30 March 2008

Stress, impotence and mistakes

I have spent the entire weekend trapped in the tiniest corner of my tiny mind, rattling the bars of the cage with no sign of their loosening nor any way to release the lock.

I have no idea what has kicked off this feeling of constant stress, these reactions and the utter impotence I feel with regards to breaking out have meant that everything I have touched over the two days has inevitably ended with some kind of mistake - no matter how small - that has provoked over-the-top anguish and self-defeating anger or despair.

All of which is in stark contrast to Friday when, despite waking up with a mild hangover from the night before, and despite the howling gale and sleety rain, despite a day of interminable boredom at work, and with no rationale behind it, from the moment I woke I felt obscenely serene, as if something was going to (or had) just drop(ed) into place. It didn't and hadn't of course; nothing ever does.

26 March 2008

Dark Heresy

So over the Easter weekend I had cause to play the Warhammer 40k RPG, Dark Heresy. The short version: it's WFRP with bigger guns, to no-ones surprise.

The long version would recount a very enjoyable long weekend of which two days were given over to gaming, but I can't be arsed; so instead the version presented is Condensed Random Thoughts Provoked by Playing. Bear in mind that I don't own the book, nor have I read it through. What I have done is glanced at bits that were pertinent to the game as played, and participated in several hours of actual play.

  • • WFRP with bigger guns - characters are similarly (in)competent, system works identically in play, etc. This is no bad thing; it immediately felt familiar and smooth, and of course similar themes abound, even if the tech level is ramped up.
  • • Get up close and personal. Especially with a shotgun. Jeez... the +30 to hit and extra hit per 2 degrees success at point blank were responsible for some fine spray mess.
  • • The career organization felt... whacky. For example Assassins need to be 3rd rank (1500+ XP) before they can learn to hide skillfully. WTF?
  • • Not allowing the same half action to be repeated caused some consternation to stand-and-shoot types. And monkey dancing. In a fez. Yes, you read that right, and I'm only slightly making it up.
  • • Psykers are interesting things to have around, not least for when they fuck up.
  • • Two 100s in a row is one hell of a way to burn a Fate Point, and what a game to roll it in. Low damn you dice. Low!
  • • Niche protection works, but my god if it didn't feel like the characters were one-trick ponies at low XP levels.
  • • Defaulting a whole sessions worth of Tech Use roles as a low int Void Born made for some interest. The skill splits definitely increase the need for balanced groups given the penalty for defaulting, and the basic/advanced differential.
  • • Jesus fuck why weren't tables etc done in a sensible order (alphabetised, maybe?)? It made finding things take far longer than it should and somewhat frustrating.
All in all it was a fun weekend, and everyone said they had enjoyed the game and would play again - though everyone agreed on some of the "slightly off" points above and felt some tweaking very much required in future.

I doubt I'll pick it up - if I were to run 40k inquisitors, I'd probably look first to a port of Dogs in the Vineyard - but I'm certainly glad to have played it and would do so again.


I think I may have enjoyed a Comic/Graphic Novel for the first time...

... and I can't put my finger on why.

I'm confused a little, not by the enjoyment - though it did surprise me, and I'm still not sure if enjoyed is quite the right term - but because I can't place what it was that kept me reading, or appreciating or... well, stopped me dismissing it as I have dismissed all other (sparse, and few though they may be) such works I've happened to browse. (As an aside I've never grokked or enjoyed superheroes much since - or before? - that either though cause/effect breakdown is not so clear).

I'm just not a particularly visually-minded person, never have been, and long ago I wrote off comics as "not for me" as a result. Not as childish (though I'm sure that figured somewhere at the time), nor as lesser art forms, but as not for me. I've never been shy of admitting this in conversation so to be honest I was a little surprised when Paul passed me the 4 Scott Pilgrim strips to borrow after the last game session I made, but thought I'd take a look since the offer was there.

So I packed 'em with my stuff at the end of the night. And I then forgot about them for a week, until the moment when I couldn't make it to that week's session for fear of spreading my lurgy (manflu!) ahead of people's holidays (and the Dark Heresy game I was attending over Easter). So that evening instead of gaming (the end of the current game and last session for a while) I curled up in bed far later than planned, and read book 1 cover to cover - despite being conscious of thinking "what the hell is the appeal supposed to be?" at every moment along the way and being aware of a general feeling of meh building in my mind.

Book 2 I read a couple of days later, again in one sitting, again far too late at night. I remember the overwhelming feeling was not meh, not cool!, not amusement, but rather "Oh, that's where that forum handle comes from".

But it was last night's reading of books 3 and 4, back to back, that... somehow left me feeling I actually want to know what happens next; I'm both interested and engaged. The humour grew on me, I can pinpoint that, but it wasn't laugh-out-loud funny to a degree that explains the interest alone.

Enh, it'll wear off and I suspect I'll have forgotten about it as/when the 5th volume is published or the optioned film comes out. I'm not likely to buy, go see, or even think about them, nor any other comic not offered to me on a platter. That said, it is never a bad thing to find doors not as shut as you thought if the other side is not perilous, eh?

But I just have this nagging "why?" y'know? I like to know, or perhaps more accurately be able to articulate, why something appeals to me - basically so I can find similar stuff. Call it a quirk. And for the moment the take-home sensation for me is a big ol' ... WTF?

Oh well.

11 March 2008

So Red Snapper Reformed...

...which won't mean an awful lot to very many, but they're one of my all time favourite groups and they reformed (or at the very least became active again) last year after a long hiatus.

I only found out about it this week, and am currently agonising over whether to get tickets to travel alone to London to see them play one midweek in April. Then today I stumbled across them on MySpace and via there YouTube clips of a recent show...