Sundays now are lazy days for me. I either post something silly or other people’s work. Usually both. Today, I share a tweet that reminded me of something else. (Image of the tweet appears at the end in case it’s ever deleted. ) To my knowledge, this tweet had nothing to do with RPGs. It was just a ridiculous design made for the sake of ridiculousness.
That said, it instantly triggered an image in my head. Is this the FASA Star Trek RPG equivalent of 3rd Edition D&D‘s roving mauler?
Once I was where I needed to be, I relaxed my dietary restrictions (though I can still say it’s been over five years since I’ve had a soda). I wound up having my first surgery in 2020, and the pandemic shut down all the gyms. Combined with my relaxed diet, the net result was that I fell off the fitness wagon. I’ve since put on far more weight than I wanted, and I haven’t been to the gym in over two months.
This came up yesterday with a coworker. She asked why I haven’t been to the gym in so long. I told her that when I was a kid, I loved going to the top of the Empire State Building, Sears Tower, etc. Unsurprisingly, I always wanted to go to the top of the Washington Monument but never did. Why? Because I lived here. The Washington Monument would always be there tomorrow, so I could put it off another day. And another. And another.
Now I’m less than a week from my 54th birthday, and I’ve still never been to the top of the Washington Monument. The problem is that it’s too easy. When something is too easy, it can be exceptionally hard. That’s what’s happened to my workouts. I bought a home in January and cancelled my gym membership because my HOA comes with a gym. The gym is less than 1/2 mile from my home, is open from 4 am to midnight every day, and is already paid through my dues. I can go there any time I want.
So I never do.
I hope to say that, this morning, all of that changed when I finally got back into the gym.
I don’t have to get up until about 7:50 am every morning to get to work on time, but I’ve been waking up at 6 or 6:30 am without the help of an alarm. (There’s a reason for that.) That gives me at least 80 minutes to get to the gym and do something, so that’s what I’m going to start doing.
A few of weeks ago, I saw The Northman. I loved it but understand that it isn’t for everyone. It’s a Norse tale, which means it doesn’t fit the formula for what sells in Peoria.
The cast was great, but this post isn’t a review. The movie, like several others before it, got me thinking.
I didn’t study mythology because of my interest in 1st Edition D&D (“1e”); it was the other way around. Mythology (and dinosaurs) got me into 1e in the 1970s. I thought, “Wow! I can tell my own stories within these settings and characters?!” However, whether it’s D&D, Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, or Bulfinch’s Mythology, western literature tends to sanitize the characters and their stories. The “good-aligned” deities are often presented as noble, loving, and helpful. There are certainly some exceptions — Zeus was an asshole — but the sense of right and wrong have been aligned at least to some extent to what the modern audience thinks as “good.” We really do make the gods in our own image. The Northman reminds us that the “good guy” is not someone you’d want to marry your daughter. Life was brutal and uncaring back then, and being that way yourself was an effective survival strategy.
That said, there’s a reasonableness to garnering lessons from these myths. In a very narrow, personal way, I relate rather strongly to the protagonist’s backstory (appropriately discussed today). I would never handle our similar predicament in the same way, but the character’s backstory loosely parallels my own. If you dig through the primitive details of the specific culture at hand, you can find some universal truths, or at least something to which you can relate (no more than vaguely, I hope). After all, people take from stories whatever message they want to hear. We tend to cut out the brutality from these stories, and thus also ignore how those that wrote them applied them to real life.
So no, you wouldn’t want to invite any of these ancient people to dinner.
Yeah, I know the history. I saw the 1977 version of this movie on TV as a kid. Then I saw the 1996 version, which is the subject of this post. I know of the disasters that befell the production of the remake. I know that Marlon Brando created a bizarre version of the titular character just to piss off the director. I don’t care. I like this movie and thought Marlon Brando’s interpretation of Dr. Moreau was brilliant.
The doctor was insane, SPOLIER ALERT! genetically experimenting with ordinary animals and turning them into anthropomorphic monstrosities. Well of course he wore an ice bucket on his head. His eccentricity is exactly what you’d expect from such a maniac. His eccentric intensity was hilarious. “Forcefully, forcefully!”
Another scene I loved was SPOLIER ALERT! the one in which he dies.
It demonstrates both his manipulativeness and his arrogance. Rather than panic at the site of his creations in his home, he remained calm waiting for his device that would incapacitate his “children,” distracting them by giving credence to hyena’s random selection of notes banged out on the piano. The look of surprise on his face when SPOLIER ALERT! the device didn’t work was priceless. The conflict between Brando and the director is what gave us the perfect performance for this character.
On top of that, the tension between Kilmer and Brando gave us a great scene where Kilmer ridiculed Brando, which is exactly what you’d expect from an alcoholic, disgruntled employee. Art imitated life here, and it was marvelous.
The lead, played by David Thewlis, was terrible. Thewlis isn’t a bad actor, but he was much younger then, so maybe it was his fault, the screenwriter’s fault, or both. Either way, I agree that his performance was a weakness, but that’s all I’ll concede.
And with that, my streak of posting on consecutive days dies at 374.
This is an appropriate day to be discussing monsters and things that should die.
D&D didn’t get me into mythology; mythology got me into D&D. I loved mythology as a kid (still do), so I loved the idea of playing a game that allowed me to write stories within those worlds. The MCU is now getting deeper into the mix with Egyptian gods in Moon Knight, Greek and Egyptian gods (and maybe others) in Thor: Love and Thunder, and perhaps more in Black Panther 2 and others further down the pike.
Sundays now are lazy days for me. I either post something silly or other people’s work. Usually both. Today, in the final stages of the death of my year-long streak of daily posts, I return to Star Trek. (Star Trek Sunday? Is that a thing?)
Not everything seen as certain death is necessarily the end. There’s often a way out.
Okay, I admit this turns out to be a bad example for inspiring hope in the face of likely death. Plus, perhaps the wrong [guy] died.
Remember, no one’s really dying. It’s just the end of a streak.
Today, I kick off my death theme for the last throes of my one-year streak of daily posting to this blog, I’m going to reiterate and summarize the content from a couple other posts. More detail on my positions can be found by clicking through.
I’ve spoken about how dumb I feel the save or die mechanic is (though my stance has softened a bit since I wrote that and started playing 1st Edition D&D [“1e“]). Moreover, in that same post I’ve talked about how much I enjoy the way 4th Edition D&D (“4e”) applied their remedial mechanic (“save three times or die”) to one of my favorite creatures, the medusa: slowed on first failed save, immobilized on the second failed save, and petrified on the third failed save. In fact, I’ve adapted that mechanic to my medusa in my 1e game simply because I enjoy it. Even if you prefer save or die, petrification is far more dramatic when the character (and player) can feel it slowly taking over. That’s dramatic and immersive.
All that said, I never understood the aversion modern gamers have towards character death (at least among those that play D&D). I have a friend who refused to kill my character even though he knew I didn’t mind it. He minded. There are two reasons I’m completely okay with character death. First, without risk, the reward loses meaning (at least to anyone with an ego). Second, as with other forms of failure, it presents new opportunities. I can switch to playing a completely different character before having the chance to grow tired of the now-dead character. Moreover, the one time I convinced that friend to kill one of my characters, it was because I wasn’t enjoying playing the character. This character is the brother of two of my other characters, one of whom I played as recently as this year’s Winter Fantasy. His death was not only heroic, but has now enhanced my other characters’ backstories. Win-win. Besides, it’s not as if anyone is actually dying. This is a fantasy world and should be viewed as such.
Now, all that said, we can have overkill. I was in a 4e Dark Sun campaign where, over 9 weeks of gaming, I lost five characters. My barbarian died in week one, so I rolled up a new character that lasted two weeks, then another that lasted two weeks, and so on. Each of those deaths meant that I had to write one of my one-page-or-more backstories. To paraphrase a friend, I shouldn’t have to write that much for you unless the result is money or a university degree. Full disclosure: One of my characters was a reanimated revenant of the one that died the week prior. So, I prefer a balance between the two rather than choosing one at the exclusion of the other. As with most things, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
I got up at 5:30 am this morning to see the second season finale of Picard and the series premiere of Strange New Worlds. As to the latter, I haven’t been this excited for a Star Trek series since Next Generation was announced. First, it’s purported to be a return to the episodic format that I prefer (though I hear there will be an larger, overlayed story, which is fine). Second — I never thought I’d say this — Anson Mount’s Captain Pike has overtaken William Shatner’s Captain Kirk as my favorite Captain.
This still looks like a large, ensemble cast, so it won’t likely take over as my favorite series, but you never know. It certainly started off great. TOS is back, but without all the cheesy, 60s-era TV technology that the young-uns can’t seem to get past. Also, season2 of Picard ended today, and I was pretty happy with that as well. Here’s a spoiler for the last episode.