Monday, February 23, 2009

Evil—Now for Girls

Ouija—what's the first thing that comes to mind?
Séances? Contacting the Dead? Contacting Spirits, evil or otherwise? A ridiculous concept? Completely Bunk?

Let's first look at the Facts, Ouija is a Registered Trademark, held by Parker Brothers since 1966. Parker Brothers is a Board Game Company. The Ouija name was invented in 1901 as a result of the Spiritualist Movement of the late 1800's through the roaring 20's. The Spiritualist movement is marked by a belief in God, and an ability to speak to the dead, through various and sundry ways. One way of contacting the dead is through the use of a Talking Board or Spirit Board—the most famous of which is the Ouija, though there are many others and imitators.

Scientists claim that the perceived effect of the board is caused by the sub-conscious of the participants.

Spiritualists claim that it is the Spirits (Good, Bad, Dead, or Otherwise) communicating and making contact with the living.

Penn & Teller—the bad boys of Magic—enjoy giving away the secrets of magic in hopes of encouraging Magicians to come up with new techniques and technologies. They have a television show in which they "aim to debunk what the hosts see as pseudoscientific ideas, supernatural beliefs, popular fads and misconceptions."

In an episode they took a look at the Ouija; they blindfolded the participants and after a couple questions, unbeknownst to the participants, rotated the Ouija 180°. The participants continued to move the planchette to empty parts of the board where they thought the Yes and the No were still located.

Spiritualists claim that the spirits use the eyes of those seeking contact, and that that is the reason such a thing would happen.

Then there are those that claim that they have had close encounters with evil when "playing" with this "game." George Noory of Coast to Coast AM has had numerous callers on Open Lines Friday call in to share their stories of close encounters with terror that involved the Ouija—and frankly, I think he's terrified of the things.

In fact, I'm recalling a time when I was looking at the games in the Toy department of the store where my mother worked (remember my long time obsession with games?). I asked her what Ouija was. She told me that she had never played, but that she had a friend that had played and had a scary, bad, experience (I'll forgo the details).

The object, a board with letters, numbers, yes, and no, is not inherently evil—nor is the heart shaped pointer. But there is no denying that the Ouija has a reputation of being a implementation of calling upon the dead and demons. The thing about evil is that it really doesn't matter how you invite it in, it's the fact that you are inviting it in the first place.

Well apparently Parker Brothers/Hasbro isn't selling enough generic possible experiences with "The Dark Side" so they are targeting their wicked little product to a more niche market—giddy girls. Along side Mystery Date, a "Boutique" Edition Monopoly (Decked out all in pink, in a small Caboodle style travel box), Disney Princess Dominoes, and a "Boutique" Edition of Life, and other equally girly things, on an endcap that screamed "Girls Look at Me, We're so pink you can hardly stand it," I saw a Evil "dressed in Pink Chiffon"—Ouija for girly girls. With suggested girly questions like: Who will call/text me next? Will I be a famous actor someday? Who wishes they could trade places with me? What is my best physical feature? and What movie actor/actress am I most like? (and 67 other suggested questions).

"Includes a cool carrying case! Take it to parties, Sleepovers, and More!"

Behold it—in all its pink "Glory!"

Scary isn't it?—Read the Back too.

Now just picture it, you're getting together with your occultist friends and you are supposed to bring the Ouija Board to the big ritual, but you've forgotten it. You run to the local Toys R Us and the only Ouija that they have is the Pink Girly Edition. How Embarrassing... How Embarrassing—not even the Demons, Daemons or Devils respect you enough to show up.

This whole concept is just wrong on so many levels.

Evil, available for so many years in a non-sexist form—now available in a Sexist Version, just for preteen girls! (I could go on all night like this folks)

One more observation. On the Box it states that this product is for those 8 and above. At least they want you to wait until the age of accountability before you delve into the the dark arts...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bringing Husbands and Wives Together.

I don't know about you, but when I got married I was introduced to a bunch of Classic Literature that I was never interested in: Jane Austen mostly, but all that Period Comedy of Manners stuff. My wife loves the Novels and the Movies. Admittedly the first few times she wanted me to watch these movies with her, I fell asleep. I just couldn't wrap my head around all the characters that politely refer to each other as Mr., Miss, and Mrs. and that old timey speech takes some getting used to. But now I've seen most of them enough, and I'm familiar enough with the stories that I've come to appreciate them. 

My Wife's Favorite of the bunch is Pride and Prejudice, She owns Four Versions and it is the de facto what to watch when she is sick movie. 

I've seen enough Pride and Prejudice at this point, to be very familiar with the story. I even have a favorite part.

But now there are some versions of Pride and Prejudice in Pre-production stages that will help other couples come together and watch these timeless classics in record time. It took Several years before I really understood what these Stories were all about, and someone has apparently seen fit to try and shorten the amount of time it takes for guys to appreciate these classic pieces of literature. 

This is from Movie Make Out.

prideprejudicezombiesAt first, I thought it was a joke when it was announced in January that Huffington Post columnist and producer/screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith was going to release a book based on British author Jane Austen’s often-filmed Pride and Prejudice to be called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Word is that the Hollywood studios are already in a bidding war over the movie rights.
But today, it was revealed that they are too late if they want to make the first P&P parody film of the Aughts.
For as Variety reported Monday evening, it is 1970s balladeer/rock star Elton John and his production studio Rocket Pictures who will start filming on Pride and Predator later this year. This one is a take on the book where an alien spaceship drops into the middle of the action and starts murdering all of the characters, with Will Clark directing; Clark, Andrew Kemble and John Pape with screenwriter credits, and Elton John providing music for the film… oh [No], is it going to be a musical, too?
Now, it has become even more ludicrous because in digging for the facts of this story, I’ve discovered that eight months prior, young adult author Michael Thomas Ford got a three-book deal with Ballantine, starting with Jane Bites Back, a novel about the author who is now a vampire dealing with a 200-year old writers’ block and frustration over the fact that people who aren’t named Jane Austen are making more money off of her work than she ever did.
If we hear next that either Grahame-Smith or Elton John has died of ex-sanguination via puncture wounds on the neck, I think we know who to blame, don’t we?
I Can't Wait.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Savage Worlds

I Really Really want to play a campaign in the Savage Worlds.

Those not in the know, Savage Worlds is a Role-playing game.
Not a video game Role Playing Game. I'm not really into Video RPG's.

No, it's a Pen and Paper RPG. Most people that have not played a Pen and Paper RPG are only familiar with one: Dungeons and Dragons. D&D has had a controversial past, and I won't get into it—except to say that it's pretty much exaggeration mixed with right out lies.

I was introduced to a podcast called Fear the Boot by a friend of mine. There were about 100 episodes at the time and I was so enthralled by the content that I eventually caught up. Now I'm completely behind—well only 20 or so episodes, but they were on hiatus for a while and that's the only reason I'm only 20 behind.

One of the individuals on the show LOVES a game called Savage Worlds. Part of the reason is the Motto of the Game: Fast Furious Fun. The Staple Pen and Paper RPG is D&D, it's the one almost everybody starts with, it's the Generic RPG if there is to be one. It's a high fantasy setting and the stereotypical RPG.—My understanding of Savage Worlds is that it is loosely based on the D20 system (the system that D&D was based on in it's previous iteration), but that they modified it to remove some of the "boring" parts of playing D&D. This is a very appealing Idea to me, D&D is great, a very fun game, but sometimes you are just beating your head against a wall, because you're waiting for other players to do their thing, and the Mechanics of the game are slowing it down.

Another thing appealing to the game is its price. To play D&D requires you to have a Player's Hand Book. I bought a used one for $15. I also purchased the 3.0 edition right when 3.5 was released. Helping to get the lower price. Normally the book is $35 (MSRP). Now someone in the Group has to act as the Dungeon Master (The Guy Telling the Story, Throwing Monsters at the Group, etc) He needs in addition to the Player's Handbook, a Game Master's Handbook and The Monster Manual. You can buy all three for just over $100 (MSRP).—The Savage Worlds only requires the Core Rulebook. It has all you need to play a game including the equivalent of the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual all in one convenient package, and all for $10.

One more thing that makes this game appealing is that it is a Generic Rule set, you can use the game to play any genre. High Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror, etc. It's all done with a sort of Pulp Fiction Flavor, but you can use it any way you please. D&D is High Fantasy and is based on the D20 Game Mechanism (well... 3.0/3.5 was) which was supposed to be applicable to any setting, but the conversion really didn't seem to be an easy one, with out a $20-40 rulebook designed with the setting you had in mind. (I tried writing up a Mr. Squishy Campaign and it didn't go far using just the Generic D20 Idea).

 I was so excited to read the Savage Worlds rules and play a game that I purchased the Core Rulebook some time ago, but it was about the same time that our gaming group stopped getting together regularly. So here I am, about a year later and I still haven't played a game.

I was reading some Savage Worlds Literature recently and was getting excited about it again, and I decided that I wanted to play a game, or sit in on a session before I tried introducing it to my own gaming group. Maybe start having an RPG game night on a regular basis again, and that's how I learned about the Metagame of the Savage Worlds.
I did a search for Savage Worlds Salt Lake City and I kept getting the same thing. A description of Salt Lake City in the Deadlands. The way I understand it, Savage Worlds is the Newly Developed, Generic, use-it-in-any-Genre version of  Deadlands: the Great Rail wars (A Deadlands game with a simplified rule system). 

So essentially the game was developed so you can use it for any and all settings. But if you want to, there is this whole Alternate History of the World setting that you can play in that starts with the Deadlands Game in what is known as the Weird West. The Weird West History is Identical to actual history up  July 3, 1863. When a group of Native Americans led by a Shaman performed a ritual in effort to rid the land of European settlers. This released into the world entities known as the "Reckoners." This is what makes the West Weird. It introduces Zombies and Ghosts and other Horror Elements into the Wild West. Where Deadlands is the Western meets Horror version of History; Hell on Earth is the, Reckoners succeeded in turning Earth into a Haunted Wasteland result. It's the Post Apocalyptic Future of the Deadlands. And then there is Lost Colony, placed even further in the Future. Just before the Apocalyptic Event colonists were able to travel to another planet, but then the apocalypse came and they were trapped. So Lost Colony is the Sci-Fi History of the Deadlands.

Here's what I kept coming across when I searched Salt Lake City Savage Worlds. 

"Life in the Weird West's never really easy, but some places are worse than others.
If you're fond of things like clean water, fresh air, and wide-open spaces, then the City o' Gloom's just about the worst place around. Sure, Salt Lake City's the only place in the west with electric lights and indoor plumbing, and it's the center of the most incredible scientific advances anywhere in the world, but progress always has its price." 

Which makes me want to play in this universe even more. They've even published Deadlands: Reloaded, which is the Original Deadlands setting written specifically for the current Savage Worlds rule set. But I still haven't found any games taking place in Salt Lake that I could Observe/Participate. If one of the GM's that I know would like to venture a stab at using the Savage Worlds for a campaign, I'm Game. 

One more thing I wanted to add. Previous to Savage Worlds the other Generic Roll Playing System that I was interested in was G.U.R.P.S.. G.U.R.P.S. has resources for any genre you could think of, but a) its rules make my head spin and b) it only uses d6's. One of the coolest things I found for Savage worlds is a conversion matrix from other roll playing systems (Chaosium, D20, AD&D, G.U.R.P.S., and Shadowrun specifically in this one document—but I have found documents for a Wide Range of other systems) G.U.R.P.S. alone has hundreds of resources in a multitude of genres. The fact that so many people are converting to this system is a testament to its usability and Fun Factor, in my opinion.

Interestingly Enough, Deadlands Has Been Published with it's original Classic Rules (1996–1999), Licensed to the G.U.R.P.S. system (2001), Supported under the D20 System (2001), and now Savage Worlds (2006–). 

You all know how much I like Dice, so a system that only uses the lowly d6 is just lacking in a bit of Flavor. 

Also, I still haven't played a D&D 4th Edition Campaign.

Also, I still want to finish our D&D "3.25" edition Campaign—I have a great character who's believed certain things his whole life, and all of that is unraveling, his world is in chaos, and he'd like to have some closure.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Gamer Almost as Far Back as I can Remember.

My Earliest Memory on File in my head is of Disneyland, I think. I distinctly Remember the 360° Theater (Circle Vision). I was standing next to a Stroller, my Stroller. There was a forest of legs and some Bars that people could hold onto. All I remember of the Film was countryside and sheep. I also remember a portion of the Main Street Electrical Parade: Specifically Elliot. I think this was the same vacation that I famously, or infamously, rode Berry Tales over and over and over and over and over and over ... again. That Dark Ride was AWESOME!!! I could go for a spin or two right now, seriously—too bad it's gone. Last time I was at Knott's it brought back memories just going on the lame ride that is in the same space (it uses the same track) and I rode that one a second time, just so I could think about Berry Tales the whole time...
That's not the memories I came to discuss however. 

The Girls got Candyland for Christmas and we finally got around to playing it. The first shock was the Pawns. They're not Flat anymore. And the Board is different, I couldn't remember the board I played with though—not until I did some Research at Board Game Geek. I had read somewhere recently that there had been a rule change in Candyland in 1994; but again, for the life of me I couldn't recall the difference.

So this got me to thinking about childhood games. I am unable to remember anything from when we lived in Ogden (I do remember living in Ogden, but that's for another time—I've digressed a lot already). I recall from living in Rexburg (4-8 years of age [possibly earlier depending on the travel itinerary]), Grandma's Playroom floor; so Checkers, Tic-Tac-Toe, Chinese Checkers and Hopscotch (a training excercise for Roman soldiers if Wikipedia is to be believed). It had Parcheesi as well, but no one knew how to play, or even what it was—it was just the part of the floor that had no purpose. I remember that she had a Chutes and Ladders game board, but we didn't play it for a long time because it was just a board, so "we" didn't know the rules and we didn't have Pawns or Dice, then one day we cannibalized Sorry and finally played Chutes and Ladders.
Hilariously enough I always wanted to play Sorry but the rules intimidated me (Reading them on my own at least—and I couldn't talk anyone into teaching me though I'm not sure I asked; I do remember just looking at the box longing to try it])

Then there was Monopoly, I wanted to play Monopoly for the longest time. It was one of those Adult games that I just knew I could handle. It didn't help that my parents had three copies (a wedding present fallout by my understanding) I don't remember the first time I finally talked someone into teaching me Monopoly, but for a long time It was a favorite—theoreticly. 

There were all kinds of "treasures" at Grandma's house. Stuff that belonged to Aunts and Uncles of which I wanted to be a part. There was the Atari of course: Pacman, Asteroids, Basketball, Combat, Breakout, Chopper Command (my favorite), Skiing, Spiderman, and That Space Game that Made no Sense to me whose name I cannot recall.

There was the Bumper Pool which, to this day, I still don't really understand. There was a Handheld electronic space game, and a football one as well.
And the whole reason I started writing this blog was this game that was in the Closet located in the Front Room. The really Cool closet, that housed an entrance to the Attic—not the only super cool hidden place at Grandma's House mind you. When we got Othello out (a classic and a favorite mind you) I saw that another game there Time and Time again, and I was dying to play it. And one day I finally asked if I could get it out and play it. I read the rules and tried to play it, I conned my cousins into joining in the fun and we had an afternoon of land development and litigation. 

I have been trying to remember the name of this game for a couple weeks now and it just wasn't coming to me. I could remember the Board, and the Parcels of developed land, and the excellent quality Cardboard buildings.

I have tracked down the name. None of my keyword searched were working, so I had to do a search on Board Game Geek 1970-1980 and page through until I saw the Box Art. I'd almost given up when I saw it, Prize Property. I had forgotten about the Gavel with the marbles in it. I think I recall liking the game, but not being able to convince anyone to ever play it with me again. All this "remembering" made me think that I really have been a Gamer for a long time.
I played Chess Over and Over and Over with my Dad until he was probably sick of it. We played Waterworks, Quicksand, Connect Four, Score Four, Tri-Ominoes, Super Mastermind, Go to the Head of the Class, Zaxxon the board Game (A thrift store find), Cloak & Dagger another thrift store find. See what I mean. I know people that haven't even heard of this many games, and I haven't even mentioned anything I've played post 80's.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

More Zombies!!! a Comin'

I know, I know.

I'm obsessed, but I just found out that Twilight Creations is  releasing two new products that I must have.

  • 15 new map tiles
  • 30 new event cards
  • Rules
  • New, universal "Dodge" rules for use with any Zombies!!! set 
Second: Bag of 100 GLOWING ZOMBIE DOGS—I don't think anymore needs to be said about that—it pretty much speaks for itself.

I still don't have the MidEvil series of games—there is a serious lack of plastic skeletons in my life.