Monthly Archives: March 2013

Poll Results and a New Poll

Thanks to everybody who has voted in the poll where I asked what topics I should cover. In total, I received 116 votes.  The results were not that much of a surprise; you guys voted mostly for what I have been posting about anyway:

pollresults

It’s easy to explain that – if a certain type of post is common, the people who are attracted by that will vote for more of the same type. Still, it’s good to know my readership.

As a consequence of this poll, I will retire the plot-a-day series – it’s been mostly plot-a-quarter anyway, and I haven’t quite been happy with them anyway. They’ll stay in the archives, but don’t expect any more of them.

The one true surprise is that Game Design received so many votes, considering I have not posted much about it, especially lately. I have heard you, and I will pick up my efforts to design a game system again. Just give me a little while to get some other stuff out of the way.

As for genres, science fiction was the clear winner over fantasy, but again, I have been posting a lot of science fiction stuff. I won’t alienate those of you who enjoy it that way, so no worries, but I will provide more fantasy posts as well because I believe it’s underrepresented. The site, after all, is called Enderra.com after my fantasy world, and it’s a shame that there is so little material on, well, Enderra here.

The New Poll

The new poll is even more blatant: With this I wish to find out which of my settings are actually interesting to you guys! Let me know – and I will give you what you want… 😉

Thanks to Adam for pointing out that the downloads of Shakespeare & Dragons episodes 10 and 13 were broken. I think it happened when Google updated Docs to become Drive. Anyway, I have fixed them, now hosting them on my own server.

As a VERY SPECIAL BONUS… I noticed that I actually have a 16th episode, “The Missing Ingredient”, which I never uploaded because for some reason it also does not show up in my iTunes. It’s now been added – enjoy!

Links:

  • Episode 10 – Plot Part Three, Structuring Plot from Character Desires and Forces of Antagonism
  • Episode 13 – Setting Part Two, Creating Cultural Attributes
  • Episode 16 – The Missing Ingredient

 

Enderran Epic Moment in Gaming

I haven’t actually played an RPG in a long time (I’d like to get back into it, in the unlikely event that any gamers in Berlin, Germany read this) and consequently I do not usually have much to contribute to the RPG Carnival. However, I feel I have an anecdote for this month’s topic, “Epic Moments In Gaming”:

Back in 1992, we were running a GURPS Fantasy campaign, set in the first incarnation of Enderra (yes, the namesake of this site). During one session, the players explored a dungeon found under a local tavern, where slavers were keeping kidnapped citizens imprisoned. They were cooperating with the main antagonist of the campaign, an evil wizard. In one room, a group of the wizard’s henchmen were summoning a demon. This was really just intended for color – the players were supposed to pass this room quietly by, as the enemies were clearly way too powerful for them.

I hadn’t quite gotten the hang of player psychology then.

The group’s mage announced: “I cast a fireball, as powerful as I can make it, and center it on the demon that is materializing!”

Everybodye else: “Noooooooo!”

The fireball incapacitated or killed the mages summoning the demon, but did not harm the demon at all – it being completely immune to fire damage. It quickly devoured the mages, then escaped the dungeon, sparing the players – it had other plans, and besides, they had freed it, and that put it in a good mood. The players completed the dungeon and then escaped through the tavern, which by this time was ablaze.

Over night, the fire spread and burned down half the harbor district. Volunteers who had arrived to help fight the fire had been found mangled and partially eaten. The players decided to flee the city by boat that very morning.

The campaign ended, and a few years later we revisited Enderra. The timeline had advanced by a thousand years, and in between the terrible Demon War had devastated the lands. (This was my way of retconning the world to conform to my current notions of what a fantasy setting should be like.)

A few months into this new campaign, the players rescued a wizard from an extraplanar prison on an ice world. They did not recognize his name – Darka Terem – from the first campaign, but after his demonic guardians had been defeated and he was free, he told him that he had been imprisoned there after having walked into a trap. He and his friends, companions and hired mercenaries had been fighting in the Demon War.

“It was a terrible war,” he told them. “And it had all happened so suddenly, after a single demon got loose in the port city Ellienhaven. Never found out where that beast came from but it burned half the town down and escaped before anybody could find it and defeat it – and then it called in the legions of hell that almost destroyed our world.”

The characters obviously had no relation to the events of the first campaign. But my players looked at me, and you could see actual shock on their faces.

“Oh shit,” the guy who had played the wizard in the GURPS campaign said. “That was our fault, was it not?”

That moment alone repaid me for years of hard work as a game master…

Avatar

I finally watched Avatar, because some people wouldn’t shut up about how great the movie is. I normally avoid mega-hits like this as if they were the plague, but I tried to be unbiased going in. And guess what? It was a terrible movie: Terrible characters, weak pacing, crappy story, bad world-building, predictable plot, and a garbage pop song after the inevitable and totally obvious ending.

Last time I listen to your advice, Internet!

There are some specks of light in the deep darkness that is Avatar, though: The marine Colonel was cool (the actor basically revisited this role in Terra Nova, where he was also one of the few highlights). Some of the visuals were very impressive, especially the landscape. And the Mecha were pretty awesome; use these for a Starship Troopers remake, please.

I gotta say I am in awe that this thing became a blockbuster. Marketing, I guess, coupled with the inherent stupidity of the unwashed masses – the same reasons Harry Potter became a hit.

Some specifics:

  • The movie couldn’t decisde what it wanted to be, and in the end turned out to be Science Fantasy. You know, a fairy tale. Definitely not science fiction, no matter how far you stretch the term.
  • Unobtanium is a sci fi joke. Don’t make a joke a central plot point, unless you intend to go for silly. It may seem cool at the moment you write it, but the joke quickly wears itself out.
  • Floating mountains? Yeah. Okay. Outland called and wants its pebbles back.
  • If the guidance systems and even simple radar do not work, then how can the electronics needed to connect Sully to his Avatar work? This is a plot hole big enough to fly an entire fleet of those big-ass transport planes through
  • A daisy cutter is an actual bomb, the BLU-82. Why do they have to use palettes of dynamite 140 years in the future, if they have access to pretty much every other toy in the catalogue?
  • None of the Na’vi should have survived the felling of the Home Tree, and frankly, the movie would have been better for it.
  • Please hide your native Americans and their alien horses better next time, or at least don’t claim hitherto unseen heights of world-building if you can’t deliver

Oh well, at least now I can talk back the next time someone tries to coerce me into watching something.