The DM Screen

Who remembers this?

DM Screen (1999)

A throwback to my AD&D days, oh how glorious they were, the adventures, the battles, the atmosphere down in the dungeon err… basement. Back in 1999 this little Dungeons & Dragons adventure came with the Collector’s Edition of Diablo II, along with a set of dice, cardboard tile sets, Quest and Rules book, character sheets and of course, the Dungeon Master Screen!

I haven’t touched these in ages and only recently found them collecting dust in one of my old PC games boxes. I went and scanned in the original cardboard tiles, the character sheets and printed them so I can keep the originals unscathed as they are still in pristine condition, a miracle after all this time.

Of course, my son and I had to play! He had many questions! How does this work? Oh, imagination is a powerful thing! But how do you know where to go? How do you fight the monsters, who wins? How? What? Why? So many questions! And naturally, I again assumed the role of DM, a concept my son thought to be a “conflict of interest” with me being the dad and all and he wanted to be the DM but nay, son, first thou hast to complete thine quest!

And questing we did, he totally got into it and with the added fun of laying out the dungeon with the tile sets and the little tokens for heroes, monsters and treasure or traps he was fully immersed into the story, making his way to the Monastery of the Sightless Eye, carefully contemplating his every action, lest his little wee Necromancer would find an untimely end… after all, there have been frightening rumors of great evil surrounding the monastery!

Dungeon Layout for Quest 0

It was a great way to introduce role playing to my son, a passion of mine from my childhood, having played AD&D (or “Das Schwarze Auge” as it was called in German), Midgard and Mers and a bit of Hârn but mostly AD&D through endless nights together with friends, making lasting memories of candle wax dripping onto the carpet and mom shouting from above “DINNER IS READY!!!”, ah yes, the days when you couldn’t connect to the internet because … take note, there WAS no internet! Yes, yes. No Google. No Spotify. No nothing. We used MCs for ambience… true story.

And now? Well, I am looking forward to braving many more adventures again with my young apprentice, no internet needed either, although we may use it to stream some ambient music and use tablets or phones for digital character sheets and all that. One day, I am sure he will be the DM and go on adventures of his own with his friends, one day soon…

Day 1 with Twine 2

I did a lot of interactive Fiction (IF) reading in my past and dabbled a bit in inform7 years ago and recently discovered inklewriter and loved it. It’s very slick! Albeit, after losing a whole story without means to recover it, I shied away from it as it doesn’t allow for local saving. Too bad.

In comes Twine 2.0. So easy! I love it! “Day 1” is my first stab at “IF” in Twine, learning the syntax and all, looking at the wiki and trying out some basic stuff. I used the default theme Harlowe and literally hacked this together in one evening, so bear with me! There might be bugs!

I can highly recommend checking out Twine if you are into interactive fiction writing or are looking for a prototyping tool for your game ideas.

Ready for Day 1? (save as html and open in your browser)

Casshern (2004)

CasshernFor those not familiar with the anime series “Cashan, The Robot Hunter” which “Casshern” is based on, this movie may be a tiny bit confusing. Additionally, there is a lot of text to read with subtitles racing by (as there is only a Japanese audio track) and on top of that, the subtitles are not beneath but across the film which can be distracting and since they are burnt in, you can’t switch them off either. Also, cutting the movie by 24 minutes for Region 1 DVD release may have been a marketing decision, somehow I am not so sure it was the right one. Enough of these technicalities and on to the story then!

In director Kazuaki Kiriya’s debut effort we meet “Casshern”, a young man killed in war and risen from the dead by supernatural powers, reincarnated to fight against evil – but let’s rewind a bit.

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The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

The Bourne UltimatumMatt Damon once again shows us how good Jason Bourne is in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). In fact, he is so good, it is unbelievable how good he really is but this is beside the point since we do not care if Bourne is a believable character or what his real name is. It does not matter at all. What matters is the action, the stunts, the chases, and more of the same, perfectly orchestrated to one big race with one winner, Bourne, of course.

Now, if you dig all that then you will enjoy this third installment, even though I must say the often praised shaky camera cinematography has been annoying at times in this one, pay attention to the camera shakiness and judge for yourself.

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Shoot ‘Em Up (2007)

Shoot ‘em Up (2007)

I went to see “Shoot ‘Em Up” (2007) directed by Michael Davis without reading anything about it and so I was in for quite a surprise.

The film starts out with the hero “Smith” (Clive Owen) sitting on a bench at night waiting for a bus, munching on a carrot when a pregnant woman in a yellow raincoat stumbles by moaning. She disappears in a nearby alley and is being followed by a very angry man with a gun. This prompts our hero to get involved and angry, too. From that moment on it is all about shooting people.

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Spider-Man 3 (2007)

Spiderman 3The 3rd installment of the Spider-Man franchise is supposed to be the best yet. Does it live up to the hype? Let’s find out!

Spider-Man 3” tagged as “The battle within” features two new villains Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) and Venom (Topher Grace) although the latter takes over Spider-Man first turning him into an aggressive Peter “Saturday Night Fever” Parker, strolling the streets of NY city, singing, snipping his fingers and hunting skirts. Certainly not what I was expecting as a side effect of being possessed by some evil, sinister organism from outer space called “Venom”…

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300 (2006)

300Zack Snyder brings Frank Miller’s graphic novel “300” based on the Battle of Thermopylae onto the big screen. This movie is oozing with glistening manly chests (not one chest hair to be found) and (you may have guessed this much) 300 stout Spartan warriors from tip to toe clad in only the most necessary garments, wielding a hefty spear and shield.

Do not look for character development or historical accuracy here, if you want that go see the 1962 version “The 300 Spartans“. Here you get digitally enhanced muscles, lots and lots of slow motion battle scenes tinted in Sepia, severing of heads and limbs in slow motion and some heterosexual activities.

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Lost: Locke’s Dad did it!

This week on “Lost” we meet “The Man From Tallahassee” and so does Locke. Anthony Cooper did it. Oh my, so we finally know why and how Locke ended up in a wheelchair. Never mind it only took 3 seasons and a total of 61 episodes each running approx. 45 minutes which adds up to a total of 2745 minutes, to clear up that little yet super important incident. Anyone who still thinks that this way of advancing a plot line is a good idea, think again.

Locke faces his greatest fear now! His father! I can already hear youtube fake episodes sprouting up: “Locke, I’m your father. The force is strong in you my son. Come join me and together we shall rule this island!”

OK, maybe not. Despite all this flashback nonsense people still rave about Lost and rate this week’s episode as high as ever while in fact if you ponder about how the second season ended and how Lost so far failed to pick up on “that” story line (Desmond-wife) and how so many “other” story lines are in limbo, abandoned, underdeveloped, changed, mended and otherwise rewritten to fit whatever circumstances (think DUI) then one cannot help but wonder why one should bother with all this mystery anymore. Yet, one does and is quite lost about the “why”.

The big black box awaits and Charlie still has to die.

Casino Royale (2006)

Casino Royale (2006)I was very skeptical at first when I read about Daniel Craig being the “new” Bond in “Casino Royale“. Soon, critics would start raving how good he is and how this “Bond” movie takes the franchise back to its roots. Less CGI, more story, more character was the word. And it’s all true.

At 144 minutes “Casino Royale” clocks in as enjoyable as ever. Gone are the cheesy special effects galores, gone are the pitiful impressions of double-O sevens, Daniel Craig is the new Bond with balls of steel as we find out later in the movie when he says:
“Now the whole world will know that you died scratching my balls!”

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Charlie Pace is a dead man

Remember when I wrote back in October 2006 when Lost Season 3 started how Dominic Monaghan’s character is a major pain in the ass and needs to go? “Lost” is back after its mid season hiatus and lo and behold in episode 8 we find out that someone has to die. Oh what joy, it is Charlie Pace. Bickering about screen time again, Dominic? Get lost!

The series ratings are as low as ever which comes to no surprise to us and quite frankly, viewers no longer care about the “mystery”, the “numbers” or who will die next. It’s over. It is a lost cause. Writers, wrap up the story as long as you can, the cancellation axe is dropping fast and I am far from being the only one who thinks Lost needs an exit strategy.