Friday, June 12, 2015

More Thoughts on the new Marvel Universe (SPOILERS AHEAD)

It's a very slow day today at the office, so I found myself perusing a bit reading about the goings on at Marvel and around comics in general. I've heard rumors about big changes in store for the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, and now it appears that we may have an idea of where these teams are going (or not going) once the revamped Marvel U is unveiled.

There will be spoilers ahead, you have been warned so don't cry to me if you keep reading.

First to the Fantastic Four. I was never a big fan of the FF when I was a kid, but as I've gotten older I've developed and appreciation for what the FF brought to the Marvel U. I still think a lot of the stories are hokey and goofy, but there's a sense of wonder and innocence in the early tales that is really hard to come by today (though you can still get that feel from the Guardians of the Galaxy...or at least I do). The FF has been a cornerstone of the Marvel U pretty much since the beginning. It's hard to imagine Marvel without Reed and the gang galivanting around the world and the cosmos battling aliens, monsters, and super-villains with fisticuffs and super-science...well, get ready, the FF are about to be no more. It's no secret that Marvel has had a rough relationship with Fox, who owns the movie rights to the Fantastic Four (and the X-Men). Two crappy movies, and what looks and sounds like a third on the way and little to no desire to cooperate like Sony (who own the movie rights to Spidey) has, has forced Marvel to play hardball the only way they can: by wiping out the team in the new universe. (See the story here, but be wary of spoilers.) The book is ending it's storied run, and there will be little merchandising for the team beyond trade paperbacks. The characters will still be part of the MU (or at least most of them), but they are going to be part of different teams.

As for the X-Men, the movie rights are also owned by Fox, but unlike the FF the X-Men are still big sellers for Marvel/Disney. The X-Men will still have their own book(s), but they will be living somewhere else in the cosmos. (Read about all of this here.) This doesn't feel quite as jarring of a change since the X-Men have had an element of spaciness to it since the beginning of the Chris Claremont run, and recent events between the X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy have pointed the team in that direction as well. The Inhumans are hoped to take the place of the mighty mutants on Earth however. They'll still be part of the Universe, but they won't have much interaction with it. Like the FF, Marvel is pulling the lisences for X-Men toys, models, and so on as well. So again, playing hardball the only way they can: limiting brand prominence in the comics in hopes of de-valuing the brand for Fox.

It's highly speculated that the new Marvel U will look a lot more like the Cinematic Universe. Marvel/Disney would love all of their characters to be a part of that universe. Really, the recent Marvel movies have been great, so I'd love to see what they could do with Spider-Man, the FF, and the X-Men (though other than X3 and Origins: Wolverine Fox has done fairly well with the X-Men franchise...the FF...not so much). This is among one of the things that is really kind of putting me off on the new vision of the Marvel Universe. I realize that Marvel/Disney wants to maximize profits, and they have every right to do so, and they may even be able to pull off the changes to the FF and X-Men in a way that doesn't frankly suck, but the reasons behind these changes are always going to suck and have nothing to do with the comics themselves. Good thing that Sony is allowing use of Spider-Man in small doses, otherwise there may not be a Peter Parker in the new Marvel U...which may be why there are so many other Spider-folk running about.

In the end, I really do hope that Marvel/Disney are able to one again get the rights to all of their franchises back from Sony and Fox. Many of the movies for Spidey have been alright to great (ASM2 and SM3 notwithstanding) like most of the X-Men movies have been good. It's obvious that Fox doesn't know what to do with the Fantastic Four (we'll see how the new movie goes, but it's doesn't sound promising at all), and with there not being a FF book on the racks at all, one would think that Fox will finally relent and sell the right back. Plus, the FF aren't as popular as the X-Men, and haven't been for 30 years now (if not longer), so that brand value will likely only continue to deteriorate if the next movie flops and there isn't a dedicated FF book to keep it in the public eye. Spidey will be tougher to get back since the movies make money even if they aren't always that great. The X-Men...right now Fox is doing alright with their strange universe, but we'll see what happens after X-Men: Apocalypse. As least they aren't completely screwing that up like the FF.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Rebooting Universes

It's happening again, DC is rebooting the DCU (a "soft" reboot this time, but a reboot none the less) and now Marvel is following suit. When the New 52 came along I gave it a shot, and after a the third month I realized that it's just not for me. I gave up on the DCU, and really the reboot made it easy to walk away. Really, I've always been more of a Marvel man anyway. With the Marvel reboot, I'm faced with the same situation: do I keep going or is this another good opportunity to jump ship?

I'm not really keen on what I'm seeing out of the previews for the new Marvel Universe. So far, it's really Spider-heavy. (I thought the Spider-Gwen idea was great for the Spider-verse storyline, but not as a regular character in the main universe.) Granted, we haven't seen the entirety of the new line-up from Marvel, but so far it's not really all that exciting to me. I'll give it 2-3 months to see what I think, but this may be where Marvel and I part ways (except for their Star Wars series, which have been very good so far).

I have to say that I'm more than just a little bit sad with the Marvel reboot. Marvel typically went the route of the in-story retcon. Many times, these were silly retcons, but sometimes they are done well enough that they don't annoy me. (Dark Phoenix Saga is one of my favorite Marvel storylines, which was really just a big retcon.) Still, silly or not, those story-based retcons are what I prefer because they keep the universe in tact (by and large). Marvel kept the decades of history in tact and didn't reboot the universe everytime they wrote themselves into a corner. I guess those days are least for now. After all, the only constant in comic universes is that nothing is permanent. (Although DC tripping all over themselves with just about every move they make is nearing a level of permanency rarely seen in comic history...)

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

I know, I know...

Yeesh, it's been a long time since I've posted much of anything lately. I am back home from my work detail, but I haven't had a lot of time to write...well...that's not entirely true. This last weekend I allowed myself to get sucked back into Civilization V. I played the Germans to a science victory by 1922 over the weekend, so I think that I've got that out of my system for a while...maybe...

However, I've been mulling some things over. The release of White Star has me blowing the dust off of my Alternity/D20 Modern/SWN Frankenstein's Monster of a game. Plus, I'm still dealing with a some pretty serious writer's fatigue. I don't know that I can even truly call it writer's fatigue rather than general fatigue from work, travel, home obligations, etc. that have sapped my desire to do much more of anything other than veg out when I get home. I can't say whether or not I'm going to do much work with it or just stick with Savage Worlds and Rogue Space, but we'll see.

On the gaming front, though, I ordered a copy of Star Wars: Imperial Assault (and I'm going to place an order for the first round of character packs shortly). I like Descent, which IA uses a very close version of that system. It sounds like a load of fun, plus, it's Star Wars. Even if the game stinks, I'm still getting a load of cool miniatures I can use elsewhere, not to mention game boards.

At any rate, I'm feeling the itch to be a bit more creative again. Not sure how much of that will reach the blog as opposed to just getting stuff written in general, but after the last few weeks of just nothing that's a step in the right direction.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Delays and Quandries

I've been basically nonexistent around here lately. I just haven't either had the time to write or if I had the time, I haven't had the desire. I'm on the road for work right now, living out of a hotel in Texas. While I do have my laptop with me and it's loaded with everything I'd need to churn out adaptations, I've been too exhausted at the end of the day to do anything other than lay on the bed and watch TV. I hope to get to some writing today, but we'll see. It's been a long week and I'm staring down the barrel of another long week before I finally get to head home.

The other aspect of why I haven't written much of anything lately, is that White Star hit the e-shelves, and I've been digesting it of late. It's a great OSR sci-fi game based on the Swords and Wizardry White Box rules. It's got me considering dusting off my own combo hack of S&W/SWN/D20 Modern/Alternity. However, while I like the game and hope to get a chance to play sometime soon once I get home, I still waffle on wanting to change gears back to OSR sci-fi. On the plus side, I can eyeball the heck out OSR games. The system has long since become second nature to me. However, there's that block in my head that doesn't like a class & level based system for sci-fi. It's silly. Levels and classes work just as well for sci-fi as they do for fantasy, but I just can't seem to get past it. It would make conversion/adaptation a breeze if I switched, but I don't know that that is enough for me to make the change (again).

Still, I highly recommend checking out White Star. It's pretty heavily inspired by Star Wars, but there are a lot of homebrew classes out there now that will allow you to swap out the SW elements for a flavor more to your liking.

Sunday, May 03, 2015


I had every intention to get my first post about the Tyrant Expanse posted this weekend, but then I came down with a wicked head cold. Between sinus pressure and coughing and not getting much sleep at night, it's all I can do to concentrate enough on getting this post written. I hope to get something posted this coming week, but I've got some stuff to get done before a stint in Texas for work. I hope to be able to get some writing done while I'm in the hotel room by myself. We'll see.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

They're coming...

As I was working on the next batch of Spelljammer creatures, I realized that I needed to put out something else first to make several of the other creatures make sense (as far as to what their place in Mythic Space is). So, even though I'm not ready to post the first part of this "bridge" series, I'll leave you with this image...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

My Savage Rifts Wishlist

I'm still processing the announcement that Palladium Books' Rifts setting is going to get a Savage Worlds version. I'm really excited to see the finished product, but as a long time fan of the setting I do have some things that I hope to see. Since it's been stated that this is a multi-book deal, that takes care of my first wish: that this isn't simply a one and done deal. That would be great in and of itself, but we're talking about a line of 80+ books and even with conversion notes, it would be great to have the pros do more than just the base work for me. (I'm lazy like that.) That said here's my wishlist for the Savage Worlds Rifts line:

2 (Since #1 was referenced above). Adhere to the spirit of the setting, but not a direct conversion. Rifts is as gonzo and gonzo gets, and the power creep has been more of a power mad dash of late. If the folks at Pinnacle can find a way to adhere to the spirit of the setting without having the game turn into an arms race of what character can level a mountain right out of the gate, I'd be ecstatic. I'm all for mechs and dragons and aliens and wizards and mercenaries available for play as characters, but there's gotta be a way to balance it out somehow so someone isn't always sitting in the back just trying not to get hit with an Massive Damage Class punch or cigarette butt.

3. Speaking of MDC, and this goes into #2 as well, control the MDC/SDC nonsense. Not every new item or species or spell or cooking pot needs to deal Massive Damage. Savage Worlds already does a pretty good job with this with the regular damage/Heavy Weapon split. I hope to see that split continues to be applied in much the same way as it is in many SW settings. HW armor is the purview of tanks and mechs, not the soldier on the field of battle in power armor. HW weapons are big, bulky, and powerful, but nothing like what someone keeps in a holster on their hip.

4. Since this is a multi-book deal, I hope Pinnacle doesn't just follow Palladium's lead and follows the Worldbooks and Sourcebooks step-by-step. I hope the second book isn't Worldbook 1: Vampire Kingdoms followed by Worldbook 2: Atlantis and so on. I could see Pinnacle being able to cram a couple worldbooks worth of info into a single tome since SW statblocks for everything from races to weapons to monsters to spells are MUCH more compact than what is found in any Palladium System book. I hope that Pinnacle is able to offer the Rifts setting in their own way.

5. Print and PDF. Palladium has been putting their books out for sale in electronic format for a while, and I hope (and actually expect) that will continue with the deal with Pinnacle. I'm for certain picking up the core book in print, but most of my gaming purchases are in pdf these days. It's simply more convenient for me, and it (usually) allows me to stretch my meager gaming dollars farther.

6. I would like to see full-color books and more hardcovers if possible. Palladium does a great job keeping costs low, but it has made their books look as aged as the Palladium system. I think at least a small part of why new gamers will likely give Palladium games a pass is because they just don't look as modern and as "sexy" as many other games sitting on the same shelf that have higher production values and an overall more polished look.

7. I hope Savage Rifts is popular enough to carry through to the Dimension Books and beyond. I'd love to see a Heroes Unlimited take with the SW rules that can slide right into Rifts. (Aliens Unlimited 1 is still one of my favorite Palladium books...I'm a sucker for new aliens...) A Savage take on the excellent (I daresay even better than Rifts) Palladium Fantasy setting would be beyond awesome to see as well.

So there you have it, my wishlist for the upcoming Savage Worlds Rifts line. Seriously, December can't get here soon enough. First Episode VII and now this? It's going to be a very geeky holiday season this year!