Tag: Ben Erickson

Nerd Porn – Let the Game of Thrones Begin

Season two of Game of Thrones may be done, but we’ve already started getting details on season three. Before you know it, it will be here and you’ll need something to wear while you root for your favorite house to win the game of thrones. Lucky for you, Vanadium over at Society6 has you covered.

Take a look at these absolutely stunning designs reimagining the major (and some minor) houses in Westeros in the style of a sports logo.

This is only a small sample. You have the option of Stark, Lannister, Tully, Arryn, Targaryen, Baratheon, Greyjoy, Tyrell, and Martell, and they all look absolutely stunning. I would love a Stark hoodie for the cold winters where I live. Each of these designs is available as an art print for $16, as t-shirts for $22, and as hoodies for $42.

You can look at the rest of the designs and purchase your favorite(s) here.

And remember. Winter is coming.

Marvel NOW! Announcement

Entertainment Weekly just broke a story in their Comic-Con edition about a new initiative from comics publisher Marvel beginning in October. Marvel NOW! is a line-wide launch (or relaunch) of the Marvel Universe, and Editor in Chief Axel Alonso is quoted as saying:

“This ain’t no reboot, it’s a new beginning!”

There aren’t many details yet, but we do have three confirmed titles from the article, launching at the end of the year. From the iFanboy piece on the announcement.

  • Uncanny Avengers - written by Rick Remender, artist unknown – Shipping in October,  a direct spinoff from Avengers vs. X-Men, Remender says “It’s a bridge book, something that can delve into both worlds”
  • All New X-Men - written by Brian Michael Bendis, artist unknown – Shipping in November, the rumors of Bendis taking over the X-Men appear to be true. We saw an image of Jean Grey yesterday, and it appears that is indeed her as Bendis uses time travel to bring the original five X-Men to the present day as Bendis describes, “It’s not a time travel story like Back to the Future. It’s a time travel story like Pleasantville
  • Avengers - written by Jonathan Hickman, artist unknown – Shipping in December, Hickman picks up the Avengers reins from Bendis has he expands the scope of The Avengers. Hickman is quoted as saying, “It’s not six Avengers, it’s 18 or more”.  The new title will be bi-weekly and will be a combination of one-shot stories and longer, “galaxy spanning multi-issue arcs” as they protect the entire universe and become an Avengers for the 21st century.

Let me be the first to say, and I say this as a non-comic book reader but not for a lack of trying: here we go again.

Much like DCs New 52 initiative, this project is going to promise big things for those already invested in the comics as well as for those trying to break into the worlds these comics bring to readers every month. And just like the New 52, it’s going to fall far short of actually doing that.

Yes, the New 52 brought some great titles to the table that actually did what they promised and wiped away years of continuity. Aquaman, Supergirl, and the Justice League are all heroes or groups that got fresh starts, and there were some new heroes that made their first appearance, such as the African superhero Batwing, a part of the Batman Inc. line.

But many of the other stories proved to be just as dense and hard to get into as before. I personally grabbed a couple of the Batman issues, ready to get re-introduced to the character and was quickly disappointed and then frustrated when I found out that not only was this not a “fresh look” at the Batman character, but that the years of continuity and issues he had dealt with were still there. All they had really done in some of these issues were to start a new story arc and slap a #1 on the cover. And let’s not even get into the Batgirl debacle.

I fear this is where Marvel is headed with their “relaunch.”

Let’s take a walk down “What if?” lane for a minute. What would Marvel be risking with a line-wide reboot? Fans groaning? They’re already doing that even before this “relaunch” and are going to be doing it more in the coming weeks and months. So you upset some fans. Not much new there.

But who wouldn’t be stoked about being able to pick up X-Men #1 and having it be the beginning of the X-Men story for this day and age? How many more people would be willing to grab some issues and get into comic books with a “real” continuity wipe? Yes, it might just be a temporary fix to a bleeding wound when and if sales drop back to the numbers before the reboot, but isn’t it worth a try?

Hell, even a trial run. Just say, “we’re going to release a trial run of several of our core characters, completely rebooted and ready for a brand new reader.” See how it’s received. Go from there based on that data.

After all, it’s not like they haven’t been doing that with several of their big name characters on the big screen for the past couple of years.

I’m keen to hear your thoughts. Is this viable? Is this something that you’d like to see?

And as for the “relaunch/reboot?” Let’s just call it what it is at the moment – a publicity stunt.

Campaign Journal – Star Wars Saga Edition #4

In this installment, we finally get into the action that I’ve been promising for a little while. So without further ado…

You know how the song goes.

The story begins on the planet of Haalthor, a small colony world in space still controlled by the ousted Emperor Roan Fel. The party is called to the office of the colony administrator and sent on what should be a blue milk run, being sent to a nearby colony to pick up a surplus of foodstuffs and medical supplies. They board their transport, an antiquated Ghtroc 720 held together by mostly string and mesh tape.

Gives you strong bones, and a strong command of the Force. Doesn’t do much for whining though.

The captain of the ship takes them to their destination, but when they get there, they find no signs of life coming from the colony. No communications. Nothing. As they get closer, they pick up a very low powered distress call, but nothing else. No communications they send get any sort of response, and they fail to see many signs of power. They land the shuttle a short distance from the actual colony and head into the area on foot where their fears and suspicions are confirmed. There is no one alive in the colony. The strangest thing is that there doesn’t appear to have been any kind of battle. There are no blaster marks on the walls, no signs of explosion, no signs of struggle, period. The only thing left in the colony are a few droids, who appear to have been tampered with, as they don’t recall anyone besides the party having been on the colony.

Rann takes the group to the administrative building of the colony where further investigation yields the source of the distress call. The colony administrator managed to get the distress signal activated before he disappeared, but something tampered with the power output, be it whatever screwed with the droids or an actual hacker turning it down couldn’t be determined.

The party decided to head to the landing pad to see if the supplies were still there and at least complete that part of their mission before returning to Haalthor to share this sudden turn of events. As they got there they noticed several stacks of crates that were most likely the cargo they were supposed to have picked up sitting on the pads. As they began to look through some of them, they heard the noise of a ship’s engine overhead, and they saw a landing craft begin to approach the colony. Skai, Niera, Rann, and Kiri all ran for cover, but Jasem decided to see who was aboard the ship and see if they knew anything. As the ship landed, several men in armor came out holding several beasts on leashes. They were followed by a Rodian in an officer’s uniform. They all bore the markings of the Crimson Buzzards, a gang of not quite pirates who made most of their money selling scavenged tech from derelict ships. The Rodian demanded to know who Jasem was and what they were doing here, and the Caamasi related his name and the purpose of their visit as well as telling them they were from Haalthor. The Rodian ordered his men to kill the Caamasi, prompting the rest of the party into action. The ensuing battle and it’s results will be discussed in the next installment as well as commentary on the threats and tactics used.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season Four Blu Rays Get a Release Date

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been a bad Star Wars nerd this year. I haven’t been keeping up with season four of Cartoon Network’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I caught the first couple of episodes on the Star Wars website, but started to forget in the myriad of other things that is life.

Well, my day of retribution is at hand, as well as yours if you’re like me. We have a release date for the Blu-ray and DVD release of Season Four, and that date is October 23rd.

If you haven’t been watching this series, you’ve been missing out on some great Star Wars. Originally conceived of and marketed as more of a children’s show, the series has gotten progressively darker and more “adult” as the seasons have gone on, and this season was no exception, taking us from the underwater battlefield of Mon Calamari to the shadowy world of Umbara and giving us many twists and turns, the most shocking of which was the return on the thought to be dead Sith warrior, Darth Maul.

Say’s supervising director Dave Filoni:

“Season Four allowed us to expand the series on many levels and achieve things that once were impossible. It all culminated in the return of one of the most exciting characters from the Star Wars Saga – Darth Maul. To bring a classic character back to life, and know that his future is not yet defined, is really exciting.”

IGN gives us a look at the trailer for the Blu-ray and DVD release. Head on over here to take a look at it as well as a list of the bonus features including numerous commentaries and other features.

And while you’re gearing up for the release of this set, take a look at the trailer for Season Five. Be prepared for goosebumps.

 

 

No word of a price point yet, but keep your eyes glued here for the latest news on this upcoming release. Until next time, may the Force be with you. Looks like we’re all going to need it.

Munchkin Conan Now Available Online

What is best in life?

Why, to slay the monsters, steal their stuff, and stab your buddy of course!

Steve Jackson Games announced today that they have released their hotly anticipated Munchkin Conan, a new set in the wildly popular card game in which Robert E. Howard’s epic hero gets the full Munchkin treatment at their webstore. If you’re a fan of Munchkinyou already know what to expect from this set. If you’re not familiar, but a fan of the title character, expect a game that turns the conventions of the sword and sorcery hero on its ear as it attacks your funny bone instead of breaking your skull.

This new standalone set features 168 cards illustrated by Munchkin artist John Kovalic, 1 six-sided die, and a rules sheet. The set retails for $24.95 and can be purchased online through Steve Jackson Games’ web store, Warehouse 23.

Campaign Journal – Star Wars Saga Edition #3

I know I promised that we would get into the action on this post, but I would be remiss if I didn’t take this entry to talk about something that has grown to be super important to me as a GM since I learned of them. Something known as the Three Questions.

GM Chris, host of the Order 66 Podcast came up with these questions, believing that a good answer to these three simple questions can be more important than any amount of back story when looking at a game from a GM’s perspective, because they immediately provide hooks he can use to draw the character, and by extension the player, into the game.

So what are these three magical questions? Well, I’m no bridge keeper, but I’ll ask you anyway.

Not this Bridge Keeper

1. What does you character Love? With a capital L. Even the most reviled, evil despot has something, somewhere they care about a great deal, and would give of themselves to protect – perhaps even sacrificing their life to protect and care for. This could be a friend, family member, or lover. Perhaps a homeworld, a group of people, or a village that once sheltered you. Maybe you have a soft-spot for kittens.

2. What does you character Hate? With a capital H. Even the most benevolent and well-meaning character has something, somewhere they hate, would go out of their way to harm, or would irrationally distrust. This could be an individual in the character’s past, or a group of people. Even a planet. Perhaps the character has a prejudice against Trandoshans, or has sworn to destroy the bounty hunter clan that destroyed his village as a child.

3. Why is your character willingly (and eagerly) working for the [rebellion/empire/guild/organization/order/etc./whatever-group-the-PCs-are-actively-working-with]? Why is your character an active participant in what this group does, and willing to work with the rest of the party? Are they devoted to the cause? Do they have a simple love of credits? Are they devoted to stamping out a threat?

They are three short questions, but there is a lot there a skilled GM can work with and build off of, providing hours and hours of drama and entertainment that the players are going to care about, because their characters are directly involved somehow. But I would go so far as to add in a fourth question just to round it out.

4. Your character has a connection with one of the other characters. What is it? Were they childhood friends (or rivals)? Were they sweethearts growing up? Are they related? Did one help another out of a jam (by saving them from slavers or Imperial troops)? Are they mentoring another character?

This kicks the entire notion of “you meet in a tavern” right in the teeth, something that I am happy to do. Yes, it’s a sacred cow in the world of RPGs, but it’s fatted to the point where it’s well past time for slaughter. This begins the game with the PCs already knowing at least one of the other party members in some way, and already begins building  relationships before the first session and gives the players something to work off of. In fact, this idea is so important, that the wildly popular Spirit of the Century has it as a built-in mechanic during character creation.

I tried the three questions in a campaign, and I haven’t gone back since.

So, to finish rounding out the cast, and to make help make sense of things that are going to be put in motion later, I’d like to present to you the abridged versions of my players answers to the questions three.

Skai Kasian

Directly related to events in his past, Skai has been on his own, and has grown to love the freedom that comes from never knowing where your next job is going to come from. For this reason, he hates those that would prey on others and take away that freedom, be they pirates or slavers, believing them to be the worst kind of coward. His lifestyle has led him to the less regulated Outer Rim where he took a job on the growing colony world of Haalthor.

Kirikinerry-tovante

Holovids have always been an escape for Kiri, and have become his one true constant companion and love through a life of constant upheaval. Kiri also maintains a strict code of honor and has a strong distaste for those who don’t play “fair,” which granted, sounds a little strange coming from someone with criminal tendencies. If you’re going to lie, cheat, and steal, then at least be elegant about it. Unfortunately for Kiri, the law finally caught up with him, and he was forced to sell his ship to get enough bribe money to get the charges dropped. This has effectively stranded him on the colony of Haalthor.

Rann Antilles

Rann still carries a torch for his first love, Seela, a Twi’lek dancing girl. When he left Corellia, they drifted apart, but the peace officer still cares deeply for the spirited young woman. Coming from a long line of decorated CorSec officers, the thing he hates above all is dirty cops and the politics that follow in their wake, catching everyone else in the waves. In fact, this sort of led to him losing his position in CorSec. “Pressure from upstairs” for busting an Imperial loyalists son on a drug charge lost him his job and he drifted away from Corellian space, taking his particular set of skills and knowledge to work on a security detail on a small Outer Rim colony.

Jasem Osar

If Jasem could choose one word to define perfection for himself it would be this. Harmony. His  time with the Revwien and his time studying the way of the Tyia Adepts have taught him that nothing is more important in this world, and the peace-loving ways of his species play to that particularly well. Because of this, he hates being required to perform a violent act. He will do so if the act is necessary, but it tends to push him into a cycle of self-loathing and hatred that tends to lead to further destructive actions and hatred of the person who necessitated the action. After being exiled from his homeworld and being trained as a Tyia Adept, he traveled the Outer Rim, seeking to bring harmony back to those that had suffered at the hands of this new war, moving from planet to planet, eventually leading him to Haalthor.

Niera Kurucz

Niera has always loved droids, more so than even a normal droid technician would. She has always been surrounded by droids and has even gone so far as to take steps to make herself more droid like, putting her at odds with her own people and other organics in general. This has led to a hatred of disrespect, stemming from the disrespect she got from her own people as well as from seeing so many people use and abuse droids as nothing more than simple tools. She was sent to the colony of Haalthor by her company to act as a technician for the colony.

Next time – The First Session.

Samuel L. Jackson Signs to Robocop Reboot

It’s official. Jose Padilha’s upcoming Robocop reboot just got a whole lot more badass.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news last night that Samuel L. Jackson, actor, household name, and object of many “dude crushes” (including me I am completely unashamed to admit) has signed on to the film as Pat Novak, “a charismatic TV mogul and a powerful force in the RoboCop world.”

Jackson  joins a cast that already includes Joel Kinnaman and Gary Oldman who will play Alex Murphy, the title cop turned robocop and the scientist who fixes Murphy like his name was Lee Majors respectively. No word yet on whether Novak drives a Helicarrier or if his wallet says “bad motherf*cker,” though.

Robocop is coming from Strike Entertainment and is produced by Marc Abraham and Eric Newman and begins filming in September on location in Toronto. The film’s current release date is August 3rd, 2013.

Fans can see Jackson in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained coming out this Christmas in the meanwhile (or they can just go see The Avengers again).

Probably not Novak's choice of transportation.

 

Keep your eyes on Word of the Nerd Online for more news on the reboot, and sound off on your thoughts about it.

‘David Haye’s Knockout’ Enters Trash-Talk Territory!

Boxing has long been a sport that is as much mental as it is physical. The ability to get under an opponent’s skin and psych them out before a match is as important as actually standing toe to toe with them in the ring. Today, we see the future of that spirit and have the power to hold it in our hands on our iDevices with David Haye’s Knockout.

From a press release from Grubby Hands

Muhammad Ali battled with rhyme, Dereck Chisora shocked with a spit and slap and David ‘The Hayemaker’ Haye takes it a step further and elevates the pre-match hype with the number one iPhone game ‘David Haye’s Knockout’.

Grubby Hands’ new release ‘David Haye’s Knockout’ proves to be the perfect iPhone, iPod touch and iPad game to goad any opponent Haye sets to hound. Having worn a T-shirt depicting Haye holding the decapitated, bloody heads of the heavyweight Klitschko brothers, he has infamously demonstrated that he will not hold back when it comes to getting under his competitors’ skin and ‘David Haye’s Knockout’ is no different. Within the game Haye consistently jibes his rivals and even uses secret weapons to defeat and destroy his enemies.

Realising the power of gaming, like no other professional boxer has done before, Haye’s use of ‘David Haye’s Knockout’ has certainly taken sport and gaming to the next level. Within a week of being released ‘David Haye’s Knockout’ dominated the App Store, taking over the number one spot in the Games and Sports Charts and flicking the globally dominant ‘Angry Birds’ from the number one Arcade Chart perch.

Igniting a whole new ring of fire, the immediate popularity of ‘David Haye’s Knockout’ has given Haye perfect ammunition to taunt his competitors before he steps in the ring with them and generate a lot of hype in the run up to his fight with Dereck Chisora, on 14 July 2012.

You can purchase your copy of the game from the iTunes App Store for $0.99.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Announcement

Hot off the heels of their very well received reboot of the Mortal Kombat franchise, Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment and Netherrealm Studios have announced a new fighting game. However, this will not be a sequel to Mortal Kombat, nor will it take place in the setting that made Netherrealm’s Ed Boon a household name.

Instead, they will be tackling the DC Universe… again.

Color me confused, but didn’t they try this withMortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, a game well received by the critics, but almost universally a punchline among gamers now? Is that really what that game needs? Less Mortal Kombat?

I’ve never been one for comic based fighting games in general, but Netherrealm Studios just doesn’t feel like a good fit for the IP.  Boon and company have built their reputation for making hyper-violent games featuring tons of blood and gore. It felt forced to a lot of gamers when they toned it down for Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, and unless DC has reversed their stance on that subject, I don’t see it feeling any less forced this time around.

Regardless of personal feelings, Gamespot released a trailer for the game the other day.

As we can clearly see in the video, there are a number of heavy hitters from the DC Universe already announced. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Solomon Grundy, and The Flash are all readily seen in the trailer, which brings me to my second point of contention about the game – the art direction.

Just what in the hell are these people wearing?

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Batman’s mask look more like bondage gear than I have in this trailer.

And what’s the deal with The Flash’s costume? I guess if I was expecting to get uppercutted into the upper atmosphere by Superman before being slammed back to the ground, I’d want some form of armor as well, but it just looks odd to me. Likewise with Solomon Grundy’s knives and other implements in his back.

I guess we’ll see if anything changes in the near future. Expect to see a lot more about this game at E3 in the coming weeks, and keep an eye on Word of the Nerd Online for the latest news on the game.

Lucasarts Unveils Star Wars 1313

Following very mediocre reviews from its latest release, Star Wars Kinect, Lucasarts has made an official announcement of a new game set in the Star Wars universe.

Star Wars 1313 as it is being called will be officially debuted at this year’s E3. There have been a few details released about this upcoming title.

From Coming Soon

LucasArts is diving into the most dangerous depths of the “Star Wars” criminal underworld with their newly announced internally developed videogame franchise, Star Wars 1313. Players will take control of a lethal bounty hunter in the never-before-explored expanses of Level 1313, deep below the surface of Coruscant. Using an arsenal of exotic weaponry to hunt down marks, the player must also uncover the truth surrounding a criminal conspiracy in this third-person cinematic action adventure game. It’s a bold new take on the “Star Wars” galaxy, intended for mature audiences.

Promising a strong focus on “epic set pieces” and “ fast-paced combat with a mortal, well-equipped hero who cannot rely on supernatural powers to survive his dangerous environment,” this promises to be a much different experience from many of the more traditional games that Lucasarts has put out in the past which mainly star Jedi in the main role.

Now, onto the real questions. Just who is this bounty hunter that the player is going to be controlling in this game? What era does the game take place in? Who is the enemy going to be? Well, all of that is up for debate.

The first piece of art that we have seen from the game shows a silhouetted character overlooking a facility set in a large ravine with obviously Imperial craft leaving. Okay, we have our time frame set. This game will be set sometime after the Clone Wars, but probably before the events of Episode IV.

But who is the bounty hunter? Well, there’s one obvious choice here. What character would be old enough by canon after the end of the Clone Wars to be an up and coming bounty hunter that wields “an arsenal of exotic weaponry” to do his job?

None other than Boba Fett.

Whether or not the popular speculation is correct remains to be seen, and we’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Keep your eyes glued to Word of the Nerd Online for the latest news coming out of this years E3, on this game, and everything else nerd related. In the meantime, you can watch for more clues on the games website.

Traveller 5th Edition Reaches Kickstarter!

I never got the chance to play any Traveller back in the day, but as a sci-fi junkie, I absolutely loved the idea of the setting. Originally published in 1977 by Marc Miller, it was originally pitched as Dungeons and Dragons in space and to this day still has a very large fan following.

To give you an idea of what the flavor of science fiction that Traveller brings to your table, here is a small list of key features that tend to be central to all editions of the game from the Wikipedia page on it:

  • Human-centric
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Interstellar travel
  • Limited communication
  • The new feudalism
  • Non-utopian future
  • No prime directive

Traveller was also the first game to introduce a “lifepath” mechanic for character creation, taking a potential character through his life’s journey up to the current point, leading to a wide range of characters of different characters of different ages. Younger characters are less experienced, but older characters with more experience may suffer problems due to their advanced age.

Just hours ago, the following Kickstarter page went up.

The outcry of support has been phenomenal. Just a few hours in and they’ve already cracked $3,000 on their goal of $24,000. The non-monetary support has been even stronger, with cartoonist John Kovalic nearly bouncing off the walls of his Twitter page in glee.

With this kind of support from fans, this Kickstarter project is going to be fun to watch, people. Marc Miller has promised daily updates, so keep your eyes on Word of the Nerd for more on this project as it develops.

Campaign Journal #2 – Star Wars Saga Edition

In the last installment, I discussed the very inception of the my latest Star Wars Saga Edition campaign. In this installment, I am going to introduce the cast.

The players are all people from the d20 Radio boards, some of whom I have gamed with before, and a couple who I have not. After deciding on some character creation guidelines, I let them cut loose, and was very excited when I saw what they had come up with.

I decided to allow the characters both a Background and Destiny for this game. The Destiny system was introduced when the game launched. Each character has a destiny they are working towards completing. In doing so, they get a small number of Destiny Points, which allow them to do incredibly powerful things in the game ranging from completely negating a hit to causing an automatic critical hit to changing when you act in combat.

The Background system was included in the Rebellion Era Campaign Guide and was intended to replace the Destiny system. Instead of focusing on where your character is going, it focuses on where you character came from. You choose a defining event, a job you worked at before you became a hero or a different planet of origin for your species. You draw certain abilities from your background, as well as the ability to draw from certain skills that may not normally be in your classes list, a powerful ability to be sure when used correctly.

I also decided that I was going to run a little experiment with this game. Those of you with an ear to the ground within the RPG industry have no doubt heard of the FATE system, which has been generating a lot of talk lately for their intriguing system. The crux of that system is what they call “aspects,” certain phrases, characteristics, or even quotes that describe a character. They can be invoked for bonuses or compelled to make situations interesting. I have decided to try something similar for this game (and so far, it seems to be working pretty well). Instead of Fate Points as FATE uses, the players use and get Force Points when invoking or compelling their aspects instead.

But enough of that system talk. Onto the characters!

We have Skai Kasian, a Zabrak mercenary who suffered a terrible loss at the hands of pirates. He was marooned on a remote planet after pirates shot down and killed the entire crew of the transport ship he was on. He was left alive to be hunted as sport and through skill and a little bit of luck he killed the pirates and was able to escape, dedicating his life to making life as difficult as possible for pirates and others that would prey on those less powerful than them. He is a survivor through and through, and more than a little superstitious, due in large part to a trinket that he discovered while he was being hunted by the pirates. Mechanically, he is a solid fighter, a Scout/Soldier build with the focus on survival, allowing him to avoid some damage as well as push his defenses higher. His aspects are Survivor, Superstitious, and Merc With a Heart of Gold

Next we have Kirikinerry-tovante, or Kiri for short. He is a Squib who was forced into a life on the Outer Rim through his own actions. He had a long and profitable career with the Squib Reclamation Fleet as a scavenger until war plunged the galaxy into chaos again. While the business was still profitable, Kiri was uncomfortable throwing himself in the middle of galactic events, especially those involving the Sith. He took his skills and went into business for himself as a smuggler until the authorities caught up with him. He was able to pay off the officials to look the other way, but it involved him selling his ship and effectively stranding himself on the colony world of Haalthor. Mechanically, he is a pure Scoundrel, focused on stealth and deception. His aspects are Outer-Rim Lifestyle, Caught in the Middle, and Holovid Junkie.

Then we have Rann Antilles, the near-human from Corellia. Rann was a cop, and a good one at that, working for CorSec until he found his commission revoked for busting an Imperial official’s son on drug charges. Finding himself unable to do anything else, he left his former life and bounced around from security position to security position, eventually finding himself signed up on an Outer Rim colony as part of the local defense. Though cocky and smart-mouthed, Rann is an honest cop through and through and actively hates those that give his profession a bad name. Mechanically, Rann is a Scout/Soldier build, another fighter, though this one more focused towards offense as well as some tricks up his sleeve outside of combat. His aspects are An Honest Cop, Chronic Wiseass, and Streetwise.

Next, there is Jasem Osar, the Caamasi Force user was exiled from his tribe after an incident with some slavers. A race that is wildly pacifistic, often to the point of complete and total non-violence, Jasem broke those tenets when he stood up to a group of slavers intent to take some of his people away. Though the results were appreciated, his actions could not be tolerated, and he was exiled from his clan. He drifted for a while before discovering and being discovered by the Tyia Adepts, a Force-using tradition that exemplified harmony and peace, but also showed him how to use his gifts to non-violently handle situations should the need arise. Since then, he has been moving about the Outer Rim, seeking to keep himself out of the war as well as to promote his new doctrine. Mechanically, Jasem is a very interesting character. He is a Noble/Soldier build, and the words used to describe him are “Force Tank.” Despite his lower than average hp, he is built to focus enemy fire on himself and absorb it through various talents and Force powers. His aspects are Peacekeep, Wise Man on the Mountain, and Stubborn Old Fool

Finally, we have Niera Kurucz, the Arkanian Tech Specialist. She always loved machines, and spent more of her childhood with droids and circuits than with other children, tinkering both with a droid that has become a personal companion as well as with herself, going so far as to remove one of her hands to replace it with a cybernetic prosthetic. As she grew, she found herself more and more distanced from her people, she left her homeworld after some “encouragement” from the leaders of her community. She eventually found employment with a very large droid and cybernetics firm that paid her incredibly well to do the things she loved to do. Most recently, they sent her to Haalthor to oversee the installation of several devices that the Imperials had paid the company for. Mechanically, she is another interesting concept. While Force-sensitive, she doesn’t show any signs of it yet, but she is focused on being able to affect the minds of droids with mind-affecting powers which they are normally immune to. At the moment, she is simply a very talented droid mechanic. Her aspects are Uncomfortable Around Organics, Droid-Lover, and Internal Encyclopedia.

So there you have the cast of this adventure. Next time, we’ll finally dive into the story so far. Keep your eyes peeled, and remember – let go of your conscious self, and act on instinct.

DND Next Open Playtest Launches

This will be a day long remembered. It has seen the end of Kenobi, and will soon see the end of the Rebellion. No wait, that’s not right. Today is a pretty big day in the world of RPGs, though. It marks the release of the open playtest rules for the next edition of arguably the most famous and most important RPG in the history of the genre – Dungeons and Dragons.

DND Next as Wizards of the Coast has termed it has been in “family and friends” testing for some time now, but today marks the availability of the playtest rules to the general public. The emails for those that signed up for it went out earlier today, but don’t fret. You are still able to get your hands on the materials. Just head over the Dungeons and Dragons main webpage and you’ll see a big splash page to sign up to get the materials. 

Fair warning: their page is crawling right now. Just be patient, and they will soon be in your hands. I’m still waiting on mine in the time it took to write this post.

Keep your eyes peeled to Word of the Nerd Online. We’ll be bringing you all of the latest news on the open playtest for DND Next. Until then, keep those d20s warmed up, and good adventuring.

Campaign Journal – Star Wars Saga Edition #1

It’s always difficult for me to commit to starting a new campaign when it comes to tabletop games. It’s because I usually have so many ideas bouncing around my head that I feel that I am never going to be able to do them all justice.

However, I have had an idea in my head for a campaign for several years now, one I have tried to run several times. Neither of them got off the ground, unfortunately.

So, when I saw that several people on the d20 Radio boards were looking for a GM to run a Star Wars Saga Edition game over Skype, I figured “what the heck,” and tossed my hat in to GM, knowing that several of them were very committed role players.

This time I had no problem deciding what I was going to run.

This particular campaign I have tried to set in numerous eras. It’s first incarnation was in the Old Republic as a one-on-one game with my wife. The second was a Play by Post experiment that existed completely out of the canon timeline, but would have taken place right after the New Sith Wars and the implementation of Darth Bane’s Rule of Two. After doing a lot of thinking on how I was going to pursue it this time, I decided on the Legacy era, having just re-read the Legacy comics from Dark Horse publishing.

For the uninitiated, the Legacy Era is set over 130 years after the events of Episodes IV, V, and VI and shows us a galaxy once again dominated by a Sith Empire. However, this is not the Sith of the classical era. Instead of the Rule of Two, the Rule of One has been instituted – one ruler, one order. There are numerous Sith Lords across the galaxy, pursuing their own agendas, all the while working for the Sith Lord on the throne.

The Jedi Order is once again a shadow of it’s former strength, and Jedi are hunted mercilessly due to a large standing bounty placed on their heads by the Empire. The Sith Empire is in a state of near constant warfare with the Empire in Exile, the legitimate rulers the Sith betrayed to take power in the first place after helping them in the last great war. The Sith Empire is also forced to deal with the remnants of the Galactic Alliance, the government that existed before the last Empire was established by the Fel dynasty some 80 years previous.

As you can see, the Legacy era puts a lot on the table and in the toolbox of any aspiring GM. All the major pieces of previous eras are taken, put into a blender, and set to “frappe.” It gives a lot of opportunity for both the players and the GM to take the Star Wars sandbox and build what they want with it, and for this particular reason is becoming a fan favorite.

At the time this campaign begins, the galaxy is in a state of turmoil. The Sith Emperor, Darth Krayt has supposedly been assassinated by a Jedi of the name Skywalker, and a series of deadly power games is taking place within the ranks of the Sith Empire. The Empire in Exile as well as the Alliance Remnant have stepped up their pressure on the Sith Empire as well, even going so far as to set aside their differences after the last war and fight as allies.

It is into this mess that five strangers take the stage, working to uncover a sinister plot from an unknown faction deep in Imperial space. Hailing from the Imperial colony world of Haalthor, their story is about to begin.

Be sure to keep checking back as the story of this campaign is told. I want to give you all a peek behind the GM screen. I plan on speaking a little bit about my thought process on encounter creation, house rules that I’m implementing, as well as general system thoughts. But most importantly, I hope to entertain you all with the story of six people who come together for a few hours every couple of weeks and play make believe over the internet.

Next time, you will be introduced to the main players on this stage. Until then, remember to fly casual, and may the Force be with you.

Preview – Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison #1

Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison is a new Dark Horse series by Haden Blackman launching on May 23rd featuring the Dark Lord of the Sith in a new story. I got a chance to take a look at #1 and let me tell you this Star Wars fans, you are in for a treat with this series.

The series begins with the first graduating class of Imperial officers heading to their commencement ceremony on Coruscant and ends with the main character in the middle of an attack by friends and classmates turned traitors.

The story that Blackman is beginning to weave promises to be an exciting one over the five issue series, and the first issue has featured more of Darth Vader in action than the entirety of the Dark Times: Out of the Wilderness arc did, and Agustin Alessio’s art is absolutely jaw-dropping. It is grim and gritty and dangerous, as befits the Rise of the Empire Era.

Last but not least, Dave Wilkin’s cover image is haunting, promising us that Coruscant is nothing more than a graveyard.

The main character is Lieutenant Laurita Tohm, and he’s a very interesting choice. An aspiring pilot until an accident badly burned half of his face and took an arm. I’m interested to see more of his backstory as the series goes on and find out more about the accident that is only hinted at in #1, and to find out the full extent of the Ghost Prison incident.

You can get your grubby little Jawa hands on a copy of Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison #1 on May 23rd for $3.50 USD from Dark Horse comics. Check it out. You will not be disappointed. This one may very well be going on this very  casual comic reader’s pull list.

Nerd Porn – Some Assembly Required

I stumbled across these licensed Avengers action figures from Sideshow Collectibles and Hot Toys the other night and all I can really say is… wow.

For those of you unaware, Hot Toys is a Hong Kong based toy company with an absolutely stellar reputation for quality and realism in their action figures.

A friend of mine put it best when he said “I don’t understand why they used a picture of Tom Hiddleston instead of showing the actual action figure in their screen shots.” These action figures are so incredibly detailed that it feels like you’re looking at stills from the movie when you see them posed. Seriously, just take a look at these.

Chris Evans rugged good looks

Showing that bows can be badass

A still from the set, no that's an action figure

That rocket says bad mother shut your mouth.

Look at the stubble!

 

They have a good portion of the main characters available for sale or pre-order at the moment, including Thor, Loki, Captain America, Nick Fury, and Hawkeye. They also have Iron Man Mark VI that will be going to limited pre-order soon. This one is limited to a mere 3,000 units and will not be available outside of the pre-order. And finally, they are also working on a Hulk Maquette. No word yet on either a Black Widow, an Agent Coulson, or a Maria Hill figure yet.

Of course, like most things at this unbelievable level of quality and detail, the cost to own one of these is quite steep. Each of the available figures runs between $180 and $210 USD. So save your pennies, boys and girls, and put away all notions of replaying the battles of the film with these particular figures. Your G.I. Joes with kung-fu action grip from the 80s these are not. For those interested in making a purchase or pre-order, the character links above will take you to the order page.

If you want to try your luck, Sideshow Collectibles is hosting a contest to win a prize pack of all five action figures, shipped to you as soon as they arrive at the warehouse, as well as automatically getting an email alert when the Iron Man Mark VI figure goes to pre-order. Note that you are responsible for shipping costs with this contest. Good luck.

Nerd Porn – We’ve Got to Give Those Fighters More Time!

Star Wars fans, feast your eyes on this technological terror, coming from the mind of the Etsy seller YOU gNeek, proving that they truly know the power of the dark side.

 

From the product listing.

This beautiful clear and chrome Sterling and Noble clock boasts 12 AUTHENTIC vintage classic Action Fleet Micro Machine battleships and vessels. They are hand finished in a black and silver pewter-like color. Each Star Wars Starships and Fighters clock is YOU gNeek and one-of-a-kind. If you have some favorite ships or vehicles in mind, let me know so I can include them if I have them in stock. Time to do battle! Requires one AA battery (not included – I use to include them but it made shipping more expensive a couple times).

The pictures shown are NOT exactly the clock I am selling. There could be some slightly different vehicles and they will be in different places. Also the middle star wars label in the middle of the clock is optional (if you do not specify, there will be no logo) and can also look different (it is cut out of books or boxes etc and layered with a clear plastic coating or if you prefer, a thicker resin-type coating). The clock itself measures 11 11/16″ in diameters but with the vessels, it will probably be more like 13 1/4″ diameter.

Retailing for $99, this clock doesn’t come cheap, but oh how awesome a conversation piece it would be at your house or apartment, not to mention it totally gives you the excuse you were looking for to tell people that it’s “half past the Millennium Falcon.” 

No word on whether or not this clock is best read in Greenwich Mean Time or Galactic Standard Time, and the product specs fail to mention how it performs once you’ve made the jump to lightspeed, but those are risks I’m willing to take.

In all seriousness though, the ability to personalize this clock makes the higher price point worth it, not to mention the “holy frak it’s a clock made out of Star Wars ships” factor.

You can procure your own copy of the clock here. And if you’re not of the Star Wars persuasion, he also has this Federation-approved version of the clock.

With this clock, it’s always time to nerd up.

Preview – Dejah Thoris and the White Apes of Mars #2

After my introduction to Dejah Thoris and the White Apes of Mars with the very lackluster issue #1, I decided to give it a second shot and see if the series would be able to redeem itself with a second issue.

Man, was I wrong.

As the issue begins, we’re immediately treated to the sight of the scantily clad Martian females on their hands and knees crawling away from the White Apes that have just finished slaughtering the warriors. The apes give chase through the ruin as Dejah Thoris and the others try to stay one step ahead. Some are killed by the apes in the process, and one is killed in a particularly gruesome fashion by the ruin itself during her escape attempt. Ultimately, Dejah’s companions are picked off one by one until only she remains.

Dejah Thoris and the White Apes of Mars #2 is once again written by Mark Rahner and illustrated by Lui Antonio, and I will say this for the comic – the apes look amazing. They’re frightening and bestial, but with a look of predatory intelligence that makes them all the more frightening. Beyond that… well, the book seemed like nothing more than an excuse to show the women from behind as much as possible. I joked with some of the other staff writers that it should have been called “Dejah Thoris and the Gratuitous Ass Shots of Mars.”

It sounds bad, but I lost count of how many shots of the women there were from behind, or at the very least prominently displaying their posteriors. There is even several shots of the women almost fondling each other as they help to push each other through doorways and windows. Heck, there is even a very clear shot of one of the apes from behind.

At the very least they have managed to settle on a style to draw Dejah and her retinue in. Gone are the glimpses of the more muscular builds for the ladies and they have instead settled on the mantra of “sex sells.” And that’s just fine. It just can’t be the main selling point of your comic.

The story in this issue is minimal, and the dialogue even less, so there’s honestly very little to judge the comic on that front, which is more than a little bit troubling to say the least. And it’s not even like this issue has a lot of set-up to something that is going to happen later. It just does not have much going on.

The book ends with the tag – “Next issue: Much worse!” Sorry. I’m not sure how it could be any worse.

I hate to say it, but I am officially done with this particular series. It just hasn’t delivered the sense of fun and wonderment that the original works of Edgar Rice Burroughs managed to convey in his Barsoom Chronicles. If you however want to pick it up and see if it’s your cup of tea, you can pit it up from Dynamite Comics on May 9th for $3.99.

Remember, The Fourth Will Be With You, Always

Today is a very special day for the Star Wars fan community. May 4th has become the unofficial date for International Star Wars Day, prompting fans everywhere to greet one another with the phrase, “May the 4th be with you.”

Whether you celebrate this day alone of if you decide to go the whole nine yards and celebrate “The Revenge of the 5th,” tomorrow, this is a day of magic for Star Wars fans, and they fly their nerd flags high and proud. Facebook profiles are changed to that of Star Wars characters. Entire websites run nothing but Star Wars related content. And even though they aren’t this year (a fact that is incredibly disappointing), television network Spike has run nothing but the Star Wars films. Fans play nothing but the scores from the movies and video games all day in celebration.

Even the official Star Wars website gets into the act. Last year they announced the release date for the Star Wars Blurays.

And companies promote the heck out of related products like this little number from Wicked Lasers (brought to us by Gizmodo).

 

 

The community spirit and involvement on this “holiday” is a wonderful thing to see, and it really shows how, despite our differences, whether or not you choose to ignore or embrace the prequels, we can all come together and enjoy the love of Star Wars together. It is a beautiful thing to see.

And this fan is proud to say that even Word of the Nerd is getting in on this action. We are partnering with Threadless Tees to bring you a contest – a chance to win a shirt from their impressive line of Star Wars related shirts, like this one.

You can check out many more of them here.

So, how do you enter? Simple. First, follow @TheNerdOnline and @Threadless on Twitter. Then, tweet the following: ”Because @TheNerdOnline and @Threadless know that Jedi robes aren’t for everyday wear. #WOTNMay4th. http://bit.ly/JIuIWY” You have until 7PM Pacific time tonight to enter.

So go and enter! And remember – do or do not, there is no try.

Preview – World War Hack

Inspired by true events, World War Hack tells the story of how the U.S. Government gathers top computer hackers from around the country, under the guise of a competition, to unknowingly help solve a pressing national security crisis. Little does the government know that eighteen-year-old hacker, Wyatt Dyer, is both the cause and solution to their crisis.

I recently got a chance to take a look at World War Hack, the upcoming graphic novel from Viper Comics. Let me tell you that you all are in for a treat.

Written by Ethan Bull and illustrated by Tsubasa Yozora, World War Hack is a roller-coaster ride from the beginning to the end. It is incredibly smartly written, tightly plotted, and very well paced. In fact, the only thing that I wish was different about this book was the length. At 72 pages, it felt like I had to put it down too soon.

The book begins with an unmanned aircraft drone being taken over by unknown hackers and having it turn on friendly forces. As the various agency heads discuss what they should do about the situation, they hit on hosting a “hacking competition,” gathering known hackers from around the in an attempt to either outright catch the person(s) responsible or at the very least figure out what the hackers were able to do and stop their access before something worse happens.The idea made me laugh out loud at first, but upon finding that this is actually a tactic used by governments to recruit the best and brightest programming minds as well as to turn possible “black hat” hackers into “white hats,” I was quickly drawn back into the book.

The book takes some interesting twists and turns through the pages. A few of them do require some suspension of disbelief, but those are done in a way that it is very enjoyable to read, and they come of as Shakespearean twists.

The art is not your typical four-color comic art. It is a style all of its own, very down to earth, and grounded in reality. It is crisp, and it is clear as to what was going on in the panels, something that can get a little muddled in a lot of comic books.

While the book does deal with hacking and computer systems at a very high level, it never got to the point where it was hard to follow what was going on. The jargon is kept to a minimum and the explanations are such that even someone with limited computer programming skills (read, this reviewer) is able to keep up with what is going on. So don’t let a fear of that stop you from giving this book a try.

World War Hack comes out April 30th from Viper Comics. You can still pre-order your copy directly from their website. The book has a sticker price of $7.95 and is very worth that price. Check it out.

We’ll leave you with the trailer for the book from Viper’s website.

 

Preview – Star Wars Dark Times: Out of the Wilderness #5

Randy Stradley and Douglas Wheatley bring the latest story arc of Dark Horse’s Star Wars: Dark Times comic series with part 5 of Out of the Wilderness.

I’ll be honest when I say that Dark Times is one of the comic lines that I haven’t been able to keep up with. I am however, a fan of the era. Rogue Jedi being hunted to extinction by Darth Vader and the Inquisitorious while small people take big stands against an increasingly powerful totalitarian regime? Where do I sign up?

However, this particular story arc fell a little flat for me. It has followed Dass Jennir, former Jedi Knight of no great skill and his companion Ember Chankeli as they are marooned on a desert planet while at the same time being hunted by an unknown assassin.

This issue features the final showdown between Jennir and the assassin as the Jedi races to save Ember’s life and the fallout after those events.

In a desert wasteland, it comes to a showdown. Using Jedi Dass Jennir’s friend Ember Chankeli as a pawn and his own tracking droid as a secret weapon, cold-blooded assassin Falco Sang believes he has the contest rigged. But what he hasn’t counted on is not one, but three willing sacrifices. How can you win against opponents who will risk everything?

And even if Sang wins, he still has one big problem: Darth Vader!

It feels to me that Out of the Wilderness is the wrong arc to jump into this ongoing series with. There is a lot of stuff in this book that is not referenced very well in the context of the overall plot and it feels a little bit like it is assumed that the readers have been keeping up with the series.

The writing is fairly solid. There are some slight inconsistencies and places where the dialogue gets a bit shaky, but that’s something that any Star Wars fan is used to. Douglas Wheatley’s artwork suffers some similar inconsistencies. It is very good for the most part, but there are some panels that just look… off. There were several times that I had to look at a panel several times to figure out what exactly was going on. All of that aside, the artwork is very well done.

If you have been following the Dark Times story so far, you definitely won’t want to miss this issue. If you haven’t been keeping up, I would recommend seeking out some back issues before diving into this particular story arc. You can pick it up from Dark Horse Publishing on April 25th for $3.50.

Preview – Star Wars Crimson Empire III #6

It all comes to a head in this final issue of Dark Horse’s Crimson Empire III as we find out once and for all just how many Imperial hardliners and Empires Reborn can fit on the head of the pin that is the Star Wars universe.

In all seriousness, the events of Crimson Empire III brings the various characters and factions of the story crashing together in an explosive finale. Crimson Empire III has followed the story of Kir Kanos, the last surviving member of Emperor Palpatine’s royal guard as he is forced to abandon an oath of vengeance and do battle with a man he would have called “ally” in a previous life.

The story, by Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley does nothing to break any new ground in the Star Wars universe. We’ve been treated to any number of stories featuring this or that faction of the Empire attempting to regain the former glory that was Palpatine’s New Order.

And while this final issue does bring about an electric conclusion, it felt like they tried to cram just a little bit too much into a six issue story. It may have been that there was some continuity hold-over from Crimson Empire I and II that I missed due to just a passing familiarity with the storyline, but it just felt… incomplete to me for lack of a better word. The situation completely resolved itself, but it felt that there were threads hanging all over the place, major characters that weren’t utilized to their fullest potential, and some plot points that just kind of fell a little bit flat.

Paul Gulacy’s art shows a marked contrast from the artwork of say, Jan Duursema, but is still very good. It carries a very “classic” look to it, and the character likenesses are very good compared to some of the other “official” likenesses that there have been in the years since the movie’s release. Still, it doesn’t pop like some of the books from Dark Horse and the visuals aren’t quite as striking or memorable.

Still, if you’ve been a fan of the Crimson Empire series so far as well as the precedingDark Empire storylines should find this a fitting ending to the story, especially after how long of a break it has been between II and III. You can check it out on April 25th from Dark Horse Publishing for $3.50. It has most certainly been a long time coming.

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