest house while Escrow and Atreyu spent the night at the Jolly Hallow, not participating in the obvious extracurriculars.

The next evening the three went to a small affair with King Franklin, his family, the councilman and their families.  All three swore to serve the Cornwellian Kingdom, and enjoyed the evening with great conversation and dancing.

Next day in the morning the PCs used one of the King's Teleport Mavericks to get to Ashland, and after meeting up with their contact in the Greeting's Inn, where they met Samsana, former Yuan-ti fighting partner with Danacia.  She said that she needed to be able to sneak by and see what's going on deeper in the Dangerous Range, where the Yuan-ti are now.  They have been attack her people and their tribes, and now the attacks are more organized than the ones years before.  The PCs were asked to distract the thugs on the road from Samsana sneaking past them, and then investigating a base not far off.  They decided to start the next morning.

Finally, the day of actual kicking butt began.  When they got to the road, Samsana stayed behind to let the PCs serve as the distraction.  And in the midst of a battle where animals were summoned and arrows were shot, things were not as they seemed.  Most seemed like local thugs, but one seemed to have powers that none of the party could recognize...

And then we realized the library was closing so we had to stop in the middle of battle.  Luckily I have graph paper recording how we left it.  The next session is next week, where we will hopefully have more people and be able to introduce more players to the game.  This is going to be an interesting campaign, and I'm pretty excited to see where it goes.  You readers will of course be hearing more about this.