Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Bumblebee (2018)

Bumblebee (2018)

After years of not so good to absolutely terrible Transformer movies I was not looking forward to another entry in this franchise. Of the previous five films I only managed to set through the entirety of three. So that is why I put it off this long, up until my daughter wanted to watch it and we sat down to give it a viewing.

Pleasantly surprised would be the words I would use for this film.

This is actually a fun entry that also helps give the Transformer movie universe a bit of a reboot that was long needed. From the more traditional look of the robots themselves to a plot that tones down the explosion extravaganza that was all of the previous films.  You actually get story and character development here. With characters that are actually likable to boot.

Setting the movie in the 80's allows a little more amusement than usual and the use of period music that will bring a smile to us Gen X folks who happen to be watching. That and a role for John Cena that doesn't require any actual stretch of his acting abilities. Because normally seeing Cena in a movie is a painful experience, but not here.

Go into this one expecting some really neat visuals that aren't just things blowing up. A storyline that doesn't involve just things blowing up. Don't get me wrong there is some wonderful action scenes with plenty of things going boom but they don't dominate the entire thing. You end up liking the cast and even Bumblebee comes across more likable than usual.

So in end I'm going to give this movie four stars. Something I never ever thought I would be giving to a Transformer movie.

If you enjoy the reviews please support this blog. Either through the Amazon and DrivethruRPG links, the Kofi link over on the right or hit the 'support this blog' tab at the top.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Modern Occult - The Talking Wall

The Talking Wall

This article is no longer available for free. It is part of 'Clandestine Societies Issue One over on DrivethruRPG. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

WaRP GMC occult - Widow Rose

Known among various occult circles is a young woman that goes by the name of Julie, which is most likely not her real name. If anybody inquires about her actual name her response is usually "Why, is the one I gave you not good enough?" along with being put on her personal 'shit list'. She speaks with a southern USA accent and she rarely speaks among the 'mundanes' who know nothing of the society surrounding the supernatural.

What she is mainly known for is being basically an assassin for hire. Usually brought in to take care of snooping mundanes who are causing problems or killing off another cult leaders rival. She doesn't work for cash either, instead one must barter for her services. Things like written spells, ritual components and artifacts of some occult importance are what she desires the most. But she has taken payments in blood, teeth, hair and other fluids and parts of the human body.

There is actually a short ritual passed around that is used to call her. It requires a sacrifice of blood, a short chant and then phrase 'Daughter of the Widow Rose' written on parchment and burned on a candle. Within a week she will arrive, usually in a black beat up panel van, and you better be ready to make your deal right then. Summons for no reason usually end with her taking the life of the one who cast the ritual.

Artifacts: The Black Book. She carries a tome with pages that are hand sewn into it. The pages are spells that have been cast but require activation phrases to complete. Whenever she casts one of these spells the pages that contained it will burn up without harming any others. Later she will sew in new pages in write in new spells.

Other Specials: Protective Runes. She has protection magic woven into her tattoos. Any other spell or supernatural ability used on her has it's difficulty raised by 4 and even if successful the desired effect is halved.

Spell Caster: 4 - This is the trait that is used whenever she casts a spell from the book or writes a new one in. (fingers are blackened with soot and ink)

Occult Library: 3 - In her van is a large collection of books, trinkets and other objects of interest. Whenever there is a need for some sort of component or bit of information this is the roll to see if she has it. (The van is stuffed full of materials and she usually packs an over the shoulder bag with emergency items in it)

Disappear: 3 - Her, and the van when she is inside, tend to vanish when nobody is looking. Anybody trying to actively trail her will have a great deal of difficulty. (she appears out of nowhere and goes the same way when she is done)

Thursday, June 18, 2020

WaRP Cyberpunk GMC - Jekyll

Karim "Jekyll" Jahani was born into a bit of luxury. Being the son of a doctor and a corporate executive he really didn't have many worries growing up. He was a brilliant young man and quickly made his way through basic schooling and was soon followed the path of his mother into the medical field. At the top of his class he found his way into the surgical field in no time. Everything in his life was going great and didn't have a care in the world.

This all changed with the Foundation Square massacre when corporate funded police officers opened fire on protestors without warning. He was at ground zero in the hospital when the mass casualty event flooded the hallways with the wounded. After working for over 30 hours straight he finally sat down for rest and saw what was on television. The cover up of what happened, claims it was all a hoax and that very few were actually injured. Sitting there still covered in the blood of his patients he saw the bare faced reality of illusion of safety he lived in.

Karim began going out into the streets to help those in need. Wearing a mask to hide his identity he treated the injured and the sick. Spending time as a street medic for protests throughout the city. He discovered that his oath to help others was a lie where he had been before. Soon he gave up his previous life entirely and vanished into the crowded city downtown streets.

He gave himself the nickname Jekyll because he felt his life before he was a Hyde working for those who cared nothing about others. To this day he still wears a mask when he is working on the street, especially a rallies and protests. But he has a small office behind a pool hall where he resembles a more 'normal' doctor taking care of others.

Cyberware: Neural jack on his right temple with five data ports at the base of his skull. Hardwired nerves to keep his hands from moving or shaking under any circumstances. Chemical scanner at the tip of his tongue. Always carries around a small case of data chips covering a myriad of medical and surgical procedures.


Former Emergency Room Doctor: 4- He is used to taking care of injured people quickly and high pressure situations. From doing simple triage work to full blown surgical procedures. Patching people up and saving lives is something he can do. (Always has an emergency medical kit on his hip)

Knowledge of a Doctor: 3- Also being somewhat trained as a medical doctor Karim is also good at treating illnesses. Along with continually educating himself and building a reference library to work from. (Carries a backpack with basic medical equipment at all times)

Fast on his Feet: 2- After a few years on the streets and finding himself in the middle of clashes between protestors and police he has learned how to run and evade capture. (never sits back and relaxes when not in his office, always on alert)

WaRP cyberpunk GMCs - Wilson

Need pharmaceuticals but can't afford the sky high prices set by the corporations? Then look up Wilson. Need to find some cut rate weapons for your raid on a police facility that specializes in vanishing people? Then look up Wilson. Need a place to lay low after you jacked a food transport truck and drove it downtown to feed the homeless? Then look up Wilson.

Jerome Wilson has been on the ground fighting against the control of the corporations and the corrupt police forces that serve them for over two decades. Starting off as just another member of the faceless masses living in poverty he has pushed back against authority early on. Finding his way in and out of jail, usually on trumped up false charges, for several years he finally found that niche that fit him well.

Wilson is an organizer and a master of connections among the various groups who work in the shadows. Barters, trading and making deals that move supplies, gather resources and fund various operations, he knows all the ends and outs of how to get it done. He has amassed small fortune in both actual cash on hand and in various goods. If he doesn't have it he knows who can get it and just what it will cost.

The most important thing to him is supporting the revolution from the ground up. Supplying those who fight and trying to take care of those who can't. If you want somebody on your side in the fight against the corporate stranglehold then Wilson is one of those people.

Cyberware: Neural Jack at the base of his skull, nanotech enhanced healing, fiber reinforced skin and geomapping software implants.


Net of Contacts: 4- If he doesn't know it or have it, he knows somebody who knows somebody. Within a few minutes he can locate almost anything that somebody could want. But it's not always cheap. (Typing away at a smartphone when meeting him "Just a moment let me finish this up")

Accumulated Wealth: 4- Spread across multiple bank accounts and hidden in several cyptocurrency ewallets Wilson has a lot of money stashed away. He is always willing to spend some of it to help those truly in need. (always has the latest phone, new glasses, new clothes and pays for everything without hesitation)

Street Tough: 3- Don't let what he is now fool you. Wilson learned to survive on the streets at a young age and how to fight. He continues to stay in shape and spars at a few local gyms after hours. (solid muscle and anyone who bumps into him will usually get knocked back)

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

WaRP cyberpunk GMCs - Straight Edge

Straight Edge - Computer Hacker Prodigy

Known only as Straight Edge, or Edge to those who know her. Much about her origins are unknown and any delve into her background through standard means brings up nothing over two years old. It is widely believed that she erased all digital records of herself and then used other methods to wipe out the paper trail as well.

However what is known about her after is enough. She seemingly slid onto the net without much notice until the hack and burn of the GenTech Corporations data site. Where massive amounts of confidential information was suddenly released out into the wild at the same moment that the computer terminals within GenTech HQ rapidly began overclocking resulting in a firestorm the scorched most of the building.

She claim complete responsibility for this action and even released some of the code on how she did it. Calling herself Straight Edge because, in her own words: "I cut straight through the bull shit and cut out the heart."

Since then she has been connected to at least a half dozen other major mainframe hacks. Most of which ended with collateral damage outside of net as well. Along with releasing various programs and apps for other hackers to use. Some of them being the weapons various corporations had designed to deal with her, just stolen and retooled.

Only a handful of close knit friends know how to contact her and finding them is a chore in itself. Her fanbase among the civilian populace is growing at a rapid pace. Especially among the anarchist and free society movements. A few nomadic packs would probably burn down a few city blocks if she asked them to or if they thought they were providing her protections.

Cyberware: Neural jack located at the base of her skull with tertiary jacks down her spine. Complete optic replacement that have built in VR interface and enhanced night sight. Nanotech enhanced healing and adrenal/reflex boost (bonus die when running or fighting).


Hacking Prodigy: 5 - When it comes to the net and all the domains attached they are nothing but her playthings. Adapting, creating and destroying code is what her brain was apparently made to do. Cutting through everything with the greatest of ease. (constantly online or writing code)

I've Got A Plan: 4 - Always works out every detail of everything that she does. Including ways of escape and where to run if things go bad. This goes for the net as well as the real world. (always looking around at her surroundings)

Calling in Favors: 4 - Many folks owe her for the things she has done. A phone call or two and she can have transportation, protection, food, whatever she needs. (makes offhand references about people getting her things)

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Jaded Gamer - Vampire part three

Okay a bit late on part three but here we go.

Like I said before I will be running my Vampire campaign using the 1st edition setting and rules. So not having an actual physical copy of said first edition I've been having to reread the book in pdf form. I was given a copy of 2nd edition by a friend to use so I figured I would be using it for a rules reference at the table since the rules changes weren't to terribly broad. One evening I was going to be outside and decided to grab that edition and take it outside to read.

I think I got whiplash from doing this.

The shift in the style of writing and the way they chose to give information was a lot different. And not in the most pleasing way.  The rules were fine and most of the nuts and bolts of system description are solid and in some ways better than the original. But damned a lot of the other stuff.

You ever know that guy who gets a bit of success under his belt? Like in school the jock who is suddenly making the game winning shots, or the person at work who is getting promotions all in a row out of nowhere? You remember how their attitude would change and that smell of arrogance would reek when they walk into a room? Yeah that's what I'm getting here.

You can absolutely tell that they are starting that movement from being something different and cool to trying way to hard at being edgy and really cool. I mean they haven't hit the level of the Revised edition yet. (just to note I tried coming back to VTM when Revised originally came out and promptly sold my copy off within a couple weeks) So needless to say all I didn't read to much just when and refreshed myself on some of the disciplines a bit.

I will say that thankfully they still keep the setting information to a lull. But I think that's because they are fully focusing on splat books by this time. The artwork is a big improvement in many places. But a little bit of me still misses that little vampire story they did through the entire 1st edition book. I can see why it was removed though.

So I'm still setting it up for Chicago 1991 using 1st edition setting and system. Going to run the Forged in Steel set up from the corebook and then work my way out into Ashes to Ashes and the rest of the Chicago Chronicles. That being said does anybody have any suggestions about what books from 2nd edition that I may want to look at in the future? Maybe something that really added to the setting at a local level or had some really great ideas in it? Drop me a message in the comments below.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Free Stock Art - Ganger Girl

This weeks piece of free stock art is Ganger Girl. The scan is low quality and it's a very old unfinished work. Feel free to modify or color it all you need. The original artwork is long since gone so this is the best it's ever going to be. If you do use this please credit the art to John Nixon.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Tuesday Promo - The Primogen

This week on my Tuesday Promo is a youtube series that I have begun watching lately. As I've mentioned before I'm getting ready to start up a Vampire TM game here soon and discovered The Primogen while looking online to get myself back on track with the lore. What I like about most of his work is that he does one piece at a time instead of trying to forward load everything. So if I'm not interested in something I can simply skip that video or point out a specific area I need info on and watch that. He has a patreon account sat up and is producing new videos every few days.

Please click here to take a look at his youtube channel.

Also I would like to note that he has starting doing the same for Mage the Ascension. Which is good because that is the other old White Wolf game that I am most interested in running again in the future. So I'll likely be watching his videos quite a bit into the future.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Jaded Gamer - Vampire part two

As I said at the end of my last post the 'when' part of my upcoming Vampire game is rather important. So I'm rolling back the date to the original year the game came out. I'm running Vampire 1991.

There are a few reasons for doing this and of course one of those is the nostalgia feeling once again. I mean that's the year I started running VTM back in the day. Another is technical limitations while being on the very brink of big technical advances at the same time. Two places in particular are with the internet and cellular phones.

1991 is the AOL broke out onto the public market in a big way. Up until then most of what was could be classified as the internet was limited to connections between universities and government offices along with so many small time BBS's that you could not keep track of them all. In that one year so many things changed in the way we could communicate and share information.

Also portable phones were still a rarity in many areas. Those that did exist were either mounted in cars or were big bricks that had to be carried around. They weren't cheap and they were pretty shaky on what areas they would work in well enough to be useful. The first digital cellular service was launched in 1991 across the pond in Europe. But the movement forward of the technology gained speed rather quickly.

Why are these two things important in the WoD? The instantaneous transfer of information changed a lot of things on all levels. Anybody doing some detective work could network easier than ever before. Hunter groups could now exchange their leads and years of data. It became less of a chore to track down who owned what and for how long making many centuries old kindred estates vulnerable to anyone, anywhere in the world. This put a lot of vampires and their holdings at significant risk rather quickly.

Of course the ability to adapt quickly to new and changing situations isn't something the kindred are known for. Especially those who have become comfortable I their old ways and learning new tricks and not something they do easily. The most logical step to help them react to this would be to either ghoul or embrace those who are knowledgeable of such things. So a jump in newly created vampires would occur starting a population rise that may put some Princes on edge in their carefully controlled cities. Plenty of drama and plotting to work with there.

Also this gives a great entry point for new characters. Those who picked the lower generation background may have simply been created to hide their sires computer trail in the real estate business. Or to infiltrate various groups who are now communicating online more and more. It could place more value on them than they would normally get if their technical skills are high enough.

That's all for this time. See you next week.