TR Holiday Gift Guide: 10 Awesome RPG-Related Gifts

Friday, November 21, 2014 at 6:00 am

Happy Nerdy Holidays

It's hard to ask for RPG gifts for Christmas. The social stigma is fading year by year, so I no longer fear my parents calling an exorcist over my wish list, but there's still a maze of editions, similar-sounding games and supplements to ask people to dig through. This is in addition to the fact that RPGs still tend to be a little bit hard to find; arguably harder to find now than they were fifteen or so years ago before Barnes & Noble and Borders replaced so many independent booksellers...before closing most of their own locations..

People only have so much spare time, and playing more than one or two systems at once is pretty difficult; even if someone played two different games every week they would be playing at most 8-10 different games in a month, which is only a tiny portion of the massive amount of games available these days. Especially with Kickstarter helping to launch more RPGs than ever and many companies releasing their back catalogs through DrivethruRPG. The point being that it can be harder to find the right RPG for someone than finding a good costume in the New 52.

With all of that said, the list that follows tries to work around these challenges by providing ten system-neutral gifts for the RPG fan in your life. Even if that person is you. I don't judge. Even if I did judge, I probably wouldn't judge this time since I've already bought a lot of these things. They're pretty awesome.

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TR Review: Mockingjay Part 1 Gives You an Appetite for More

Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 5:12 pm


Right now, as we speak, I envision the publicity team for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 holed up in a bunker, multiple computer monitors dead ahead, just watching, and waiting, for the moment the first reviewer calls it "The Empire Strikes Back of The Hunger Games."

Because the movie so, so wants to be that. And not just in the "dark tone, cliffhanger ending" way - President Snow (Donald Sutherland) actually uses a couple of maneuvers from the Emperor Palpatine playbook, while heroine Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence, impressively de-glammed) must figure out how to become the New Hope. Impressive...but this franchise is not a Jedi yet.

Mockingjay Part 1 is the best Hunger Games movie so far, though. And you can quote me on that.

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First Teaser for Telltale Games' Game of Thrones

Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm


They have the actual voice actors for the show - not terribly sure about those likenesses though! I was hoping maybe they'd go for a more comic-book look.

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HBO's Westworld Pilot Greenlit to Series; First Image Tweeted

Monday, November 17, 2014 at 2:10 pm


It's not much of an image, but it doesn't have to be when you're announcing a series written and directed by Jonathan Nolan, executive produced by JJ Abrams, and starring Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Miranda Otto and Rodrigo Santoro.

Westworld, for those who never read the Michael Crichton novel or saw the excellent Yul Brynner movie, is a spiritual predecessor to both The Terminator and Jurassic Park, set in a theme park where people can roleplay as gunslingers, and featuring a malfunctioning robot who starts killing the guests. The nature of the story would typically assume that it covers a one-off event in which the cast is whittled down to one, but as an ongoing series there'll have to be a new angle.

Let's see: Nolan...Abrams..Oh, okay. One of the robots will travel back in time and create itself in the process of trying to stop its own creation. Am I close? Any other guesses?

TR Retro Review: Children of the Corn

Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 1:00 pm


My wife is afraid of horror movies, but she's very curious about them.

When I took her to Paranormal Activity 3, she wanted to leave halfway through. By the time it ended, she wanted to see it again. Taking her to the Nightmare on Elm Street remake was a huge mistake, though - not for the obvious reasons, but because they more explicitly made Freddy an icky rapist rather than just a killer (contrary to what some people remember, the original movies never explicitly said he was a child molester, just a child killer. That distinction makes a difference).

But for Halloween, she was wanting to watch something scary, with the provision that it not be too gory. Looking at what was on Netflix, we settled on Children of the Corn...because I'd never seen it before.

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William Shatner Is Kickstartering a Self-Help Book, Networking Site for 50-Somethings

Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 11:30 am


The best part of the pitch video is when he says he's had to reinvent himself 400 times. I think my favorite reinvention of his is when he went from young, over-dramatic, gesticulating actor to middle-aged, over-dramatic, gesticulating actor. Must have missed the other 399 times.

I'm not sure I need to know William Shatner's career tips, as his career has been so specific to him (SPOILER: he reveals some in the video, like "get an email account" and "have a phone"). I'd rather read a book about how the hell he manages to not look 80. That's a secret worth paying for.

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Final Trailer for The Hobbit: CGI Armies Run at Each Other

Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 10:36 am


"You have but one question to ask: how shall this day end?"

As Gandalf lines go, that one's not particularly strong, because it invites the smartass comeback "Seven different times! Just like the last trilogy!"

Still: Christopher Lee acting like a badass about a fight he's gonna lose! Bats bred for war! I'm trying to be positive. Because the tagline does not, in fact, convince me this is the defining moment for Middle-earth - Isildur not destroying the ring, or Frodo actually doing it...those would be my top two choices for that honor.

Sorry, but I just can't seem to care about giant CGI armies of characters I don't know running into each other. The whole point of these stories is supposed to be that the smallest person can make a difference, so maybe it's all ironic somehow.

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New Into the Woods Trailer Admits It's a Musical, Still Looks Bad

Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 6:00 am


Here's something totally anecdotal: at a recent screening of Big Hero 6, there was an elderly man behind me who apparently worked for Disney, bragging to his companion that he'd seen Into the Woods already, and that he hated the stage musical (because the cows onstage are obviously fake, he noted, whereas a movie can have real cows!) but that he liked the movie. He thought Meryl Streep was great, and said Johnny Depp is basically a glorified cameo.

Because of this, the cow is my favorite part of the trailer. Not that it has any strong competition. Aside from my figuring out that it's a general fairy tale mashup, I still don't really get what the hell's going on, and I feel like a trailer is supposed to clarify that for me. I feel like they rushed the preview online just to beat The Hobbit: Every CGI Thing Onscreen at Once (yes, I watched a bootleg. Yes, every CGI thing is onscreen at once. I'll have the official one up when I see it. Meanwhile you get this thing).

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Somebody Found a Way to Make Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland Even Creepier (Also Entertaining)

Friday, October 31, 2014 at 8:00 am


Take a character from the forced-weirdness, trying-too-hard, "quirky" retelling of Lewis Carroll...then recreate her with a soul-devouring puppet head, several Playing Card soldiers controlled by rods emanating from her outfit, and add disco and dance tunes. This old fashioned feat of engineering, cosplay and dancing ability is immediately way cooler than anything Tim Burton managed to do with all the 3D post-converted CGI in the world.

Just don't stare too long into the eyes you see pictured above. Nothing lives there.

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Ask Luke's Mother-in-Law - Disney Parades and Halloween Cats

Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 8:00 am


Martha Boyd is not just Luke's mother-in-law - she's also an ex-cop, a landlord, a self-described crazy cat lady, a major Star Trek geek and the widow of a green beret. So go ahead: ask her anything. But be nice. Being nuts is okay, though. We're all mad here.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!!!!!!! One of my favorite holidays. Well, last weekend I went to the Anaheim Halloween Parade. It has been going on forever. I remember going to the parade when I was little - we used to go to my Uncle Bill's furniture store on Anaheim Blvd and watch the parade. He was the mayor of Anaheim for several years. No, Mickey Mouse is not the mayor; however, there have been times when that seemed the case. Anyway I included 2 pictures taken at the parade. They did not come out really well - but it was the best I could get with my camera and they were moving pretty fast. One of the pictures is Andy Anaheim done by the Historical Society and the other is Rocket Witch. The parade was nice, but not as good as in other years. The only Anaheim Unified HS band that showed this year was Anaheim HS. We have 10+ high schools in Anaheim and only 1 showed - really?????.

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