FCBD: Les Miserables: The Fall of Fantine

Free Comic Book Day is coming! Come celebrate FCBD with us on May 3rd starting at 11am. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be previewing some of the books that we’ll be giving away!

Title: Les Miserables: The Fall of Fantine
Publisher: Udon
Synopsis: A sneak peak of the upcoming manga adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables
If You Like It: The full adaptation will be available in August!

Some Other FCBD Books
The New 52-Futures End
Bongo Comics Free-For-All 2014
Archie Digest 1st Issue 

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FCBD: Archie Comics Digest 1st Issue

Free Comic Book Day is coming! Come celebrate FCBD with us on May 3rd starting at 11am. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be previewing some of the books that we’ll be giving away!

Title: Archie Comics Digest 1st Issue
Publisher: Archie Comics
Synopsis: A collection of tales from Riverdale High!
If You Like It: Check out the monthly exploits of Archie and the gang in Archie.
All Ages!

Some Other FCBD Books
The New 52-Futures End 
Bongo Comics Free-For-All 2014

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FCBD: Bongo Comics Free-For-All 2014

Free Comic Book Day is coming! Come celebrate FCBD with us on May 3rd starting at 11am. We’ll be previewing some of the books that we’ll be giving away!

Title: Bongo Comics Free-For-All 2014
Publisher: Bongo Comics
Synopsis: A collection of Simpsons comic shorts.
If You Like It: You can check out the monthly Bart Simpson and Simpsons comics.
All Ages!

Some Other FCBD Books
The New 52-Futures End #0 

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FCBD: The New 52-Future’s End #0

Free Comic Book Day is coming! Come celebrate FCBD with us on May 3rd starting at 11am. We’ll be previewing some of the books that we’ll be giving away!


Title: The New 52-Future’s End #0
Publisher: DC Comics
Synopsis: DC Comics kicks off it’s newest weekly series with a special zero issue.  35 years in the future, Bruce Wayne realizes that to save his present he needs to travel back our present to stop Brother Eye!
If You Like It: The New 52-Future’s End #1 launches May 7th.

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Game the Game: Retrostar Design Blog #1: Embrace the Cheese!


So, Spectrum announced Retrostar awhile back. The intention of it is to emulate the sci-fi shows of the 70s: BSG, Bionic Man, Buck Rogers, etc. Not the films of that era, but specifically the TV shows.

I have taken it upon myself to dissect this “genre” and my goal is to come up with a game the forces the GM and players into an experience that feels like a 70s sci-fi series, with all that implies.

Instead of designing a core mechanic that allows players to punch, and shoot, and pilot, I am starting someplace else.

What makes these shows special? What makes the 70s sci-fi experience unique? There are lots of systems out there that let players fight and shoot and pilot. I want the play session to feel authentic. Steve Austin doesn’t solve every problem by just using his bionics. The scenes with bionics are the highlight of the show. To use a cinematic example (I know this is about TV shows, but bear with me, this is a great example), we don’t see lightsabers in every scene.
Why? SFX budget.

So, one of my design goals is to have each session have an SFX budget.

Secondly, frequently these shows had some real 70s-isms in them, stuff that makes them feel dated and topical (and in this situation, usage of these terms is a positive). So, I want some way to bring these sort of 70s-isms into play, whether it is a discussion on race, or divorce, or a cheesy disco scene. We want to embrace these things and make it so that a session of Retrostar feels unlike any other sci-fi game out there. We do not want folks saying “man, this system is awesome, I can’t wait to run a hack of Retrostar for my hard sci-fi campaign.

Third, TV shows have certain tropes. An most episodes of BSG will have a dogfight, Steve Austin will have to run fast or jump high, etc. So, any series being played with Retrostar should have this built in.

These are my three primary goals for Retrostar, and I have been taking notes, and jotting down ideas how to make these be an integral part of the game. Referring back to Intention, Mechanics, Setting: I want them to mesh perfectly together. It’s a big challenge I have set for myself, and I really excited thinking about the possibilities. Will there be a core mechanic for fighting? Absolutely. But I want these three design components an integral part of the game, so I am starting there as opposed to having them be a secondary concern.

To give a teaser and peel back the curtain a little, one idea I am toying with is a card based mechanic that helps control the flow of the game, ensuring that each BSG episode would have a dogfight or two, and so on. It is an idea in the early stages of germination no doubt, but some neat ideas are coming out of the design process.

Please feel free to comment with your thoughts and suggestions! And know that I am not adverse to letting you on the design process as well! For now, my internal tagline is:
Science fiction- take a scientific principle; pose a question or hypothesis about that principle; and then explore the effects of that principle on society/culture. Now, add disco!

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MythSpoken #40: Amazon Attacks!

The MythSpoken Crew is back and this week they talk about Amazon taking over Comixology, Diversity at PaxEast, and “bending”.

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Show Notes

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MythSpoken Spoiler Special-Captain America II: The Winter Soldier

Who is the Winter Soldier?  The MythSpoken team tackles this mystery and others as they discuss the latest Marvel Cinematic release, Captain America II: The Winter Soldier.

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Game the Game: “Hi, my name is Barak, and I am closet player/ director”

“I have always considered RPG Design to be a conversation, where someone does something, then someone else takes those ideas and develops them further, and then someone ELSE takes them further still.” Jeff Grubb*, via Facebook

Somewhere, out there, in multiple places, there are categories of players. Folks refer to these categorizations: “I am a ____ with some aspects of ____,” as if these were psychological tests. In my travels, I have not come across GM categorizations that are as widely used and accepted.

Wah wah wah… No, this isn’t an article complaining about how difficult the life of the GM is, and how they put in so much work, although those things are all true.

How the GM spends an inordinate amount of time away from the game thinking about the game: plotting, scheming, statting… No, this is not one of those articles.

I got into the business of GMing long ago because I was a frustrated player. At heart, I am a player. I want to roll dice, tell cool stories, outwit the GM (that dude’s a jerk!), save the princess, rule the kingdom, and look cool doing it.

I could go into a long-winded explanation about all sorts of stuff. But, instead, I have so many other things to say, that will seem to not make sense.

Tangent 1 (if you will accept that the above material was at all related, if you do not accept that, then likely this is tangent number 3? 4?): Sometimes, I think of a list, something potentially worthy of sharing on my Friendster page. Something to directly share with select folks who will appreciate my list and have lists of their own to contribute.

Best Pizza in NYC- Susan.

Favorite Superhero Costumes- Mike, Ellie.

Most Overlooked, Oscar™ Worthy Performances- Jen F, Susan, Jeremy.

So, when I work on these lists, I start jotting stuff down on a post-it or index card. My desk is covered with them.

So, this list I was thinking of, is applicable here (just stay with me):

My Favorite Scenes in Movies. Scenes that gave me the chills, scenes that stuck with me. Lines I remember. Emotional moments.

Boogie Nights- The scene in the pickup truck. The music, the stuff happening with Roller Girl. I was asked recently what my single favorite movie is. This was my answer. This scene, every time.

The Road- Guy Pearce at the end. I thought about this movie and this scene in particular for months. I still do.

The Third Wheel- Yes, this is a not-very-good movie, and I can’t explain why, but the scene between Phil and Matt Damon’s, there is something about it.

Cars- When Lightning McQueen helps The King finish the race, I cry every time.

The Prestige- Borden’s promise to his daughter as he is about to be hanged.

Fred Claus- “There’s no naughty kids, Nick.”

When I run games, I like to have moments that resonate. I like to have Big Reveals.  I fancy myself a director in this regard.

Consider me Orson Welles or Warren Beatty, I would like to direct myself to Oscar glory!

But, most games don’t let the GM actively play, aside from controlling all the NPCs.

We started playing Monsterhearts at Modern Myths. We played one session for the MythSpoken podcast. The players wanted to play more, as did I. We played a second time, and will be playing again.

One of my frustrations is that I want to play! The Skins are cool. As a GM I am getting used to rolling no dice. Ever. Instead driving the plot by having bad things happen.

But, I will be honest, and for those wondering what the quote at the beginning has to do with anything, I am running the game the way I want.

The setup of how to create threats for the game, and all that never really clicked with me.

I /love/ the game design. But I am ignoring this. My NPCs have skins. They can do cool things. I want to use some of the skins. Screw it. RPG Design is a conversation. Joe Mcdaldno made an awesome game. My players all are eager to play, even though ¾ of theme initially did not want to play! The end of the second session has The Chosen in jail for the murder of the jerky son of a senator, who had attacked the Queen who is the Chosen’s enemy yet who he is attracted to and there are a whole bunch of other plot threads out there that I don’t want to share here, because sharing them would tip my hat to my players. It is a horror game.

My strategy as a GM is always to ask myself how can I make things worse, what is the worst thing I can do to my players. Additionally, I want my games to have moments (see my film list above). Granted, I cannot force a player to say “There are no naughty kids.” Can I have an NPC say it? Will it resonate? I try and integrate scenes and scenarios that will be memorable. The Chosen in the Monsterhearts game, it never crossed my mind he would end up in jail, but it ended up that way, because, well, it was the worst thing. Initially, I was just playing off the idea that although this character, the Queen, Paige, had been chosen by the player of the Chosen to be the  “someone who knows that you’re the Chosen one, and wants you dead. The MC gives them a name and two Strings on you.” But the player was also playing up the fact that his character was attracted to her. So, I thought, how fun would it be if she showed up, asking for his help, and maybe some comforting. I liked the idea of a love/ hate relationship taken to an extreme, of a conflicting agenda.

So, she has a Skin. She is the Queen. Am I treating her like a stolen car? No. I am treating her like a car I spent a lot of money on. She is my dream car. I don’t want anything to happen to her. And what about Jonas, the QB? He has a Skin too, though I can’t tell you what it is. He might be more like a stolen car, because, well, he’s kind of that way. I like flipping through the Skins behind my GM screen, playing off what is there to help me ramp things up!

I am also working towards some stuff. Big stuff. Dark stuff. I am planting bread crumbs, I hope it all comes together beautifully.

Other folks would scold me for the way I have interpreted the running of the Monsterhearts, but everyone at the table is having fun. Isn’t that what it is all about?

 *Jeff Grubb designed and wrote a bunch of cool stuff, but is probably best known for the Classic Marvel Role Playing Game.

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MythSpoken Gaming Special: Monsterhearts

The MythSpoken crew sits down this week and tries out Monsterhearts, the game that lets you tell stories about sexy monsters, teenage angst, personal horror, and secret love triangles. 

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MythSpoken #39: The “Dead means Dead, unless you’re from Riverdale” Episode

The MythSpoken Crew is back and this week talk about Afterlife with Archie, Death in Comics, and the representation of female action heroes in advertising.

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Show Notes

Death & Return of Superman (Fan film by Max Landis)

Wonder Woman #323

Superman #331

Lanky Brunette with a Wicket Jaw

Marvel Promo Posters 

Filo Greek Taverna

Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Book of the Dead 2004 

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