Kenneth Hite's Journal|
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|Thursday, July 12th, 2018|
|Area Man Up For Three or One-Half ENnie Awards
It's ENnie Awards voting time again, oh joy oh joy! Once more, I'm in the running, albeit with a few decorous fractional nominations: one-sixth of an ENnie each for Best Game (Delta Green: The RPG
), Best Rules (same, really mostly Greg Stolze and Shane Ivey but I'll take my sixth of an ENnie anyway), and Product of the Year (again, that product is Delta Green: The RPG
). So please do vote Delta Green: The RPG
those coveted '1's across the board.
Robin and I have finally been overturned by a judicial coup d'etat so no Best Podcast nomination to crow over, but Robin is still very much in it for Cthulhu Confidential
(a well-deserved Best Rules nod).
Other matters: I also commend to your attention #feminism,
which despite being in the wrong category (it's an anthology of RPGs and should be in Best Game) and from 2016 so ineligible to boot should get a similarly devil-may-care nod for Best RPG Related Product.
Actually in the right category and year and also deserving of your various votes is Harlem Unbound
(Best Setting, Best Writing, Product of the Year) by Chris Spivey. And also now that I think of it I'm a Guide
(Best Family Game) by Shanna Germain who is also up for Uh-Oh Monsters
(Best Monster/Adversary) and Predation
The Best Cover Art is so clearly Brennen Reece's Harlem Unbound
cover that I surely didn't have to tell you that. Likewise Zak Sabbath for Best Interior Art for Frostbitten and Mutilated.
So go vote for me and (to an only slightly lesser extent) for all these other great folks!http://www.ennie-awards.com/blog/2018-ennie-voting-is-live/
|Monday, May 28th, 2018|
Robert Munroe (Ensign, Lexington militia, KIA 19 April 1775, Lexington Green)
Jonathan J. Dunbar (MSG, SOCOM, KIA 30 Apr 2018, Manbij, Aleppo Province, Syria)
And all 559,193 in between.
|Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018|
|Chupa Dupa Doo!
And with that utterance I welcome both badly-animated Saturday morning memories and all y'all central-ish Texans to this post, and to join me at ChupacabraCon 2018,
in beeyootiful Austin, Texas (technically near
beeyootiful Austin and in
perfectly presentable Round Rock) this very weekend, May 4-6!
As always with shows and cryptids and cryptid-named shows perhaps especially, my schedule as I understand it may be subject to even wilder diversions from the expected than, er, expected. But that said, here is where I will be when, then.SATURDAY MAY 59am-10am: Cthulhu & Donuts Breakfast SpecialKenneth Hite, Mark Carroll
Come have donut breakfast with Ken Hite and friends! Drink coffee! Ask anything about everyone's favorite mashup genre. Have a donut! Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn! [Bastrop]11am-Noon: Dark Campaigning: Beyond the TPK Horror One Shot Kenneth Hite, Mark Carroll
Well, I've killed all the players again with multitentacular eldritch entities. Now what? [Bastrop]
So if you like me, donuts, tentacles, or Mark Carroll, be sure to block out Saturday morning in the Bastrop Room, I guess. Hope to see you all there, then!
|Monday, February 5th, 2018|
|J. W. DunDraCon: An Experiment With Time
Because what else, really, is a convention schedule except an experiment with time? So dream deep of seeing me in the semi-sunny climes of San Ramon California on the President's Day Weekend, specifically February 16-19, even more specifically at DunDraCon.Saturday, February 17City Building
2:00-3:00 PM in Tri Valley 2
Presenters: Michael Blum, Kenneth Hite, Anders Swenson
The long-running seminar about the nuts and bolts of creating and using cities in RPGs. This year we’ll discuss how cities physically divide social and cultural groups with ghettos, forbidden zones, caravanserais, tax or legal havens, and develop a few examples on our whiteboard.Alternate Histories
6:00-7:30 PM in Salon C
Presenters: Kenneth Hite and Dana Lombardy
The very popular War College panel discussion continues! Authors and game designers Dana Lombardy and Ken Hite examine possible alternate histories and what their impact might have been. Audience participation is encouraged.Sunday, February 18What's Cool
10:00-11:00 AM in Tri Valley 2
Presenters: Bruce Harlick, Kenneth Hite
2 icons of the gaming industry present their unique viewpoints on the best in current game products, straight from the dealer room.Pericles Demo Game
1:30-3:30 PM in Salon C
Presenters: Chris Klug, Kenneth Hite, Bruce Harlick, and Dana Lombardy
During last year’s “Best games of 2016” Seminar, led by Ken Hite and Chris Klug, Ken made reference to how, in his mind, there existed a point in the history of war games where they became relevant again. That point was when the use of card play, in various forms, joined the arsenal of tools used by war-game designers. Exemplified at first by Mark Herman’s We the People,
these games added new life, “juice,” and playability to the old counters-and-maps style war-games. Chris, it turned out, had worked for years with Mark Herman at Victory Games, and knew the history of these games and was a big fan of them as well. Thus was born this seminar’s idea.
This seminar will present a live “think aloud” four-player version of a Mark Herman game played by four game designers who will talk while they play. Hopefully their insights into what makes these kinds of games tick, why they are a heady mix of war-game and card game, yielding something new, will be discussed between the four designers live with an attentive audience.
|Wednesday, October 25th, 2017|
Well that was the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival, all sixteen films of it. We probably would have done six more if I hadn't hared off to New York one weekend, and I am going to have to try extra hard to catch Before We Vanish, Pre-Crime, Offenders,
and In the Shadows
especially as they crop up on the various streamables.
That said, this fest had no dogs in it for us, although there wasn't a Pinnacle-level triumph either. But an average of "Good" is still pretty great. Kudos to the fest for programming heavily in neo-noir and films about architecture, both of which piqued my interest nicely. Extra props not only to cinematic boon companion his_regard
but to young Colin who caught most of them with us.RecommendedBlade of the Immortal
(Japan, Takashi Miike) Unkillable samurai Manji battles the weapon masters of the antinomian Itto-ryu fencing school (and hordes of mooks) in one of the best superhero films I’ve seen since Winter Soldier.
Bloody carnage, moral nuance, chambara action, nods to Leone, and did I mention bloody carnage build to a magnificent elegy for the age of heroes. Miike continues his art’s laudable climb out of nihilism in this, his 100th film.November
(Film, Estonia/Netherlands/Poland, Rainer Sarnet, 2017) Teen peasant girl (and werewolf) Liina loves teen peasant boy Hans who loves the newly arrived German baroness. Set in a world infused with Estonian folk belief, from the Devil and the personified plague on down to love potions, and lensed in amazing black and white by Mart Taniel, this film evokes actual fairy tales better than almost anything I’ve ever seen.Thoroughbreds
(US, Cory Finley) Teenage Connecticut rich girls Amanda (Olivia Cooke) and Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) find friendship in sociopathy and plot the murder of Lily’s odious stepfather. Finley’s playwriting experience pays off in a taut script perfectly played by his two leads and Anton Yelchin as a lower-class drug dealer whose moral compass maybe hasn’t corroded completely.The Merciless
(South Korea, Byun Sung-hyun) Undercover cop infiltrates a smuggling ring in Busan, but this being an Asian film, finds himself ever-closer friends with his gangster target. Tiny script wobble in the last act can’t erase the control and ease of the direction, or the power of the acting.The Experimental City
(US, Chad Friedrichs) Zippily edited and filmed in a period-TV filter and palette, this documentary tells the story of a progressive technocratic dream of a domed city in Minnesota, and the local protests that stopped it in 1973. Makes excellent and ample use of archival recordings and footage of other Modernist urban mirages to illuminate and even celebrate its quixotic subject.Faces/Places
(France, Agnes Varda and J.R.) Famed director Varda and hipster poster artist J.R. team up and hit the road to capture and depict the stories of ordinary French people. Sweet and nice as French pastry, and nourishing as French bread, this celebration of la joie de vie makes a virtue of its fabrication, much as do the artists involved.Chasing the Blues
(Chicago, Scott Smith) Record collector (Grant Rosenmeyer) resumes his quest for a legendary blues album the instant he gets out of prison. Likeable shaggy dog comedy gets good value from brief appearances by Jon Lovitz and Steve Guttenberg, but it’s really a fun excuse to make up a blues legend and riff on it.GoodSicilian Ghost Story
(France/Italy/Switzerland, Fabio Grassadonia & Antonio Piazza) Middle-school girl Luna becomes increasingly obsessed, suffering nightmares and waking dreams after her true love Giuseppe is abducted by the Mafia. Based on a real 1993 kidnap-murder, the directors cast Sicilian unknowns as the children to quite frankly amazing effect. The dream, fairy tale, and mythic elements don’t quite blend with the crime and love stories, which is the only reason this ambitious film (barely) misses the Recommended mark.Have a Nice Day
(China, Jian Liu) When driver Xiao impulsively steals a bag with a million yuan at knife-point from a courier for “Uncle Liu” it sets off an early-Tarantino-ish tour through the grifters and criminals and weirdos connected to Xiao, Liu, or the bag. Animated in strong line and color against detailed unmoving backgrounds depicting a grottily anonymous Chinese city, and scored with (not enough) pop music, it’s its own beast even if that beast is a shaggy dog.Reconciliation
(Poland, Maciej Sobieszczański) In 1945, Silesian farm boy Franek becomes a guard at a Communist labor camp to rescue an inmate: Anna, the Polish girl he loves. Her lover Erwin, a German, is also interned in the camp, and the tragic drama builds inevitably from there. A little slow and a lot brutal, the film distances itself from the characters in the interest of universality, but at the expense of involvement.The Line
(Slovakia/Ukraine/Czech Rep, Peter Bebjak) Slovakian cigarette smuggler Adam faces family pressures from mom, wife, and daughter, and professional pressures from his Ukrainian mafiya supplier to run drugs. A fine crime story, especially for Dracula Dossier
GMs looking for more on the Count’s Slovakian smuggler minions, but nothing except the setting particularly stands out.OkayGemini
(US, Aaron Katz) Personal assistant (Lola Kirke) to a movie star (Zoë Kravitz) becomes a suspect in her murder. I was all set to love this stylized, prefab tour through the “Hollywood crime story” trope box until it just ran out of road with a terminal anticlimax. Kirke is super, though, so keep her on your radar for when she hopefully gets a script with a fourth act.Control
(Belgium, Jan Verheyen) Belgian police detectives Vincke and Verstuyft (reason and emotion, respectively) hunt a serial killer in Antwerp but their partnership founders when Verstuyft sleeps with a near-victim and possible material witness. Plays like a two-hour television episode from a well-shot procedural TV show; since it’s the third in a series of films, it essentially is.Tokyo Vampire Hotel
(Japan, Sion Sono) If Sono had made this as a standalone film rather than recutting 2 hours and 22 minutes from his Amazon Japan miniseries, it would likely rank much higher. Sono’s trademark combination of stunningly beautiful images and hyperviolence adds two feuding clans of vampires, but his wild inventiveness seems more like flailing at TV sprawl lengths. Budapest Noir
(Hungary, Éva Gárdos) High gloss and low budget can work but don’t here: the overlighting minimizes menace and the empty streets remove realism from this toothless tale of a reporter in 1936 Budapest investigating a murdered prostitute. (Glimpses of Budapest’s hidden self are sparse but welcome.) But our protagonist has no skin in the game, no wounded nature, and no iconic code: being a jerk is not actually a tragic flaw.Mon Mon Mon Monsters
(Taiwan, Giddens Ko) Teen bullies and their sullen target capture a c.h.u.d. and slowly weaponize it between bouts of torture — while its sister searches for her lost sibling. Gets points for a good monster and a properly decrepit mise en scene, but I remain of the opinion that having a completely unsympathetic protagonist is usually a mistake.
|Wednesday, October 4th, 2017|
|10 Points For HPLFF
For my fellow fans of the Sage of Providence, of horror film, or of the Rose City, here's my schedule as I know it for the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon this weekend!
I'll be at the Thursday night VIP gathering, so I hope to see you there -- I may be doing some reading of Lovecraftian poetry, even, so fair warning.Friday, October 64pm:
Meet 'n' Greet with Filmmakers and Guests (Sam's Billiards)7pm - 8pm: Primer to the Cthulhu Mythos
A novice in the ways of Cthulhu? Been a bit since you've cracked a forbidden text? Join us for a lively discussion on everyone's favorite Old One. (D.B. Spitzer, Kenneth Hite, Tim Uren, Dominique Lamssies, Cody Goodfellow; EOD Center)10pm-11pm: Fears We All Share
Some fears are innate and inescapable! Join us for an exploration of weird themes in foreign horror films from of any era. (Dominique Lamssies, Orrin Grey, Phillip Gelatt, Jeff Burk; EOD Center)Saturday, October 710am-Noon:
Carbload for Cthulhu Mass Author Signing Event (EOD Center)8:30pm-9:30pm The Dreamlands, HPL's inspirations
Classical myth and mental landscape - join us for a discussion of Lovecraft's inspirations. (Heather Hudson, A. Scott Glancy, Kenneth Hite, Nathan Carson)
|Friday, September 29th, 2017|
Once more we enter the lists for the Chicago International Film Festival, which this year has increased its South Korean programming by FIFTY PERCENT, meaning there is one (1) South Korean film and a South Korean-German co-production. Stop gaming the system, CIFF.
Anyhow, we've got that South Korean film, the new Takashi Miike, and so very very much more this year, even though it's actually fewer films than I normally program, because I'm cleverly going to New York for a weekend during the festival. So herewith, the hopefully sweet (if under-kimchi'd) sixteen films I'm seeing at CIFF this year, modulo festival screwups or hilarious CTA misadventure. All the films are at the convenient and delightful AMC River East 21 downtown, so come out and see them with me (and with his_regard
the Damon to my filmic Pythias or perhaps my Affleck) won't you?Friday October 13
2:00 p.m.: The Merciless (South Korea, Byun Sung-hyun)
South Korean gangster film are you kidding me can there be a better opener I think not.
10:45 p.m.: Blade of The Immortal (Japan, Takashi Miike)
Okay maybe the new Takashi Miike magical samurai movie maybe that could be a better opener. This is a helluva day, people. Helluva day.Saturday October 14
12:00 Noon: Mon Mon Mon Monsters (Taiwan, Giddens Ko)
Teen bullies find a monster and make it fight until its mom shows up. Pokemon meets Grendel in Taipei!
2:40 p.m.: Faces Places (France, Agnes Varda & JR)
Whimsical, profound, "beautiful meditation" -- all these killing words show up in the description, but it got the robindlaws Recommendation
6:00 p.m.: Thoroughbreds (US, Corey Finley)
"Teen girl Hitchcockian thriller" on the other hand are the opposite of killing words, except there will probably be some killing in this one.
8:45 p.m.: Chasing the Blues (US, Scott Smith)
The quest for a legendary blues album, in Chicago comedy form.
10:30 p.m.: Tokyo Vampire Hotel (Japan, Sion Sono)
Sion Sono is always good for a what-the-hell-was-that, and I am professionally concerned with both vampires and hotel management but mostly vampires.Sunday October 15
2:45 p.m.: Reconciliation (Poland, Maciej Sobieszczański)
Love triangle in a Communist labor camp will either be supergood drama or murky and unclear; Poland is uneven in festival Ken-pleasing.
7:30 p.m.: Sicilian Ghost Story (France/Italy/Switzerland, Fabio Grassadonia & Antonio Piazza)
Gothic Mafia fairy tale!Tuesday October 17
3:15 p.m.: The Line (Slovakia/Ukraine/Czech Rep, Peter Bebjak)
Cigarette smuggler under pressure to become a heroin smuggler (and don't we all know that feeling) carries us into crime thriller turf.
5:45 p.m.: Budapest Noir (Hungary, Éva Gárdos)
Oh it's a noir set in 1936 Budapest I am as giddy as can be, not least because Hungary reliably punches well above its weight but also yeah noir set in 1936 Budapest.
8:45 p.m.: Gemini (US, Aaron Katz)
An L.A. noir about celebrity and identity sign me the heck up.Wednesday October 18
8:00 p.m.: The Experimental City (US, Chad Friedrichs)
Documentary about a proposed domed city in Minnesota and you had me at "proposed domed city."Monday October 23
3:00 p.m.: Control (Belgium, Jan Verheyen)
The third in a series of murder mystery films; Belgium is another one like Poland where you can't be sure you're getting the good stuff but when you do oh boy.
8:45 p.m.: November (Estonia/Netherlands/Poland, Reiner Sarnet)
Just another teen werewolf girl pagan Estonian black and white plague fairy tale like you see everywhere so basic I knowTuesday October 24
8:00 p.m.: Have a Nice Day (China, Jian Liu)
It's a cartoon! About a guy who steals from a mob boss! Animated crime film with a Chinese pop score, so it'll keep us awake at least.
|Tuesday, August 29th, 2017|
|The DragonCon Dossier
Once more I have been caught up in the sea of damp Batgirls and rushed as on a cataract of nerd-media fun into the heart of downtown Atlanta on Labor Day weekend for DragonCon,
and so once more I post my schedule so that interested and/or attending parties may know of it. And once more I am "talent," not "useful," so I have no idea if these panels will be streamed, recorded, or acted out by ST:TNG
cosplayers in a hellish cross between Javanese wayang and holodeck bushwa.Title: Big, Giant, Boss MonsterTime:
Fri 11:30 am Location:
Augusta 1-2 - Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: One of the hardest tasks for any GM is to create that memorable villain or big bad beast at the end of the adventure or dungeon. Find out from our top-level designers how to do it! A 'Year of the Dragon'-themed panel! (Jason Bulmahn, Kenneth Hite, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel)Title: Dracula: You Can't Keep a Good Vampire Down
Fri 01:00 pm Location:
Peachtree 1-2 - Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: This year marks the 120th anniversary of the novel & the 25th anniversary of Coppola's film adaptation. With more Dracula projects on the horizon, why does this character endure? (Kenneth Hite, Corvis Nocturnum, Cherie Priest, Dacre Calder Stoker, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)Title: The Games behind the Game: When Social Contracts Get in the Way
Fri 02:30 pm Location:
Augusta 3 - Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: All games rely on social contracts to work. For example, we rely on the players to be honest about their roles. But these elements become complex when it comes to how spells work in an RPG or how aspects work in FATE. Join this innovative panel on improving our games & the social games within them. (Kenneth Hite, Brianne Marie, Jason Massey)Title: Horror in Gaming
Fri 08:30 pm Location:
Augusta 1-2 - Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: Join two masters of the dark, occult, & weird on how to create horror, how to craft mood, & all of the other tricks we use to scare ourselves! (Clint Black, Kenneth Hite)Title: World Building 101
Sat 02:30 pm Location:
Centennial I - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: We examine different takes on world building, whether it be for a game, movie, or video game! What does it take to create a believable, breathing world? (Keith Baker, Richard "Lord British" Garriott, Kenneth Hite)Title: Tiles, Tentacles, Dice, & Dread
Sat 08:30 pm Location:
Peachtree 1-2 - Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: From tabletop thrills to console chills, we'll discuss writing & playing games with a horror theme. (David Boop, Bill Bridges, Richard Lee Byers, Kenneth Hite, David Maynor (moderator))Title: Vampire the Masquerade: 5th Edition
Sun 01:00 pm Location:
Augusta 1-2 - Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
Description: This iconic role-playing game changed everything. Not just tabletop RPG's but movies, TV, media, and pop culture were all transformed by the legacy of the Masquerade. Now, join the game's lead designer as he discusses what's next for this world-changing game. (Kenneth Hite)
|Friday, August 11th, 2017|
|GenCon Is 50 And I Don't Feel So Young Myself
Once more it's time (and past time) to post up my schedule for GenCon for the delight of any GRU agents who want to find me in the throngéd streets of Nap City.
As always, I don't know if any of the panels will be streamed, podcasted, or delivered to you by a woodpecker in a series of rapid Morse skull-thumps.
By and large, during the show I shall be staked like unto a veritable wampyr at either the Pelgrane booth or the White Wolf booth, so look those places at other times than these:Wednesday, August 16
9pm? to whenever: Diana Jones Awards Ceremony and Whizbang (usual location)Thursday, August 17
8pm to whenever: They Might Be Giants concert (Bankers Life Fieldhouse)Friday, August 18
10am - 11am: Better Playtesting: Doing Good by Playing Bad(ly) (Crowne Plaza: Conrail Stn)
I shall likely have to bolt out of this one early in time to get to the Westin, but I urge everyone to stay and hear my co-panelists Hanna Shafer and Jeff Stormer bring it home under the baton of moderator Darcy Ross.
11am - Noon: Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition (Westin: Capitol III)
1pm - 2pm: Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Live! (Crowne Plaza: Pennsylvania Station B)
6:30pm - whenever: ENnie Awards cocktail party and (8:00) ENnie Awards (Union Station: Grand Hall)Saturday, August 19
2pm - 3pm: Meet the New White Wolf (Westin: Capitol II)*
4pm - 5pm: Investigative Roleplaying Master Class (Crowne Plaza: Pennsylvania Station B)
7pm - 8:30pm: Delta Green: the Roleplaying Game (Crowne Plaza: Grand Central D)Sunday, August 20
2pm - 3pm: Retrospective Tour of the GenCon 50 Museum with Ken Hite (Lucas Oil Field: Horticultural Hall)
*Yes this means I shall miss the Swords, Spies, and Shoggoths panel aka "What's New With Pelgrane Press" scheduled for the same timeslot in Crowne Plaza Pennsylvania Station B.
|Thursday, July 13th, 2017|
|A Vote For Me Is A Vote For Nancy Drew
And for Veronica Mars, mostly. Some of it is a vote for Carmilla, or for a lovely Canadian. So pretty much the same thing then.
Anyhow, ENnie Awards voting, and therefore plugging the voting, remains open until July 21st, but I couldn't live with myself if I failed to provide you with the news you can use about Ken's ENnie Award Nominations:
Best Adventure: The Edom Files
Best Podcast: Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff
Best Family Game: Bubblegumshoe
Best Game: Bubblegumshoe
Best Rules: Bubblegumshoe
Product of the Year: Bubblegumshoe
I am also an NPC (the enigmatic Codex) in Atlas of Earth-Prime
from my pals at Green Ronin, which as it happens is nominated for Best Monster/Adversary book.
And by a delightful coincidence the ENnies voting is open
. Please do vote, and please do encourage your spouses and loved ones to do the same from their own IP addresses.
|Monday, May 29th, 2017|
Robert Munroe (Ensign, Lexington militia, KIA 19 April 1775, Lexington Green)
Joshua P. Rodgers (SGT, 3 Bn 75th Ranger Regt, KIA 26 Apr 2017, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan)
And all 559,160 in between.
|Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017|
|Listen To The Shadow People
While waiting for the fever to burn out, I read Margaret St. Clair's The Shadow People
(1969), one of the shadowy underlights of Appendix N that I'd unaccountably neglected until now. Not that
unaccountably: St. Clair has been almost completely out of print for decades, although it's good to see that Ramsey Campbell is editing a "best of" collection from Dover due later this year.
This book is wild, beginning with elves kidnapping a young woman from 1968 Berkeley California and getting weirder from there. The elves and the Underearth combine Shaver's Deros with Robert Kirk's "Commonwealth of Fairies" (namechecked!) for a real tour-de-force of clammy horror and fairy tale structure. And then there's a nascent computerized fascist state in the last half for some reason, which works mostly because St. Clair's Underearth has jolted the reader out of their perceptual tunnel already. She also shows a real willingness to leave plot threads hanging and underexplain things, which might annoy some but for me remains part of the real frisson of fantasy and horror fiction, which this is.
If urban fantasy had followed Margaret St. Clair into the Berkeley Underearth rather than trailing after Emma Bull into the Minneapolis park system, I'd like it about three hundred percent more.
|Friday, February 24th, 2017|
|First Best Ten Best Film List of 2016
Once more, O loyal readership, I vouchsafe unto thee the ten films I saw that were the 10 best 2016 films I saw. As so often happens these days, I have revealed the answers in the lovely and accessible podcast format, interleaved with those of my confrere robindlaws
on our very own podcast Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff,
specifically this episode here.
But for those not listening or who don't mind re-reading lists of things to which they've listened, here are the Top Ten 2016 Films I Saw:
1. Soul on a String
3. Hail, Caesar!
4. Everybody Wants Some!!
5. Hell or High Water
6. The Age of Shadows
7. Women Who Kill
8. The Nice Guys
10. The Handmaiden
And the second ten, for your individual delectation: Train to Busan, Silence, Love and Friendship, Imperfections, Neruda, Shin Godzilla, Jackie, Neon Demon, Captain America: Civil War,
and The Witch.
Although the A+ category probably fades around Number 7 (although one can make arguments down to Jackie
), the As keep going all the way down to #22
and Dead Tongues.
The worst 2016 movie I saw would be the Mexican trash-heap The Darkness
); of stuff released in theaters domestically, #60 Batman: the Killing Joke
managed to eke out the title ahead of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
) and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Top Ten 2016 Movies I Didn't (Yet) See? Hmmm, in a year with two Terence Malick releases we probably know two of them (Knight of Cups, Voyage of Time
) but the other eight in no particular order likely include most of Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, Kubo and the Two Strings, Hacksaw Ridge, High Rise, Swiss Army Man, The Mermaid,
and Into the Inferno.
As always past performance yadda yadda yadda.
|Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017|
|The Most Dangerous Gamicon
As you can perhaps deduce from the misleading header above, I shall be a Guest of Honor at Gamicon Fe
this weekend in scenic Cedar Rapids, Iowa alongside famed designer Nathan Paoletta and minis painter Steven Groom.
And even before you have recovered from that breath-taking news, here's my Gamicon schedule as I know it:FRIDAY Feb 248pm - 10pm: Worldbuilding and Setting Design
The setting - be it a whole galaxy or a single palace - helps define your game. Setting constrains plot and defines character; it's what the designer or the GM brings to the table before anyone else sits down. How do you build a setting that's robust and interesting? Do you alter history or design a whole new world?Event Location: ElmSATURDAY Feb 2510am - 12 noon: Getting into the Industry/Business of Gaming
Presentation and Q&A with Ken Hite & Nathan Paoletta on getting into the RPG businessEvent Location: Elm2pm - 4pm: Podcasting 101
Podcasting is a lot of work, & a lot of fun. Kenneth Hite and Nathan Paoletta will help you minimize the former & maximize the latter, in everything from picking a topic to audio editing. Put your beautiful voice out there!Event Location: Elm8pm - 10pm: Game Mastering Master Class
The Game Master's craft is a tricky one. What are the tips and tricks you find most useful when it comes to making your games come alive? And how do you handle... That guy? The answer may surprise you!Event Location: ElmSUNDAY Feb 269am - 11am: Cthulhu in Gaming (What's the Attraction?)
There are now several board and role-playing games featuring HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. What is essential to getting the mythos right? What are some common pitfalls when attempting to emulate Lovecraft's eldritch horror?Event Location: Elm
You can pre-register for the convention and pre-sign up for these and all the other events here,
but I suspect the kindness and openness of Iowegians means there will be plenty of welcome left for walk-ups and last-minute deciders. So come on out to Cedar Rapids this weekend and get your Gamicon on!
|Monday, February 13th, 2017|
|O DunDraCon My DunDraCon
Because it is February and because it is my heart, I once more flee the gray if not particularly inclement (this year) climes of Chicago for the apparently drenched confines of the Bay Area for DunDraCon
in semi-sunny San Ramon this Presidents' Day weekend (Feb 17-20).
And once more I provide unto thee my schedule that thou mayest attend unto my words and consider them in thy heart, but not ask me if they shall be streamed for I know not.Saturday Feb 18
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM: What's new at Pelgrane PressPresenter: Kenneth Hite
Pelgrane Press designer Ken Hite gives you the lowdown on everything from 13th Age
to The Dracula Dossier.
[Tri Valley 2]
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM: City Building: Post ApocalypsePresenters: Michael Blum, Kenneth Hite, Anders Swenson
The long-running seminar about the nuts and bolts of building and using cities in RPGs. This year we’ll discuss post-apocalyptic communities, and develop one on our whiteboard. [Tri Valley 2]
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM: Alternate HistoriesPresenters: Kenneth Hite, Chris Klug, and Dana Lombardy
The very popular War College panel discussion continues! Authors and game designers Dana Lombardy and Ken Hite are joined by DDC 41 Guest of Honor Chris Klug to examine possible alternate histories and what their impact might have been. Audience participation is encouraged. [Salon C]Sunday Feb 19
Sunday, 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM: What's CoolPresenters: Chris Klug, Kenneth Hite, Bruce Harlick
Three Icons of the gaming industry from 3 different viewpoints combine to present to you the best in current game products. [Tri Valley 2]
|Sunday, January 22nd, 2017|
|Big Eyes, Archaic Smile
And finally the fourth of my nominees for our next campaign, as submitted to my players for their delectation and decision. This one began life as a Suppressed Transmission column way back when; my player jovianconsensus
has a bee in his bonnet about pre-Punic Wars Sicily, which is to say the Hellenistic Mediterranean, and here this option was waiting for us. Archimedes has been allowed to drift out of his proper Punic War, and Hieron has assumed the throne three years early, but otherwise it's all pretty much straight history. Except for the flying ships.
BIG EYES, ARCHAIC SMILE"Aristarchos of Samos produced a book based on certain hypotheses, in which it follows from the premises that the universe is many times greater than the universe now so called."
-- Archimedes, The Sand-Reckoner
(ca. 225 B.C.)
Sing, O Muse, of the four colors splashed across the world in the wake of the Divine Alexander! Sing of the cyan screens of the mausolikons! Sing of the magenta sails of the aetheremes! Sing of the yellow-bronze armor of the kolossi! Sing of the black dreams of kings and wonder-makers, who hold the key to power over all the world! It’s the year 39 (273 BC – ed.) and Seven Wonders tower over the known world: anything is possible! Neo-Aegypt rules the seas with the unsinkable battleship Iamatos
and the deadly red Eye of the Pharos; the Seleucids launch griffin cavalry and aetheremes from their aerial base in the Hanging Gardens above Babylon; the kolossi-warriors of Rhodes guard their island republic; the Amazons grow monstrous and beautiful new life in Diana’s shrine in Ephesus; the artificer Philo guards his city-state Byzantion with clashing rocks while Archimedes builds the Solar Mirror for his own master Hieron II of Syracuse. Still stranger powers grow on the rim of the Hellenistic world: Ashoka of Maurya spins reality-shifting wheels; the suffetes of Carthage heat their desert sands in the burning heart of Moloch to pen daimones into silicon frames; and Saturnus, the overthrown Icon, readies a new army in Rome. If we are to believe Metrodoros of Lampsakos, there are even men on Mars, who carried his teacher Epicurus off with them and now examine us with intellects vast and cool and ironic. But perhaps that doesn’t matter to you – you just have to live fast, love well, and leave a good-looking mosaic.
System: Most likely 13th Age,
with the Olympians as the Icons, because hey guess what Alexander the Great won. (Although I would entertain a motion to try HeroQuest
again.) This is fantasy history with a properly Hellenistic technic touch and maybe a bit of anime feel.
|Saturday, January 21st, 2017|
|Agents of S.A.B.E.R.
This third nomination for my next campaign is also a rerun, but not one you folks have seen. I first proposed it in 2003 under the title "Jack Kirby's War on Terror!" but the players went a different direction. (Into outer space, if I recall correctly.) But here we are back again, not least because we haven't done supers since the immortals game (Truth & Justice
AGENTS OF S.A.B.E.R.
Sure, there were big problems in 1967 -- Vietnam, and Communism, and all that. And Captain America did his part, keeping death rays out of Chinese hands and rescuing buddies from Viet Cong sumo wrestlers. But Captain America had bigger fish to fry, too – Star Sapphire, and A.I.M., and giant robots, and MODOK, and Blofeld. It’s fifty years later, and the world hasn’t gotten any less dangerous – or any less menaced by giant robots. In that spirit, you, the super-agents of S.A.B.E.R. (Special Army Bureau for Extraordinary Research) have to take on not just ISIS were-hyenas and Zeta cartel swamp creatures but buried Nazi sentient tanks in Syria, cloned psychic supermen in North Korea, and the shadowy legions of The Claw!
System: Icons: Assembled Edition,
which should give us plenty of Silver Age scope without bogging us down in rules minutiae. (It’s not impossible that we might sneak one or three DramaSystem
sessions in as well, for proper super-soap.) The world is one full of Alan Moore’s “the beautiful and the pointless,” seen through a Captain America
movie lens and painted a gorgeous Planetary.
|Friday, January 20th, 2017|
|The Gryphons of Calyferne Redux
Here's the second of the four proposed campaigns for my next game, for my players to choose from among. Long-time fans may remember this proposal from 2008.
Recycling, kids, it's good for GMs, for writers, and for the Earth.
THE GRYPHONS OF CALYFERNE
Cadamosto returned to Portugal in 1456 with staggering news: He had discovered the island of Antilia, far to the west across the Atlantic Ocean. Better yet, he had heard of other islands, rich in spices, gold, and cities -- Hy-Brasil, Cibola, Estotiland, Norumbega – and greatest of all, the legendary Calyferne, ruled by Amazons and guarded by gryphons! A chain of Indies stretches to the Kingdom of Prester John himself, and to the lands of the Great Cham of Asia, and you have a copy of Cadamosto's map and a ship that will take you west to find them. You are adventurers of the Order of the Golden Fleece; some learned in the wizardly arts, some practiced sailors or sell-swords, all willing to explore these new isles for Prince Henry the Navigator, and for treasures magical and mundane.
Do not be fooled by the cunning historical persiflage above! By old-school fantasy request, this game will feature: beautiful princesses, villainous pirates, aloof elves, clouds of black powder smoke, fearsome dragons, swarthy dwarves, enigmatic glowing gems, leering mandarin-viziers, heaps of gold, alabaster cities, hyena-headed gnolls, subterranean passages, sword-fighting, missing idols, magic rings, cruel giants, and the Mighty Kraken. Plus griffins and California, just like the title says.
System: 13th Age,
with the specific Icons left (in part) to be worked out by us depending on who your characters are in tight with: Our Lady, Hermes Thrice-Great, the Buzzard, and the Green Dragon (royal supporter of the arms of Portugal, and possible patron of the Grand Cham) pop instantly to mind, given the setting. If you want to start out as members of a fantasy race, we can probably make that work – you’re Antilian natives come back with Cadamosto, if we can’t figure something else out. But consider the setting more human-centric, more Leiber than Tolkien … at least at first.
|Thursday, January 19th, 2017|
|The Librarians of Babel
A mere two-and-a-half years ago, my game group started playing "The Rex of the Old 97," an Unknown Armies
campaign set in the old West. Well, having just used John Stith Pemberton's brass cauldron to complete the Triskaidexaltation Working on July 4, 1886, the players believe they can go out on that high note. So, as I did last time,
I'm posting the four possibilities for the next game that my players are currently deciding among. As I believe I've mentioned, our group's method for coming up with games is for them all to suggest the sorts of things they'd like to see, and for me to boil everything down into four or five possible campaigns. Then they vote on which one sounds best, and off we go.
This, then, is the first of those four nominees. I'll post the rest over the next three days, just for everyone's entertainment, although one of them
is a rerun.
THE LIBRARIANS OF BABEL“Like all men of the Library, I have traveled in my youth; I have wandered in search of a book, perhaps the catalogue of catalogues …”
-- Jorge Luis Borges, “The Library of Babel”
The Great Library, it is said, contains all the books that ever were and all the books that never were. You work there – or rather, you work from there. You work for Chapter 45, the one Jefferson left off his list on purpose, or as some catalogues refer to it: Category X. Your job is to go out into the worlds and find the books the Library doesn’t contain, and bring them back. Of course, while you’re recovering books you may also have to thwart Swedish necromancers, solve the mystery of the Seven Sleepers, infiltrate Confederate airship havens, sweet-talk Archimedes, steal the Spear of Destiny, test an improved (really!) Shea-Chalmers syllogismobile, kill Queen Tera of Egypt again, keep an eye out for any of the Fourteen Categories of Beasts, or rescue the Lost Heir to the throne of Timbuctoo. The Assistant Librarian can’t tell you what, exactly, you might face out there in the wild worlds. After all, if your challenges were written down somewhere, you’d already have a copy in the Library.
System: Savage Worlds.
This is, as you can perhaps guess, a multiple-worlds game, with variety and adventure very much in the subject headers. Thus, a game system optimized for just such things, with a vast variety of things to stab and weird ways to do the stabbing.
|Wednesday, January 4th, 2017|
|Hardly Ever EverCon
It's right, I do hardly ever EverCon, but this year I'm doing the Guest of Honor thing at central Wisconsin's booming new dice-capades, that's right, EverCon,
in Wausau WI this weekend!
And here, as it happens, is my schedule for just that thing!Friday Jan 6
8:00 pm: Game Mastering Tips
The Game Master's craft is a tricky one. What are the tips and tricks you find most useful when it comes to making your games come alive? And how do you handle... That guy? The answer may surprise you! (Seminar Room Salon A Suite 1)Saturday Jan 7
2:00 pm: Cthulhu in Gaming
There are now several board and role-playing games featuring HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. What is essential to getting the mythos right? What are some common pitfalls when attempting to emulate Lovecraft's eldritch horror? (Seminar Room Salon A Suite 1)
6:00 pm: Untitled Kenneth Hite Game
I'm running a Trail of Cthulhu
session. There are tickets left. (State Ballroom Room B6)Sunday Jan 8
10:00 am: Alternate Histories in Gaming
Nazi zeppelins above the Tigris, Roman colonies on the Mississippi, Chinese mandarins ruling from Versailles, the possibilities are literally endless. The where, what, who and why -- and most of all, the how and when! -- of making compelling alternate history game backgrounds. (Seminar Room Salon A Suite 1)