Sunday 30 June 2013

Orbiting TARDIS Funded, Funny Searches, and Monthly Round-Up

I’m starting something a little new this month, which is basically a month-in-review. On the last day of each month, I’ll take a look back at the entire month, both things that I’ve commented on, and reviewed on the site, as well as possibly a few other things in the month that have caught my interest.

June was a fairly slow month overall, but it opened with the news that Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who in this year’s Christmas special. This led to much speculation about who might be the next Doctor, but that speculation seems to have simmered off for the time being.

Although I haven’t written a post on it (because there’s nothing concrete to write about), there have been tons of bizarre and often conflicting rumours over the past couple weeks about more missing episodes having been found. Numbers as high as 90 are floating around. Another popular (and perhaps more believable) number is 17. Of course, even the find of one missing episode would be exciting news, if true. Whether there’s a kernel of truth to this particular round of rumours remains to be seen.

With the TV show off the air until November, there were no Doctor Who episodes to review this month, but I did review the book Queers Dig Time Lords.

A couple weeks ago, I posted about this Kickstarter campaign to place a TARDIS in orbit. The campaign closed yesterday having raised $88,880, passing their second stretch goal after an initial goal of $33,000. I’m very curious to learn when the actual launch will take place!

I’ve fallen a bit behind on my Pathfinder reviews, meaning I only got to three this month (Doom Comes to Dustpawn, Ultimate Campaign, and The Frozen Stars). This means I’ve got a backlog of products to get through, so expect lots of those over the next couple of weeks. I’ll also have some reviews of the newest products for the Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space game, which have finally been released!

For some time now, my wife has wanted me to do a post about some of the unusual search keywords that bring people to this site. The vast majority of search keywords are pretty normal and self-explanatory, such as “steven moffat sexist” or “doctor who sexist” or various things referring to Pathfinder products. Some others are a bit unusual, but you can generally understand how they came about, such as the website address as keyword (presumably from people entering the address in the wrong field of their browsers). However, every now and then, I see some search words that are a little more bizarre. Sometimes, I’m not even sure how those words led people to this site. So I’ve been keeping a list of some of the best to share. Here they are (all spelling mistakes are replicated exactly):

but then moffat – I can see how this would bring people to this site, but it’s the arrangement of the words I find amusing. But then Moffat...what?

female doctor dices – This is possibly a direct search for this site, just with a misspelling of dice, but it does create an interesting image in my mind. What exactly is this female Doctor dicing? Tomatoes perhaps? Cucumbers?

docrors looking at girls with dig tits – I’m actually impressed that somebody looking for porn would forgo the porn and come to this site instead!

dr sexist children delivery thank you – Okay, the dr sexist part I can understand. The rest? Uh...

why does everyone hate act 6 – Act 6 of what?

And my favourite:

dead people

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Reign of Winter - The Frozen Stars

As Reign of Winter has progressed, the PCs have moved farther and farther away from their homes as they follow the trail of Baba Yaga. They’ve gone to cold-swept Irrisen, then to wintry Iobaria. But while Iobaria is far away from their starting point, it’s still on Golarion. In The Frozen Stars, the fourth instalment of the adventure path, the PCs travel to Triaxus, one of the other planets in Golarion’s system, currently going through its very long winter. There they get involved in local politics and an ongoing war. Written by Matthew Goodall, it is an excellent adventure with excitement, interesting characters, and an exotic, alien location.


Tuesday 25 June 2013

Doctor Who - Queers Dig Time Lords

As a gay Doctor Who fan, the question you get asked quite a lot is—why are so many Who fans gay?” This line comes from Paul Magrs’s “The Monster Queer is Camp”, the opening essay in Queers Dig Time Lords, and it focuses on what is a fairly central point in the book. It’s certainly true that Doctor Who has always attracted a large number of LGBTQ fans, more so than probably any other science fiction programme out there. One likely reason for this—and one that the essays in Queers Dig Time Lords repeatedly draw attention to—is the almost complete lack of sexuality in the original series. Apart from an occasional companion leaving to get married to someone, attraction and sexuality was absent. In a world where the male heroes of science fiction regularly flirted with and bedded the women they met, Doctor Who stood out. The Doctor was an asexual hero. He almost always had at least one woman travelling with him, but there was never any hint of romance or sexual attraction between them. Sure, fans have debated heatedly whether the Doctor was truly asexual (he has a granddaughter, many will point out, while ignoring the fact that children and grandchildren aren’t really evidence of any particular sexuality) or if his sexuality was just behind closed doors because of what was acceptable in a programme that children would be watching. And the new series has established the Doctor as unequivocally sexual while still keeping him chaste. However, with sex out of the question in the original series, the Doctor became a hero that queer fans could more easily identify with. As Paul Magrs goes on to say:

If we don’t see the hero bedding and flirting with sexy young women, then there is room for other possibilities. Or simply the idea of sex not being a primary concern. When you grow up gay and are terrified or in denial about your own burgeoning sexuality, this is very liberating. It allows you to identify or root for a hero who won’t confuse you by having desires of his own.

Queers Dig Time Lords from Mad Norwegian Press (publishers of Chicks Dig Time Lords and Chicks Unravel Time) brings together essays from a wide range of LGBTQ authors who are also fans of Doctor Who. It is very similar in style to Chicks Dig Time Lords, in which the authors write about their own experiences with the programme. Most of the essays are anecdotal, telling stories of how the authors discovered Doctor Who and came to love it, or how their geek lives and queer lives overlapped and influenced each other. A few of the essays are more analytical in nature, looking at aspects of the programme from an LGBTQ perspective; however, these essays are in the distinct minority.

Friday 14 June 2013

Ultimate Campaign

I’ve commented before that one of the things I really like about Paizo’s approach to Pathfinder is their willingness to do something different. Of course, the usual stuff is still there, too. In the hardcover rulebook line, the Advanced Player’s Guide, Ultimate Magic, and Ultimate Combat all serve to provide players with their fix of new classes, archetypes, feats, and spells. For gamemasters, there’s the plethora of Bestiaries with Bestiary 4 now announced for this fall. But amidst those, there are also books like the GameMastery Guide and the NPC Codex, all of which take a break from the usual style and offer up something new or a twist on something old. Even those books I mentioned as delivering the usual stuff still have a number of new options in them. Archetypes, for example, while appearing everywhere now, were new in the Advanced Player’s Guide.

The latest hardcover rulebook from Paizo is Ultimate Campaign, a book dedicated to an aspect of roleplaying that most books completely gloss over, something some people even gloss over in actual play: non-adventuring time. The vast majority of the rules in Pathfinder (and indeed, most roleplaying games) cover adventuring—fighting monsters, disarming traps, casting spells, travelling through dungeons and wilderness, etc.—and pay very little attention, if any, to what players’ characters get up to between adventures. But for many people, downtime is as much part of the game as the adventuring side is. Where do these characters live? What do they do when they’re not adventuring? What happens if characters try to run a business? What about ruling a nation? How about their families and other relationships? The answers to these questions and more help to define fully fleshed-out and believable characters. They add an additional dimension to the game and provide character motivations beyond just loot. Ultimate Campaign helps players provide answers to these questions and more. Is it a necessary book? No, of course not—no book is really necessary other than the Core Rulebook and maybe the first Bestiarybut it is a very different and useful book. It’s also a very good book and has quickly catapulted itself to one of my favourite books in the hardcover line.

Thursday 13 June 2013

The TARDIS in Orbit!

Crowdfunding is an interesting thing. People are using it for just about everything these days, from the truly necessary to the fun and interesting to the utterly pointless. This one falls under the fun and interesting category. A father/daughter team from Florida is putting the TARDIS into orbit—well, a miniature replica of the TARDIS at any rate. They’ve already raised the $33,000 they were aiming for, and additional funds will allow them to put a larger TARDIS into orbit.

At first glance, this may seem an utterly preposterous notion. How can they even manage this? But they’re not actually building their own rocket. Instead, they’re booking space on a pre-existing rocket that will be taking lots of other stuff up as well (things from universities, research groups, and private companies), so this actually looks quite doable.

Why are they doing this? Well, it’s the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who this November. It’s a way to celebrate that landmark, so why not? Really, when it comes down to it, there’s no other reason than “why not?” but sometimes that’s all you really need. Alas, I’m broke and can’t help out, but clearly there are lots of people who can. Check out their video below or visit their Kickstarter page for all the technical details.

Friday 7 June 2013

Thoughts on a New Doctor for Doctor Who

Now that Matt Smith has announced that he isleaving the role of the Doctor with this year’s Christmas special, people are, not surprisingly, speculating on who the next Doctor might be. Some people are probably even speculating on when the next Doctor will leave (after all, from the moment Matt Smith got the role, people were asking him how long he would stay). So I thought I might as well get in on the speculative act and give my thoughts on what I would like to see in a new Doctor.

A lot of people are listing established actors that they feel would be good fits for the Doctor. People are throwing a lot of names out there, some extremely well-known and famous, others not quite so famous but still fairly well-known. These names run the course from Sir Ian McKellan to Patrick Stewart to Helen Mirren. And of course, if you’re going to name a specific name, there really isn’t any other choice but to name someone well-known because’re not likely to know any other specific names to name. If I were to go that route, I’d probably choose Chiwetel Ejiofor just because I think he’s pretty awesome. However, I think Neil Gaiman makes a very good point that the next Doctor should be someone unknown, someone who comes without preconceived expectations of how he or she should play the part, someone who can surprise us all.

Of course, while I look forward to being surprised by the new Doctor, there are certain things I hope to see. This doesn’t mean that if I don’t see these things, I’ll automatically hate the new Doctor—I haven’t disliked a single Doctor yet—they’re just things that I would be looking for if I were in charge of the show (I can dream, can’t I?).

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Doom Comes to Dustpawn

For some reason, ever since the adventure was first announced, every time I see the name Doom Comes to Dustpawn mentioned (generally in comments on the Paizo messageboards), I misread it as Dust Comes to Doomspawn. I don’t know why. I just know that I have to keep correcting myself in my head. I had to be extra careful just to write the name correctly above, and I will likely have to be extra careful throughout this review. Since I can’t stop myself making this frustrating misreading, I thought I’d share it with all of you, possibly causing you to make the same misreading from now on and share in my frustration.

I am so cruel.

Of course, the question is, does Doom Comes to Dustpawn deserve my cruelty? And the answer is that it most definitely doesn’t. Doom Comes to Dustpawn by Mike Welham was the winning entry from last year’s RPG Superstar, a contest Paizo runs annually to find new writing talent. It’s been a very successful contest for Paizo, bringing a bunch of great new writers into the gaming world. Old pulp science fiction stories are the very clear inspiration for this adventure about an invasion from outer space, but, of course, reimagined as fantasy for the Golarion setting. The adventure cleverly mixes site-based encounters with event-based ones, allowing for an adventure that builds towards a specific climactic event, but does so in a very open-ended way, leaving the player characters to guide the action and development to that point.


Saturday 1 June 2013

Matt Smith Leaving Doctor Who

I have to admit, this kind of took me by surprise. I expected Smith would leave at the end of Series 8. In fact, I could have sworn the BBC previously confirmed he would be in Series 8. But that is not the case. He is now confirmed as leaving at the end of this year, in the 2013 Christmas special. The full story is here.

The eleventh Doctor is not my favourite Doctor, but I have enjoyed Smith's performance, even if I've criticised many of the stories he's appeared in (and there are aspects of the character that bug me, particularly his dismissive attitude towards women). Indeed, Matt Smith's Doctor has often been one of the few saving graces to otherwise weak episodes.

So now the debate begins on who will be next. They may even have already decided. It's just a matter of when they'll announce it...