Saturday, October 10, 2015

Zatannurday: Spider-Gwen Movie Trailer

I make no excuses for my love of Spider-Gwen.  In fact she really is one of the very few Marvel characters I like these days enough to talk about here.  Yeah, I like the movies and REALLY looking forward to Doctor Strange, but I would really love an Emma Stone starring Spider-Gwen movie.

Apparently I am not alone.

No chance in hell we will ever see this. But fans can always hope right?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday Night Videos: The Pale Emperor


Can you tell I am excited?  Something about a crisp chill in the air makes me want to pull out the World of Darkness books and play Vampire or Mage.
(BTW have you seen the Mage 20th Anniversary edition? I looks insane!)

Fall make me think of World of Darkness and WoD makes me think of Marilyn Manson!

There is just something about Manson singing "This is Halloween" from the Nightmare Before Christmas. It seems so perfect.

From Smells Like Children.  I always loved this cover.

The World of Darkness is all about drugs. Blood. Magic or what have you these are the drugs of the game and that is what the games are all about.

Another great cover, but also a pretty cool video.   Reminds me a bit of Cult of Personality. Well if "Living Colour" was a heavy goth band.  Course the original by Depeche Mode works just as well.

I have featured this one before.   Likely will again.

There are more. But this is good for now.

Kickstart Your Weekend: Spellbook Gaming Boxes

I love seeing things on Kickstarter that I have never seen before.   Today's feature certainly qualifies.

Spellbook Gaming Boxes

I mean seriously.  These look so cool.
I particularly love the one that can hold the four minis and the dice.  My first though went right to my iconic witch character Larina.  I have four different minis to represent her at different power levels, and I always have some nice dice.

Now if they only had a pentagram for the cover!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

October Movie Challenge: Nocturna: Granddaughter of Dracula (1979)

I do feel the need to point out that just because a movie is from the 70s that's doesn't mean I am going to like it.   Case in point this cinematic turd known as Nocturna: Granddaughter of Dracula.

On paper it has a lot going for it.
John Carradine turning in his last role as Dracula.
Yvonne De Carlo, though given the really unfortunate name of Jugulia Vein.  What is this a Scooby-Doo movie?
Brother Theodore in a Reinfield like role.  Brother Theodore was just an odd dude.  He has never really ceased to entertain me. ....Till now.
Even Nai Bonet, whom I was sure couldn't act, at least would look good in the part.

It has some things that gave me pause,  Like renaming Dracula's Castle as Hotel Transylvania 33+ years before Adam Sandler did.

But when I realized this was going to be a disco-dance movie I should have ran.  But dear readers I am committed.

Lets be honest. This is a terrible movie. I wasn't expecting much, but I was hoping for more than this.  Carradine's talents are wasted on this, even more so that "Billy the Kid vs. Dracula".  Nai Bonet is just bad. She is a great dancer to be sure, but her acting is so bad.
It also strikes me that there are a lot of similarities between this movie and "Love At First Bite".

In the end nothing really can save this movie.  I can't even find something small in it for a game.

8 Watched / 6 New

October Movie Challenge: Simon King of Witches (1971)

There is something about the 70s Occult Revival that keeps me coming back for more.  This movie has been in my queue since the summer so I was really looking forward to it.
It starts kind of slow and you are never really sure at the start if "Simon Sinestrari" is a real witch or just a con man.  But as the movie goes on the magic is played as being very, very real.
I have to admit I was surprised by the performance of Andrew Prine.  Not that I didn't think he was a good actor, but because he played the role of Simon with such earnestness.

The horror elements are few, but many of the occult trappings are good. There is a camp to it that doesn't quite allow the movie to be fully comedy, satire or even supernatural horror.  Though there are some good scenes.  I liked his whole astral-projection bit, more late 60s than 70s. I also liked the part when he is about to make a sacrifice for his big spell and he ponders how he must not be done with violence yet in this life.  A wholly cheesy line but Prine pulls it off with earnestness and even conviction.
Brenda Scott on the other hand was sleep-walking through her role as Linda, the love interest. I found her neither convincing nor interesting.  Heck, Simon had better on screen chemistry with Turk the young male prostitute he befriends.  In fact there was more emotion in the scene where Simon removes Turk's memory of him so he would not get caught up in his magical doings than any scene with Linda.
I ended up liking it more than I anticipated, but not as much as I wanted to like it.

It was a good one to watch along with The Devil Rides Out.  Two differing views of occult ceremonial magic.

Simon of course would make for a great NPC in a modern horror game.  Something about the setting and how he was portrayed makes me think Chill more than say Buffy or World of Darkness.
He is not entirely evil, but he is also not entirely good either.  He would play like a bargain basement Aleister Crowley; a human with some magical power that now thinks he is akin to the gods. This can be threatening or comical depending on how you want to play it.

7 Watched / 5 New

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Class Struggles: The Anti-Paladin

For the month of October I want to focus on classes that have a certain amount of evil or horror associated with them.  So first up is a class that may have been one of the classes that got me thinking about doing a witch in the first place.  The Anti-Paladin.

The Anti-Paladin
Really, if you think about it the Anti-Paladin was a no brainer.  If there is a hero in white or shinning armor, then there is a dastardly foe in black, twirling his moustache and laughing evilly.  My first experience with the Anti-Paladin was finding him in the pages of The Best of Dragon Magazine Vol. 2.  It would have been somewhere in the summer of 1982.  I remember laying on the floor of my parents van reading while we drove to some family function in Southern Illinois.  I had that and the Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.    The Anti-Paladin fascinated me because he was so evil and the class was so detailed.  Several pages in fact. This issue also had other classes; the healer, the ninja (2 versions), the samurai and the berserker.  But this was the one that captured my attention the most.

I could tell even then the class was way over-powered for normal play.  Basically he was a paladin AND an assassin all in one.  I did have an anti-paladin character for a while.  I would use him as an NPC at times too. I played him more or less like I imagined then how Gilles de Rais was; aristocratic, maybe a bit of a fop, and evil to the freaking core.

I still liked the idea of the anti-paladin.  Something so antithetical to good as to be it's own dark reflection.  Something who's mere existence should cause the paladin to either quake in his shiny metal boots or fill him with enough steely resolve to destroy the beast.

Unlike some classes that get reimaged or redone every so often (the witch, necromancer and ninja are prime examples) the Dragon article pretty much became the definitive word on the anti-paladin for many, many years.   Even (maybe especially) during the 2e years that avoided any sign of "evil".
There was a follow-up, the very popular "Plethora of Paladins" article in Dragon #106, over five and half years after the anti-paladin appeared.  Even the Complete Paladin's Handbook for 2e claimed there was no such thing as an anti-paladin.  In fact we would not see an official anti-paladin till the WotC years.

The release of the D&D 3.0 Dungeon Master's Guide saw the return of the "evil" classes the Assassin and the anti-paladin in the form of the Blackguard.  Both were now "Prestige Classes".  The Blackguard was something akin to anti-paladin if he had begun as a paladin and then fell.  As an experiment with the new D&D 3.0 conversion guide I tried to rebuild my old anti-paladin as a new blackguard.  Of course my character never began as a paladin, so a multiclassed fighter/cleric/blackguard was the way to go.  Nice, but not really who that character was.
But the OGL meant the flood gates were now open and we got a number of paladins, alt-paladins and anti-paladins.  The Pathfinder rules might have one of the best "Antipaladins" since it is an "alternate" class of the Paladin.

In the OSR world one of the better Anti-Paladins comes from the ACKS Player's Companion book.  It captures the feel of the Dragon article quite well I think.  It is also given enough reason to exist without being grossly overpowered.   There is also the Barrel Rider Games Player's Companion that presents a number of new class features and, appropriately enough on page 13, the Anti-Paladin.
This class is not as detailed as the Dragon article (but to be fair, little is) but it covers all the basics.

In my mind the idea of the Anti-Paladin was an obvious one, but it seems to me that Baron Meliadus, the Wolf-helmeted villain of the Hawkmoon series by Micheal Moorcock was a good archetypical anti-paladin.  He was part of the nobility, but amoral and debase (some would say those are not as mutually exclusive as we are led to believe).  But he shared a number of qualities with the the hero of our tale, Dorian Hawkmoon.  Hawkmoon was the closest thing Moorcock ever wrote to a paladin in my mind.

How about you all?
Ever play one of these?

October Movie Challenge: The Devil Rides Out (1968)

I swear I had seen this movie.  I knew the story, I knew about the stellar performance of Christopher Lee in one of his few turns as a good guy.  An intense good guy, but a good guy all the same.  So when I sat down to watch it last night imagine my surprise when I realized I had not seen it at all.
I think I was confusing it with another Christopher Lee movie.

In any case The Devil Rides out is fantastic.  A nice little battle with the forces of evil.
Hammer based on the book by occult writer Dennis Wheatley. It would not be the last time that Hammer and Christopher Lee would collaborate on a Dennis Wheatley tale, this time putting Lee back in the role of bad guy for To The Devil A Daughter.

The feel to this movie is very much like the book Tanith. In fact the book of The Devil Rides Out was one of the influences on Tanith.  Each features a central character named Tanith and also deals with rural England paganism and/or satanism.

There is so much here for a game. Occult secrets, cultists, magical battles.  You can also do worse than model your clerics after Lee.   Plus I am dying to role up a new witch named Tanith that may or may not be involved in devil worship.

This reminds me how much I love Hammer Films.

6 Watched / 4 New

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