Sunday, December 25, 2005

Lexmas Greetings!

"Trust me Clark, our friendship is going to be the stuff of legend."
Lex Luthor
Hug

PS Ok, so I lied about the hiatus.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

QFTD

"There's only me. I am the law."
Buffy (on her decision to kill Anya)
Selfless

Happy Holidays

Blog on hiatus until Jan 1st.

Here's wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a happy (and safe!) New Year's in the warm embrace of family and friends.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

QFTD

His penis got diseases from a Chumash tribe!
Anya (referring to Xander's magically induced syphillis from an Indian vengeance spirit)
"Once more with feeling"

Newsflash: Capitalism bad

Mike Mearls (noted d20 designer) had this to say on his blog:

PDF publishing hurts innovation, particularly for d20. Rather than use the Internet as a medium to spread concepts and test ideas, the RPG industry has instead turned it into a massive shopping center. The impulse for widespread collaboration, sharing, and improvement, precisely the sort of factors needed for an open source movement to take root and produce useful results, have been undercut by the rush to sell PDFs.

In other words, if all us pesky writers didnt want to be paid for our efforts, the d20 "movement" would go further. And PDF sellers are to blame for this.

Of course, you could also say that about Mike's print books couldn't you?

Nope, as usual, the PDF manufacturer must bear the heavy millstone of d20 system humiliation. We are the problem with the market.

Wait, don't people sell Linux? That must be different.

Update: Best. Reply. Ever.

So people are discussing this little pearl of wisdom over at the ENWorld boards, and someone posted the following comment:

PDFs are unique in their relatively low entry level - I think that's the point: Half-baked ideas straight to PDF.

Because, as every kid learns in ecnomics class, giving away half-baked ideas was the spark of innovation that made America great.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Buffy Top Ten Part Deux

And since this is my damn blog, here's MY top ten:

1. Hush

Chuck Says: This episode has a real fairy tale quality to it, something that is *really* hard to capture. Plus it marks the first appearance of Tara, one of my favorite Buffy characters.

2. The Gift

Episode Summary: Buffy and the gang prepare to go to war with Glory to save Dawn. Buffy warns her friends yet again that Dawn’s safety was her ultimate goal and she would not let anyone harm her. Dawn is being held on a tall tower by Glory. Buffy and the Buffybot fight Glory using the Dagon sphere and Olaf’s troll hammer. Eventually Glory morphs into Ben for the last time, and Giles kills him. All is not well though, as Doc turns up and cuts Dawn, activating a portal to Glory’s world. As Hell dimensions begin to merge into ours, Buffy makes the ultimate sacrifice to save the world and jumps into the portal. The portal closes and Buffy’s body falls to the floor. The last shot we see is of Buffy’s gravestone proclaiming that she “saved the world a lot”.

Chuck Says: Easily the most powerful Buffy episode. Buffy sacrifices herself to save Dawn and really steps up as both an epic hero and a leader. The showdown with Glory is tremendous and every single member of the Scoobies gets a chance to show their unique contribution to the team.

And when the Scoobies gather around Buffy's broken and battered body, and Spike drops to his knees and begins sobbing, its one of the most shocking and powerful moments in the entire series.

3. Once More With Feeling

Chuck Says: Not only is it a musical, but its the pivotal episode of the season (until Seeing Red when Tara dies and Willow goes evil) for the entire season. The songs are great and the episode is filled with great lines, but what consistently blows me away is how the songs advance the plot and the songs fit the characters.

4. When She Was Bad

Episode Summary: Buffy arrives back from her summer break in a bad mood. Her experience with the Master is still playing on her mind and it affects her attitude towards her friends. She is forced to face her past when a group of vampires plan to ressurect their Master.

Chuck Says: Yeah, Prophecy Girl was cool, getting to see Buffy fulfill the prophecy of her death and take out the Master, but for me this episode is really when Buffy started to grow up as a series. Sure she won, but that doesn't mean everything is fine.

Also, a lot of shows would just plain be afraid to have their heroine be a bitch, they'd cop out and have her be magically controlled. But Buffy was just having trouble dealing, and takes it out on Giles, Angel, Xander and Willow.

5. School Hard

Episode Summary: Two dangerous new vampires called Spike and Drusilla arrive in Sunnydale and decide to kill the Slayer and make the town their own. They gate-crash Buffy’s parent-teacher night but things don’t go to plan for them when faced with Buffy and her mother.

Chuck Says: "Me and Dru, we're moving in"

What the hell else does an episode need? Spike and Drusilla come to Sunnydale and things get very interesting for a very long time.

Not to mention, this episode feature Principle Snyder at his worst, played to comic perfection by Armin "Quark" Shimmerman, who accepted a role as the principle of Sunnydale that was pitched as being for 2-3 Episodes (Principle Flutie lasted only a few episodes and Joss' original concept was that the Sunnydale Principle would get killed about twice a season) and was on the show for 3 years, cause Armin is just. That. Good.

6. Normal Again

Episode Summary: Buffy is dosed with a chemical from a demon which makes her begin to hallucinate that everything she knows is untrue. She never moved to Sunnydale, was never the Slayer and she’s actually been in a psychiatric hospital for years. She fights the hallucinations at first but they begin to become more real and also more comforting - her parents are together and alive and want to help her and Dawn doesn’t exist. Buffy decides that she prefers this ‘normal’ life with her parents a whole lot more, and attempts to kill the things that tether her to the ‘fantasy’ life of the Slayer: her friends.

Chuck Says: This episode reminds me of the DS9 episode "Far Beyond the Stars" in a good way (and if you know of my reverence for the best of the Trek franchises, you know that's a high compliment).

The episode is creepy, genuinely tense and has left more than one viewer wondering if Buffy might really be in that asylum. Of course the show isn't constructed from that point of view, but its just that well written. You BUY the point of view of the doctors at the asylum.

7. Passion

Episode Summary: Giles and Jenny begin to make up. She arranges to meet him that night, as she has a surprise for him. Jenny has discovered a way to give Angel his soul back, but just as she downloads the cure from her computer, Angelus kills her, and leaves her body for Giles to find.

Chuck Says: This episode is tough to watch and really sells Dark Angel (used in the "dark phoenix" way not the Jessica Alba way) as being evil.

He kills Jenny and leaves her for Giles to find, just so he can get off watching Buffy and Willow receive the crushing news. His obsession with Buffy is never portrayed in a more sick, sadistic light.

8. Helpless

Episode Summary: Buffy begins to find herself weak and powerless, and starts to worry that she will lose her Slayer ability. It turns out that the Watchers Council has a test for Slayers who turn 18: they have to fight a vampire without their powers. The plan goes awry when the evil vampire used for the experiment gets loose and kidnaps Buffy’s mother. As Buffy tries to deal with Giles’ betrayal, he gets fired from the Council for his fatherly love for the Slayer.

Chuck Says: We get our first look at what choads the Watchers' council really are, as well as the biggest insight into Giles as Buffy's surrogate father. Add in a truly creepy misogynist vampire with a mother-fixation and you have an awesome episode.

9. Showtime

Episode Summary: The First takes on the guise of a potential Slayer (killed especially for the purpose) and spies on the Scoobies. When Buffy confronts the First it tells her the Turok-Han will kill her. Buffy comes up with a plan and successfully defeats the Turok-Han which also boosts the potentials’ confidence as she makes them watch her do it. Buffy then rescues Spike from the First. Meanwhile, Giles and Anya visit an Oracle and discover that when Buffy was resurrected, she created a vulnerability in the Slayer chain that The First is now exploiting.

Chuck Says: Not only does this episode have one of the best fight scenes in the entire series between Buffy and the Ubervamp, it also shows Buffy at her most badass, a true action hero. This entire episode is constructed from start to finish as a mini-action movie, with Buffy making sure the potentials know she can protect them by arranging for her to watch her kill the Ubervamp.

The fight scene at the end of the episode is so good it needed TWO awesome movie quotes to bracket it: "Thunderdome. Two men enter, one man leaves" on the front end and "Here endeth the lesson" at the end.

10. Chosen

Episode Summary: Angel presents Buffy with an amulet and she asks him to go back to L.A. in case she fails to stop the First. After a visit from the First, Buffy realises what she has to do. Willow does a spell that takes power from the scythe and shares it equally among every potential in the world, giving them Slayer powers. The gang and the newly made Slayers open the Seal of Danzalthar and go into the Hellmouth. A long battle commences leaving many dead, including Anya.

Spike wears the amulet and it begins to work. He begins to burn up and pure sunlight shoots out of the amulet. All the Turok-Han are instantly dusted, and Sunnydale begins to fall into the Hellmouth. Spike tells Buffy to leave and live a normal life, as he wants to die saving the world. Buffy escapes just in time. As the Scoobies look back at the destruction of Sunnydale, Buffy simply smiles knowing that she’s no longer alone.

Chuck Says: Not only is it the last episode, but the way it turns the mythology on its ear is simply amazing writing. The scene where you see girls all around the world becoming slayers is also just an awesome scene and really gives you the theme of the entire series in the span of about 2 minutes.

Buffy Top Tens

In the comments of a QFTD post (which have thus far all been from Buffy or Angel- what does that say about me I wonder) I mentioned fans' top episodes of Buffy.

I thought people might be interested to see Joss Whedon's top ten list.

1. Innocence

Episode Summary: Angel loses his soul after making love with Buffy and disappears from his room. When Buffy awakens she discovers him gone. Angel teams up with Spike and Drusilla to let the Judge loose on the world. Buffy has to overcome her sadness at the loss of her boyfriend to defeat the Judge. She later discovers that Jenny knew all about the possibility of Angel losing his soul.

Joss Says: “It’s a mission-statement show, and one of the ones where I first found out what we could do.”

2. Once More With Feeling

Episode Summary: A new all-singing all-dancing demon called Sweet arrives in Sunnydale, whose presence makes everyone start to sing and dance. The Scoobies discover that their true feelings are awakened through song. Tara is upset when she discovers that Willow created a spell to make her forget an argument they had. Xander and Anya are worried about their forthcoming marriage, but feel they can’t say anything about it to each other. Dawn is stealing things for attention, but is getting none at all. Spike is confused about what Buffy wants. Giles worries that his position as father figure to Buffy is stifling the Slayer, and wonders if she’d be more independent without him. The songs finally culminate in Buffy confessing to her friends that she was really in heaven before they brought her back to life.

Joss Says: “What am I going to say?”

3. Hush

Episode Summary: Fairytale monsters called the Gentlemen arrive in Sunnydale and steal the voices of the town’s residents as a cover for harvesting hearts. Buffy and Riley separately follow the Gentlemen to their lair and are shocked to discover each others’ secret identities. Meanwhile, Willow meets another witch called Tara who helps her to perform a powerful spell, and Olivia decides that Giles’s lifestyle is too scary for her.

4. The Body

Episode Summary: Buffy’s mother Joyce dies suddenly of an aneurysm, which was an unknown complication from her operation. This episode charts the effects of Joyce’s death on Buffy, Dawn and their friends from the moment Buffy finds her.

5. Dopplegangland

Desperate to become a vengeance demon again, Anya asks Willow to help her with a spell. The aim is to try to get her necklace back from the alternate universe created in The Wish, though she lies to Willow about this. It goes wrong, and instead brings Willow’s vampire doppelganger into the Buffyverse. After attempting to take over Sunnydale, and freaking Willow out by being a bit too friendly, Vampire Willow is captured and sent back to the alternate universe, where she pops in just in time to die the same death she died in The Wish.

Joss Says: “Because one Willow is certainly not enough.”

6. The Wish

Episode Summary: Cordelia is angry about Xander’s betrayal. Her pain summons Anyanka, a vengeance demon who grants wishes to scorned women. Blaming Buffy for everything that has gone wrong in her life, Cordelia wishes that the Slayer had never come to Sunnydale. This wish allows Anyanka to create a hellish alternative reality where The Master is ruling over Sunnydale’s vampires.

Joss Says: “Very bleak, very fun. It went to a dark place, and that’s really exciting to me. That’s where I live.”

7. Becoming (Part 2)

Episode Summary: Buffy is accused of Kendra’s murder and goes on the run from the police. She is approached by Spike who offers to make her a deal - he will help save Giles if she spares Drusilla. Giles is tortured by Angelus and resists but Dru hypnotises him into telling Angelus how to use Acathla. Buffy tells her mother that she’s a slayer. They argue and Joyce reacts badly, telling her if she leaves she’s not welcome home. Buffy leaves and is then expelled by Snyder, who she meets at the school. Buffy heads off to meet Angelus for a final showdown. Angelus awakens Acathla just as Willow restores his soul. Buffy kisses Angel then stabs him, sending him to hell. In despair, Buffy leaves Sunnydale.

Joss Says: “Buffy loses everything. Also, it had a sword fight. I love sword fighting.”

8. Restless

Episode Summary: After the exhausting events of defeating Adam, the Scoobies settle down to watch a few videos and relax together. Before long they’re all asleep and we get to see their dreams, in which they are each attacked by the spirit of the First Slayer, as well as their own personal demons. When they awake, they’re left wondering about the first original Slayer - as well as that weird guy with the cheese.

Joss Says: “Most people sort of shake their heads at it. It was different, but not pointless.”

9. Conversations with Dead People

Episode Summary: The Scoobies encounter a paranormal force in five seperate stories: While out on patrol, Buffy fights a former classmate who is a newly-risen vampire, who reveals that he was sired by Spike. Dawn is terrified when an invisible force trashes the Summers’ house and deposits the corpse of her mother on the sofa. The ghost of Cassie visits Willow under the guise of being sent by Tara; and Spike apparently has returned to his killing ways. Meanwhile, Jonathan and Andrew return from Mexico, where a vision of Warren persuades Andrew to kill Jonathan over a mystical seal.

Joss Says: “I’m very fond of ‘Conversations with Dead People.’ I just thought structurally and tonally it was very interesting and had a lot to say. And I got to write another song.”

10. Prophecy Girl

Episode Summary: Giles discovers a prophecy that Buffy will face the Master and die. Terrified, she wants to quit as a Slayer but an incident in the school, which upsets Willow, makes Buffy decide to face her destiny. The Master drowns her but she’s resuscitated by Xander. Buffy finally kills the Master.

Joss Says: “Because that was my first time, besides telling directors what to do, that I actually got to direct. And it was the first time I got to kill Buffy, and the first season ender, and it was the first time I realized I could take everything we did in the season and tie it in a bow.”

Episode Summaries were taken from the buffy trivia guide, a great fan site for all things Buffy.

The "Joss Says" comments come from an interview he did with USA Today after the final episode of Buffy had aired.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

QFTD

That would explain the huge backing orchestra I couldn't see and the synchronized dancing from the room service chaps.
Giles
"Once more with feeling"

SuperAgents class list

So here is the class list for the upcoming SuperAgents book (title still subject to change).

Agency Medic
Agency Protector
Analysis Agent
Agency Leader
Assault Agent
Covert Agent
Double Agent

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Upcoming

So I am working on a superagents book for d20 Modern that I think will be wicked cool. More Nick Fury of SHIELD than "Bond, James Bond" but I think it will be a nice addition to those looking for a more "out there" military campaign.

My goal for the month is a short book every 10 days, so to keep I need to knock this puppy out by the 20th.

Fingers crossed and still on track...

Friday, December 16, 2005

QFTD

Respect the cruller. And tame the donut!
Xander (a hilarious quote if you, like me and apparently the Xandman are a fan of the movie Magnolia)
"Once more with feeling"

QFTD

You said "recon". You're like "Cool Monster Fighter"!
Tara (to Willow)
"This year's girl"

QFTD

Right. Well, as much as I'm enjoying this forced death march down memory lane...
Wesley (on being reminded of his *bad* kiss with Cordelia)
"Birthday"

Monday, December 12, 2005

TV Perfection

I have to say there are moments when a TV program just makes me go "hell yeah". Those moments are few and far between, and they're when the show just captures something perfect.

TV isnt a medium that seeks perfection. A TV actor once said working in TV was like working in a coal mine. You put your hours in and worked to produce something solid, sturdy and useful. It wasnt pretty, it wasnt perfect, you went for something sturdy and reliable and worth peoples' time.

But there are those moments when everything comes together, and a single moment seems to both define what a show is all about, and remind you of why you watch it every week.

DS9, my favorite of the Star Trek series had one, when Sisko, having lied, cheated and murdered (with Garak's help) to bring the Romulans into the Dominion War looks right into the camera and says "I can live with myself".

The Original Series had one too, with Kirk bellowing out "We might go up into the biggest ball of fire since the last sun in these parts exploded but we've got to take that one in ten thousand chance!"

Buffy had one in its second episode, when Buffy, having killed most of the Master's servants, makes the remaining few scurry off with a look. I mean a look. A look that made me go "who is that girl".

And I just added a 4th moment to my list of TV perfection and it came from Smallville.

See, I like Superman, and the "origin story" of Superman had never really been told.

At the end of the first episode, when I saw how the writers were using Kryptonite to cause weird mutations around Smallville (and also of course mess up Clark on a regular basis) I knew the show had a winning formula.

But Lex is the character that brings me back to the show time and again. Smallville has taken the most stock, over the top villain in comics history (sorry Doctor Doom, you come in second) and turned him into a tragic hero.

That's right, I said it. Clark is the hero of Smallville, but so is Lex. You're watching comedy and tragedy at the same time. The story has two heroes, but only one gets a happy ending.

And frequently, I find myself rooting for the wrong one. The bald one.

But the one moment, in the final episode of the first season, when Lex, red blood perfectly framing one eye looks down at his father, trapped beneath a beam during a tornado, knowing if he doesn't help him his father will die. THAT was the moment we see the Lex of the future for the first time.

And the only thing I could say was "hell yeah".

Sunday, December 11, 2005

QFTD

"The last time we were in this town, 33 bar percent of us were flayed alive."

Johnathon, on returning to Sunnydale.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

DOWN THE HATCH!

And no, this isn't about Battlestar Galactica stalwart Richard Hatch.

I think since the dumb New England winter that finally was knocked me offline I have finished um... well at least two books, which isn't bad if I say so myself (and I think I just did ) if you know what I mean (and I think you do).

So in addition to finishing the first draft of the Fertile Crescent, I also wrote a little sci-fi aliens book. Only 10 pages, but I think it's mighty tasty.

Two words: Giant Space Monsters.

Ok that's three words.

I reveal my sci-fi roots by my affinity for space monsters that can eat starships I suppose.

But only Kirk could kill those, take that Richard Hatch!

And so we come full circle.

New Adventure for AZ on the Way

So, Adventure Locale #1: White Star Trailer Park is coming soon! It's a location based adventure for my zombie apocalypse game, AZ: Afte...