Category Archives: Character/Character Development

ESSAYS ON GAME DESIGN – ESSAY ELEVEN: LUCK BE NOT LAZY

My next Essay on Gaming and Game Design, since this is my post for Design of Things to Come.

ESSAYS ON GAME DESIGN

Essay Eleven: Luck Be Not Lazy

“High Fortune is the Good Wife of the Brave Husband.”

“Our survival kit is within us…”

“Good Luck befriend thee, Son…”

Synopsis:Boldness makes you luckier.” Boldness and risk taking make you more likely to survive and succeed than timidity and cowardice. This is true both in life, and in-game.

Recently while reading the book The Survivor’s Club (I am a survivalist and often study various aspects of survival art and science) I came across a very interesting equation by Nicholas Rescher.

The equation is as follows:

λ(E) = ∆(E) x [1-pr(E)] = ∆(E) x pr(not-E)

Rescher was attempting to mathematically illustrate how conclusions are drawn about the conditions and functional nature of “luck.” I have not had the time to examine the mathematics in detail for myself since I have only the basic equation formulation and a basic interpretation by the author of the book (not the author of the equation). I plan on looking up the entire background of the equation when I have the time.

Basically the equation states that how lucky an individual (or theoretically an event, with variable exchange) is considered to be depends upon a number of factors, but not least is the level of sufficient risk associated with any endeavor. That is to say the greater the risk taken by an individual, when success is finally achieved (though success is not guaranteed), then naturally the “more lucky” such an individual is considered in relation to others. This is of course only logical, and can be illustrated in the following way.

Two men decide to cross a chasm. One does so by a secure wooden footbridge with a safety railing, another along a length of tightrope. If both men make it safely across then most objective observers would say that the man walking upon the tightrope was “luckiest.” His risk was greatest and when (if) he succeeds then luck has been said to play a greater role in his crossing (in spite of any personal skill he might possess in wire-walking) than in the guy who has crossed the chasm on a relatively secure footbridge (in which case chance or luck plays a much smaller, if any, role as regards the crossing). This is self-evident, though perhaps often ignored or not noticed in this way in most circumstances by some observers.

lady luck

But I suspect that an even more interesting underlying and basic assumption fundamental to the structure of the equation (though it may not necessarily be overtly stated, when considering “normative variables”) is this: the greater the risk you take the more lucky you are likely to be. Not merely as a matter of relative comparison to others in different circumstances, but as a practical and fundamental matter in most any circumstance. And by extension then the more risk you assume in your given situation then the more likely you are to eventually succeed within that given situation. (Also this implies that luck is not a matter merely to be judged and quantified after the fact, or after the conclusion of the endeavor, but as a functional force, and likely an indirectly measurable force, operating throughout the course of events.)

Think about that for a moment. For the idea may just very well be fundamental to the nature of what many consider “good fortune.” Whether most people realize it or not.

The implication is that with great risk comes not only great danger, but also a greater probability towards actual and more capital success. (I think that there are several reasons for the likelihood of this conclusion, some physical, some psychological, and a few of which I will discuss here). The equation actually states that if you succeed then a larger level of risk can be said to include within the nature of the success a greater degree of good fortune, expressed colloquially as “luck.” But underneath the equation, if you examine it closely, is a sort of sub-structural formulation that implies that the greater the level of risk you assume in attempting any given or particular thing, the more likely you are to actually succeed, but that this does not become absolutely mathematically obvious until after the events are actually concluded.

In short the equation is covertly implying that all things being equal, and excluding the impossible (of course, as well as the intentionally foolhardy and reckless), it is the one who assumes the greatest risk who is far more likely to be lucky and in the end, to succeed as a result of the advantages bestowed by luck. (Is luck the only factor in success? Good Lord no. Preparation, skill, cunning, cleverness, drive, desire, etc. – all of these factors and more, or even less, can help to assure success. But what it is saying is that among roughly equivalent situations and/or competitors it is the more daring and less risk averse who is mathematically far more likely to “get lucky” and win the day, other factors not withstanding. Risk is therefore, as counter-intuitive and paradoxical as the idea may seem, one of the open and golden gateways to good fortune. Or as the old maxim goes, “Fortuna favet fortibus.” There is far more to that observation than mere Latin wit.

We all know that boldness is a fundamental aspect of the nature of Heroism. (Indeed, I personally would not attempt the execution of the function of anything heroic lacking the mettle of individual bravery as my guide. There is neither room for in most risky situations, nor likelihood of success in most dangerous situations for the ‘timid hero.’) Heroes therefore are universally bold. Or on the royal road through hardship and risk to becoming universally bold. Yet often heroes also triumph over seemingly vastly superior opponents with vastly superior resources. Why? Because they are bold. Because they are daring, and audacious, and brave. They also almost universally, whether in real life, or in myth or literature, “get lucky” or at least luckier than everybody else around them. Why? Because fortune does indeed favor the bold. The bold risk great things and therefore fortune is a natural and interested companion along the way. Fortune is attracted to bravery and risk-taking. (This does not imply that all risks are equal, or even equally fortunate, only that fortune prefers boldness to a lack thereof.)

Now it might appear on the surface that the heroic individual, or group, is often both bold and lucky. But the actual truth is they are lucky precisely because they are bolder than everyone else. Hence luck does not make one bold, being bold makes one lucky. There is a direct, if not always immediately observationally evident, correlation. That man who takes the most risk is that man who is likely to be luckiest and to be most successful. Even if bravery does not create good fortune in a particular circumstance it at least maintains and augments what good fortune already exists within that circumstance.

There are several reasons for this I think, some derived from my own personal observations, others I have gathered from anecdotal evidence, some taken from historical studies, still others implied by the equation I listed above.

First, the psychological ones:

1. The man who is audacious and daring tends to impress others with their vision. Small visions do not attract interest or followers. Bravery impresses and heroic visions and examples evoke imitation. Courage inspires devotion. And devotion inspires more courage as well as more of itself, which thereby tends to augment good fortune through cooperative enterprise and shared labor and objectives. Making success far more likely.

2. The individual who is brave tends to impress even dangerous creatures and animals, which will sometimes flee a man who the animal could easily kill because the man exhibits no fear. So if something or even someone thinks you’re crazy enough to be unafraid (regardless of whether you really are or not in that situation) when they think you should be then this gives them pause about their own chances of success against you. Courage in yourself can often inspire caution in an enemy or dangerous opponent, tipping the scales of good fortune, as well as the initiative and control of the situation in your favor.

(This has happened to me on more than one occasion with animals, men, and situations. For instance I’ve been shot at and drawn on on more than one occasion. Most recently this happened to me about two weeks ago. Yet I managed to defuse that particular situation without bloodshed or anyone being harmed because I walked towards the gunfire instead of freezing or fleeing from it when guns were drawn. Not that walking into gunfire is the most impressive or important kind of courage, it is far from it. Other things are often far more dangerous. I know that from personal experience. But the policeman in this case had the wrong location and the wrong target and he was obviously afraid of attack himself and so he drew and fired when he thought he was under attack. I don’t blame him by the way, he did indeed think he was under attack and may have even thought he could possibly be killed. He was also a young fella and a bit of a rookie. I doubt he had ever drawn his weapon before in the line of duty, but that’s just an assumption mind you based upon my observations of the boy, I didn’t really ask him. But he didn’t do anything really wrong; he was just surprised and scared by the situation, not knowing what was really going on. So I supported him when his commanding officer came out to do the in-the-field inquiry about why and how he had discharged his weapon. But I was able to prevent any real harm during the incident by walking into his line of fire [he wasn’t shooting at me, but I caused him to pause by interjecting myself] and taking control of the situation with my voice. Thereby stopping any further firing. I don’t think most people realize how effective an instrument the human voice can be in controlling a dangerous situation but those of you with law enforcement or military backgrounds probably know exactly what I mean. Your voice is probably often your most effective tool of courage and control. So I wasn’t afraid at all when it was happening, though my wife later yelled at me, as she often will, by saying “you stupid white guys run towards gunfire instead of away from it.” But obviously it has got nothing to do with being white, I’ve known a lot of brave men from all kinds of backgrounds, or even really with being stupid I would argue, but with training. I wasn’t afraid at all and so acted as I have trained myself over time, to walk towards danger and not away from it, and to attempt to command any given dangerous situation by not panicking, but by trying to assume control of the circumstances. I also wasn’t scared at all in this situation because I wasn’t thinking about myself at all. Over time I have basically trained fear for my own safety out of myself so that when others are endangered I think about others and not myself. Which eliminates the occupation with “self-fear.” It has become a matter of habit by now, and I never consciously weigh dangers for myself in my mind in that way anymore. However this does not mean the elimination of fear, if my children or wife had been under fire or endangered then I would have been afraid, I would have been thinking of their survival. I do not think though, and thank God this has never occurred, that even in that situation it would have paralyzed me, but I would have been afraid. Afraid for them. Indeed after the shooting I spoke about before was over and I realized just how bad the situation could have become for everyone – there was another officer who could have drawn and started shooting but he remained basically calm and watchful – I had about two minutes where I needed to sit down. To prevent my legs from shaking. But that was about 15 to 20 minutes later. Various friends and some people at church heard about this little adventure from my wife and the police and they all said I was a lucky fool. Just shook their heads. But I wasn’t a lucky fool; I was lucky because in that situation my training allowed me to be bold enough to prevent the situation from becoming completely out of control. I guess what I’m saying is that training yourself to move towards danger may seem apparently crazy, and so the assumption is that you just get lucky that nothing bad happens. Actually you get lucky because you act boldly. The crazy is only relative to those who do not understand that boldness enhances good fortune, not detracts from it.)

3. Bravery does not allow for panic, especially not debilitating panic. Courage is usually prepared for most situations (through exercise, practice, training, and habit) or at the very least does not panic and make situations worse. Boldness has “faith in itself.” Because boldness and enterprise are habits and skills that can be learned through practice. Perhaps some people are naturally born fearless or bold. But regardless of the veracity of that statement a person can become bold and daring through the exercise and practice of courage, just as is the case with bodybuilding through resistance training. You become muscularly and physically stronger by working ever-heavier resistance against weak and inexperienced muscles. You become more courageous by placing yourself in dangerous situations and exercising control against your fear. Eventually your “courage physique” will increase and it will take more and more danger to cause fear any real friction or resistance against you.

That’s all I’m gonna say about the psychological factors because it is not my intent in this essay to discuss all possible psychological variables. But merely to present basic possibilities.

greek

Now for some of the physical factors:

1. I suspect that on the physical level there is an “Entrainment of the unlikely” but nevertheless “necessarily possible” whenever boldness is a factor operating upon the physical environment. That is to say that boldness has both a physical and a quantum effect upon the surrounding environment much as it does on the psychological environment in which courage is in operation. Though the effect may be subtle, it nevertheless positively influences events in favor of the party operating “boldly.” The apparent physical effect is displayed as a tendency of events to move favorably in relation to the “bold party.” Though of course more than one party may be simultaneously operating in a bold fashion. It is not my intention in this short essay though to discuss competitions or conflicts between separate parties acting against each other each in their own bold fashion. That subject can be taken up by another if they so desire.

2. I suspect boldness is probably also a “quantum excitement” to the local environment, causing obstacles and frictions to move away from or bend away from the “bold party.” Friction and resistance does not build up in the environment against the bold, but rather boldness acts as a sort of overlaying energy field that slightly tilts the operational environment in the favor of the bold. You might think of daring and risk as exciting the local environment in such a way that it acts as a sort of simultaneous lubricant for good fortune, and as a sort of barrier against misfortune.
Now if all, or indeed if any of this is true, then this idea has large scale implications for human activity and work in the real world. It also has large scale gaming implications, because heroic gaming could therefore be used as a sort of imaginary training ground for the development of higher and higher states of mental and psychologically habitual (behavioral habits begin in the mind after all) boldness, which could then be effectively transferred outside the self-contained environment of a given game and exported to the wider world.

But for the moment, since this is a website and forum dedicated to gaming let’s examine how we might exploit the idea encapsulated by the statement: “Boldness makes you luckier.”
So I’m going to make a few suggestions as to how to use this hypothesis within your game and/or game setting.

1. If you use some factor, variable, or attribute in your game that represents or expresses Luck (I use several in my games) then (given that my previous statements and hypotheses above make sense to you) anytime your players display real courage this should have a corresponding and even compounding “Luck Effect.” If they are brave, and bold, then their level of Good Fortune should naturally increase, or be augmented in some way. Good luck is never lazy, and it is rarely risk-averse. Rather the braver the character the more likely he is to be lucky in any given situation (assuming he or she does not face impossible odds or an inescapable situation).

So acts of courage and heroism are more than likely to have a direct and positive corresponding effect upon factors of good fortune and the benefits bestowed by luck. I can’t tell you how to do this exactly in your game or setting (because I don’t know the details of your setting) but it is my recommendation that you bind together in some way acts of heroism and boldness to corresponding gains in good fortune. (However these things might be expressed, as bonuses to saving throws, or as “luck advantages,” or as gains to certain types of abilities or skills, or whatever the particular case may be in your situation.)

2. I would also suggest that acts of cowardice and timidity have a corresponding suppression upon factors involving luck. The risk averse would also be averse to natural good fortune. After all the obverse of my proposition, that bravery makes you luckier, is easily demonstrable. No great thing was ever achieved by timidity. The timid do not attempt and therefore naturally do not achieve great things. That is self-evident. Therefore good fortune can hardly be considered a close ally of timidity or cowardice, for achievement is the opposite of being retiring and timid. And achievement against great odds can be called one of the potential proofs of good fortune. So the bold often achieve where the timid will not go. And good fortune goes where the bold dare to lead her. Therefore fortune is long time friend of the bold, but always the stranger to the timid.

3. Courage might not only affect “Luck Factors” but even attributes like Charisma, Wisdom, and leadership. Courage should and will increase luck and overall good fortune but it might also temporarily or even permanently increase attribute scores like Charisma, Wisdom, Intelligence, or leadership abilities.

4. Courage causing increases in luck and good fortune might also have a corresponding positive effect upon things like intuition or even psychic abilities (I use the term psychic to reflect both mental abilities and spiritual capabilities.)

5. Courage would make one “fortunate” in the types and quality of the individuals you attract to yourself as friends, allies, and followers.

6. Another suggestion I might make is that in game terms at least allow for a sort of generalized and conditional reaction to acts of heroism, bravery, and boldness on the part of the surrounding environment. This could take any number of different forms but the overall effect would be that the environment “acts lucky” towards the person exhibiting bravery, initiative, and enterprise.

7. Courage and luck might have a beneficial effect upon the degree of power and level of control one may exercise over magic, magical items, artifacts, and devices, and/or more mundane types of tools/technology.

8. If courage increases good fortune and good fortune makes survival more likely then heroism and bravery should likely have direct and positive effects upon any useful survival mechanism or skill within your game.
These are but a few simple ways that the relationship between boldness and good fortune could be exploited in game, and could also serve as a sort of “reward system” to your best and bravest role-players. I could go into other related matters such as the possible mathematical relationship between boldness, confidence, and chance mechanisms, like gaming dice. But I’ve explored pretty much what I personally wanted to explore as regards this subject, and since I am presenting this post as an Interactive Essay others can add related or peripheral content as they see fit.

But in summation I would also like to encourage you all to make better use of heroism, enterprise, initiative, and boldness in your own situation(s), both in real life and in-game. I suspect that given time you will find yourself more and more inclined to boldness through practice (assuming you are not already), and as a result of that more likely to find yourself enjoying an ever increasing level of good fortune and definite luck.

Good luck to you then.

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Political and Organizational History of the Cavaliers, Paladins, Rangers, and the Dragoons

Continuing with a post and description of my own gaming milieu and world, that of Iÿarlðma, or The Other World.

 

Political and Organizational History of the Cavaliers, Paladins, Rangers, and the Dragoons

Being a brief and basic political and organizational history of the Cavaliers, Paladins, Rangers. and Dragoons and a basic Organizational description of Dragoon Commands, Motivations, and Goals.

General Information/Basic History: The Cavaliers, Originally the Cohort of Holy Cavaliers was formed as a special guard for Pope Boniface I, the Pontiff of Rome in the year 419 AD. The Cavaliers served faithfully and were recruited from famous horsemen and officers drawn from the various provinces of the Roman Empire.

The Cavaliers were allowed to secretly exist by the emperors, who on occasion also employed them as personal guards or as special agents for various military, political, diplomatic and espionage missions. In time they came to be seen as a very powerful organization and elite military force in their own right. Many began to fear them, especially in the halls of civil government where the Imperial Guards considered the Cavaliers as a threat and a dangerous competition.

Eventually in the year 498 AD the Emperor Anastasius turned a blind eye to events in Rome as the Imperial Guards, some seditious prelates and the governor of Rome set up their own anti-Pope, Laurentius. This new pope threatened the existing pope Saint Symmachus, whose successor upon Symmachus’ death was forced to flee first to Sicily and then eventually into Gaul. Some of the most loyal Cavaliers then at Rome also fled with the newly elected but unordained pope Palladius (after whom the Paladins are named) as he left the city. Many others were arrested in secret by the Imperial Guards at night and executed. Some of the leaders of the Grand Cohort, as the Cavaliers were popularly known escaped initial arrest when the Italian Garrison refused to detain them, and fled the city accompanied by the remains of the Theban Legion (Thundering Legion) who had survived the pagan revival massacre and had continued to exist as an underground organization in service to the pope. Those who fled took ship and made their way first to North Africa and eventually east coming to Alexandria and then to the eastern Capital at Constantinople. Those Cavaliers serving along the frontiers, after hearing of the dissolution of their order and of the fate of their comrades deserted their ranks and melded into the local population or joined mercenary patrols under false names and backgrounds. The anti-Pope then formed his own personal guard of hand-selected Imperial soldiers as well as deserters and traitors from the ranks of the Cavaliers who were eventually to become known as the Dragoons. These Dragoons acted as a virtual Praetorian guard for the anti-Pope Laurentius and for several anti-popes to follow.

Goals & Ideals of the Dragoons: The annihilation of the Cavaliers and the destruction of any organization which might be considered a splinter group of the Cavaliers, such as the Paladins of the West, the Palademes of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Rangers of the West and the Vigilantes of the Eastern Empire. They also intend to depose the current Pope and install their own Anti-Pope. The basic history of the group is as detailed above, and their origin as a result of the Cavalier Purge is well known in educated political, military and church officiate circles, and among some few in the higher social classes. The more secretive history, as detailed in the Inner Workings section below is far less well known and is a closely guarded secret known by few. The Dragoons of all ranks and commands are a very secretive group, go to great lengths to hide their activities and have also gone to great lengths to make it appear as if their group has disbanded or simply faded out of existence in the past 100 years or so. Many of the Paladins and Rangers they hunt to death are not even aware of their existence until they are ambushed, poisoned, captured, tortured, or murdered. The Dragoons are less active in the East, being more numerous and driven in the West but do also occasionally send hunting parties into the Eastern Empire and even as far East as the Middle East and Persia. No matter where they operate their goals are the same.

The Dragoons have also spawned much smaller tactical operation teams and parties such as the Consociatio and often work in partnership with barbarian kings and even with organized crime syndicates such as the Keishon (the Black Hand) and with pirates and brigands. They tend to support their activities secretly with an underground financial organization of minor nobles, corrupt military and civil officials, and by engaging in various criminal activities, such as arms smuggling, tax interception and theft, and kidnapping/ransom/extortion operations.

Despite the vicious reputation of the order and despite the fact that by most every objective standard the group is indeed inclined towards evil and self-promotion the members of the Dragoons consider themselves completely justified in their actions and actually think of themselves as working for the good. They consider their Anti-Pope to be an ideal leader and they consider the eradication of the Paladins and Rangers to be a Holy Objective and Divine Purpose.

Leadership: The top ranks of the leadership of the Dragoons remains a secret and is unknown to any except the leaders themselves. Every rank has a leader as does every overall Command. These leaders also operate in secret with assignments and missions being passed down from higher level operatives and leaders through a secretive transmission and code/messenger system. On the local level the Dragoons are divided into small tactical commands which undertake missions, hunt Cavaliers and their descendants, steal tax monies, engage in criminal activities, smuggle weapons, corrupt and bribe officials and surveil any target of interest. The name of the current Antipope is unknown, as his identity is an enigma, however it is believed by some he may be a high church official stationed either at Rome or in Ravenna.

The names of the leaders of certain splinter groups, such as the Consociatio are known (his name is Leticus Cambrius) and such people and groups are even famous and well respected, however nothing is known about the shadowy and covert activities of these groups and men. The Consociatio is publicly known but is not known to have any ties to the Dragoons and the Dragoons intend that all such aligned groups are fronts for other activities and that their true intentions remain secretive and hidden.

Inner Workings: The antipope and the Imperator (Supreme General) of the Imperial Praetorian Guards for the Western emperors were unsatisfied with the initial purge of the ranks of the Cavaliers. Fearing that the survivors who had escorted the pope into exile and that those who had escaped to Africa would rise again to power and take revenge decided upon a hunting pogrom to fully eradicate any surviving Cavaliers and their families and associates. They also intended to capture and imprison the deposed pope. Those Imperial Guards who had best known the habits, training, and numbers of the Cavaliers, along with Cavaliers who had been tortured and disaffected from the pope’s service were formed into a new unit, officially known as the Cavaleem, whose public duty was to apprehend and arrest the outlawed Cavaliers. However their real duties were to hunt down and kill the remaining Cavaliers, as well as kill their families and seize any possessions they might have as tribute, and to capture and imprison the pope in exile.

The most powerful arm of the Cavaleem were organized at a secret training base in Hispania where they divided themselves into special units devoted to particular kinds of work and assignments. These Cavaleem, who called themselves the Dragoons were to become the most famous of all Cavaleem and eventually, would give their name to all Cavaleem, as the popular name for the Cavaleem soon became the Dragoons.

The Dragoons divided themselves into four Commands; 1) the Emeralds, who served as political police for the emperors and various other high officials in the civil government, and as Special Bodyguards for the antipope, 2) the Crimson which served as city detachments of political and civil police, both at Rome and in frontier cities, 3) the Argent who were a unit assigned to the regular legions as officers and informers to keep the civil authorities and the emperors informed of possible intrigue or insurrection, and 4) the Ebone, who served as special forces agents, usually operating alone or in small detachments. The Ebone Command were the most well trained unit of soldiers in the secret Cavaleem force, being experts at weapons, horsemanship, tracking and hunting, and unarmed combat. Often they were also trained as assassins proficient at killing men in secret, and in the uses of poison. The Ebone unit was the detachment assigned with the hunting down of and the eradication of the escaped or exiled Cavaliers. Because of their dedication in fulfilling this assignment the Ebone were also called the Cavacaedere, the Cavalier Killers, but they earned their most famous nickname later because of the enmity that developed between themselves and the Paladins. They became most popularly known as the AntiPaladins. After the official line of popes were restored some AntiPaladins, especially the Ebone agents, began to sell their services to others who wished to seize the papal seat and become new antipopes, or to those who wished to seize Imperial crowns or foment rebellions among the barbarians. Some even went to hire for the Arabs, Muslims, Persians, and others in the Orient where their reputations for ruthlessness and for espionage and insurrection were unmatched. A secret core of Dragoons remained in the Western Empire however, operating from Sicily, Hispania, North Africa, and Ravenna, determined to forever eradicate any remains of the Cavaliers and their descendants and to reestablishing an antipope favorable to themselves so that they might rise again to power in the West.

Those Cavaliers who escaped into exile with the pope would eventually form the basis of the Paladins of the Holy Roman Empire of Charles Martel (The Hammer) and eventually of Charlemagne in the West. Those Cavaliers who escaped to Africa and eventually to the east became the champions of the Eastern Church, the Palademes and War Monks of the Orient. Those frontiers Cavaliers who had deserted their post or who had become mercenaries also became very famous, especially in the Eastern Empire, as the legendary Rangers. The Rangers were often employed by the Eastern Empire and by the emperor as frontiers’ sheriffs, spies, infiltrators, bounty hunters, anti-insurgent operatives, and anti-raiding outpost defenders. Whereas the Paladins gained great public prestige and eventual political power as the servants of the church and the defenders of the civil order, the Rangers, because of their background, preferred to operate alone or in small groups and often in secret and/or in disguise. The Paladins became the new public face of the Cavaliers and were considered the champions of public law and the authorities and of urban life, while the Rangers became the heroes of the poor and the oppressed along the frontiers, the defenders of the land, and the champions of private justice. Eventually the Rangers in the East would take on a new title, the Vigilantes, and would keep law where no official law existed and the hand of no army could reach.

Whereas the AntiPaladins became almost fanatical in their hatred of and hunting of the Paladins, because they greatly feared the rising political and civil power of the Paladins, the Rangers never forgot the original purge of the Cavaliers and held a fierce and secret hatred for the Dragoons, of all commands, but especially against the Ebone Dragoons. So while the AntiPaladins covertly hunted the Cavalier survivors and the Paladins, the Rangers and Vigilantes, with their own secret plans, hunted the AntiPaladins.

CAP DOES ULBOT

Actually, I did wanna see that. That was immensely entertaining.

More of that kinda thing please…

 

Fancy seeing Captain America drop kick and decapitate an Ultron bot? Of course you do. So I’m not going to waste your time with any preamble, just watch the Australian television spot for Avengers: Age Of Ultron and immediately start to salivate.

Sensational. Despite being just 15 seconds long, this brief look at Joss Whedon’s hugely anticipated sequel rams home the two main aspects of Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Firstly, that the world is in utter chaos because of Ultron’s decision to wreak havoc across the globe. And secondly, that the Avengers themselves are going through their own issues. That’s why Iron Man has created a Hulk-buster suit that he uses to drag the big, green monster through a skyscraper.

The fact that both Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans) are easily able to destroy the Ultron bots with an almighty swing of their hammer and shield, respectively, suggests that we’re going to get action scenes reminiscent of Age Of Ultron’s predecessor (2012’s The Avengers) and The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King. In these films, each of our heroes took down the repeated sway of enemy soldiers with no difficulty, and the directors of these films made sure to keep audiences entertained by injecting humor and making the characters work as a tag-team to defeat them. Thor’s thwack of Cap’s shield with his hammer suggests Age Of Ultron’s battle scenes will be broken down in this manner, too.

Meanwhile, one of the most prominent aspects of Avengers: Age Of Ultron’s promotional campaign has been the tease of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and The Hulk’s (Mark Ruffalo) tussle. Because of The Hulk’s height, weight, anger and gamma-ray advantage over his metallic pal, Tony Stark has created a Hulkbuster suit to tackle Bruce Banner’s less-than-friendly alter-ego. Many rumors have started to circulate about the reasons for their tussle. Some have suggested that Iron Man resorts to tackling The Hulk because he has lost control and is wreaking havoc in a heavily populated area, while it’s also been teased that they go toe-to-toe just to see who is tougher. Scarlet Witch might also factor in to the fray, from what we have heard. Either way, the tease of their tussle has done a great job of amping up anticipation ahead of Age Of Ultron’s release, so much so that Avengers 2’s box office predictions are insanely high.

And now that we know that Captain America: Civil War will revolve around an almighty quarrel between Iron Man and Captain America, it basically proves that Age Of Ultron will help to sow these seeds ahead of Steve Rogers’ third solo adventure in 2016. But before that though, Avengers: Age Of Ultron will hit cinemas on May 1st. And it promises to be a pretty big deal.

BLACKLIST AND VIKINGS

I have a feeling that both the Blacklist and Vikings will be superb tonight.

Here we go…

GONE A’VIKING

I’m not going to Ireland to do this, but you gotta admit, it looks like a fun gig.

Looking for some extra work? ‘Vikings’ need 8,000 extras for filming in Ireland

Ever fancied joining a viking army? Now you can. Here’s how to apply…

Vikings, the hugely successful History Channel production that is filmed in Ireland, has announced a casting call to find a minimum of 8,000 extras to work on its forthcoming season, which will be filmed here.

The Canadian/Irish production recently began its third season and will begin filming the fourth in Ireland in April. The producers have today announced they are looking for extras to take part, and the selection process will be held in Dublin, at the Film Base in Temple Bar, and at the Grand Hotel, Abbey St, in Wicklow.

We covered the application process last year, and you can learn a bit more about what life as an extra on Vikings is like HERE

The work is casual and temporary, but with 8,000 spots to fill it would appear you’ll have a good chance of getting the call sometime between April and December, when filming wraps up.

Those interested can attend the open casting days, with the events page on the Vikings Extras Facebook page offering the following advice to applicants turning up to stake a claim.

They are mainly looking for adults aged 16+
People from all ethnic backgrounds are required
You do not need an appointment
You only need attend one day of auditions
Each person who attends will fill out an application and have a photo taken
The process will take roughly 20 minutes
When you head along, have your measurements to hand. E.g. Height, chest, dress, shoe size etc. (You’ll need them for the application form)
No need to bring a CV or headshots, but the team will accept them if you do have them with you
There’s a long list of specific skills and appearances they’re looking for, including: Fishermen, carpenters, skilled swords people, bowmen and women, ship hands, Latin speakers, tree surgeons, and males with long hair and beards (you can find a full list of these – and there are plenty more – on the Vikings Extras Facebook page).

Full listing

There will be 3 x Extras Open Casting days in 2015 – 2 days will be held in Dublin and 1 day will be held in Wicklow. Details are below

Dublin

FILMBASE, Curved St, Temple Bar, D2

Tuesday 31st March 2015 between 9.30am -4.30pm

Wednesday 1st April 2015 between 9.30am – 5pm

Wicklow

The Grand Hotel, Abbey St, Wicklow Town

Wednesday 7th April between 10am – 6pm

Check out the Vikings Extras Facebook page for more information

And if you haven’t seen Vikings, here’s a taster

SPECTRE

The first poster for the next James Bond film ‘SPECTRE’ has arrived and to say it’s not giving much away would be like calling 007 a “civil servant”.

As several commenters online have already pointed out, the costume worn by the moody-looking Daniel Craig appears to be a nod to Roger Moore, as it bears more than a passing resemblance to the rollneck/gun holster combo sported by Bond in ‘Live and Let Die’.

Daniel Craig Channels Roger Moore In First SPECTRE Poster

As well as the teaser poster above which first appeared on the official @007 Twitter account, there also appears to be a few subtle variations of the design kicking around too.

image

One key fact it has divulged though is that the 24th film in the franchise will be getting an IMAX release when it hits cinemas later this year. ‘SPECTRE’ follows in the footsteps of ‘Skyfall’ which also got a release on the super-sized screens in 2012.

‘SPECTRE’ is coming to cinemas in November, 2015.

Could SPECTRE Explain The Death of Bond’s Parents?
Bond Girls: Then and Now
Is James Bond a Time Lord?

MAN WITHOUT FEAR

I think this has the potential to be every bit as good as Gotham. I look forward to it.

 

THE VOYAGE HOME

Godspeed Nimoy. And live long and prosper exploring whatever new worlds you eventually find.

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The Man Who Was Spock

Leonard Nimoy, best known for playing the character Spock in the Star Trek television shows and films, died at 83.

Video by Robin Lindsay on Publish Date February 27, 2015. Photo by NBC, via Photofest.

Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83.

His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death, saying the cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Mr. Nimoy announced that he had the disease last year, attributing it to years of smoking, a habit he had given up three decades earlier. He had been hospitalized earlier in the week.

His artistic pursuits — poetry, photography and music in addition to acting — ranged far beyond the United Federation of Planets, but it was as Mr. Spock that Mr. Nimoy became a folk hero, bringing to life one of the most indelible characters of the last half century: a cerebral, unflappable, pointy-eared Vulcan with a signature salute and blessing: “Live long and prosper” (from the Vulcan “Dif-tor heh smusma”).

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Nimoy Explains Origin of Vulcan Greeting

Nimoy Explains Origin of Vulcan Greeting

As part of the Yiddish Book Center Wexler Oral History Project, Leonard Nimoy explains the origin of the Vulcan hand signal used by Spock, his character in the “Star Trek” series.

Video by Yiddish Book Center on Publish Date February 27, 2015. Photo by Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project.

Mr. Nimoy, who was teaching Method acting at his own studio when he was cast in the original “Star Trek” television series in the mid-1960s, relished playing outsiders, and he developed what he later admitted was a mystical identification with Spock, the lone alien on the starship’s bridge.

Yet he also acknowledged ambivalence about being tethered to the character, expressing it most plainly in the titles of two autobiographies: “I Am Not Spock,” published in 1977, and “I Am Spock,” published in 1995.

In the first, he wrote, “In Spock, I finally found the best of both worlds: to be widely accepted in public approval and yet be able to continue to play the insulated alien through the Vulcan character.”

“Star Trek,” which had its premiere on NBC on Sept. 8, 1966, made Mr. Nimoy a star. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the franchise, called him “the conscience of ‘Star Trek’ ” — an often earnest, sometimes campy show that employed the distant future (as well as some primitive special effects by today’s standards) to take on social issues of the 1960s.

His stardom would endure. Though the series was canceled after three seasons because of low ratings, a cultlike following — the conference-holding, costume-wearing Trekkies, or Trekkers (the designation Mr. Nimoy preferred) — coalesced soon after “Star Trek” went into syndication.

The fans’ devotion only deepened when “Star Trek” was spun off into an animated show, various new series and an uneven parade of movies starring much of the original television cast, including — besides Mr. Nimoy — William Shatner (as Capt. James T. Kirk), DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy), George Takei (the helmsman, Sulu), James Doohan (the chief engineer, Scott), Nichelle Nichols (the chief communications officer, Uhura) and Walter Koenig (the navigator, Chekov).

When the director J. J. Abrams revived the “Star Trek” film franchise in 2009, with an all-new cast — including Zachary Quinto as Spock — he included a cameo part for Mr. Nimoy, as an older version of the same character. Mr. Nimoy also appeared in the 2013 follow-up, “Star Trek Into Darkness.”

His zeal to entertain and enlighten reached beyond “Star Trek” and crossed genres. He had a starring role in the dramatic television series “Mission: Impossible” and frequently performed onstage, notably as Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof.” His poetry was voluminous, and he published books of his photography.

He also directed movies, including two from the “Star Trek” franchise, and television shows. And he made records, singing pop songs as well as original songs about “Star Trek,” and gave spoken-word performances — to the delight of his fans and the bewilderment of critics.

But all that was subsidiary to Mr. Spock, the most complex member of the Enterprise crew, who was both one of the gang and a creature apart engaged at times in a lonely struggle with his warring racial halves.

In one of his most memorable “Star Trek” performances, Mr. Nimoy tried to follow in the tradition of two actors he admired, Charles Laughton and Boris Karloff, who each played a monstrous character — Quasimodo and the Frankenstein monster — who is transformed by love.

In Episode 24, which was first shown on March 2, 1967, Mr. Spock is indeed transformed. Under the influence of aphrodisiacal spores he discovers on the planet Omicron Ceti III, he lets free his human side and announces his love for Leila Kalomi (Jill Ireland), a woman he had once known on Earth. In this episode, Mr. Nimoy brought to Spock’s metamorphosis not only warmth, compassion and playfulness, but also a rarefied concept of alienation.

“I am what I am, Leila,” Mr. Spock declares after the spores’ effect has worn off and his emotions are again in check. “And if there are self-made purgatories, then we all have to live in them. Mine can be no worse than someone else’s.”

Born in Boston on March 26, 1931, Leonard Simon Nimoy was the second son of Max and Dora Nimoy, Ukrainian immigrants and Orthodox Jews. His father worked as a barber.

From the age of 8, Leonard acted in local productions, winning parts at a community college, where he performed through his high school years. In 1949, after taking a summer course at Boston College, he traveled to Hollywood, though it wasn’t until 1951 that he landed small parts in two movies, “Queen for a Day” and “Rhubarb.”

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Leonard Nimoy Dies at 83

Leonard Nimoy Dies at 83

CreditJerry Mosey/Associated Press

He continued to be cast in little-known movies, although he did presciently play an alien invader in a cult serial called “Zombies of the Stratosphere,” and in 1961 he had a minor role on an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” His first starring movie role came in 1952 with “Kid Monk Baroni,” in which he played a disfigured Italian street-gang leader who becomes a boxer.

Mr. Nimoy served in the Army for two years, rising to sergeant and spending 18 months at Fort McPherson in Georgia, where he presided over shows for the Army’s Special Services branch. He also directed and starred as Stanley in the Atlanta Theater Guild’s production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” before receiving his final discharge in November 1955.

He then returned to California, where he worked as a soda jerk, movie usher and cabdriver while studying acting at the Pasadena Playhouse. He achieved wide visibility in the late 1950s and early 1960s on television shows like “Wagon Train,” “Rawhide” and “Perry Mason.” Then came “Star Trek.”

Mr. Nimoy returned to college in his 40s and earned a master’s degree in Spanish from Antioch University Austin, an affiliate of Antioch College in Ohio, in 1978. Antioch University later awarded Mr. Nimoy an honorary doctorate.

Mr. Nimoy directed two of the Star Trek movies, “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” (1984) and “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (1986), which he helped write. In 1991, the same year that he resurrected Mr. Spock on two episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Mr. Nimoy was also the executive producer and a writer of the movie “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.”

He then directed the hugely successful comedy “Three Men and a Baby” (1987), a far cry from his science-fiction work, and appeared in made-for-television movies. He received an Emmy nomination for the 1982 movie “A Woman Called Golda,” in which he portrayed the husband of Golda Meir, the prime minister of Israel, who was played by Ingrid Bergman. It was the fourth Emmy nomination of his career — the other three were for his “Star Trek” work — although he never won.

Mr. Nimoy’s marriage to the actress Sandi Zober ended in divorce. Besides his wife, he is survived by his children, Adam and Julie Nimoy; a stepson, Aaron Bay Schuck; and six grandchildren; one great-grandchild, and an older brother, Melvin.

Though his speaking voice was among his chief assets as an actor, the critical consensus was that his music was mortifying. Mr. Nimoy, however, was undaunted, and his fans seemed to enjoy the camp of his covers of songs like “If I Had a Hammer.” (His first album was called “Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space.”)

From 1977 to 1982, Mr. Nimoy hosted the syndicated series “In Search Of…,” which explored mysteries like the Loch Ness Monster and UFOs. He also narrated “Ancient Mysteries” on the History Channel from 1995 to 2003 and appeared in commercials, including two with Mr. Shatner for Priceline.com. He provided the voice for animated characters in “Transformers: The Movie,” in 1986, and “The Pagemaster,” in 1994.

In 2001 he voiced the king of Atlantis in the Disney animated movie “Atlantis: The Lost Empire,” and in 2005 he furnished voice-overs for the computer game Civilization IV. More recently, he had a recurring role on the science-fiction series “Fringe” and was heard, as the voice of Spock, in an episode of the hit sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.”

Mr. Nimoy was an active supporter of the arts as well. The Thalia, a venerable movie theater on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, now a multi-use hall that is part of Symphony Space, was renamed the Leonard Nimoy Thalia in 2002.

He also found his voice as a writer. Besides his autobiographies, he published “A Lifetime of Love: Poems on the Passages of Life” in 2002. Typical of Mr. Nimoy’s simple free verse are these lines: “In my heart/Is the seed of the tree/Which will be me.”

In later years, he rediscovered his Jewish heritage, and in 1991 he produced and starred in “Never Forget,” a television movie based on the story of a Holocaust survivor who sued a neo-Nazi organization of Holocaust deniers.

In 2002, having illustrated his books of poetry with his photographs, Mr. Nimoy published “Shekhina,” a book devoted to photography with a Jewish theme, that of the feminine aspect of God. His black-and-white photographs of nude and seminude women struck some Orthodox Jewish leaders as heretical, but Mr. Nimoy asserted that his work was consistent with the teaching of the kabbalah.

His religious upbringing also influenced the characterization of Spock. The character’s split-fingered salute, he often explained, had been his idea: He based it on the kohanic blessing, a manual approximation of the Hebrew letter shin, which is the first letter in Shaddai, one of the Hebrew names for God.

“To this day, I sense Vulcan speech patterns, Vulcan social attitudes and even Vulcan patterns of logic and emotional suppression in my behavior,” Mr. Nimoy wrote years after the original series ended.

But that wasn’t such a bad thing, he discovered. “Given the choice,” he wrote, “if I had to be someone else, I would be Spock.”

Correction: February 27, 2015
An earlier version of this obituary, using information from Antioch College, misstated the name of an institution that award Mr. Nimoy an honorary doctorate. It was Antioch University, not Antioch College.

KING

My daughters both said, “He’s fine…”

Lol.

I also think it is a very good thing to get the hostility between Batman and Superman out of the way early on in their relationship (rather than later) so that they can establish an on-going friendship that will allow them to both lead the Justice League against future enemies.

 

‘Aquaman’: First Photo Released of Jason Momoa as DC Superhero

Aquaman: Photo Released of Jason Momoa

February 19, 2015 | 10:20PM PT

Aquaman has officially landed.

Director Zack Snyder tweeted the first photo of Jason Momoa as DC Comics superhero Aquaman on Thursday night.

Momoa, ex-star of “Game of Thrones,” will appear in Snyder’s upcoming film “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” as well as the future Justice League films.

In the DC comic books, Aquaman is the king of the seven seas, hence the poster slogan.

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” hits theaters March 25, 2016.

DEADPOOL COMES ALIVE

I don’t know who this chick is, but she’s a looker. So I doubt I’ll argue much.

Morena Baccarin Nabs Female Lead in ‘Deadpool’ (Exclusive)

1:19 PM PST 2/18/2015 by Rebecca Ford and Borys Kit

Ryan Reynolds is starring in the Fox film.

Morena Baccarin Headshot - P 2014
Courtesy of UTA

Homeland star Morena Baccarin has nabbed the female lead in Deadpool, Fox’s action movie based on the Marvel character.

Tim Miller is directing the action-adventure project, which stars Ryan Reynolds as an assassin who undergoes a procedure to cure his cancer that ends up leaving him twisted and scarred but also imbued with superpowers.

T.J. Miller and Gina Carano are already attached to the project, which is eyeing a March shoot and is slated for an early 2016 release.

Baccarin was one of a handful of actresses shortlisted for the role of Reynolds’ character’s love interest. The character grapples with falling for a man with a hideously scarred face.

The film is based on a script by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Simon Kinberg is producing with Lauren Shuler Donner.

On the film side, Baccarin will appear in Paul Feig’s upcoming action-comedy Spy opposite Melissa McCarthy. Her previous TV work includes Showtime’s hit Homeland (which garnered her an Emmy nomination) and Fox’s Gotham, on which she currently stars. She’s repped by UTA, Seven Summits and Jackoway Tyerman.

HABIT RPG

I’ve just started doing this today. And although I think it is weak in some respects I have also found it useful and may continue with it.

It might be worth investigating on your part as well.

HABITRPG

ROLE PLAY TO THE RESCUE

Yeah, no duff

The Surprising Benefits of Role-Playing Games (and How to Get Started)

 

The Surprising Benefits of Role-Playing Games (and How to Get Started)

When you hear about role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, you probably picture a dimly-lit basement filled with people in silly robes rolling dice, but there’s much more to it than that. Not only are role-playing games incredibly fun, but they can actually teach you skills you’ll use in the real world.

When I first heard about role-playing games, I immediately thought it was something that was just for the nerdiest of nerds out there. I could only imagine how ridiculous it would feel to sit around a table with other people and act like someone—or something—else, pretending to fight goblins and dragons. The entire premise just sounded way “too geeky” for me—even as someone who was way into video games and other “nerdy” things.

Fast forward a couple years, and I found that I was completely wrong. As soon as I took a moment to strip away the facade of monsters and swords, role-playing games revealed themselves to be something far more interesting than other traditional games. Behind the fantasy adventures was a fun social gathering that required you to think on your toes, solve problems, be creative, and ultimately learn how to become a team player. Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s because it’s like every job out there. It turned out that it really wasn’t about the dungeons or the dragons at all—it’s about thinking critically and working like a team.

Now I indulge in role-playing games as often as I can. It’s nice to have an escape from the toils and troubles of the real world, but with every game session I play, I find that I actually learn something as well. Maybe it’s about myself and the way I think, maybe it’s something about one of my friends that brings us closer together, or maybe I just find a new way to look at something that I hadn’t thought of. I’ve learned that role-playing games are about more than playing a game, and more importantly, that they are for everybody.

The Benefits

Playing Cultivates Creativity

The Surprising Benefits of Role-Playing Games (and How to Get Started)

Creativity is the bread and butter of role-playing games. They have a certain quality that allows you to transcend typical game interactions. You have real freedom and the ability to move the story forward how you see fit. There are rules for each game, but they are merely the skeleton to whatever story you and your team want to create.

Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to activate our brains, and role-playing games do this incredibly well. When we tell stories—or experience them—our brains have to process language, the cause and effect of events, and also relate it to our own pre-existing experiences. While you’re playing a role-playing game, your brain is firing on all cylinders.

It’s good for you, the same way socializing or reading a book is good for you. In fact, as Jon Michaud of The New Yorker explains, reading comes with the territory:

…D. & D. is a textual, storytelling, world-creating experience, a great apprenticeship for a budding author. But, more fundamentally, you cannot play D. & D. without reading—a lot. Ed Park, in an essay on D. & D. (included in the anthology “Bound to Last”), celebrates the magnificent vocabulary of the game… Combined, the player’s manual, the Dungeon Master’s guide, and the monster manual (the core books of advanced D. & D.) add up to four hundred and sixty-eight pages of small-print, double-column text. I read them with studious devotion and headlong glee. Almost immediately, television all but disappeared from my life.

Before Michaud started playing, he spent his days watching TV while his grades were plummeting. As soon as the fantasy of D&D came into his life, however, that all changed. Michaud even goes so far as to say that Dungeons & Dragons “saved his life” because it got him on a better life track after reading more and finding something that excited him. Perhaps it won’t save your life, but it can still enhance it. As you play, you’ll develop creativity in a way you might not have experienced before. Whether you’re running the game as the “Dungeon Master”—controlling what happens to the players—or simply playing as one of the characters, your storytelling ability will increase.

Dungeon Masters—also called Game Masters in some games—must be particularly good storytellers. Even if you’re using a pre-made adventure with most of the work already done, you still have to be ready to come up with dialogue and personalities for the non-player characters, and be able to vividly describe the world your players explore. As a player, you have to find ways to make your character more interesting by creating personality quirks or a rich backstory.

Role-playing games force you to draw from what you know and create something that you and others can enjoy. A lot of famous creators have been influenced by Dungeons & Dragons as well. Comedian Stephen Colbert, writer George R. R. Martin, comedian Robin Williams, Simpsons creator Matt Groening, and Community creator Dan Harmon all played at one time or another. Storytelling is the one of the most basic creative skills that you can draw on for so many other skills, and being a good storyteller can even make you a more charismatic person. Dive in to another world and see what kind of cool stuff you can come up. You might surprise yourself with what you come up with.

Playing Levels Up Your Social Skills1

The Surprising Benefits of Role-Playing Games (and How to Get Started)

When you think Dungeons & Dragons, you probably don’t think social skills—but once again, that’s a stereotype that doesn’t necessarily hold true. Role-playing games are 100% social. You need to be able to talk to other people, express how you feel about certain situations, all in a group of people. Role-playing games come with a social network built directly into them.

Sure, to an extent, video games do the same thing—but it isn’t quite the same. Role-playing games bring the interaction right to your face, no screens between you. Plus, you get to hang out with your friends. Before and after a play session, you can catch up with what they’ve been up to and share what’s going on in your life. Once you know the rules for a particular game, you can easily make new friends too. You can hop into other game groups and make new friends; the process being easier because a giant plot of common ground is right out in the open. Making friends when you move can be really tough, but you can hit up a local game and hobby shop to see if there are any groups looking for more players.

This engrained social network can be particularly helpful for kids too. Making new friends can be more difficult for some people, and the forced social interaction of role-playing games can help them find people that share their interests. Additionally, kids and adults alike can use role-playing games to combat shyness. Players are given a mask in the form of their character that allows them to feel less vulnerable. Using my characters as a vehicle helped me feel more comfortable talking to others. Over time I got over shyness and felt comfortable cracking jokes and starting conversations on my own. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with being shy, but for those that do want to get out of their comfort zone a bit, role-playing games can offer some help.

Playing Encourages Teamwork and Cooperation

The Surprising Benefits of Role-Playing Games (and How to Get Started)

Most role playing games don’t end in a “win” or a “loss”, but they still require teamwork. The events depend on players’ actions, just like any other game, and failure to work with other players will guarantee a not-so-fun time. Role-playing games are designed from the ground up to be cooperative and it can be a lot of fun to play a game where there are no winners and losers.

A lot of games strive to be competitive, but life can be competitive enough, and role-playing games provide a refreshing change of pace. Additionally, learning to be a team player is highly important in the professional world. You take on a role at work and do the things that you’ve trained to do, and it works the same way in a role-playing game. Your character normally has a particular skillset, and that fills a role on a diverse team. Just like at work, if you don’t do your job, the whole team can suffer for it.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that role-playing games are as serious as work. They can just help you learn the basics of working with others. You get a feel for how you handle interactions in stressful settings. Maybe you’ll find that you’re a good leader, choreographing a perfect battle where nobody gets too hurt. Or maybe you’ll find that you’re more of a support-type, ready to jump to someone’s aid when they need it. Perhaps you can just think outside the box better than your peers, and figure your way out of complex situations. There are no good or bad roles, just the roles you can fill. By learning to play with a team, you can learn how to work with one.

Playing Teaches Problem Solving Skills2

The Surprising Benefits of Role-Playing Games (and How to Get Started)

Problem solving is what makes the world go ’round and role-playing games are filled to the brim with it. Layers upon layers of problems stand in front of you and your fellow party members. You could be trying to solve a riddle, while navigating a labyrinth, while deciding the best way to take out a band of goblins, while trying to solve a murder mystery, all while preventing a dark lord from taking over the kingdom. Talk about problems.

Role-playing games and their campaigns are problem after problem, all just barely solvable. As each event of your game unfolds, you’re forced to think on your feet and react. You develop some improvisation skill and feel a rush whenever your group finds a clever way to tackle a tough problem. In fact, some of your most memorable moments will likely end up being times that you felt like your back was against the wall, but you managed to pull through using your wit.

Learning how to solve problems develops your critical thinking and can help you approach problems in the future with the right mindset. In role-playing games you’re simultaneously the chess player and the chess piece. You learn to see problems from multiple perspectives and realize that there’s always a light at the end of the dark, goblin-filled cave.

Playing Is Fun

The Surprising Benefits of Role-Playing Games (and How to Get Started)

Seriously, playing role-playing games is an absolute blast. Try this: Imagine a time in your past that you did something that felt a little silly. Maybe you were at a party, or maybe you had a couple drinks and hit the dance floor at a wedding. Something you were worried about being embarrassed about it at first, but as soon as you gave in, it was some of the most fun you’ve ever had. That’s what role-playing games are like.

Half the fun is letting go of the heavy world around you and playing like you’re a kid again. You sit down at that table and suddenly you’re running around the playground, having adventures and saving the world. Can you honestly say that fun like that isn’t for everybody?

How to Get Started

The Surprising Benefits of Role-Playing Games (and How to Get Started)

Getting started can be the toughest part, but there are some things you can do to make it a lot easier. Unfortunately, there’s no way I could even come close to explaining how to play all of the role-playing games out there, but I can point you in the right direction.

First, you want to find a game that would interest you. The world of role-playing games can be very overwhelming, but it also means that there is literally something for everyone. If you like sci-fi, there’s plenty of that. If you like fantasy, there’s plenty of that too. Vampires? Check. Werewolves? Check. Super heroes, Lovecraft, zombies, aliens, Star Wars, wrestling… You name it, there’s probably a role-playing game for it. Heck, I’ve even played a role-playing game based around the movie Mean Girls (and it was, like, so fetch). So don’t worry if Dungeons & Dragons doesn’t sound like your cup of tea.

Do some research and see what you can dig up. Google “[thing you like] role-playing game” and you might be surprised at what you find. Certain games are going to be more popular, however—which means it might be easier to join or start one of those game types—but see what you can find that excites you. If you’re not into the world the game is portraying, you’re probably not going to enjoy yourself. As far as recommendations go, check out Fate, Pathfinder, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, Call of Cthulhu, and (of course) Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition. You can even get a large taste of what D&D is like without paying a cent. If you’re still lost, hit up a game and hobby store and ask around. You’re sure to get more recommendations than you’ll what to do with.

When you find something that interests you, see what materials you need. Most role-playing games require that you at least own a copy of its player’s manual. Some games may require additional books as well, so make sure you’re getting what you need. These books can be very expensive—usually $40 and up—and the go-to, Amazon, won’t necessarily hook you up. Shop around online and check local game and hobby stores to find the best deals. You can also find digital versions of almost every current game and those can be significantly cheaper. There are a few other things you’ll need to play as well:

  • DM or GM guide: The Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM) usually can benefit from having this additional book.

Dice: You’ll usually need more than the standard six-sided (d6) dice. Some games require sets of their own special dice. Always check to see what you need.Character Sheets: You can normally find these in the back of the player’s manuals, but you can also find them on each game’s web site for free.Pencils: Not pens—especially if you’re just starting out.A table: The more space you have for books and character sheets the better. Some people like to use grid mats and figurines, but they aren’t completely necessary.People: Alas, you cannot play these games alone. Trust me, I’ve tried. It’s not nearly as fun. Two people will work in a pinch, but a group of four or five tends to be way more fun.

Once you have all of those things, you need to read. A lot. Role-playing games require some investment. The rules for each game can be complicated, and even though you shouldn’t let rules be the focus of your game sessions, you should get a basic idea of how they work. If you know someone that knows how to play, ask them to teach you! They’ll likely be glad to show you the ropes. They may even have their own group and invite you to join, even if it’s just for a few sessions so you can learn.

In the same vein, it doesn’t hurt to ask around if you’re looking for a group to play with. If none of your current friends play, ask around your local gaming stores. A lot of stores have regularly scheduled sessions in-store, and it’s a great way to learn to play without having to buy a rulebook or convince your current friends to come play with you. At the very least, someone might be able to point you in the right direction. You can also find playgroups online. Web sites like Meetup.com can help you find other people in your area that are interested in playing the games you want to play. It never hurts to check out the forums of big role-playing game publisher web sites—like Wizards of the Coast or Fantasy Flight Games—in search of players, either.

Lastly, if you’re having trouble understanding how things work, YouTube is your friend. You can find countless videos of real gameplay and rules explanation for whatever game you’re interested in. Watch a few games and you’ll start to see how the flow of a game should feel. This can be especially helpful if you want to run the game too.


Role-playing games are fun, exciting, and can actually help you learn a thing or two. So get out there, find a group, and don’t let the concept overwhelm you. Ease into the games and you may even make some new friends along the way. Role-playing games really are for everyone, especially you.

Photos by PublicDomainPictures, OpenClips, Dan Catchpole, Michael Harrison, Benny Mazur, potential past, Benny Mazur, Sean Ellis.

 

BATMAN VERSUS SUPERMAN

An older interview but a good one for insights…

Exclusive Interview With Zack Snyder, Director Of ‘Batman Vs. Superman’

Director Zack Snyder at the Japan premiere of his film “Man of Steel” in Tokyo, Japan, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (Shizuo Kambayashi/AP)

With the Man of Steel sequel about to start shooting in Detroit, fans have been hoping new information about the movie will drop soon, and desperately awaiting the reveal of the new batsuit and Wonder Woman costume. Well, dear readers, I had a chance to speak at length with the film’s director Zack Snyder, and we talked about Batman’s 75th Anniversary this year, about how he became a Batman fan, about his past film projects… and yes, about the upcoming Batman-Superman-Wonder Woman film.

Snyder revealed some interesting information about how Batman came to be involved in the story, about how Batman and Superman will face off in the movie, about how Watchmen is a good template for approaching a world where Batman and Superman coexist, and about the new costumes — including the giant picture of the costumes that’s hanging on the wall in his office (feel free to freak out).

We also discussed how his thoughts on the history of Terry Gilliam’s Watchmen project caused a crazy media reaction that got out of hand. And he told me how you might get to see his intended version of Sucker Punch some day, if all goes well.

One thing that comes across clearly when speaking with Zack Snyder is his passion for these projects, and how much thought he puts into the worlds and characters he builds on screen. You might be surprised to find out some of your assumptions about him or his films are probably very wrong. There are layers and ideas at work that too often go unappreciated, and as a fan of Snyder’s work I was happy to have this chance to explore those issues in depth with him.

To this day, his Watchmen remains one of the true masterpieces of the genre, and hearing him discuss it and how he is approaching this next DC film makes me suspect we might be getting another masterpiece in 2016 — and if you think that’s hyperbolic, just wait until you read what he said about his approach to the characters and story.

Okay, I think I’ve teased you enough, so let’s get on with it! And pay close attention to the details, folks…

MH: When did you become a fan of Batman, and of comics in general? Was it in the mid-1980s with the arrival of The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, two comics you often discuss with such adoration?

ZS: Frank [Miller]‘s book really made me see that comic books, and Batman specifically, could really reflect political and social concepts that I felt like maybe before I hadn’t imagined were possible. Watchmen, of course, I sort of see in the same light — that being, this comic that’s able to shed light on what I would say is our reality, but do it through the sort of metaphor and mythology of comic books, right?

For me, that’s really what The Dark Knight Returns did as well. When I read it, I felt like — of course I knew who Batman was and I was familiar with him as a comic book hero — but it was that book that made me say, “Gosh, you know this could be an amazing film.” At the time, I was just starting my college career, but I thought, “Wow this would be a cool movie!” I wasn’t sure exactly how that would manifest itself, but you know you dream when you’re a kid and you’re in college, “God, if one day I could make a Batman movie, that would be awesome!”

The reality of course is another thing, but it’s kind of amazing that it’s worked out as it has. You know, that’s the thing that you’ve just gotta be super-grateful for, and at the same time you’ve gotta take these opportunities. I think, in my mind — I don’t want to say make the most of it, but in a way you really have to accept these challenges and really try and realize those [opportunities]… Because, the things you thought when you first read them, you try to recapture those feelings. I always say that about Watchmen, when I first read it I had an emotional response to it, and that’s what I always tried to get at when I made the movie. It was a certain way of feeling, and I feel like that was what I really pursued — those ideas.

And I think those same opportunities exist for Batman and Superman, in the sense that they teach us about ourselves. I think Batman — now after Chris [Nolan]‘s movies and the way we track Batman through his cinematic history — he does have this license to enter our world and be a real character and not a complete cartoon, and he’s able to tell us about the way we live and our society. He moves with us, his morality — I think Superman probably less so, but I think Batman definitely sort of reflects us in a more personal way.

MH: Superman is kind of the ideal of what we’d like to be, and Batman is kind of rooted in what we are. He reflects what we are, so to speak.

ZS: Oh, 100%. And I think that’s at the heart of that, you know.

MH: When you came aboard Man of Steel, were you thinking in the back of your mind, “I could be the guy who gets to reboot Batman on film too!”

ZS: I gotta be honest, it definitely was a thing that… after Man of Steel finished and we started talking about what would be in the next movie, I started subtly mentioning that it would be cool if he faced Batman. In the first meeting, it was like, “Maybe Batman?” Maybe at the end of the second movie, some Kryptonite gets delivered to Bruce Wayne’s house or something. Like in a cryptic way, that’s the first time we see him. But then, once you say it out loud, right? You’re in a story meeting talking about, like, who should [Superman] fight if he fought this giant alien threat Zod who was basically his equal physically, from his planet, fighting on our turf… You know, who to fight next? The problem is, once you say it out loud, then it’s kind of hard to go back, right? Once you say, “What about Batman?” then you realize, “Okay, that’s a cool idea. What else?” I mean, what do you say after that? …But I’m not gonna say at all that when I took the job to do Man of Steel that I did it in a subversive way to get to Batman. I really believe that only after contemplating who could face [Superman] did Batman come into the picture.

MH: This year is the 75th anniversary of the first published Batman story, of course. But when the Man of Steel sequel hits theaters, it’ll be the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman’s first appearance in comics as well. And this year happens to be the 40th anniversary of Wonder Woman’s first live-action appearance, in the Cathy Lee Crosby TV movie on ABC. And on top of all of that, your Man of Steel sequel releases during the 35th anniversary of the first Christopher Reeve Superman film, too. So there’s all of these anniversaries and all of this history coming together around this production. Had you realized how significant the timing of this film was going to be? And that you’d be launching the first movie really showing and firmly establishing the much bigger DC Universe on film at this important time in everyone’s history?

ZS: We just went through Superman’s 75th, and it was very exciting… and to me, it was just really awesome. And the idea of having the Batman 75th and the Wonder Woman 75th together is kind of an amazing thing, too… The thing also that’s really fascinating for me is that, even just in the tests we’ve been doing, the costumes, right? You basically have Batman and Superman — and this is without Ben [Affleck] and Henry [Cavill] in the costumes, but just like the stand-ins, just testing to see what the costumes look like. And you have them standing there and they’re standing in the same shot — and then we have Wonder Woman, you know, all three of them in the same shot. Even just for a test, you really have to go, “Wow, that’s crazy!” Not only is it the first time that I’m seeing them, it’s the first time they’ve ever existed together on screen in a movie. And that’s kind of a huge deal. Even just Batman and Superman standing next to each other… [I]t’s kind of epic. You do sort of sense the weight of the pop culture iconography jumping out of its skin when you’re standing there looking at the two of them and Wonder Woman. It’s crazy. But it’s fun. I mean, I have the first photo, I’ve got it in my archive because I was like, “Okay, I better keep this, it’s gonna be worth something,” [laughs]!

MH: Fans are wondering, because there have been some reports that it could be much later this summer or even next year before the suits are revealed. Can you tell us if we really might have to wait six months to a year to see them, or could it be sooner?

ZS: Unfortunately, I don’t even know the timeline… Because the movie takes place so far from now, it’s hard to know exactly. That all gets tied to marketing and strategies for the movie. It’s not just a free-for-all, which I’d love it to be. Because I take a picture of the suit with my camera– I’m actually staring at one right now in my office. And it’s just massive on my wall in my office and it’s epic, let me tell you! And I’m like, “God, I want to send this to the Internet immediately.” But I know I’m not allowed to [laughs]! I do value the sort of excitement of the way the film is [revealed]… the pieces that are released and sort of trickle out to everybody, and those reveals are exciting milestones for us.

MH: People are always looking for the set photos and things. Feel free to tell fans, “Wait for the official release, it’ll be epic and that’s the way to experience this.” They’ll only get to go through this once, where you see Batman and Superman and Wonder Woman for the first time together like this, and it should be something better than a cheesy picture on an iPhone.

ZS: The one nice thing is that, the schedule is designed carefully so that I don’t know that that’ll be [a problem]– but who knows, these cats are pretty good at getting the drop on us with these photos. But, when we finally do show it, it’s gonna be real fun. And it’s true, you gotta make sure– you’re gonna want the real shot…

MH: When I first saw Watchmen, I came out thinking “That’s the way to approach a DC superhero team-up universe where the characters exist together, pseudo-realism and peering into the political implications and social backlash that would exist against costumed vigilantes, and really showing us the true nature of the sort of violence that would occur rather than sanitized bloodless, restrained application of force.” Can we expect some of those same kind of sensibilities to inform your approach to this next film? Not storywise, but that idea — which you mentioned earlier — of putting these realistic elements on screen, but also alongside some of the more fantastic things like Dr. Manhattan for example, but it all fits so perfectly?

ZS: …I think with Superman we have this opportunity to place this icon within the sort of real world we live in. And I think that, honestly, the thing I was surprised about in response to Superman was how everyone clings to the Christopher Reeve version of Superman, you know? How tightly they cling to those ideas, not really the comic book version but more the movie version… If you really analyze the comic book version of Superman, he’s killed, he’s done all the things– I guess the rules that people associate with Superman in the movie world are not the rules that really apply to him in the comic book world, because those rules are different. He’s done all the things and more that we’ve shown him doing, right? It’s just funny to see people really taking it personally… because I made him real, you know, I made him feel, or made consequences [in] the world. I felt like, it was the same thing in Watchmen. We really wanted to show it wasn’t just like they thought, like the PG-13 version where everyone just gets up and they’re fine. I really wanted to show the violence is real, people get killed or get hurt, and it’s not fun or funny. And I guess for me, it was like I wanted a hero in Superman that was a real hero and sort of reflected the world we live in now…

MH: He’s a big enough character and a good enough character, and the source material is rich enough, I think the material allows for a lot of these different approaches to the character. So when fans kind of feel like there’s only one correct way to approach it and only one right way, that’s a limited way of thinking about it, in my opinion.

ZS: I really believe this — and I think it’s obvious — I believe superheroes, they’re our modern myths. They’re our mythology in the modern world, and myth is designed to tell us about ourselves. In the ancient world, a volcano would go off or the stars would fall from the sky, and they would make a myth up around it to help ancient man to sleep at night or understand it, or at least to have a way of dealing with these things that were outside of their control. So, they’d make a story about a god on a mountain or whatever it is. And I think that’s kind of what our superheroes can do for us, they can help us explain our world a little bit.

I think that’s what Watchmen is a perfect example of, this comic book that tells us who we are. It actually tells us about our century, and about the nuclear age, and politics, and the balance between obliterating ourselves and going into the future, and what is justice, and what is the difference between right and wrong in the world– all the things are in the comic, and in the movie. And I think that Batman and Superman also in a weird way occupy similar space, that they are the most powerful, iconographic superhero figures, and they occupy a place in all of our collective consciousness. Almost every person in the world at one time or another has said, “I’m Batman!” I believe that that’s a powerful thing. And he absolutely can tell us about ourselves.

As we’ve been writing the script and talking about what to do with these characters, how they face off and why and what it means, you know, we’ve really tried to think about it in a real– I guess in a way that talks about who we are as well.

MH: I think the film wasn’t just faithful to the Watchmen comic, I think — and I know this is a controversial position — I think you got a lot more right, especially with the revelation of what the “secret conspiracy” was. I think it worked better and actually spoke more to the themes of the story, about this idea of the ultimate use of violence, finding some ultimate use of violence that would bring about ultimate peace. And how much vigilantism, our politics and warfare, and all of these things that are that same kind of balance seeking that same kind of thing. Your film really, I felt, got a lot of those things more right than the comic did in some ways. Not to take anything away from the comic, obviously.

ZS: No, no — and by the way, you know how I feel about the comic — but I just felt like, especially that concept, it just seemed obvious to me that of course you blame God. That’s the move. That’s Adrian [Veidt]‘s move, you pin it on God if you can. And I just felt like, to me it seemed dramatically obvious. … It’s funny, Terry Gilliam and I having this ridiculous back and forth– by the way, Terry Gilliam is literally one of my favorite filmmakers, and literally Brazil is one of my favorite movies of all time. I consider it a masterpiece… I don’t know, I just find the whole conversation, that whole thing that happened, ludicrous.

MH: So did I. It seemed very much to me like there were some folks within the media and within the fan community who were trying to create this false conflict, actually. Because I thought what you said was not only true, it was also very obvious what you meant. There were outlets that claimed you bashed Terry Gilliam or denounced him as a filmmaker, when obviously what you meant was that at that time it’s true the general consensus among studios and Terry Gilliam was that the story had to be changed or it just couldn’t be done. And people kind of refer to it as the “Terry Gilliam Watchmen project,” so when you said that, I took it as that kind of a reference, “Well, people thought this, and I was trying to rescue it from being changed.”

ZS: Exactly. That’s exactly how I meant it. I just meant that, you know– all I wanted to do was do it as close as I could to the way it was in the comic book. That was my entire point of view. And everyone was like, “You can’t do it like it was in the comic book, you have to figure out a way around it.” And I just said, “Well, let’s try it — and maybe we’ll fail — but that’s the idea.” So yeah, I agree. Look, I have nothing but respect for Terry Gilliam, and I think he’s a genius. So, that’s that.

MH: When I saw 300: Rise of An Empire, I happen to have seen Jason and the Argonauts two days earlier on the big screen at Quentin Tarantino’s theater in West Hollywood [note: it is actually in Los Angeles, I misspoke here]… I saw them basically back-to-back. When I saw it — and I’m glad I did, because I don’t know if I would’ve made the connection — I felt like there’s a very strong connection between Jason and the Argonauts and your 300 movies. Did you go back and look at those older kind of classic sword-and-sandles genre movies to inform or think about how to approach the 300 series?

ZS: I’ll be honest, I do think those movies touched me most powerfully when I was watching them on Saturday afternoon on TV at home. And probably Frank [Miller] as well, to be honest… I think the connection for me is that idea of taking Greek myth or Greek mythology or fake Greek settings, whatever you want to call it — that time in between history, it feels like it’s sort of out of history but it’s in a time, right? And it’s kind of setting a movie there. I think if anything, that’s what those movies really are able to do to me. Because in a way they feel like, it’s almost like Excalibur, where you feel like it happened, but it still exists outside of the reality we know [and] what’s possible to us. But there was another time when that was.

And maybe that’s kind of what 300 is about, in a weird way. It’s about history that’s out of time. It’s funny, because I was talking — and I won’t say who said it — but I was talking to a history professor who said that 300 has done more for the classics than any school. Because kids, they see 300, and then they’ve read Herodotus or sort of gone to look at the real story of 300, and it’s just one of those things… Even my kids at school… this was before they even knew that I did the movie, right? The teacher would bring in 300 to show, to get them excited about history. They’d edited it, of course. But, you know, this is a way of starting to talk about Thermopylae. I’m not an advocate of that, I gotta be honest, [laughing] because I just find that slightly irresponsible. But on the other hand, the kids would be like, “That was cool, maybe history’s okay.”

MH: You probably won a lot of converts to it who might not otherwise have paid as much attention or sought out those stories.

ZS: I 100% think that’s true. Look, I think it’s a lot of fun, that’s my feeling about it. I mean, I make those movies with a sense of irony. I made both those movies with a sense of, you know, there was a tongue in our cheek… I believe in the heroic aspect of the sacrifice, and that’s not funny. But there was a tone to the movie, it knows what it is, it’s not trying to pull the wool over your eyes. It’s very straightforward about what it’s doing.

There’s that Leonidas scene, the apple eating scene in the movie — in the original 300 – where’s he’s all like, “There’s no reason we can’t be civil, is there?” And the guy’s stabbing, he’s killing helpless guys laying on the ground, and he’s like, “No, no sire, none.” It’s kind of like, okay I get it! I think that stuff is fun. …But that idea of a beautiful death is a thing that is outside of our way of thinking. These are guys that literally had this aesthetic idea about how they would die on the battlefield, almost like samurai. They had a picture in their mind of the perfect death, and these Spartans were looking to fulfill that. And that is a thing that is outside of our way of thinking.

MH: “A good death is its own reward.”

ZS: Yeah, by the way, a little bit. And those scenes I find really kind of fun and interesting, and fun to kind of challenge the viewer with, because… it’s just not the way we think. That’s the Fassbender line in 300, where Mike Fassbender says, “With all the world’s armies down there, there’s gotta be someone who can give it to me.” Like, basically, “I’m crossing my fingers that someone down there can kill me! Maybe?”

MH: The media and fans kind of treat it like there’s this harsh competitiveness between Marvel and DC to the point you’re trying to hurt each other’s films. But my feeling is — and I wrote an article for Forbes about it saying — that’s not really true. There’s a competitiveness, but everyone wins when there’s a successful film in the genre, and nobody wants to cause the other’s films to fail. Is that true?

ZS: I think that’s 100% true. Look, I’m a fan of the Marvel movies… and the thing that’s awesome is, we make a different movie. We have a different product than them, although they both exist in sort of the superhero world, which is great. I think that those are the opportunities. That’s what you get at the movies, you get a chance to go to all these different worlds. And I’m as interested in going to the Marvel Universe as anybody. So, I personally don’t think that there’s any, from my point of view, we definitely don’t have any animosity or anything of that nature. We’re all in this big business together, and we hope people are interested in the adventures that we put up on screen. And I do believe it’s infectious, and the next weekend you’re like, “You know what? Let’s go do that again, that was awesome. We saw a cool movie, maybe we’ll get another cool movie.”

[On how his films are often misunderstood and underestimated…]

ZS: We were just talking about — and I don’t know if it’ll happen — but I was talking to DJ [John DesJardin], my visual effects supervisor, about doing this special edition of Sucker Punch, which is sort of like this super-super-uncensored “uninfluenced by the studio” version of the movie. Which exists, you know, I had it cut. It was my very, very first cut of the movie, which is basically more like the script… it’s much more meta, it’s much more of an indictment of fandom and it’s just… harder on the genre, which is how it was designed.

MH: That message was there, and I got it. You’ve said before that you think people misunderstood your films and that they don’t get credit for being as smart as they are. I absolutely agree and that’s the argument I’ve been making for years, including about Sucker Punch, which I think is great.

ZS: Did you see that SlashFilm thing that they did on Sucker Punch? The SlashFilm guy [Adam Quigley] did this little video, it’s about seven minutes long, I think it’s called, “You Don’t Understand Sucker Punch.” And he really breaks it down in a really, really cool way, and I was like, “ Wow!” …His thing is like, you can dislike the film, but you can’t dislike it because it’s “dumb.” That was his argument, you know — it’s fine to not like a movie, but you can’t not like a movie for something that it is not. And it is frustrating, I’ll be 100% honest. Sometimes I do get frustrated. I’m categorized as basically this visualist whose movies don’t mean anything–

MH: Which is completely false.

ZS: –I think that that’s part of it… aesthetically those things are so important to me, that I think people just assume that’s just “eye candy” so it doesn’t mean anything. I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy…

MH: No, there are actually some really good essays written by feminist journalists defending Sucker Punch and pointing out that the misunderstanding about the movie is entirely because people are assessing it through the typical, standard fanboy approach to watching these films and to looking at women, and the film is the opposite of that. Really, really eye-opening assessments of the movie by these women and I send the links around all the time to people whenever I see a conversation come up about the film.

ZS: Yeah. By the way, you should send them to me. You should, because I really feel like there’s one thing about it that I always say — and I don’t want to bore you with it — but, it’s one of those things that I find it’s not hard to look at it like, there’s not one redeemable male character in the movie except for the imaginary bus driver, you know what I mean? It’s the Scott Glenn character, this kind of fake father we all imagine but that is not real. It’s very much an incredibly girl-power movie, not like girl-power in the comic book way but in the sort of psychological way.

MH: The camera’s never looking at them from an ogling perspective — the same as with 300. Nobody’s complaining that 300 that movie is just hyper-sexualizing the men and doing nothing but ogling them, even though they’re half-naked, and it’s because the film is from their perspective and has a male perspective. And Sucker Punch very much has that female perspective, which is one of the main points some of these essays have made… I think you’ll find it enlightening just how many fangirls like that movie…

ZS: That’s interesting, that’s really cool. But yeah, please do send that along, that’d be awesome.

Big thanks to Zack Snyder for taking so much time to talk with me! Hope you enjoyed it, dear readers — sound off with your thoughts and comments below!

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DAREDEVIL

Now this is the way you do the Man Without Fear

DEAD HEADS

I’m not really a fan of the Walking Dead, but my children certainly are. So for all your Dead Heads out there, in the case you haven’t seen this already…

THE JOKES ON US

Mega Buzz: When Will We Meet The Joker on Gotham?

Cory Michael Smith; The Joker Cory Michael Smith; The Joker

Fox’s Batman prequel Gotham will have no shortage of Easter eggs in the coming weeks as the show prepares to introduce the eventual parents of Dick “Robin” Grayson as well as nascent versions of supervillains The Scarecrow and The Red Hood. But what about The Joker?

Although executive producer Bruno Heller initially planned to wait a while to introduce Batman’s most famous nemesis, he now says that viewers will actually get a glimpse before the end of the first season. “We’ve said you’re going to be waiting a bit longer for it, but this is America — nobody wants to wait,” Heller tells TVGuide.com with a laugh. “So, we will scratch the surface of that story, yes. But just scratch it — a little tap on the door.”

Check out all this week’s Mega Buzz items!

In the meantime, the remainder of Season 1 will turn its attentions to Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) and his path to villainy as The Riddler. “Penguin [Robin Lord Taylor] was born a sociopath and was always going down this path one way or another,” Heller says. “Nygma is someone who becomes the villain, and we see that journey begin in the second half of the season.”

Though he currently seems to be hitting it off with file clerk Kristen Kringle (Chelsea Spack), we’re betting that it’ll be a bitter breakup that starts Ed’s transformation. “What motivates people to do things is oftentimes love,” Spack says. “He is slowly starting to break through her defenses, but we take two steps forward and then one step back. It’s not smooth sailing for Edward Nygma. It’s complicated for her to have somebody’s feelings in her hand. It’s not as simple as rejecting somebody and having a clean conscience because she’s starting to realize how deeply he cares.”

Crave scoop on your favorite TV shows? E-mail questions to mega_scoop@tvguide.com or drop us a line at Twitter.com/TVGuide.

GOT TRAILER? NO? THEN SEE SEASON FIVE

SOME OF THE BEST

36 of the Best Roleplaying Games

“I love video games, but you can’t beat the magic in the personal interaction around a table.” — Filamena Young


Just as there really is no such thing as a best book or movie, there is no best roleplaying game, or even best in a particular category. But if you’re looking for something new to try, this selection of games will help. The games were selected to cover a wide spectrum of game mechanics, settings, and play styles. Some are well known, others relatively obscure. Some are licensed from video games, movies, TV shows, or books. Some are free for download, and several provide free quickstart PDFs.

Select an image to read a full page writeup about that game, including overview information, three of the things that make the game stand out out, purchasing information, and links to reviews and community sites.


13th Age
All Flesh Must Be Eaten
Apocalypse World
Atlantis: The Second Age

Basic Roleplaying
Burning Wheel
Doctor Who
Dragon Age

Dread
Dungeon Crawl Classics
Dungeon World
Dungeons and Dragons

Eclipse Phase
Fate Core
Fiasco
Firefly

Godlike
GURPS
Lady Blackbird
Microscope

Mindjammer
Mini Six
Misspent Youth
Mutants and Masterminds

Night's Black Agents
Numenera
Pathfinder
Pendragon

RuneQuest
Savage Worlds
Shadowrun
A Song of Ice and Fire

Star Wars
Swords & Wizardry
Traveller
Valiant Universe

COMPACT OF THE BASILEGATE

This is the compact or agreement which is signed by every character who wishes to serve in the Basilegate. Of course the requirements to be chosen are rigorous (they were looser in the beginning but became more standardized and more selective over time) and one cannot just join, one must be both sponsored and invited since the very existence of the group is unknown to most people, including most high representatives of the government, military, and church. No one, even the Team Members themselves are absolutely certain who knows of their existence and who does not, and whereas many people know of the group’s existence as a Diplomatic Team, this is merely a cover for their far more secretive and covert activities.

There is no such Compact or agreement undertaken by members of other teams though the Hoshi has an oral agreement, the Oro does as well, and the Caerkara has a legal agreement but nothing really similar to the Compact, which details duties, careers, obligations, rewards, and future potential advancements.

 

Compact Of The Basilegate

By authority of the Emperor Nikephorus, Basileus of New Rome and the Roman Empire, it has been ordered that the Strategion, War Academy of Constantinople, create an official legation known as the Basilegate, the Imperial Legate, to be constituted in the year 805 Anno Domini.

This legation shall be charged with those official duties expressly demanded by Emperor Nicephorus and his representatives. These duties shall include, but are not limited to the following services; Work against the enemies of the empire, internal and external, the suppression of enemy raids and pirating activities, land and seas, the securing of lawless areas and the capture or elimination of criminals, action as official enquirers, action as emissaries and diplomats and as representatives of the Empire and King, and to render whatever other services are deemed fit and necessary by the Empire. That this legation shall swear allegiance to the Emperor and his servants and representatives and shall swear allegiance to the Church in order to serve the Empire as needed.

This legation shall by law and structure be attached to the Strategion and shall receive their orders from the War Academy and from those representatives of the Emperor placed in command of the legation.

The legation shall be initially equipped at Imperial expense, which shall provide arms and armor, and tack, tackle, and gear for their provision. All additional gear and equipment will be provided from War Franchise at reduced cost, as well as reduced cost for training and what additional supplies are as required for the execution of official duties. In addition such travel expenses as are accrued, either by land or by sea shall be compensated as long as those expenses are acquired by conduct of official assignment. Furthermore all additional expenses shall likewise be compensated, whether of travel or of board or equipment or supplies or of food and the legation shall be housed at imperial expense whenever they are stationed in Constantinople.

Whatever additional rewards accrue to the legation shall be theirs to keep and dispense with as they see fit, but the legation shall not be empowered to collect fees or levy taxes in the name of Empire, Emperor or Church. They shall not levy taxes or fees of any kind while executing official duties but may keep rewards and payments they receive for additional services in the name of the empire as long as such additional services do not detract from or conflict with their primary duties and services.

This legation shall travel and execute their duties with the full approval and official support of Empire and Church, but shall remain a secret legation, unknown to the general populace and civil and military authorities, with the exception of those individuals and authorities who need to be aware of the nature of the legation. The legation will travel as needed in disguise. The legation shall be free to act as necessary to execute their duties and are fully empowered to take whatever actions necessary to execute their duties as long as such actions do not imperil the sacred honor of Emperor, Empire or Christian sanctity.

In reward of six years of honorable service this legation and all of the individuals of this legation shall receive in compensation; farm lands of their own in Anatolia, severance pay upon termination, and their farm lands shall be free from annual land taxes, in perpetua. In addition if the members of this legation shall further continue their service beyond the term of their six years either as a renewed legate, or in order to train their successors, or to teach at War Academy or University then they shall also receive; a small estate built upon their granted farm lands, shall be empowered to levy taxes for the Imperial Theme which they inhabit, and shall be granted a seat with the Emperor in Constantinople during Communions performed on High Holy Days. The enumerations of this contract shall constitute the entirety of the duties and compensations respected by all members of this legation and their superiors and their Emperor.

End of Compact

A NICE UPGRADE

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