Monday, April 27, 2015

Elements of a Homebrewed Campaign

I've been giving some thought lately to setting up a homebrew campaign for some 1st Edition gaming. I'm a big proponent of Gygax's "bulls-eye" method of campaign design; sketch out the broader world first, and then do ever-more-detailed descriptions of a given area, until you've gotten down to the individual village or town that the PCs will be starting off in. This gives you a good idea of what's around them, and makes it easier to write new things when the PCs start to move around.

Here are some things that I want to include (or am at least considering including) in this process:

  • Areas for at least five different civilizations (European Feudal, Chinese, Japanese, Middle-eastern, and Indian)
  • Remnants of an ancient and more advanced civilization, half-remembered, with the idea that there are constant attempts to return to that "golden age"
  • An area where there is a frontier, into which civilization is slowly spreading, requiring adventurer types to scout and clear regions before settlers begin to arrive
  • That frontier area may be linked directly to that lost civilization, or may not, depending on how it plays out in the design phase
  • Intrigue on a political as well as religious plane; true religious animosities and schisms should be present to provide difficulties and opportunities for the PCs
  • Perhaps have the pantheons of the different religions all be "echoes" of the One True Religion which the ancient civilization practiced (deities are similar, but not identical, across pantheons)
  • Opportunities for large-scale wargaming to be played out with miniatures
Comments welcome. Would this be the sort of world you'd like to game in?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD getting spinoff

Entertainment Weekly is reporting an exclusive story - Marvel's Agents of SHIELD is getting a spinoff show next year (which pretty much means a third season is a given). That, and there's a 60% chance that the excellent Peggy Carter will also be getting another at-bat, probably during AoS's mid-season hiatus (but that's a topic for another post).

Naturally, there's already a lot of speculation about what that spinoff show will feature, but the EW article has this to say:
We don’t know is which characters from the current series will be moving over to the proposed spinoff – so let the speculation being on that. There won’t be an implanted pilot episode this season directly setting up the spinoff, either (like how CW launched The Flash out of Arrow). However, story elements that are still to come on SHIELD this year will be used to lay the groundwork for the potential new series. So by the end of the season – assuming the details for this project haven’t already leaked, which is rather unlikely – the spinoff concept should be clear.
Now that's interesting: "story elements that are still to come on SHIELD this year." We know there are going to be 22 episodes of Season 2, and we know that 4 of those episodes are going to be broadcast (and therefore, presumably, take place) after Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. And it's been confirmed that there will be some direct tie-ins between the television show and the movie, not as drastic as the changes that Captain America: The Winter Soldier wrought, but they will be there.

So given those two elements, I think it's safe to assume that the spinoff series is going to have something to do with the impact of Avengers 2 on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The question is, what could that be?

We've seen all sorts of rumors about some major (female) character who will be introduced. And there were photos of Tony Stark, Captain America, and Thor conversing while a bunch of SHIELD recruits were training in the background (running on a track). So my theory, and it's just a theory and based on a whoooole lotta guesswork, is that by the end of the movie we're either going to see SHIELD reconstituted as a single entity, no longer on the run from the authorities, but no longer the omniscient and omnipotent organization it was under Nick Fury (there is precedent; Tony Stark was the director of SHIELD for a while in the comics, and doing that would nicely set up next year's Captain America 3: Civil War), or some sort of successor organization would be set up along similar lines (SWORD, for example), or both.

Now, in the comic books, SWORD is sort of like SHIELD, but deals more specifically with alien incursions and the like. That would fit in well with the idea that there is now a recognized "alien problem" (first the Chitauri, then the Kree-DNA-enhanced Inhumans, and then the Chitauri-technology-enhanced Ultron*), and would provide a nice symmetry with the parent show in terms of names.

"Marvel's Soldiers of SWORD." has a nice ring to it, and would also lead well into Phase 3 of the MCU's master plan, which looks to be more outer-space focused, with six out of the nine planned films having something to do with the galactic side of the MCU. Plus, it would give Marvel a chance to bring in a lot more of their huge universe of galactic races and characters (the Skrulls are unfortunately out, but there are tons of others, like the Badoon or the Dire Wraiths) including the possibility of giving some deep Kree backstory for films like Captain Marvel or Inhumans, which could then be spared the necessity of lots of exposition.

UPDATE: Nope. Looks like the spinoff is going to be about Mockingbird and her ex-husband. Although there's some mysterious third Marvel TV show in the works as well, apparently...

* Not a spoiler, just a wild guess based on what I've seen in the trailers.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Apparently this is some sort of holiday...

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. --Matthew 27:51-53