JP On Gaming

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

[Review] Mobile Suit Z-Gundam

I was lucky enough to find a special sub'd version of all 50 episodes of Mobile Suit Z-Gundam. This series was originally shown in Japan in 1986-87.

Now when the show started, I expected something similar to the origanl series, with complex characters, both for the good and bad guys. Even if most of the villains were somewhat crazy with maniacal goals and short-term obsessions. But still, a few of the villains, such as the Zabi family and Char Aznable, had goals that could be understood. They may be evil but you can see how they do not see themselves as bad.

The basic story is ten years after the original series, with the defeat of the Principality of Zeon, the Earth Federation created a new group to ensure no group in space would grow powerful enough to threaten it, called the Titans. In the decade since, the Titans grow into a militaristic powerhouse that subsumes the Earth Federation Military.

And what happens when you give people all the best and latest weaponry and a decent dose of power?

You end up with a "Who watches the watchers" scenario where, on one side, the Titans want to assure and consolidate their power. And on the other, freedom fighters who oppose the move.

I won't go into the many twists of the series, but from the AEUG (Anti-Earth Union Group), the Earth Federation, and the Titans, we later add a group of Neo-Zeon trying to return to prominence.

Our heroes here are a gathering of random people from the latter group. Most have no ideological attachment to one side or the other. Some are there because of someone else. And others have a private reason to join one side. There are 50 episodes, so that makes a LOT of characters.

Of course, my favorite in Gundam-dom, appears here as a good guy. Char Aznable (going by the name Quattro) is a lieutenant in the AEUG and one of their best mobile suit pilot. His presence and participation in the events starts as something of a mystery but his charisma and intelligence shine through as the series progresses. He is Mr Cool throughout the series, keeping his eyes on the prize (most of the time). His reactions are very human and make him an endearing figure throughout the series.

The main character is Kamille. Many people make jokes that his is a woman's name (in French, it is a unisex name). At first, he is a petulant child, but losses and lessons hit him hard at the end.

One side plot involves the many women, on both sides, who try to prove themselves as pilots but also try to figure out their places as women. Their role is contrasted by the women who took on domestic roles. I found the questioning, the answers, and the doubts they went through to be surprisingly deep. They are not just eye candy (though some of their dresses in space are odd choices...). I found myself wondering about the two roles women have. I thought it was a well-presented dilemma overall.

A major element of the story has to be with the Titans trying to control the Earth Federation. The political aspect is important throughout the series because some characters like Char have to pull double-duty: pilot and politician.

Char's speech in Dakar is pretty powerful and one I thought was truly a highlight of the Gundam universe. (You can see the full speech on Wikiquote). It encapsulates everything that is right about Gundam. I copied the final paragraph because it speaks of a timeless truth, of a tyrant losing his grip on power and the extremes he will go to to keep that power.

The Titans have started a battle above us, disregarding the lives of the delegates of this Assembly. You can see the brutality of their actions for yourselves. They set themselves above the regular Earth Federation Forces, and smear anyone who opposes them as terrorists. But it is their own arrogance that is their greatest sin; it will be the ruin of humanity! Those of you who have been watching these events unfold on television must realize by now that this is who the Titans are. I admit, it was wrong of us to take over this Assembly, but what of the Titans, who are trying to destroy it with the representatives still inside? Would they even destroy their own supporters among them?!

Another thing the series does well is to draw in characters from the Original Series, give them a cameo role that plays into the bigger story. This is the case of Amuro Rey, of Frau Bow (now Kobayashi), and Mineva Zabi. These characters come in for a few moments or episodes before fading in the background as we focus on Kamille. Now I don't like "Uber good boy" Amuro but I liked that he stayed on Earth when Kamille returns to space. We touch base with him later when they return to Earth.

When we first meet him, I worried that we'd get a massive blob of characters, similar to the latest era of Doctor Who when fifteen characters all try to say something and everyone's plot gets drowned in noise.

The team of Z Gundam are not modern-day writers. They did it right. So much so, that I feel like a series could be developped around the adventure of Amuro and Hayato as they fight the titans on Earth. Their actions are important but do not detract from the gravitas of what we see. Though there is something there for sure. Well done team.

Now... one element that looks really odd has to deal with physical contact. Yes, some dudes just randomly grab the women's breast or butts and no subtly. They are quickly slapped but still it took me by surprise.

Another is whenever a subordonate refuses or challenges an order, the commanding officer slaps or punches the subordinate. Kamille gets his butt kicked a few times, especially early on.

Now... This series is ABSOLUTELY BRUTAL. I mean people die. A LOT. Named and unnamed characters meet their end. Their deaths are sudden, and even when a Titan gets killed, I felt sad about the loss. Long-time rivals like Jerid, Mouar, and Bask in particular.

The series ends on a sad note, with Kamille's mind getting completely broken. This series takes no prisoners and really lets you know that no one escapes war without serious loss. No one wins. Only, the Titans are defeated. A lot of people died.

So... I did not have to deliberate very long about this one. The animation is dated, but the fight scenes still deliver, the story is good, and the characters different and each with their own subplot and the questioning it presents spot on.

This is the type of great entertainment that, had I seen as a child, I would have loved it. Mecha, missiles, action, girls, everything I like (still). However as I watch as an adult... the questioning and dilemmas become most important. Pixar did that on a few of its products too.

My rating for this is a clear 4/5. This is a solid and highly enjoyable anime that's more than firing missiles and laser swords.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Played Kanabo RPG - Mini Review

This past Saturday (Nov 12), I went on Warhorn and joined a random game that was announce to be "Bushido." I was interested and wanted to play that game forever but never got the opportunity (or when I did get the opportunity, there were other things I wanted to do more).

So the adventure was called "Kwaidan" - the same as the movie of the same name and that loosely translates to "Ghost Story". The movie is awesome and beautiful at the same time, presenting us with four tales of ghost. Many of them fairly well known today. One of the things I love about these old Japanese horror movies for their aesthetics.

But enough about the movies, on to the gaming!

Well... the game turned out NOT to be Bushido but a rules-light system called Kanabo by Monkey's Paw Games. Very story game.

Background of the setting (as presented) was a non-descript Japan where a major war ended about five years ago. The specifics were not important. Cool. Still in.

How rules light? You have 4 stats Earth (discipline, durability), Fire (aggressivity, speed), Water (inquisitivity, tranquility), and Wind (grace, intuition). D100 system (I have Ea22 Fi39 Wa26 Wi33), so someone who is aggressive and agile but without much consistency or insistence. Background generated through character generation elements. I was born in a castle and an artist by trade.

So I came up with a quick story: I worked as a painter in a village with my family. A drunk samurai set the house on fire while I was away. I plot revenge against him but am too much of a coward to actually do anything about it. So, in an effort to steel my (crappy) resolve, I became an adventurer/ investigator for hire.

One unique element of the game: if you die (and the system is pretty deadly), you make a new character the party encounters shortly afterwards. "Poor Hiro, he was a good friend... But hey there Tatsu the villager" We had one death that could easily have been more than that.

Okay already, I liked it. It was simple, quick and highly versatile. Setting and rules easy to grasp. I won't give you all the details of the adventure but it were confronted with some ghosts that gave us little chance. A great little story game.

My rating? It was a 3/5. I don't see this game as something I would like to run a campaign with. But it is a nice system, perfect for a one-shot: quick, simple, and fun.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

[Release] Races of the Planes: Githzerai

Now, you may know that I am working on a plane-hopping campaign, something that harks back to the days of Planescape - or perhaps more accurately to the days of its predecessor: the Manual of the Planes or the Tales from the Outer Planes. Therein, you got your party to go from one plane to another solving problems.

This adventure/campaign is going to be a loose sequel to Witches of Pikemaster which was published earlier this year. As I was writing WoP, I had a number of additional ideas and elements I had to cut in the interest of brevity. However, all that research would not get wasted as I came up with a number of potential products that would go great with it.

Race of the Planes: Githzerai is just the first of a number of small products meant to accompany this new campaign. Yet, they can easily be added to your home campaign. To add a touch of planar flavor. This product was purposefully kept short and small because of the vast amount of lore out there, and each edition giving them a slightly different flavor. Either clarifying or expanding the lore. I opted to let each GM define the full racial flavor and background.

Initially appearing in the Fiend Folio the githzerai were psionic slavers who hated both the mind flayers and their githyanki cousins. In time, the slaving aspect was drop to focus more their introspective aspect.

Want to get it for 50% off? Races of the Planes: Githzerai has been added to the FOE Character Option Bundle, giving you access to new character races, such as the Amazons, the Princesses, and now the Githzerai. A lot of goodies! And if you bought some already, you may actually get it for free or almost free! Check it out.

This product is now available on the DM's Guild.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

[Kinda Book Review] Showcase Elongated Man vol 1

I picked this one up during a big comic sale wanting to read something different. Having read about the Elongated Man while reading the New 52 (reviewed part 1/4, part 2/4, and part 3-4/4). He was one of the characters whose arc I was interested in. So why not go to the source and read the earliest appearances of the character...


The story starts with a few cameos in the pages of flash. These are stories from the early 60s by DC. They are trying to write "mysteries" but they fail. The stories all go the same way. EM and his wife are somewhere and find a "mystery". EM then stretches around, finds the goons responsible, beats them up and win.

In the 500 pages of comic in this book, in no case does EM face against a real super villain. He has no enemy, no recurrent opponent. And no real storyline. Other heroes show up as cameos, with their own villains and they do not do much together.

The line art is mostly good, but oftentimes when EM is fighting, he stretches odd parts of himself and that takes a few moments to understand what is going on.

So I rate it a 2/5. Weak stories and enough odd drawings justifies this. Yeah, I'm good with a 2.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

[Release] Campaign Events on DM's Guild

Imagine the following scenario: You are GMing for your party. During a trip, you mention they pass through a different province. Your goal is to move the story forward.

Then one of your players go and ask you "So... what's going on in that town? Anything of interest?"

Will you simply answer "nothing important or interesting" or will you plant the seed for a future adventure and tell them something exciting, at the risk of running something impromptu?

If the latter, this product is for you. With one massive table, you get a number of events that can affect life in a town/ province/ nation. They range from natural disasters to political events to outside factors. All of these should help you come up with adventure ideas to keep your players interested.

Or like some of mine: not interested and they can keep moving along. You now have a seed for later and you haven't spent hours of preparation on it.

Okay so that was what I thought this product to do. However, I have since used it as a preparation tool for my Ozaka campaign. I wanted some event to happen but could not decide between two or three of them. So I let the dice decide. In a few seconds, I came up with at least three ideas and my game was saved for another few weeks!

This product is now available on the DM's Guild.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Vanishing Ziggurat Reaches Silver Bestseller!

I remember the day well, when I came up with the wacky idea that became the Vanishing Ziggurat I had two girl scouts and dozens of boxes (the boxes that contain the boxes for the cookie) just piling up in the garage. After playing with them a little, I found a way to stack them up to form a massive 3D ziggurat. At that time, I had only a few notes containing ideas of what I wanted to add in there: constructs, undead, fiends, some social encounters, and a few treasures for this dungeoncrawl.

I took the ziggurat first to my local FLGS (before it became much less "F" to the "G"s) and ran it there. Met a few great people and had a fun time of it. Then later, I took it to a few con, including Hypericon 2019 here in Murfreesboro TN. There, I used the ziggurat in a simplified (and lower-level'd) version set in Akhamet.

The ziggurat adventure is a dungeoncrawl. But one that is not simply door-monster-treasure. It asks a number of questions, many of which tie it into other FOE product.

One of its biggest successor is a minor tie-in with the awesome Witches of Pikemaster where a character from Vanishing Ziggurat makes an appearance. Its a fun tie-in if you played both but not one that is the core of the adventure.

Did I mention that both Vanishing Ziggurat and Witches of Pikemaster are currently on-sale on the DM's Guild? They are during the October monster fest sale!

Anyway, I guess the most important part is to thank all of you for your continued support. I am always amazed and touched by it.

Thank you.

Monday, October 24, 2022

[Review] Power of the Doctor

The 13th Doctor's finale has come and gone and after viewing it (once), I feel I have to go over the predictions I posted in a Previous Post and see where this one hit and where it failed.

And where I hit and where I failed.

Let me start by repeating my two main predictions:
- A lot of character, too many for the run time
- A great premise
- An over-convoluted plot
- The Shipper's paradise.

Well... there were a characters. Yup. There were A LOT of them. Both on the good and bad sides. Now... This one played around this, by doing some clever things. First, Dan was pretty much written off right at the start. I was not happy seeing the most interesting character of the crew getting kicked out early. Frown #1. But from that point on, it was great to see old companions, each of them adding to the story and its resolution. Even the final cameos added to the story in a positive way. The appearance of old Doctors was favorite part of it. Their use was clever and added to the plot.

I really think Chibnall was helped by having established characters to use rather than having to build them up (though having seen what he did with Captain Jack, this argument does not really stand). Perhaps it was Tegan, Ace, and Kate who refused to a plot that was pretty lame. I guess I'll never know but whoever edited the script finally said "no" to the worse ideas.

Now if I have a criticism, the daleks had nothing to do here, just over-crowding. They could've been skipped or replaced by the cybermasters without affecting the plot. I would have removed them.

Only Vinder added nothing to the story. His inclusion did not add anything. I still don't know what he was doing in the story.

I am sad that Sacha Dewan is also stepping down as the Master, a bigger loss than Jodie Whittaker's Doctor. I really liked him as he overshadowed the Doctor throughout his tenure. I am hoping he comes back later, similar to when John Simms returned. I thought he was very convincing as Rasputin. And the Master and Rasputin are a match made in heaven.

The great premise... This one I don't think I hit the mark. I can't quite say the premise was particularly great. That said, the premise and the hook are not the same. The hook (or hooks) were actually pretty good and had me wondering where the story was headed from the get-go, but in a good way. It proceeded forward at a good pace, with the plot advancing and characters helping and doing something.

Over-convoluted plot... Yeah I called this one. The plot was pretty convoluted, trying to be overly clever. This is where the story loses points. The whole "Forced Regeneration" thing is unclear... What did it hope to achieve? What was the goal? If the Master became the Doctor, okay... That whole thing made no sense. I just don't see what the end point was. What was up with the two random planets fighting each other? I thought it was Earth and Mondas (home of the Cybermen). Just another random element

The story was filled with winks and nods to classic Who - references that mostly lead nowhere, but that Who-nerds thought was pretty cool. Now there is nothing wrong with that, but it would have been more interesting had such nods happened throughout the season. Also, there is no explanation for the Flux, why half the universe was gone. I guess this whole season is something that will never be mentioned again.

Shipper's paradise. I got this one COMPLETELY wrong. They nodded to it, but did not do much with it. So a big plus.

So in the end, I am not sad that Jodie vanished. I'm not sad the Chibnall era is over. This was without a doubt, the BEST episode of her tenure.

What's your score, JP? I would give this one a solid 3.25/5, which rounds out to a 3/5. I can live with that. The episode was entertaining and most of the plot was good. As much as I wanted to hate it, I found the story was very enjoyable. But with a little time, it is only "fine". I don't hate it that's for sure and think was one of Jodie's best, despite the plot hooks. I expect there is little-to-nothing that will be referenced the era of the 13th Doctor. It will just be ignored and forgotten.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

[Release] Courtiers: Envoys and Peacemakers on DM'S Guild

So what is this you ask? How did that come about? Why do I need this for my game?

Well "Courtier" is a full 20-level class that allows you to create a jack of all trade focused on Charisma. It occupies a role between the bard and the rogue: it is less magically-focused than the bard and more "trick"-based than the rogue. Closer to a non-combat rogue from Pathfinder v1 (before it was retooled). 

These tricks allow you to do minor dips and get a number of special abilities that include some minor spellcasting abilities, to mirror abilities of other classes, to getting a yojimbo, to the ability to gain resistance to some damage types. The trick here is that courtiers are great toolboxes that give you a lot of customization options. And if a trick no longer applies or lost its shine, you can swap them out when you gain a new level. 

This product was designed during the writing process for the upcoming Ozaka setting. Now this idea of playing a courtier or noble is not new to me and my games. Years ago, I wrote Gostor Nobles for Pathfinder v1. It was based on the original class by PCI. 

While there is no doubt that Courtier inherits some ideas from that product, it is at the same time something different. Whereas Nobles put the character in the role of a member of a ruling elite, Courtier makes the character someone in the employ of a powerful. 

Why are not all courtiers nobles? Well... that's where character creation and the background feature of 5e comes into play. Was your character born into abject poverty and clawed his way to this position? What if you were a charlatan who impersonated a diplomat and you turned out to be really good at it? I never hid the fact that I love 5e's background feature and that your background comes into play during my games. So one of the design changed was to focus on separating the background from the class and to let the character build and tell his own story.

Why do I need this for my game? Well... a courtier gives you a lot of versatility in how you decide to built your character and your bard does not have to do all the talking anymore. 

Courtiers will be present in our iconic characters coming in 2023. Not sure which just yet. But there WILL be a courtier. Want to know more? It is currently available on the  DM's Guild.

Oh! And a big thanks to the British Shark and John Ridley (Inspector97) for the interior art!

Friday, October 14, 2022

[Kinda Book Review] 2113 Anthology

Earlier this year, my childhood friend Francois-M came to visit us for what turned out to be whirlwind trip with his daughter Florentine. It was great to meet her for the first time.

I had not seen him since around 1994-95 (when we attended a Musical Box concert in Sherbrooke). So we caught up. He was always a music afficionado, knowing and keeping an ear out on what was hip at the time. Oh and classic rock too. Well now it is classic rock. It was just "rock" at the time...

But that's not why you are here. You want to know about the book.

I'm getting there. I'm getting there!

One day I went to his house with a cassette (which was forever to be known a #9) for him to put on some of the music he has me listen to when I went to his place. Those were NOT the bands that you'd hear at my house.

#9 included many different bands like Queen, Heart, and most commonly, Rush. Songs like Xanadu, Limelight, Tom Sawyer, Big Money, Subdivisions, Circumstances. Good stuff. Real good stuff. Almost all of these songs are still on my playlist today. But JP aren't a big Genesis fan? Yes. But that was #23. I got into it MUCH later... This was around 1986 (I know because Hold your fire was not out yet and Power Windows was the latest album).

So Francois brought me a book (he knows I'm a geek like that): 2113, an anthology of stories inspired by the music of Rush.

I had the relatively bland Ancient Japan on my reading desk. And man did I want to ditch that to move to 2113.

So if you are not a Rush fan, they have music that deal with a variety of topics, many of which have a clear science-fiction theme, the reality of life, and other questioning one asks himself during his life. I mean it is a match made in heaven.

I won't spoil the stories. But the idea was well executed, with some stories being more litteral with their story than others. One or two, I must say the inspiration was... distant at best. I was pleased to find that Fritz Lieber wrote a story in there (from where Neil Peart got inspired) and the story that inspired Red Barchetta.

One story I did not particularly like but it has some very clever writer's artifices was the story based on "Mission". I love how they presented the point-of-view transitions by having the sentence run on, put a divider, and continuing the sentence but as a different character. What? You don't really care? I thought that was a really cool thing and it enhanced the story.

Some stories had some clever endings that made me smile, some left me wanting more, some had an interesting twists. None were bad, just less interesting.

Perhaps my personal favorite is the final story of the book, the eponymous 2113. This is one of the most literal ones, a story that where the classic 2112 ends with the ominous and domineering Attention all planets of the Solar Federation, we have assumed control. And the story takes us to that mad vision of an Elder Race and of the Temple of Syrinx, in an almost Hemisphere-ian dichotomy. Loved it. The ending? Very well done. I put the book down on a high.

So a score... It's an anthology, so the stories ranged from 2/5 to 4/5. However, I think a better score would be 3.5/5, which according to my rules make me give it a 4/5, a score I can easily live with. I plan on going back and re-visiting these stories later, after I let the kids read it.

Saturday, October 8, 2022

[Release] Burned and Cooked Released for Akhamet

Gencon 2021!!!


Well... I thought it was out there already. I set up everything for it last year after Gencon but never made it public. So it was simply waiting for me to push the button.

Funny thing: I was talking to a FOE writer about something done in this adventure and told him "here let me send it to you to see what I mean." Well... I could not find it. With good reason!

This is an investigative adventure with an alternative way to run things without making PCs choice irrelevant or giving out all the information in one dump. It is a style I will certainly revisit in the future.

Here is the blurb for this one:
The City of Cats is a great place to find entertainment and relaxation. After a few weeks, you are in need of funds but lucky you, you managed to get a lucrative job lined up.
A 5th edition adventure for characters 1 through 4 (optimized for 3rd level).
This adventure first premiered at Gencon 2021.

You may also be interested in getting this and other Akhamet adventure for 50% by getting the Adventure Bundle.

But if you are interested in this one only... Cooked and Burned is available on DriveThruRpg now!

Friday, October 7, 2022

Doctor Who Centennary Predictions

If you haven't been following closely you would never know the finale of Jodie Whittaker. There has been so little leaked about the plot. What we did get are a lot of info about WHO would be in it! (See what I did)

For something that should be a big deal, there has been surprisingly little about it. I guess even the BBC expects this to be so bad they have no intention of supporting it more than they have to. It would be a recurring theme of the Chibnall era: pack too much then the Doctor

So many peopleAnd in Chibnall fashion, it is a lot. Let's see:
- The Doctor
- Deadfish expressionless Yaz
- Dan
- Ace (Former companion of 7th Doctor)
- Graham (Former companion of 13th Doctor)
- Teagan (Former companion of 4th and 5th Doctor)
- Kate Stewart
- The Master
- The Daleks
- The Cybermen

See? So we can expect exactly that: every one having equal screen time. So in all fairness, I expect there will be a lot of people standing around or having cameos. The return of Teagan and Ace will not have a significant impact, and they will be relegated to the background, interjecting a few lines in a crowd of people.

Wasted opportunity. Again.

Seems to be the hallmark of this 13th Doctor era. Great premises then too many people all of which must be important when they are not. Fewer characters would provide a better stories...

So I can predict the following: a plot that is convoluted, overly-simple resolution (if any), and with too many characters to have any time to play out.

Oh yeah. And I expect to see the back of my head as my eyes roll with the "resolution" of the Deadfish-Doctor "love angle". Cringe.

So I really do not have any expectations for this one. Unlike the 14th Doctor era where there is a lot of buzz and excitement. Quite a difference in energy.

Prove me wrong, Chibnall.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

[Kinda Book Review] Ancient Japan by Captivating History

Book coverAs I am working on Ozaka, a fantasy Japanese setting, I wanted to read a few books on the history of Japan. Something to serve as a reference.

Not speaking Japanese, I looked around for a while before settling on this one.

This book was not what I was looking for... It delivers what it promises on the cover A Captivating guide to the ancient history of Japan, their ancient civilization and Japanese culture, including stories of the samurai, shoguns, and zen master. But it does not provide much more.

I found this book dry and lacking depth. If I had no basic knowledge, then I would've appreciated it more. But as it was, it felt like I learned very little.

This seems like a wonderful book to read while on a plane to Tokyo. Not for the type of research I was interested in.

So... a score... I am going with a 2/5. However, for those with less knowledge about history might find it a good overview and introduction an rate it 4/5.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Dead And Buried Akhamet adventure released!

With Gencon over (for a while), I am going over a number of things left undone. This includes making the adventures available to everyone.

"But JP! You put the Olympia adventures out there weeks ago."


Okay, my only defense is that I've been busy writing new material for a Planescape campaign AND Ozaka. That's not an excuse but... That's the truth.

So... Dead and Buried is an adventure I worked and reworked and tweaked and prodded and disliked and changed and switched. Until AT LAST, I got it right. This iterative work made this into a fun adventure that really moves the Akhamet forward and that has a nice flow. The flow was what really tripped me as I was writing this one.

Here is the blurb for this one:
Some secrets lie under the desert for good reasons. Part 1 of the Dark Tide series.
A 5th edition adventure for characters 1 through 5 runs around 4 hours.
This adventure first premiered at Gencon 2022.

It is an interesting adventure that challenges not only the combat-enthusiasts at your table, but also the role-players and the puzzle fans.

I back-seat drove a few tables and found it fascinating to hear how different GMs presented the same challenges. And challenges, with an "S" is exactly what this short adventure provides.

You may also be interested in getting this and other Akhamet adventure for 50% by getting the Adventure Bundle.

But if you are interested in this one only... Dead and Buried is available on DriveThruRpg now!

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

[Patreon][Cleric] Fire Domain

Continuing me series on the elemental cleric domain for Ozaka. This time everyone's favorite: FIRE!!!

Who else to represent this than Rhym's very own Juri-sho (yes, I know she is a sorceress... but isn't a sorcerera funky shugenja?) with Irene Campos's awesome art.

Check out the FOE Patreon! It is available for free!

Friday, September 30, 2022

[Kinda Review] Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

So for many weeks, I have been dreading watching the Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance on Netflix. I remember seeing that movie as a child and really loving it. The Skeksis (whose name I forgot but whose plots marked my childhood) influenced how the First Ones took shape. Their look stands out to this day as unique in the world of fantasy.

After giving up on Rings of Power, I was SOOOOOOOOOoooooo worried it would be a similar story with bland character defiling something I loved from my childhood.

Well I must say that my worry was for naught. I was so wrong.

To put it simply, this is how you create and write a story that will engage the viewer and interest them.

World building is quick but effective. The narrator at the start gives us a lot of info but it's enough to get you started. It is not long that we understand the dangers of the Darkening. Their effect on people. The Tree of Sanctuary. Everything is done organically, presented when first needed.

There are a few moments where we are introduced to something that flows naturally in the story but whose significance comes to the forefront later. The gobblers, the nurlocs, the arathim. Everything happens first, then there is a payoff later.

The characters have emotions that make sense. They feel and show despair, hope, joy, suspicion, worry, and sadness. Their motivations start off very simple but grow with time. I can say that when one of the good guys met its end, I was genuinely sad. Because I cared enough for the characters to WANT them to succeed. And the Skeksis to get their butts handed to them.

The main characters all add to the plot in their own way: Deet, Rian, Seladon, Tavra, Brea, and Hup. They start off very simple but grow through the story. The clans took a little more time to know but their appearance showed what they were about and made it easy to associate them.

When the final confrontation comes, you know why they stand against the skeksis. The story grew them into this confrontation. And the payoff is... Well it's great. The battle show the skeksis as tough opponents. And for every major gelfling who dies is an emotional moment. Again, because they built them up into great characters.

Even the villains had personalities: the Emperor, the General, the Chamberlain, the Collector, etc. They had enough development to make them different from each other. You cannot help but hate them because they are so devious and nasty. But it makes them cool too because none of them is a generic baddy. They wrap themselves in the trappings of good but behind the scenes do the worse things of all. The way they plot against each other and try to cheat each other is a over-the-top comical, but makes them no less evil.

Now without the comedic aspect, how they used the Skeksis is EXACTLY how I see the First Ones working in a world as they rise towards ultimate power. I just could not stop seeing them with the more typical First One appearance. And man... that added to my enjoyment of the series so much more.

One of the things I will say is that each episode has revelations throughout, not just in the last 5 minutes.

Oh something I really loved: they used divination and oracular powers. Some of the scenes we are shown are those from the movie. They tied the two together very neatly and I had a had a blast. It was fun and exciting.

I thought I'd be annoyed by the puppets, but no. They are top-of-the-line and in many shots very creatively used.

I'm sure you know by now, but I must give this a 5/5. I may go rewatch it later.