All posts by Scott Woodard

STUFF: KRULL – A WORLD LIGHT YEARS BEYOND YOUR IMAGINATION

avatar-scottwoodardOn this day back in 1983, science fiction and fantasy fans excitedly rushed to movie theaters to feast their eyes on a new cinematic marvel titled KRULL! The trailer (see below) suggested a world of myth and magic featuring a ragtag band of heroes in the mold of a typical DUNGEONS & DRAGONS adventuring party doing battle with fearsome enemies in exotic locations.

With an impressive (especially for the time) budget of $27 million, KRULL was a well-financed epic that so desperately wanted to be the next STAR WARS, but alas, that was not to be. Despite the budget, rather impressive special effects, superb cinematography at the hands of veteran Director of Photography Peter Suschitzky (STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK), and a talented and attractive cast, the film was considered a box office failure and the hope for sequels and extensive lines of merchandise was squashed. For example, while a line of 3-1/4″ action figures was commissioned (with prototypes by G.I. JOE sculptor Bill Merklein), the line was cancelled. We did, however, get a boardgame and card game (both from Parker Bros.), a decent cartridge for the Atari 2600, and even a stand-up arcade videogame!

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As for DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, rumor has it that early on the film was intended to be the official tie-in movie for the game. In 2007 however, the late Gary Gygax (co-creator of D&D) said in an interview: “To the best of my knowledge and belief, the producers of KRULL never approached TSR for a license to enable their film to use the D&D game IP.”

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While KRULL certainly has its flaws, there are plenty of other charming and even outright impressive elements that make it worth viewing. The sequences with the fire mares – gorgeous Clydesdale horses – are stunning; Lysette Anthony is adorable as Lyssa, although you might be surprised (as was Anthony) to learn that all her lines were dubbed by American actress Lindsay Crouse; and the sweeping score by James Horner is not to be missed and might well find its place in your game table soundtrack! And keep your eyes peeled for appearances by two young, fresh-faced actors named Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane!

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To learn a lot more about this film, check out CINEMA AND SORCERY: THE COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO FANTASY FILM – written by G2V’s very own Scott Woodard (that’s me!) and Arnold T. Blumberg – in either print or e-book!

HELP US BY ORDERING THE MOVIE VIA THIS LINK!

GAMING: WHERE NO GAMER HAS GAMED BEFORE

avatar-scottwoodardThe history of STAR TREK tabletop roleplaying games is a long and complicated one stretching all the way back to 1978 with STAR TREK: ADVENTURE GAMING IN THE FINAL FRONTIER, published by Heritage Models.

Recently, Modiphius Entertainment announced a brand new RPG titled STAR TREK ADVENTURES, set to release in 2017. While we anxiously await this new line, let’s fly our Klingon Bird of Prey around the sun and take a little stroll through the history of STAR TREK roleplaying games!

STAR TREK: ADVENTURE GAMING IN THE FINAL FRONTIER

HeritageModelsReleased in 1978 by Heritage Models, this game was written by Michael Scott and included material from both the original and animated series. The focus of the game was on landing party missions, and there were no rules provided for starship combat. A fairly extensive line of miniatures was also released for the game that included Starfleet officers, Klingons, Romulans, and a number of other alien races. Publication lasted only a short while before Heritage lost the license. Scott later revised the game with some upgrades in 1982 under the name STARFLEET VOYAGES from Terra Games Company.

STAR TREK: THE ROLEPLAYING GAME

FASA1982 saw the release of one of the most famous and longest-surviving STAR TREK RPGs. Published by FASA Corporation and developed by Guy McLimore Jr., Greg Poehlein, and David F. Tepool, this boxed set launched with great fanfare and wound up lasting all the way through 1989, even spawning a couple supplements for THE NEXT GENERATION). The original set contained three books as well as two counter sheets and dice. Dozens of supplements and adventures were released, as well as tie-in board games, tactical games, and miniatures.

PRIME DIRECTIVE

Task Force_AmarilloIn 1993, the company behind the long-running STAR FLEET BATTLES tactical combat game – Task Force Games/Amarillo Design Bureau – released an RPG set in their alternate TREK timeline based almost exclusively on the STAR FLEET TECHNICAL MANUAL (remember that book with its black vinyl binding)? Thanks to a hazy deal between the creator of that book (Franz Joseph) and STAR TREK series creator Gene Roddenberry, Task Force Games (later Amarillo Design Bureau) was able to publish games using material from that book without interference from Paramount Pictures. PRIME DIRECTIVE was their Star Fleet Universe RPG, and while the original version used their own d6-based system, GURPS and d20 versions of the game have been published. To date, PRIME DIRECTIVE is still very much alive, and if you’re interested in a more militaristic TREK variant, you can order the game (and numerous supplements) directly from ADB’s online store.

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION ROLE-PLAYING GAME

LastUnicorn_TNGLastUnicorn_DS9LastUnicorn_TOSReleased in 1998 four years after TNG left our screens, this release from Last Unicorn Games was designed by Christian Moore, Ross Isaacs, Kenneth Hite, and Steven S. Long. It was a lavish, full-color hardcover volume that used their in-house Icon system and also led to the release of the STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE ROLE-PLAYING GAME and STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES ROLE-PLAYING GAME. A VOYAGER game was ready for release before Last Unicorn Games was gobbled up by Wizards of the Coast in 2000. Like other TREK games before them, these titles were also supported with some terrific supplemental material.

STAR TREK ROLEPLAYING GAME

DecipherBased around Decipher Inc.’s CODA game system (the same one Decipher used in their LORD OF THE RINGS line), this 2002 release was a nice effort from a company who was known more at the time for their licensed collectible card games. The game was designed by a number of folks, including a few who had recently worked on the TREK products from Last Unicorn. While a handful of impressive supplements were published, Decipher shut down its RPG division in 2007 and the STAR TREK ROLEPLAYING GAME was no more.

STAR TREK ADVENTURES

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Returning to the present day – and yes, we were able to save the whales on our way back – Modiphius Entertainment will soon be unleashing STAR TREK ADVENTURES in 2017! From what little we know, the game will utilize their 2d20 system, which was designed by Jay Little and used for most of their other games, including MUTANT CHRONICLES, INFINITY, CONAN, and JOHN CARTER OF MARS.

The game will include material from the original series, NEXT GENERATION, DEEP SPACE NINE, VOYAGER, and ENTERPRISE, as well as all of the original crew and TNG movies; fans seeking material from the J.J. Abrams/Kelvin Timeline will be out of luck! Modiphius will also be producing a line of 32mm miniatures, including characters and crews, boarding parties, and away teams, as well as a selection of geomorphic tile maps.

We certainly look forward to experiencing all new tabletop adventures in the Final Frontier! Until then, be sure to swing by Modiphius’ booth at GenCon for more information, and may STAR TREK ADVENTURES live long and prosper!

GAMING: TALKIN’ TRASH MOBS WITH ARTIST JESS JENNINGS

avatar-scottwoodardIf you’re a Dungeon Master who’s been looking for some new and inexpensive options for tabletop miniatures, there’s a new game in town in the form of TRASH MOB MINIS from artist Jess Jennings!

Recently, I caught up with Jess to find out a little bit about him and his new line of print and play miniatures. Jess is no stranger to G2V Productions; he created the caricatures of Arnold and me that you see all over G2VPodcast.com and our various social media accounts. Read on for our full chat, and click here to order your own sets of TRASH MOB MINIS!

G2V: Jess, thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to chat with us about TRASH MOB MINIS. What’s your background and what inspired your very unique style?
Jess Jennings: I have an animation degree, so I tend draw like an animator, focusing more on pose and silhouette to capture a character, and minimizing as much “interior” detail as possible. I find that this translates really well to paper miniatures, because individual scales on a 2-inch tall dinosaur might not look all that great when printed.

What motivated you to create TRASH MOB MINIS?
Aside from simply wanting to draw tons of monsters, I wanted to solve some problems I’ve encountered in my nineteen years of tabletop gaming, the rising cost of miniatures being an obvious one. I want to provide gamers with the exact mobs they need without worrying about the price. A small bonus attached to playing with minis from a PDF is that if your models get lost, stolen, or destroyed, it’s no big deal. You just print out and assemble some more.

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Another thing I set out to do with the line was offer a simple tracking method for Dungeon Masters. It seemed that whenever our adventure party would encounter hordes of trash mobs, it often became difficult keeping track of all the identical monsters on the table. To help with this, I include different colored base discs with every set, so the DM can easily track which monster is being targeted by their base color. Last February, I posted some of my test builds on Tumblr, and a member of the Cardboard Warriors forum pointed me towards an entire community of paper modelers. They’ve really been great at helping me and encouraging me to publish.

How many mini sets can we expect to see in the coming months?
Two sets are already live and can be purchased right now: The Goblins: Army Pack and the Scales & Slime: Theme Pack. I have six other sets that are in various stages of development. I’m aiming to release at least one set a month. There are some really great monsters on deck, and lots of classic mobs like orcs and kobolds to look forward to. I have some more advanced sets planned as well, like a dragon model kit, and cavalry sets with removable riders.

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How difficult is it to construct these figures? What sort of tools does one need to build them?
I wouldn’t say these models are all that difficult to construct, but they do take a little skill and patience to put together, especially for the smaller creatures. Fortunately, many figures come printed on each page, so novice modelers have plenty of guys to practice on. Everything you need to make a mini can be found at any local craft store: A pair of good scissors, an X-Acto knife and plenty of spare blades, a glue stick, and a black magic marker or brush pen for edging. I also glue all my bases to cereal box cardboard before I cut them out. Even if you don’t have a printer, that’s not a problem. I actually do all my final test prints at a local FedEx Office on white card stock.

Can people contact you with suggestions for future models?
Absolutely! The best way to contact me is through Twitter: @TrashMobMinis. I’d love to hear what monsters you guys want to build/field. If I get enough requests for the same creature, there’s a very good chance it will show up in a future set!

Finally and most importantly, where can we find TRASH MOB MINIS?
The TRASH MOB MINIS PDFs are sold exclusively through DriveThruRPG. Print out some monsters and populate your battlefield…and don’t forget to share your photos!

GAMING: BRING SOME CINEMATIC SORCERY TO YOUR FANTASY RPGS WITH THESE 5 MYTHICAL MOVIE OBJECTS

avatar-scottwoodardWay back in 2011 (what we sometimes refer to as “The Time of Legends”), when my co-author Arnold T. Blumberg and I first started designing the tome that would eventually become CINEMA AND SORCERY: THE COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO FANTASY FILM, there were a couple gaming-focused sections I insisted we include in each of the 50 detailed chapters. One of these, titled “This Year in Gaming,” would offer a little game industry history regarding the film’s year of release, while another, “Take Up Thy Sword,” would present information about a specific monster, item, location, character, or weapon that appeared in the film with just enough material to allow a particularly adept game master to lift it from the pages of the book and drop it into his or her campaign.

Presented here are five of those 50 entries. Most are fairly obvious choices, at least one might surprise you, and one other may be from a film from the early ’80s that slipped under your radar. It is our hope that readers of our book will be inspired to seek out some of these movies, even those we might not have spoken of very highly. Just because we consider one film to be a total stinker doesn’t mean you won’t find it a laugh riot worthy of a drunken movie night with a few friends!

For a variety of reasons, we opted to avoid specific references and names for the things described in the actual book, but for this article, I’m throwing aside that veil of cinematic secrecy!

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The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog from MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1975)

(Monster) Due to its diminutive size (and its lightning-fast speed), the rabbit is a difficult target to hit. When the killer rabbit attacks, a critical result decapitates any foe of up to medium (human) size, regardless of type or quality of armor. Even the rabbit’s regular attack inflicts twice as much damage as that of a typical longsword.

The killer rabbit is not worth screwing with. Employed by various madmen and ill-tempered beasts throughout the ages, the rabbit is quite possibly the greatest guardian that ever lived. It’s fast. It’s vicious. It’s cute as a wee little button. Know this: if ye be brave enough to challenge it, you’ll need a spare suit of armor—unless, of course, you lose your head!

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Bubo from CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981)

(Divine Construct and Mechanical Familiar) Constructed by Hephaestus as a mechanical replacement for the goddess Athena’s flesh-and-blood owl, this device is an all-seeing and all-knowing divine automaton. As a gift of the gods, the owl can communicate with anyone to whom it is bound, as if hearing and speaking the same language. (To all others, the automaton sounds as if it emits a series of whirs, buzzes, and clanks.) The owl can provide information (transmitted directly from the gods) and can scout when stealth (or a diminutive reconnoiterer) is required. The owl is either a familiar or a companion.

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Lightsaber from STAR WARS (1977)

(Magic Weapon) While inactive, this rare weapon resembles a bladeless hilt. When energized (a standard-use magic-item action for unskilled wielders), it appears as a sword-shaped beam of light. Depending on which crystals the wielder employs to focus mystical energies, the generated “blade” of the weapon can vary in hue. Emerald green and sapphire blue are common within one order. Antagonistic sects typically wield ruby red.

In the hands of wielder not specifically trained in its use, the Saber behaves as a longsword. In the hands of a skilled knight of a dedicated order, it behaves as a rapier in regard to weight and speed, with a damage rating twice that of an ordinary rapier.

A knight with particular sensitivity to the relevant magical forces can wield the Saber without penalties for weight or speed, because the weapon becomes a supernatural extension of mind and body. The knight can also energize or deactivate the weapon as a free action. Such sensitivity also negates the potential for critical fumbles and personal injury. If crafted by the wielder—a feat best left to those with significant experience—the Saber gains slight bonuses to both attacks and damage.

When the weapon is in its active state, its glow provides light akin to that of a torch and thus betrays the presence of a wielder attempting a stealthy approach. The weapon’s constant emission of a low, otherworldly hum also jeopardizes such clandestine operations. Lastly, the blade generates incredible heat, so it can ignite flammable materials and instantly cauterizes any wound it causes.

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The Glaive from KRULL (1983)

(Magic Weapon) An ancient item of unknown origin, this artifact is a formidable magical weapon in the hands of the right person. Weighing roughly two pounds, it possesses the power to strike an enemy or enemies and return to its wielder.

In its neutral state, it appears as a bejeweled, five-pointed star: a sort of golden starfish. When activated, two-inch blades spring out from the end of each spoke. The star’s wielder throws it at the target in a spinning motion—a ranged missile attack. It returns after each throw unless the attack roll is a critical success or a critical failure, in which case the weapon either remains stuck in the target, inflicting significant damage, or falls to the floor, unmoving. The wielder can then recover and reuse it as usual.

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The Tri-Bladed Sword from THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER (1982)

(Magic Weapon) In the hands of someone of lesser strength or skill, the tri-bladed sword is an unwieldy beast, weighing as much as a two-handed sword when all three blades are present. Thus, a median penalty applies to all melee attacks. Someone with the skill—and superior strength—can use it to deal damage equivalent to that of a broadsword.

Two spring-loaded flanking blades are what make the tri-bladed sword special. The wielder activates them by depressing release catches positioned on the grip just below the cross-guard. When launched, the blades rocket through the air and can strike targets up to fifty feet away, each inflicting damage equivalent to that of a two-handed spear. Once both blades fire, the remaining center blade functions as a standard longsword. Lastly, the wielder can withdraw the grip from the base of the central blade, revealing a short sword…ideal for sneak attacks!

As for the weapon’s enchantments, it magically regenerates its missing blades…over a significant period of time: hours or even days. Also, this regenerative force expands into the body of the weapon’s owner, with a healing energy capable of curing minor wounds per the game system’s equivalent healing spell.