Matt

Feb 122014
 

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With the Star Wars franchise changing ownership, and rumors of a massive overhaul of the EU underway, the time has come to reflect on new ways the owners of the Star Wars universe can reach out to its fans-both old and new.

As the setting is in a universe with tens of thousands of planets, a population of trillions, and a clean slate on post-Endor history, Star Wars developers hold the key to a writers wet dream. In the near future, these developers will need to decide what platforms would be best to reach fans and keep the setting both prolific and profitable.

While I would argue that video games, comics, and books make for ideal platforms, the main platform I propose they consider would include the creation of a live-action Star Wars TV series. TV series are great platforms for the creation of canonical storyline and presenting them to the masses in an entertaining and (hopefully) intellectual manner (like with Star Trek series, Star Wars Clone Wars). Technology is finally at a stage to give good, cheap lightsaber scenes (like with that youtube kid jumping around in his garage), and great ship battles (such as with Battlestar Galactica, DS9, and Stargate).

A Star Wars live-action TV series could give fans what its movies cannot–a story much smaller in scope than the move story lines but one that still offers us Star Wars flavor. Like Star Trek, they could produce series in different sections (quadrants, for you trekkies) of the galaxy, with overlapping or separate timelines. Despite the Star Wars universe being a Kardashev III civilization, even a regional or planetary based show could be made to feel important to its audience. The added benefit to this would be expanding on the cast of canonical characters that could then be used in later movies. These small budget series could pave the way to large budget films the the audience will (again, hopefully) know and love the characters, like with Whedon’s Firefly and Serenity.

I certainly hope this argument is something that the powers-that-be come across and consider. I love the Star Wars universe, and I would love for my children to say the same. They need only take the setting and combine it with the best loved of sci-fi our various generations–Firefly’s dialogue, Star Trek’s intellect and diplomacy, Battlestar’s dramatic twists and finales’, and naturally, the lightsaber.

At a cross roads, Star Wars is. Choose wisely, they must.

Jan 092014
 

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I had the chance to experience Shadowrun 4th edition recently, giving me a fresh insight into a well-known tabletop game. Shadowrun is a D6 game system set in a post-modern, corporate-run, urban environment that is the perfect breeding ground for the hybrid of near-future tech with a dungeon-crawling fantasy campaign.

While set in a fantasy environment, Shadowrun offers its users the technology of the not-so-distant future, and does a good job in keeping level-headed about the advancement of said technology.  The designers introduced a well-formulated timeline that allows the players to maintain a good grasp on world events—but is still general enough as to not completely define character biographies (just provide an outline).

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Shadowrun has numerous positive qualities and very little in the way of drawbacks. Here are a few of my thoughts on each:

Positive

Shadowrun offers a brilliant, though complicated, character creation system that lets the player micromanage his character’s build. The writers did incorporate a great step-by-step that helps lay out build costs and points out where to turn to in the book for specifics.

Numerous pre-generated PCs and NPCs are in the book. This comes in handy for quick-start campaigns, lazy GMs/players, and character build reference points.

In-depth combat system incorporates numerous rules to add a level of ‘realism’ to your table-top battle.

Negatives

As I mentioned above, this system is complicated. Learning the rules will be a real chore. Your first few sessions will be rather slow as you read through the book looking for various rules. So make sure to have a practice session, as my GM did. Or at maybe a character building fiesta? Like a scrap book party for us nerds, right?

Some rules are hard to find. A few rules—item specific ones come to mind—are listed in combat rather than in the item description. This can be infuriatingly sucky if you built your PC with these items in mind.

Finally, this system uses a lot of GM fiat. This can be either a major positive point, or a horrendously negative one depending on the GM. While fiat can be great for a level-headed GM, it can be the worst if the GM is out to get the PC—or perhaps, have secretly decided you’ll be the comic relief/red shirt of the group. A pretty  major concern to consider is that leveling is also GM-dependent. Basic rewards for your run-of-the-mill campaigns, but additional points can be offered by roleplaying, etc.

In the end, I give Shadowrun the Matt Seal of Approval. I delved deeply into these books when the opportunity came and I liked what I saw. I won’t recommend it to newer groups—mainly because of the complicated combat systems—but I would definitely recommend it to everyone else.