Monday 12 December 2011

Two Doctor Who Episodes Recovered!

This is a happy time for Doctor Who fans. Yesterday, the BBC announced that two previously missing Doctor Who episodes from the 60's had been recovered: "Air Lock", the third episode of the 1965 William Hartnell story "Galaxy 4" (pictured at left); and episode 2 of the 1967 Patrick Troughton story, "The Underwater Menace" (pictured below). These are the first episodes recovered since the second episode of "The Daleks' Masterplan" was found in 2004. Their recovery brings the total number of missing episodes down to 106, and brings new hope that further lost episodes may not be lost forever.

You can find full stories on the recovery (and view clips from the recovered episodes) here, here, and here.

Monday 7 November 2011

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Beginner Box

My first introduction to role-playing games came when I was about 9 years old. A friend (we’ll call him Bob) had acquired a new game called Dungeons and Dragons and invited me and another friend (we’ll call him Fred) over to play. My first character was a thief. He had no name. Even my use of the pronoun “he” is just a convenience because we had no idea that we should give characters such details. We really didn’t have any idea what we were doing. I don’t think Bob had bothered to read much, if any, of the rules. He had bought the game because he had played it once before with someone else and was now just trying to play from memory.

We encountered a goblin that attacked and knocked out Fred’s character (something not actually possible under the rule-set we were using, but we didn’t know that). My very first decision in the game was to grab Fred’s character and run away. I don’t remember what happened after that, other than we had a great deal of fun and I was totally hooked by this unusual game. It was completely unlike anything I had ever played or heard of at the time. There was no board for a start, and all these bizarre, funny dice.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

All Hallow's Read

This is just a short post to provide a link to All Hallow's Read. I think this is a great idea (Neil Gaiman's introductory video is awesome), and I encourage people to spread the word and get involved!

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Aliens and Creatures

Aliens and Creatures is a supplement for Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space. It provides games statistics for a plethora of monsters and alien beings from the television show as well as an overview on how to create your own alien characters. In addition, there are a few short adventures, more story point tokens, and best of all, detailed creature cards for easy reference. It is invaluable to any Gamemaster running a game in the Doctor Who universe. Unfortunately, it’s out of print now, so you should grab one while you can since there are apparently no plans to reprint it at this time.

The main portion of the boxed set is a 134-page rulebook. This book contains extensive game statistics and descriptions of just about every alien creature to have appeared during the time of the ninth and tenth Doctors. While some of these creatures appeared in the core rules set, their descriptions here are fleshed out to include various different kinds. For example, in addition to statistics for the generic Dalek, this book also contains statistics for the Emperor Dalek, Supreme Daleks, the Cult of Skaro, Dalek mutants (the true Daleks inside their casings), Davros, and even statistics for the pig slaves and Dalek/human hybrid seen in the story “Daleks in Manhattan”. There are statistics for both evil and good aliens alike, from the adipose and carrionites to the catkind and Ood. Even some of the more obscure creatures to have shown up (such as the Hoix from “Love and Monsters” and the Isolus from “Fear Her”) are included. There are even statistics for specific individual characters, such as Cassandra, the Face of Boe, and Professor Lazarus.

Monday 24 October 2011

The Sarah Jane Adventures - The Man Who Never Was

And so the end has come. With the transmission of parts one and two of “The Man Who Never Was”, The Sarah Jane Adventures has come to a premature finish. Many people, myself included, erroneously believed that this story had always been intended to end the season, so even though it wouldn’t be wrapping up the whole show, it would at least wrap up the season. It’s perfectly normal for television episodes to be filmed out of order, so there was nothing unbelievable about this idea and the rumour spread far and wide. (I could have sworn I first read it on the Doctor Who News Page, which is generally a very reliable source of information, so I believed it; however, having just done a search for it, I can’t find any mention in any post on the Doctor Who News Page, so I must have seen it somewhere else.) As it happens, the truth of the matter is, “The Man Who Never Was” was always intended as the third story of the season, and so does not provide the sense of closure that many people no doubt hoped for. However, it does have a certain sense of closure to it, particularly through the meeting of Luke and Sky, and it doesn’t leave the audience consciously thinking about any of the show’s loose plot threads.

Written by Gareth Roberts, “The Man Who Never Was” is a fun story that combines together the meeting of Luke and Sky with a tale about a sinister new computer (the “Serf Board”), an evil corporate villain, and some deft social commentary on human trafficking. It’s not the greatest Sarah Jane Adventures story ever (that title probably goes to last week’s “The Curse of Clyde Langer” or perhaps “Death of the Doctor”), nor is it particularly epic in style, but it is an entertaining romp which perfectly encapsulates the true heart of the series. If any random story had to be selected as the finale of the series, this one works better than pretty much any other. SPOILERS FOLLOW

Friday 21 October 2011

Feast of Ravenmoor

Feast of Ravenmoor, by Brandon Hodge, is an adventure for 3rd-level Pathfinder characters. In it, the PCs are sent to the remote village of Ravenmoor to search for a missing tax collector. Once there, they get to attend the village’s monthly festival and experience the very strange customs of the locals. The adventure is rife with lots of role-playing opportunities. Indeed, depending how the PCs approach their mission, it’s possible to get through this adventure with very little combat at all. Although the story is set in Varisia, Ravenmoor’s remoteness and non-Varisian-like customs make it easy to transplant the adventure to other areas of Golarion or even to other campaign worlds if Game Masters desire. Overall, Feast of Ravenmoor is a straight-forward mystery adventure that should keep players entertained for several sessions. SPOILERS FOLLOW

Monday 17 October 2011

Jade Regent - Night of Frozen Shadows

Pathfinder Adventure Path #50: Night of Frozen Shadows by Greg A. Vaughan continues the Jade Regent adventure path, begun in The Brinewall Legacy. In it, the PCs travel to the city of Kalsgard in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings to find the legendary sword, Suishen, and then to find a guide across the Crown of the World to the far-off land of Minkai. The adventure is mostly event-based with a lot of role-playing opportunities, and ends with a dungeon crawl. It contains an interesting system for tracking the PCs’ “notoriety”, and from that, determining how and when their opponents react. It makes an excellent continuation of the adventure path, and only really suffers from having no explanation for the inaction of the party’s NPC allies. SPOILERS FOLLOW

Friday 14 October 2011

The Sarah Jane Adventures - The Curse of Clyde Langer

In short, utterly brilliant.

At some point or other, pretty much every science fiction programme out there does an episode in which one or more characters find themselves alienated from the other characters. Sometimes, everyone else forgets they exist. On other occasions, they become invisible and no one else realizes they’re there. However, while the reason for it might vary, the effect is generally the same: the characters are forced to deal with isolation and loneliness, and through it, learn some lesson about themselves that makes them better people. It’s happened enough times on various science fiction shows that it’s become something of a tired trope. This isn’t even the first time The Sarah Jane Adventures has employed it. However, “The Curse of Clyde Langer” by Phil Ford is quite possibly the best take on it I’ve ever seen. There is real emotion here, with some stunning performances and even a bit of social commentary about homelessness to go along with it. It is definitely one of the best pair of episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures and even one of the best Doctor Who of any kind. SPOILERS FOLLOW

Friday 7 October 2011

The Sarah Jane Adventures - Sky

My earliest memory of Doctor Who is seeing an episode with the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) up against the Daleks. This was several years before I became hooked on the show and began watching it religiously. It was at a time when Doctor Who terrified me and gave me nightmares. I remember seeing the Doctor tied up on a table being interrogated by the Daleks. I remember seeing the Daleks exterminate a man who had betrayed them, and most terrifying of all, I remember an army of Daleks coming out from under a bridge to exterminate everyone.

I often saw snippets of episodes, as my mom watched the show every week. They always scared me, so I never really sat down to watch whole episodes. Nevertheless, there was always something about the show that intrigued me, and the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith became prominent figures in my mind. Eventually, I saw episode 2 of “Full Circle” and I was hooked for life. Of course, by that time, the companion was the second Romana, and Sarah Jane Smith was long gone. Still, Sarah Jane had formed a huge impression on me over the years. To me, she was part of what made the show Doctor Who.

Now that I was hooked, I simply had to find out more about the programme I had been missing all those years. I began voraciously reading the novelizations of the episodes, and would frequently discover moments I remembered seeing on television. Naturally, I was curious about my earliest memory. I quickly discovered that there was only one Dalek story with the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane: “Genesis of the Daleks”. I found a copy of the novelization in the library, read it, and was surprised to find that it didn’t really fit my memory. Now, the old Target novelizations sometimes deviated a bit from the TV episodes. They were often condensed considerably, so I thought that maybe the book had just handled the scenes from my memory differently than the episode had. I wasn’t fully convinced of that, though, so I tried double-checking that there wasn’t another Dalek story that could fit my memories. Sarah Jane had been in the Third Doctor story, “Death to the Daleks”, so I considered the possibility that that was the one I remembered. I really didn’t think it likely because Tom Baker was so clearly in my memories of the story in question. Nonetheless, I read the novelization of “Death to the Daleks”. It didn’t fit.

Thursday 6 October 2011

Doctor Who - The Wedding of River Song

And so we come to the end of series 6/season 32 of Doctor Who with “The Wedding of River Song” written by showrunner Steven Moffat. The Doctor’s fated death has come and gone, and all has been resolved—well, not really. I initially found it difficult to form a straight opinion on this one. After my initial viewing, I felt rather nonplussed. I definitely enjoyed it, but much like “Let’s Kill Hitler”, I enjoyed the individual moments, but felt disappointed with the total product. I was hoping for a resolution to the ongoing arc storyline, but this episode provides very little actual resolution. The Doctor’s death is resolved, but none of of the other outstanding questions are answered. Indeed, most of them aren’t even referenced. Instead, the episode introduces a couple new questions. From a series finale, I was hoping for something a little more final. However, I’ve watched it a total of three times now, and with each viewing, I’ve grown to appreciate and like it a lot more. I think being aware that the questions I have would not be answered has allowed me, on each subsequent viewing, to view the episode on its own merits, to enjoy it for what it is, instead of disliking it for what it isn’t.

The Wedding of River Song” really is a rather clever episode, set mostly in an alternate reality where time has gone wrong and is disintegrating. It has a lot of similarities to last year’s finale, “The Big Bang”—in some ways, it’s a little too similar, giving a slight feeling of having done all this before. However, it does it quite a bit better than “The Big Bang”, and the resolution (to this story, not the arc) is far preferable to Amelia Pond wishing the Doctor back into existence. The storytelling is tight and engaging, with good doses of both humour and action while still maintaining a strong dramatic and emotional presence. The plot does involve lots of the complex “timey wimey” material that Moffat is so fond of, but nonetheless remains straight-forward and easy to follow. There are no real surprises in the episode, but that’s okay as the episode aims to bring everything that has been foreshadowed to a conclusion (whilst foreshadowing yet more). SPOILERS FOLLOW

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Winter Witch

It’s been quite awhile since I last read a novel based on a game world. Years ago, I voraciously read through the Dragonlance Chronicles when that trilogy was first published. I remember enjoying the books at the time, but when I reread them a few years later, my opinion of them diminished considerably. I went on to read numerous other Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms books and a few books based on other game worlds as well. While I found the odd one to be enjoyable (I remember finding The Black Vessel, a book set in the Mystara setting, to be particularly fun to read), I became increasingly disappointed with them the more I read. I found them poorly written, with cardboard characters and plots that were unoriginal, predictable, and dull. Worst of all, they rarely seemed to have much setting flavour, seeming more like generic Tolkienesque fantasy novels that were simply shoehorned into the given setting. Eventually, a little over ten years or so ago, I gave up reading them altogether.

Fast forward a decade. It occurred to me that, while I continued to be quite critical of game novels, not having read any for so long meant that I had no way of knowing whether they were still as bad as they once were, or if the quality had increased. Perhaps they had never been as poor as I remembered, as no doubt my tastes had changed a bit in the passing decade, or maybe I had just poorly chosen the novels I did read (as I certainly didn’t read every novel available back then, only a small sample really). So when Paizo started releasing their Pathfinder Tales series of novels based on the Golarion setting, I began to ponder whether I should pick one up and read it. Recently, I decided to do just that and bought myself a copy of Winter Witch by Elaine Cunningham*. I had read a short story or two by Cunningham and was impressed by them, so I figured her novel would be a good choice to start with.

Saturday 1 October 2011

Doctor Who - Closing Time

The last few episodes of Doctor Who have shown a significant improvement over the earlier episodes of this year. The arc plot has taken a back seat, and while that does create the question of why the characters are ignoring it (particularly Amy and Rory and their forgotten parenthood), it has allowed the episodes to shine on their own merits. “The Girl Who Waited” and “The God Complex” were both substantially better than anything this season apart from “The Doctor’s Wife”, and now “Closing Time” also ranks with those lofty three. It shows a much older Doctor (possibly as much as 200 years have passed since “The God Complex” if the ages given in “The Impossible Astronaut” can be trusted—of course, it’s hard to trust the Doctor when he gives his age) on his way to his death. On one of his last stops on his “farewell tour”, one day before his fated death, he stops in to see his old friend Craig, first seen in “The Lodger”, one of last year’s best episodes. “Closing Time” is written by Gareth Roberts, who also wrote “The Lodger” last year as well as previous stories, “The Shakespeare Code”, “The Unicorn and the Wasp”, and “Planet of the Dead” (the last he co-wrote with Russell T. Davies). He has also written numerous episodes of the Sarah Jane Adventures and many Doctor Who novels. As such, he has a lot of experience writing for Doctor Who and it shows. In particular, he is expert at blending humour with horror, a key aspect of Doctor Who and something that “Closing Time” has in abundance.

Closing Time” guest stars James Corden, reprising his role as Craig Owens from “The Lodger”. Although he is best known for comedy, Corden slides into a dramatic role with ease, lending his comedic talents when necessary, but never taking them over the top. His on-screen chemistry with Matt Smith is wonderful. The two of them work off one another with astounding ease and look perfectly natural together. Craig is one of the most believable and sympathetic characters to appear on the show in quite some time. He is instantly likeable and it is very easy to understand both his frustration with, and trust in, the Doctor. As in “The Lodger”, Craig essentially has the role of surrogate companion in this story, and one of the purposes of the companion has always been to provide a link to the real world for the viewer, to provide a character that the viewer can easily relate to. Even though Craig’s role is often comical, he succeeds in this purpose better than many of the Doctor’s actual companions. SPOILERS FOLLOW

Saturday 24 September 2011

Doctor Who - The God Complex

The God Complex” takes us to a surreal hotel where the corridors change lengths and rearrange themselves, and where every room holds nightmares. The Doctor, Amy, and Rory find themselves trapped in this hotel with a small group of other people, and must find a way out before the resident beast kills them all off one by one. This is writer Toby Whithouse’s third story for Doctor Who, and while it is definitely better than last year’s “Vampires of Venice”, it doesn’t reach the heights of his first script, “School Reunion”. Overall, I found “The God Complex” a bit of a mixed bag, although definitely more good than bad. It was very atmospheric with some great character work and fine performances, but there were also parts of it that just didn’t quite work for me. That said, I did enjoy it considerably more on second viewing.

The story is not particularly original, but this is not a criticism. It uses its borrowed material (from sources ranging from the myth of the Minotaur to The Shining to older Doctor Who stories like “The Horns of Nimon” and “The Curse of Fenric”; there’s even a specific reference to the Nimons) to weave a clever and original tale. Despite its horror-themed frame, it is very much a character story and focuses primarily on the Doctor and Amy, and their relationship, while also providing some great character moments for Rory, as well as a couple of the guest characters. Advance publicity focused a great deal on guest star David Walliams as the alien Gibbis, but I think the real prize for guest performance should go to Amara Karan who gives a stunning performance as Rita, the companion who could have been. SPOILERS FOLLOW

Tuesday 20 September 2011

The Harrowing

The Harrowing, by Crystal Frasier, is an adventure for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. In it, a group of ninth-level characters go in search of a missing scholar and find themselves transported to an entirely different world, one created by an ancient Varisian fortune-teller and populated by characters from the stories she told (many of those stories clearly inspired by real-world stories, most notably Alice in Wonderland). The adventure is light-hearted and contains a good mix of encounter styles. The setting is interesting and well-detailed and provides a great opportunity for players and Game Masters to get use out of the Harrow Deck published by Paizo (although owning a Harrow Deck is not required to run the adventure; a regular deck of cards can easily substitute for it). SPOILERS FOLLOW

Monday 19 September 2011

Minority Characters in Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature

For the last week, I've been following the response to this article on Rose Fox's blog, Genreville, hosted by Publishers Weekly. The article publishes an open letter from authors Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith about their attempts to find an agent for their post-apocalyptic young adult novel and how they have been asked to either make a gay character straight or drop the character from the novel entirely as a condition for the agent to represent the novel. They ask for greater representation of LGBTQ characters in YA science fiction/fantasy literature and ask readers to vote with their wallets and make it clear to agents and publishers that there is a demand for these characters.

The story has spread across the internet and numerous blogs and has engendered a lot of response, much of it initially sympathizing with Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith. Even though the authors went out of their way not to name the agency in question, rumours began flying, and the agency has come forward with a rebuttal posted on Colleen Lindsay's blog, the Swivet. In it, Joanna Stampfel-Volpe denies the accusations of Brown and Smith and says that book was rejected for other reasons. Lindsay, a known LGBTQ advocate and a self-identified queer woman, follows up the response with a statement in support of Stampfel-Volpe. Genreville has since posted a follow-up which includes an excerpt of Stampfel-Volpe's response and a further response from Brown and Sherwood reaffirming the truth of their original letter.

Naturally, this has caused all sorts of discussion across the internet with people taking one side or the other, and many others coming somewhere in the middle and thinking that this all the result of a miscommunication. Cleolinda Jones excellently summarizes the whole debate on her blog, and YA Highway has a great summary as well, so I won't go through it all here other than to say it's worth reading through.

Sunday 18 September 2011

Torchwood: Miracle Day

As Torchwood: Miracle Day was already halfway through airing when I started this blog, I decided that, instead of reviewing individual episodes, I would just wait for the series to conclude and then review the whole thing. As such, I should warn you in advance, that the following review is rather long. I have also included a much longer spoiler-free section for the benefit of those who haven’t seen it and don’t want to know the end.

When Torchwood started a few years ago, it became only the second ever official Doctor Who spin-off (the first was K-9 and Company in 1981) and the first to last beyond a single pilot episode. Created by Russell T. Davies, the man who brought back Doctor Who, and billed as a more “adult” version of its parent series, its first season was met with a lot of derision from certain segments of Doctor Who fandom. While that season was indeed variable in script quality, it had some very interesting ideas and a few interesting characters (and an utterly unlikeable character or two, such as Owen Harper), and it picked up enough viewers to gain a second season. That second season showed a huge improvement over the first. It had a better consistency of script quality, the characters were fleshed out more, and even the unlikeable characters started to become a little more likeable.

However, Torchwood’s third season was when it truly discovered itself. That year they did something completely different to previous years, and told just a single story over a five-episode miniseries, entitled Torchwood: Children of Earth. It was truly phenomenal and achieved great acclaim from both critics and the general viewing audience. When people ask me what my favourite episode of Doctor Who is, or what my favourite movie or book is, I’m generally very reluctant to give a definitive answer. While there are many things that I rank better than many others, an absolute “favourite” really depends on my mood at the time. That said, when pressed, I can put together a list of a few things that stand head and shoulders above all the rest. Torchwood: Children of Earth is on that list—not just as the best Torchwood or Doctor Who or even television show, but on my list of best anything ever (tv, movies, books, etc.). It’s simply that good. (As an aside, I should point out that, as much as I love Doctor Who, there is no other Doctor Who-related thing on that list.)

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Doctor Who - The Girl Who Waited

So, an Amy-centric episode this week. Given my general dislike of Amy, I naturally went into this episode with several reservations. However, I have to say, it was a damn good episode. Indeed, “The Girl Who Waited” has quite a bit of what I’ve been missing in Doctor Who over the past two years: real emotion, and believable character motivation. Part of the strength of this episode is that, despite what I said in my opening sentence, this is not really the Amy-centric episode it pretends to be on the surface. It’s much more a Rory-centric episode. In the end, it’s all about Rory and the decision he must make.

I’ve seen it suggested on-line that this episode could have been called, “Rory’s Choice”, to create a thematic link with last year’s “Amy’s Choice”. While I prefer “The Girl Who Waited” as a title, “Rory’s Choice” certainly does fit the overall theme of the episode, and unlike “Amy’s Choice” last year, the episode makes me actually care about his choice, and the ramifications of it. And there most certainly are ramifications, unlike “Amy’s Choice” where absolutely nothing turns out to be real. Things are very real in this episode, and it even makes me start to care about Amy by the end of it. SPOILERS FOLLOW

Thursday 8 September 2011

Inner Sea Magic

Inner Sea Magic, the latest release in the Pathfinder Campaign Setting line, takes an in-depth look at how magic is used in the Inner Sea Region of Golarion and, in turn, a bit of how that magic affects the setting. Unlike many other Campaign Setting products, Inner Sea Magic has a quite large amount of “crunch”, i.e. game mechanics information such as new rules systems, archetypes, spells, etc., instead of “fluff”, which is story and descriptive material. This makes it a product more in the style of a book like Ultimate Magic than most books in this line. However, whereas Ultimate Magic is a generic look at magic in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Inner Sea Magic looks at magic with a very Golarion-specific spin.

In general, I really like that most Campaign Setting books are fluff-heavy, as that’s the kind of thing I most enjoy reading when learning about a game world. There’s enough crunch in the generic books that, unless it’s very specific to the setting, more is not really needed in a world book. As such, I had a few reservations going into this book. Most of those reservations, however, quickly subsided. This is not just a book with a gazillion new feats and spells that the game doesn’t really need. There are full details on variant magic styles that other Campaign Setting books have only hinted at, new class archetypes that explore these styles, an overview of prominent spellcasters across the Inner Sea, and details on the most prominent magical schools and academies. They are all things that can enrich any game set in Golarion.

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Night Terrors

This week sees a return to a stand-alone Doctor Who story with Mark Gatiss’s “Night Terrors”, which takes us to “the most frightening place in the universe: a child’s bedroom”. The story tells of a young boy who is terrified of virtually everything, and he pleads for someone to “save [him] from the monsters”. His plea reverberates psychically across time and space, and the Doctor answers to save the day because, of course, the monsters are real.

I’m not the biggest fan of Mark Gatiss’s previous work for the series. His first offering, “The Unquiet Dead”, was excellent, but “The Idiot’s Lantern” was lacklustre at best and the less said about last year’s dismal “Victory of the Daleks”, the better. Alas, “Night Terrors” falls more or less in line with “The Idiot’s Lantern”. It starts out well enough, and does a good job of setting the scene and introducing the characters, but just doesn’t deliver in the end, with a resolution that’s clearly intended to tug at the heartstrings but only ends up feeling forced and unnatural. SPOILERS FOLLOW.

Friday 2 September 2011

Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor

I thought I'd pass on a link to Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor, a blog which collects fantasy and science fiction artwork that depicts women wearing...well...reasonable outfits.

In the same vein, "Dressed to Kill" (and a number of other posts in the same series) from Megan Rosalarian Gedris pinpoints exactly what is wrong with the depiction of women in mainstream comic books (and by extension, a lot of fantasy and science fiction artwork).

Goblins of Golarion

Paizo first introduced their version of goblins in Pathfinder Adventure Path #1, and then detailed them further in Classic Monsters Revisited. I’ve always liked how they took a generic monster that had little real character to it and gave it new life. Goblins of Golarion builds on the previous works and still keeps them fresh and interesting. Some people might criticize the portrayal of goblins as too comical—they aren’t too bright, are willing to do silly things in combat like light themselves on fire or throw themselves off buildings, and run from dogs and horses—but as well as the humour, there is a serious side to the goblins as well. Goblins, for the most part, are evil creatures, and they kill and maim. The juxtaposition of the humour with the vile may not be to everyone’s taste, but I personally find it makes for far more interesting villains and sets goblins apart from the numerous other humanoid monsters in the game.

Goblins of Golarion is a bit of an unusual supplement. As I mentioned in my review of Humans of Golarion, that product is a useful, albeit not particularly exciting book. Goblins of Golarion is the reverse: a fun, interesting read, but not particularly useful to most games. More specifically, it’s not particularly useful to most players. Game Masters are likely to gain much more use out of it, but as a product that is part of the Pathfinder Player Companion line, many people will expect it to be usable by players. Of course, not every product should necessarily be usable by everyone. It makes sense that there would be some niche products. However, it’s important that people be aware that this is a niche product, as there are some players out there who feel that because something is printed, it’s their right to use it, and that’s going to annoy some GMs who don’t want monster PCs in their games. Players should be sure to check with their GMs before making use of this book.

Monday 29 August 2011

Let's Kill Hitler

It was inevitable that it would happen eventually. Every time-travel show eventually tackles the idea of going back in time and killing Hitler. In fact, I’m kind of surprised it took this long for Doctor Who to do it. Oh, there have been a few episodes here and there that have taken place during World War II, but none of them actually involved Nazis. At least one novel (Timewyrm: Exodus) has had Hitler in it. However, the television show has stayed clear of the man himself until now with the mid-series première episode, “Let’s Kill Hitler”. Alas, his presence here is rather superfluous. SPOILERS FOLLOW.

Saturday 27 August 2011

Humans of Golarion

The Pathfinder Player Companion line of products contains several books centred on the specific races of Golarion (such as Elves of Golarion, Gnomes of Golarion, and most recently, Goblins of Golarion). Humans of Golarion rounds out the core races within this sub-series of books. Much like the other race books, it is focused on providing options for players of the given race. Unlike those other books, though, it needs to cover a much broader topic, as humans are the most prolific and varied race on Golarion.

It is because of this that Humans of Golarion has received a lot of negative criticism. Many people feel that the book doesn’t offer much new for people who already own the Inner Sea World Guide or its predecessor, the Pathfinder Campaign Setting. To a certain extent this is true. Each human racial group, for example, gets a one-page write-up like the equivalent one-page write-up in the Inner Sea World Guide. They are not word-for-word copies. Instead, the Humans of Golarion write-ups present a more player-orientated description of the groups. However, there is no denying that the information contained within them is very similar to that in the Inner Sea World Guide, and people who have read that book (or the Campaign Setting) are not going to discover much that is new in them. As such, Humans of Golarion seems a much less exciting or interesting read than the other race books, as it doesn’t provide new insights into humans in the way that a book like Gnomes of Golarion provides new insights on gnomes.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Celebrity Dungeons and Dragons

Several years ago, I was involved with a podcast series called, Screaming Halibut. It was a sketch comedy series, and for a little over a year, we produced a new episode almost every week. I was one of the writers for the show and also did voice work.

For one of the early episodes, I wrote a sketch entitled, "Celebrity Dungeons and Dragons". It had three parts to it that were spread out over the episode it was part of. The sketch became so popular with our listeners that later, Gord Zajac (who was the show's creator and central guiding force) made animated versions of the first two parts to go along with the original audio. I present those here for you now. Part One stars Jordan Gross as the voices of Christopher Walken, Keanu Reeves, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sean Connery. Alicia Land is the voice of Emma Thompson, and I voice the narrator. Part Two stars Jordan Gross as the voice of Don Cherry (a well-known, opinionated and controversial sports commentator in Canada) and I play the host. Enjoy!

Tuesday 23 August 2011

We Be Goblins!

We Be Goblins! is a short adventure for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game released for this year’s Free RPG Day. The pdf is available for free download at In the adventure, players take on the role of goblins instead of standard PC races and head out to retrieve a stash of fireworks for the Licktoad tribe. Most groups should be able to run through the whole adventure in one session, two at most.

In short, this adventure is a lot of fun. I ran it as a play-by-post game and had a blast. There is a lot of humour injected into the adventure (not surprising as Pathfinder goblins have a very comical bent to them) and groups may end up spending large amounts of time laughing at the antics they get up to, both from scripted and non-scripted events.

Monday 22 August 2011


Just a site updated: I've added a few links on the right-hand side of the page. I may gradually add more over time.

Friday 19 August 2011

Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space

As a fan of both roleplaying games and Doctor Who, I am naturally attracted to any attempt to blend the two together. Over the years, there have been a few attempts to make a roleplaying game based on the world's longest-running science fiction television series. In the mid-1980s, FASA produced the Doctor Who Roleplaying Game. Then in the 90s, Virgin Books (which published Doctor Who novels at the time) came out with Time Lord, their version of a Doctor Who rpg. The latest attempt is Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space from Cubicle 7 Entertainment. And without a doubt, it’s the best one so far.

Thursday 18 August 2011

The Brinewall Legacy

Pathfinder Adventure Path #49: The Brinewall Legacy is the opening instalment of the Jade Regent Adventure Path. Written by James Jacobs, Paizo’s creative director, it presents the first part of a world-spanning campaign that will take PCs from the small town of Sandpoint in Varisia (part of the world of Golarion) to the eastern continent of Tian Xia and the country of Minkai. Fans of the old AD&D Oriental Adventures book are likely to find a lot to love in this series. Minor spoilers follow.

The plot of The Brinewall Legacy revolves around discovering the birthright of a prominent Sandpoint personality, Ameiko Kaijitsu. People familiar with the Pathfinder Adventure Paths will recognize Ameiko from the first AP, Rise of the Runelords. She was a prominent, though minor, character in that Adventure Path, and is now a major focus for Jade Regent. (Warning: Some of her history has been retconned slightly to keep her still very young in this adventure. Game Masters who wish to set this after Rise of the Runelords may want to review this and make appropriate adjustments.)

Wednesday 17 August 2011

And so it begins...

I've contemplated this whole blogging thing for some time, but have never really been entirely certain what I want to blog about. I've never been a fan of blogs that don't have a focus or purpose, that just ramble on about random, unimportant things. However, as a writer, I feel I need to take every opportunity to get my writing out there.

So, I've decided to write reviews. What makes my opinions at all important? Nothing, really, other than to give people an insight into things they might be interested in taking a look at. I will be reviewing role playing game books, mostly Pathfinder stuff to start. Occasionally, I might delve into reviews and commentary on other science fiction and fantasy material. Undoubtedly, there will be some Doctor Who, as I can do very little without mentioning Doctor Who at some point.

Anyway, enough of an introduction. On to the purpose of this blog...