Saturday, 12 March 2022

Meanwhile in Mega City 1 - Prog 5: A Cloning Conundrum

 Meanwhile in Mega City 1

Meanwhile in Mega City One is a roleplaying game which takes place every Friday Night at Dragons Keep Roleplay Club in Chislehurst, South East London. 

Cast

  • Judge Cully - A no-nonsense female street judge with a penchant for heavy weapons - Kat
  • Judge Krush - A hard as nails street judge who goes by the book - Steve
  • Judge Swiss - A rookie street Judge - Alex
  • Psi Judge Pike - A Psi Division rookie Judge - Conor

Seven Young Problems

Confronted by seven vulnerable young girls Judge Cully does not call it in.  She tells the kids to be quiet and stay hidden.  She then returns to the patrol and tells them that the stairs led to a lab whihc was destroyed.

Pike calls in a meatwagon to bag the perp and they head off to follow up on their other cloning lead Dr Steve Ein.

The Ein Residence - Stallone Block

At 1800 hrs they find themselves outside the door of apartment 118-1.  Swiss knocks on the door and Dr Ein lets them in.  Krush immediately starts scanning the apartment for drugs and guns.  Pike checks out the nearest door which opens into a walkin closet.  Swiss and Cully interrogate Ein.

118-1 Stallone Block

Dr Ein is a very cooperative citizen and tells them that since being released from the isocubes he has not been contacted by anyone to undertake any cloning work.  He has done some freelancing for Prof. Ose over at the Felix labs where his knowledge of the Quantum Recombinator 3000 was useful in synthesising some Pineapple DNA but other than that he has been largely unemployed.  He offers up a couple of names Dr Hideki Pho and Danish Tokopi who would have been able to clone a cat.  Pho died a few months back when he cloned a wooly mammoth which then stepped on him.  His assistant Tokopi was arrested and is currently in the isocubes doing a long stretch.  Funny thing is that the mammoth was only supposed to be 8 inches tall not 8 metres tall.  It survives in the Alien Zoo and is apparently quite the attraction.

He asks who gave you his name and proceeds to go on quite the rant about Dr Rank's abilities in the field and how he would clone his own grandmother if there was a cred in it.  

Satisfied that there is nothing of interest in the closet Pike proceeds to mind read Dr Ein and confirms that he knows nothing about Miss Wildenstein or Mr Blofeldt.  His story checks out.

On the Balcony Judge Krush spots a perp liberally dousing an aprtment in Chan Block opposite with CHOO2 from a jerry-can.  The punk is wearing Cobra colours (a Stallone Block gang) and clearly this is a prescursor to a full scale Block War, so he calls it in. 

Pike proceeds to check out the upstairs rooms.  As he enters the bedroom he sees a figure dressed similarly to Dr Ein wearing a leather flying helmet clamber over the balcony balustrade and fall with a scream.

On the lower floor Krush, Cully and Swiss see a black shape fall from balcony above and dissapear out of sight.  Moments later with a woosh the figure opens his arms revealing bat wings and he floats away gracefully.  A batter.

Dr Ein comments "that that was my brother Dave, he doesn't like people and so he often goes batting when I have guests round."

Swiss checks with MAC and confirms that the residence houses two Ein Brothers. 

An H-Wagon turns up outside Chan Block.

"Put the can down punk and put your hands in the air, you are under arrest for attempted arson"

"Loose the shooter scum and we'll take you in alive"  

BANG 

"Wrong move punk"

The H-Wagon strafes the CHOO2 soaked appartment with it's cannon and it promptly explodes.  In moments it is reduced to a smouldering ruin.  Floating over to the balcony where Judge Krush stands surveying the scene, a head pops out of the commanders cupola, Judge Luminum exchanges words with Krush.  

"Good call Krush, we are seeing more activity from these gangers and expect things to get real drokkin dicey in the next couple of days."

As they wrap up their investigation and head back to the sector house a passing advertising train blares out an advertisement.

SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY, LIVE AT THE BERLUSCONI COLLISEUM, KAT KITTEN & THE POWER CONVERTERS FREE CONCERT, LAUNCHING THEIR DEBUT SINGLE --- DONT STOP BY ME NOW --- DOORS OPEN AT 3PM --- BROUGHT TO YOU BY SIMON POWERS ENTERTAINMENT

Back to the Sector House

As they roll into the motorpool Judge Belloch greets them and asks Cully and Krush how the new recruits are doing.  He also asks if they found any evidence of other people living at the Rank residence as the Forensics team suspects there were 6 or 7 people living there.  Cully says no just the one perp who they put on ice.  Belloch tells Pike that Judge Quincy is expecting them in the morgue.

Down in the morgue Judge Quincy leads a team of dedicated pathology lab full of Med Teks who are skilled in Foresensic Science.  He claims that the Wildenstein woman was attacked.  She had signs of mild strangulation possibly by a pearl necklace and that under her fingernails were skin fragments which suggest she may have scratched the face of her attacker.  It's definitely murder.

Swiss opines that maybe Wildenstein had an agent and proceeds to scour through her email records.  He comes up with a name Jerry MacGuire and the address 483-26 Trump Tower.

Cully suggests that tomorrow they go back and see what Slute and Flute have uncovered.  She retires to her dorm room and looks for possible orphanages to turn over the seven girls to.  Miss Hannigan's Home for Waifs and Stray's looks promising and is nearby in Ozzy Apts.  

BACK ISSUES

Sunday, 6 March 2022

Meanwhile in Mega City 1 - Prog 4: Pet Food Shenanigans?

Meanwhile in Mega City One is a roleplaying game which takes place every Friday Night at Dragons Keep Roleplay Club in Chislehurst, South East London. 

Cast

  • Judge Cully - A no-nonsense female street judge with a penchant for heavy weapons - Kat
  • Judge Krush - A hard as nails street judge who goes by the book - Steve
  • Judge Swiss - A rookie street Judge - Alex
  • Psi Judge Pike - A Psi Division rookie Judge - Conor

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

The patrol spends the next two hours investigating the aftermath of the boinging attack.

Considering their possible leads in the Wildenstein murder case they:

  1. Investigate Felix Pet Foods to see if there was a possible motive.
  2. Go back to Sector House and
  3. Go to The Jungle and interrogate the apes

Swiss contact Control and orders that Wildenstein's email accounts are sanctioned for evidence.  Felix Pet Foods is located in Elon Tusk Industrial Park A-235.  An unexpected hailstorm occurs at 15:30 lasting approximately 5 minutes. 

They arrive at the factory at 16:00 and are met by the Operations Director Victor Froome who proceeds to give them a tour.  When he hears that Miss Wildenstein is dead he is visibly moved.  Pike only reads his surface thoughts which seem to back up his body language.  When quizzed about the exact details of the prize contract, Froome confirms that the prize winner could purchase any felix cat food product for free with the presentation of an ID card for the lifetime of the cat.  The cat was subjected to a regular barrage of tests including a DNA test. 

Prof. Dexter Ose
Prof. Dexter Ose
He takes thenm up to the lab and introduces them to Prof. Dexter Ose who leads the companies R&D facilities.  Prof. Ose tells them that he personally conducted the tests on Mr.Blomfeldt.  Asked if the cat could have been cloned he says that's ridiculous, who would go to the trouble of having their pet cloned.  

Froome is excited to tell his team of crack lawyers of Miss Wildenstein's death and tells them to come up to the lab.  A few moments later a community of chimpannzees wearing suits and carrying typewriters bursts into the room.  The Judges leave but Pike and Scully suspect that Professor Ose has an ulterior motive.  

Pike contacts Control for a list of know cloners in the sector.  Moments later a list appears on his HUD.

  1. Dr. Eff Rank - 571-49-Benny-Hill-Block
  2. Dr. Steve Ein - 118-1-Stallone-Block
  3. Prof. Xero X - Isocube
  4. Dr. Hideki Pho - deceased
  5. Danish Tokopi - Isocube

They decide to pay Dr. Rank a visit.

Benny Hill Block

An hour later the judges are knocking on Dr Rank's door.  They can hear multiple quiet voices inside.  Dr Rank unlocks the door but keeps it on the chain preferring to have a conversation through a two inch gap.

Dr. Eff Rank
Dr Eff Rank

He tells them that he doesn't do cloning anymore and that he wouldn't waste his time on pets in any case.  That is the preserve of crazy people like his closest rival Dr Ein.  The fate of the human race hangs in the balance and if we don't solve the problems of human cloning then we will be unable to survive The Great Barrier and colonize the Galaxy.

His obsession with space colonisation is apparently the reason his wife and children left him when he returned from his time in the isocubes a few years ago.

After a short and frustrating conversation Krush kicks in the door smashing Rank in the face and making him stumble back into a glass topped table whihc shatters.

Rank is helped onto the sofa to recuperate whilst the Judges continue to blitz his apartment.  They find 8 toothbrushes in the bathroom, a pair of childrens shoes in a bedroom and food in the fridge labelled with the days of the week.

Prof Eff Ranks Apartment
Professor Eff Rank's Apartment - 571-49 Benny Hill Block

Krush checks out Bedroom 3 and in passing switches off the TV which was advertising a live concert on Sunday by the latest Simon Powers girl group Kat Kitten and The Power Converters. 

Swiss discovers a secret hatch under the bed in the master bedroom and calls everyone to come and look.  Krush makes his way out of a bedroom and narrowly avoids being blown away by Rank who is wielding a sawed off stub gun.  Krush shoots a 3 shot burst and catches Rank in the guts.  Pike runs in and tries to psychic blast the scientist which stops him from reloading and Krush shoots him in the chest, dead.  

    "You all saw him, he had a gun"

The bed concealed a set of synthicrete steps leading down to a landing which doubles back and further down ending in a locked metal security door. She shoots off the lock with a High Explosive round and the door swings open revealing seven young girls aged about 8.  She asks them their names and they reply

"Monday... Tuesday... Wednesday... Thursday... Friday... Saturday... and Sunday."

You can read more about the game characters, NPCs and locations on it's Obsidian Portal page, please consider becoming a Fan.

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BACK ISSUES

Monday, 28 February 2022

Is Obsidian Portal Any Good?

I am a big fan of session blogging and I try my best to log each of the games I run here on my blog or if i am a player over at the Dragons Keep Roleplay Club website.  I stumbled across Obsidian Portal as an alternative to creating my own wiki/campaign website and thought I'd check it out. 

What is Obsidian Portal?

It's essentially a campaign logging tool which allows you to keep track and share your adventures, characters and NPCs, locations and maps.

Obsidian Portal

What I like 

It's Free - anything which requires a subscription has really got to provide me with something special which I can't easily get elsewhere.

It's Easy - If you can use a webpage and are familiar with how hyperlinks work, then you can create your own campaign wiki.   

Google Maps Integration - The ability to quickly and easily generate your own campaign maps and populate them with markers which link to wiki entries is fantastic.  The interface is a little clunky but it works.  I can see this coming in very useful as my players explore their surroundings.

Campaign of the month - The Obsidian Portal official blog Words in the Dark regularly awards creators and it's a great way to showcase some of the excellent work which people are doing for their players.

What I Don't Like

Limited Functionality -  Many of the advanced features are understandably kept behind a paywall.  I understand that this is part of their business model and if you gave away the crown jewels for free you would limit your ability to generate revenue. 

Limited Formatting - I am not a fan of the markdown engine it uses which has difficulty with basic items such as italics and there is no ability to add tables.

Summary

This is a very early review of this tool as I am still getting to grips with it and populating my own campaigns for Judge Dredd.  It's value will only become apparent for me when I begin to use it in anger as a wiki during play.

Check out my Obsidian Portal Campaign page for Meanwhile in Mega City One and follow, favourite or just give it a thumbs up.

Sunday, 27 February 2022

Movieweek 7 - The King's Man and 7 Secret Sisters

The King's Man (2021) - 8/10

The King's Man
Recent sequels have been accused by the MSM critics of including too much fan service in order to get favourable reviews.  However, I see this as giving the audience what they want and The King's Man is a perfect example of this.  Fans of the franchise are treated with respect and get exactly what they want, smart dialogue, world building, a ripsnorting plotline and plenty of great fight choreography.

Transported back in time to the Boer War we are introduced to the Duke of Oxford, his son and General Kitchener.  These are pivotal figures in the run up to World War I and the events which conspire to create the need for the secret organisation we have come to know and love.  The movie is more than just an action movie and it has a lot to say about the bloody business of war and does so with genuine pathos and tenderness.  Above all this is a movie about conflict and emotions, the conflict between a husband's promise to his dying wife and of his duty to King and Country. 

With regards to the cast, any film which stars Ralph Fiennes is worth the admission fee and you will be treated to a masterclass in emotional delivery, ably assisted by Charles Dance and Gemma Arterton, but the real stand out for me was Tom Hollander who managed to play all three royal cousins (King George, Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas ) with aplomb.  Rhys Ifans also did a bang up job as Rasputin and I loved how they managed to include the now legendary details of his death (poisoned, shot and drowned).

A great addition to a great franchise.

What Happened to Monday (2019) - 7/10

What Happened to Monday?
It seems apt that in my 7th movieweek I should write about seven secret sisters.  

This is a one of those strange movies which has a great premise, a great build up, great characters and acting, but ultimately fails to stick the landing.

Noomie Rapace shows why she is an actress in demand and manages to play septuplet sisters who all have different and distinct characters in this dystopian tale of life in a society struggling to deal with the ravages of overpopulation and dwindling resources.

In a world governed by a One Child policy, Scientist Willem Defoe defies the family planning laws and hides away his seven identical grand daughters (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc).  As adults they take turns to go out each day and play the role of successful banker Karen Settman.  They follow the rules that their grandfather taught them until one day Monday does not come home.

At it's heart this is a thrilling mystery in which we are drip fed tidbits of backstory and flashback which establish just how careful the sisters have been up to the moment when Tuesday must go out into the world and find out what happened to her sister and maintain her cover in full knowledge that their secret might be discovered at any moment.

A tense thriller with a twist in the tale which is well worth the wait.  I certainly didn't see it coming at all and I'm uusally quite good at spotting dropped hints and those contrarian expectation busting reveals.

Unfortunately for this movie, the final act is clumsily handled.  I would still recommend the movie, but it would be much lower down on my list of top 10 dystopian future films.    

Saturday, 26 February 2022

Meanwhile in Mega CIty One - Prog 3: Great Balls Of Fire!!

Meanwhile in Mega City One is a roleplaying game which takes place every Friday Night at Dragons Keep Roleplay Club in Chislehurst, South East London.  Games Master is Tony

Cast

  • Judge Cully - A no-nonsense female street judge with a penchant for heavy weapons - Kat
  • Judge Krush - A hard as nails street judge who goes by the book - Steve
  • Judge Swiss - A rookie street Judge - Alex
  • Psi Judge Pike - A Psi Division rookie Judge - Conor

A Hot Chipped Cat

eaving Mr Draper's apartment it occurs to Cully and Krush that Mr. Blofeldt  is likely to have had a tracking chip installed and so Cully and Pike put in a call to the municipal computer, Barney, which contains a databaseof every license issued for a pet in MC1.  Unfortunately Barney seems to be overwhelmed with calls at the moment and both judges are put into a queue.

Perhaps there is evidence that thye missed in the apartment and so they return and begin a more thorough search.  Krush begins looking for a safe behibnd the many paintings, Cully searches the walk in closet and Pike the bedroom dresser.  Pike finds a desktop armoire filled with cat collars of every colour.  In the drawers below are stuffed receipts from a store called Cat Couture.  In the living room behind a large painting, Krush finds a safe with a combination keypad.  Pike suggests tying in Mr. Blofeldts birthday.  

They switch on the Tri-D TV and search the calendar.  Mr Blofeldts birthday is circled as an event on 04-11.  Krush punches in the numbers and is rewarded with a satisfying click, the key to cracking the case is almost in his hands.  Unfortunately, the safe contains only a large stock of human dehydrated food.  "Well that's one mystery solved" remarks Swiss.

Searching through Miss Wildensteins favourites they discover that she watched almost exclusively celebrity vids, cat vids and celebrity cat vids.  One channel is "Where's my Pussy?" which is a lost cat channel through which owners can report their lost stolen or otherwise errant feline friends .  It contains thousands of pictures of missing moggies and Cully decides to use it to list Mr. Blofeldt.  She fills out the online form.

Pike calls up the directory and dials the number for Cat Couture.  Two well dressed men answer the phone and immediately begin effervescing about how glad they are that Miss Wildenstein has called.  They are shocked and surprised to learn that Miss Wildenstein is deceased.  The pair are know to Judge Cully and she remembers that they were the owners of Zlooty Slute's Suits You, a gentlemens outfitters on Melania Boulevard.

Cat Couture

Following their recent close call with disaster Mr Slute and Mr Floot have gone into the cat accessory business.  Miss Wildenstein was one of their biggest customers and she had only recently purchased a stunning blue diamante collar for Mr. Blofeldt worth C10,000.  Mr Floot delicately enquires about the whereabouts of the collar and is dismayed to hear about the missing cat.  They suggest a personal visit to their store to see if they can be of assistance.  
Zlooty Slute
Whistler Floot
Jocelyn Wildenstein

30 minutes later the Judges walk through the door of Cat Couture and begin to interrogate Slute and Flute.  Cully demands a list of customers but they refuse citing client confidentiality.  Despite being threatened with 2 years in the cubes for withholding evidence they remain tight lipped.  Swiss suggests that perhaps if the pair were enrolled in the Informants Scheme they could carry out some investigations on their behalf.  Cully prints out an F17-C and signs the pair up.  Mr Floot comments that "He never liked Mr. Blofeldt #5, it was so sad to hear about the death of #4"

As they mount up outside they consider their possible lines of investigation:

1. Head to The Jungle and see if the Ape Mafia have anything to do with the stolen cat.

2. Pay a visit to Felix Pet Foods the source of the threatening emails to Miss Wildenstein.

3. Go back to sector house and see if the morgue has found anything out on the body.

Their musings are cut short by a scream and a cry "look out it's a boinger!"

What the Boing!

With a sickening crunch splat a boinger lands on a innocent passer-by killing them instantly.  

Judge Pike tries a psychic blast, but Boing is impervious to psychic energy as proven by Judge Anderson when she and Judge Death were entombed in boing many years ago.   Cully manages to shoot off an incendiary round turning the globe of plastic into a spicy hot flaming rubber ball before it bounces up into the air.  

As a second boinger lands, Swiss attempts to fire an HE round but is momentarily blinded by a falling piece of burning plastic landing on his visor.  He orders his bike to engage with it's cannon.  BUDDA, BUDDA, BUDDA go the cannon and three large calibre shells ricochet off the rubber ball.  2 come straight back at the lawmaster busting it up and a third kills a bystander who was making for the safety of the alleyway opposite.  

Outside Cat Couture on Melania Boulevarde Judge Dredd Savage Worlds
Boingers land outside Cat Couture on Melania Boulevarde


Ralf Loren, a member of Trump Towers Citi-Def, is buying lunch at the Munce Bar with his squad mates Dave and Suraya.  He instinctively opens up with his stub gun but misses the second boinger and peppers the front of the Sector 55 Bank with lead.  

Judge Krush spins his bike around and fires his Cyclops Laser Cannon at the Boinger.  It's beam cuts through the plastic like a hot knife through butter and punches through into Dave "Shagger" Williams disintegrating his lower torso.  The third citi-def member, Suraya, screams in agony "Who watches the Judges?"  

Ralph comforts his squad mate "It's not looking good Dave" whilst Suraya wave's Dave's legs in the air and tries to grab someone's attention shouting "Medic!"

Pike shoots an AP round at a third boinger who is about to land.  With a crunch it lands on a yellow saloon heading north crushing the plassteel canopy and causing it to crash into an orange car coming the other way.  The boinger ricochets off into the windows of Cat Couture.  Swiss shoots an incendiary at the ascending second boinger as the 1st boinger, now a mishapen blob of burning goo, reaches apogee.  Cully fires an HE at Boinger #2 sending it splatting into the wall of Joe Biden Block opposite.An orange compact hover car is showered with burning debris, swerves and smashes through  the windows of Kneepads R'You.

Krush fires an AP round at Boinger #3 as it ricochets off Cat Couture's armoured windows and flies across the road into the Kneepad Store.

Pike dives under the yellow saloon for cover as what is left of boinger heads for impact.  Cully fires off a HE round at #1 but misses blowing up an unsuspecting citizens apartment.  Boinger #1 lands with a splat on what is left of the yellow saloon.  Pike breathes a sigh of relief and hopes that Judge Belloch will be lenient under the circumstances.

In the Kneepad Store the burning orange compact explodes killing everyone in the store including those who ran inside to shelter from the chaos outside. 

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Sunday, 20 February 2022

Movieweek 6 - Big Bug and Gangs of New York

Big Bug (2022) - 7/10

Jean-Pierre Jeunet is one of my favourite auteur directors so I jumped at the chance to watch his latest movie when it appeared in my Netflix notifications.

Visually this is a sumptuous movie and meticulous attention to detail went into its production and visual effects.  The characters are clearly defined and their motivations and mannerisms well expressed by an excellent cast.  However, the movie falls a bit flat.  This is clearly meant to be a stage play comedic farce in the style of a one room play.  

A cautionary tale of what might happen when an AI takes over the running of our everyday lives, the characters are completely at the mercy of the Yonyx AI which has developed some sort of human hating bug and has decided that humans are a lesser species.  The disturbing human baiting TV Shows increasingly become more brutal and humiliating as the Yonyx tightens its grip.Every attempt they make to escape or to thwart the Yonyx's tyranny only lands them in deeper water making the viewer feel like there is really no hope on the horizon.  

There are some genuinely humerous moments but these are few and far between in what could have been a much tighter piece.  Perhaps this movie suffered from production issues during the pandemic, I don't know, but I hope that Jeunet's next project returns to the form of Amelie, Mic Macs and The Young and Prodigious T.S.Spivet.

Gangs of New York (2002) - 7/10

It's been 20 years since I first saw Gangs of New York and I never really liked it the first time around.  I rarely enjoy fims that have been hyped to high heaven and this Scorcese epic was one of the biggest movies of its day. 

I was impressed by the cinematography from the get-go the sets were huge and complex and yet never drew the focus of attention away from the characters of the story.  The characters are everything to this movie, which, is essentially a tale of a son's revenge against the man who killed his father.   

The cast do an excellent job of portraying these brutal people from a brutal time clawing their way through life trying to make something of themselves.  Many die along the way, but a few become changed by history and opportunity.  This is one of John C Reilly's first "serious" movies and alongside some character acting greats like Brendon Gleason, Daniel Day Lewis and Jim Broadbent he does a great job.  Less convincing are the younger stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz whose portrayals seem so much less intense and captiviating.  Perhaps this is an intentional move on the part of the director as the road of their lives is so much less travelled and they are not world weary or burdened by their pasts.

I did enjoy this movie much more the second time around although I am still left feeling that this was very much a movie which didn't have much of a tale to tell and that there should have been much more interplay between the gangs of New York. 

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Meanwhile in Mega City One - Prog 2: Splat Goes The Ugly

 Meanwhile in Mega City 1


 Meanwhile in Mega City One is a roleplaying game which takes place every Friday Night at Dragons Keep Roleplay Club in Chislehurst, South East London.  Games Master is Tony

Cast

  • Judge Cully - A no-nonsense female street judge with a penchant for heavy weapons - Kat
  • Judge Krush - A hard as nails street judge who goes by the book - Steve
  • Psi Judge Pike - A Psi Division rookie Judge - Conor
  • Judge Swiss - A rookie street Judge - Alex

One Ugly Pavement Pizza

It's Thursday and in the morning briefing, Judge Belloch congratulates Judges Pike and Swiss on making it through their first day on the mean streets of Sector 55.   

"Thursday is where the rubber meets the road and folk start warming up for the weekend.  All manner of cooks and crazies will start to come out of the woodwork so don't get sloppy and you won't get dead.
 
Tensions are rising between Chan and Stallone Blocks again and the Belgian Boys over in JCVD feel like they are being left out of the action.  We can expect a full scale block war any day now.  The riot squads are on stand-by and anyone who hasn't completed their mandatory 90 day rotation will be called up shout the brown stuff hit the spinny thing.  
 
You know the drill people, Go! Go! Go!"
 
The Judges are soon out on patrol and on their way to their first incident.  A leaper out of Thatcher Towers has struck the pedway and left a mess.  
 
Arriving on scene, a crowd of bystanders has already surrounded the corpse and Max Manus from Channel 55's News Crew is making a piece to camera.  Cully dismounts and starts to make her way through the crowd.  Manus shoves his mic into her face, "Judge Cully, what makes a person jump to their death on a fine day like to day?  Sick of life or did some perp possibly push them?"  
 
Jumper outside Thatcher Towers
Judges attend the scene of a leaper outside Thatcher Towers

"No Comment" replies Cully and orders the media man to turn over his tape.  Max obliges and calls his hover-cam over with a whistle.  He swiftly ejects the micro data disc and hands it over popping a fresh one in from a stash in his jacket.  She pops the disk into her bike computer and reviews the footage.  Manus only started his segment after the body had hit the pedway but she scans the bystanders for any suspicious body language.  Swiss scans the block for signs of any CCTV which would might have caught the incident.  Mitterand Maisons opposite has some better views of the block and he decides to take a stroll over to the french quarter.  Pike calls for a meatwagon to pick up the body whilst Krush patiently scans the crowd for law breakers.
 
Taking the cross-ped bridge which connects the two block plazas, Swiss spots a curious looking fellow approaching from the Mitterand side.  He walks right up to the judge and suddenly stops putting his hands out in front of him as though an invisible barrier where preventing him from moving any further.  Looking at his feet Swiss notices a yellow painted line which denotes the legal mime zone which surrounds Mitterand Maisons.

Original Background art by Neil Miller  (http://www.neilmillervfx.com)

Swiss asks him for his mime licence and if he saw what happened earlier at Thatcher Towers.  The mime nods and silently conveys a sad face, a jump, a landing, a line across the neck and fluttering wings.  Checking the back of the card Swiss spots that this mime is on duty for the next 7 hours and knows he won't get a word out of him until he comes off shift.  The mime union are a tough bunch he muses as he strides past the street performer and heads for the block security point. 
 
The citizen hit the ground face first but something about the corpse seems familiar to Cully.  It could be the platinim blonde hair or the secquined dress.  She searches the bloody pulp that's left and fishes out a blood stained ID card.  Her suspicions are confirmed, the leaper was Jocelyn Wildenstein a minor celebrity and ugly pageant contestant.  (See Sector 55 Blues - Prog 3)
 
Jocelyn Wildenstien Judge Dredd Savage Worlds

"What's taking so long?" commands Krush "If there's a pushy perp they will be long gone by now!"
 
Spotting a nearby servo-bot Judge Pike orders it to guard the body.  "Call-Me-Malcolm is honoured to serve" say the robot and the patrol heads into the block and up to Miss Wildensteins apartment on floor 525.
 
Over in Mitterand Maisons Judge Swiss is reviewing the CCTV and whilst the footage is grainy and low resolution he can see Miss Wildenstein fall from the balcony and moments earlier there was a white object on the balcony parapet.  Could this have been the cat Mr Blofeldt?  He notes the timecode when Miss Wildenstein fell as 11:16 and returns to Thatcher Towers to rejoin the patrol.

Chez Wildenstein

A short trip in the turbo lift is made slightly less tolerable by "The Girl from Ipanema" and Judges Cully, Pike and Krush are outside the door of apartment 525-32.  The door is closed and Pike uses his Access Card to quietly gain entry.  Cully strides purposefully into the centre of the living room and begins scanning for clues.  Pike follows his Close Quarters Combat Training and checks the bathroom to his left.  Satidfied that there is no-one in the room he shouts "Clear".  Krush strides into the room and begins perusing the walls for pictures.
 
The Wildenstein Apartment 525-32 Thatcher Towers
The Wildenstein Apartment 525-32 Thatcher Towers
 
The room is a well appointed single apartment covered in wall to wall white shag carpet and decorated in tasteful shades of pastel blue, silver and white.  The walls are covered in photographs and artistic prints of Miss Wildenstein and her cat Mr. Blofeldt.
 
Judge Swiss arrives and he proceeds to search the Kitchen which is spotlessly clean.  In the cupboards are a full compliment of Felix cat food tins in an assortment of 14 flavours.  Conspicuously there does not appear to be any human food apart from a supply of synthi-caf pods.  Pike retrieves 3 cans of cat food from the kitchen and opens them in a bid to entice the missing cat out from its hiding place.

Whilst searching the area in front of the open balcony doors Judge Cully discovers a broken string of pearls buried deep in the carpet.  She bags them as evidence.  A search of the bedroom reveals a walk in closet replete with an ample selection of evening gowns and ostentacious wigs.  

Despite a thorough search of the apartment there is no sign of Mr. Blofeldt.  Pike goes down to the Security Station and reviews the CCTV outside the apartment.  At approximately 11:22 A dark figure is seen walking down the corridor with something white under their arm.  The vid feed is too grainy and indistinct to make out any features or establish a gender.  The security point staff explain that CCTV in the block is outdated and the municipal funds have been redirected on higher priority projects since the infamous Brexit scandal.  Pike spends some time trying to follow the individual across the patchy feeds but loses them when they enter the parking substructure on level 250.

Cully puts in an information request to MAC to find any known perps with a history of illegal animal dealing on their records.  One record is returned, a Terrence Draper 171-27 Thatcher Towers was released 2 weeks ago after a 10 year stretch in the cubes for trading in unlicensed animals and endangered species.  The patrol reconvenes outside Draper's apartment.

Terrence Draper


Floor 171 is typical of the lower rent floors of most citi blocks.  The lower the floor, the lower the rent and the lower the standard of living, decor and level of maintenance.  Bare concrete walls are slick with mold and mildew and the floors are covered in well worn and shabby synthi-tiles which haven't seen a robo-mop in decades.

Krush knocks on the door of apartment 27 and orders Draper to open up in the name of the Law.  Draper is reluctant and Pike reads his mind through the metal security door.  He is a strong minded character and his mind is full of memories of his recent incarceration.  He does not want to go back. 

Pike gives Krush a psychic boost and he kicks the door in to a cacophanous and sudden chorus of animal sounds.  The apartment is dark and dingy with a faint smell of machine oil and plastic.  Surrounding the walls are cage upon cage containing animals of all varieties who silently stare at the judges with red unblinking eyes.
 
Draper explains that he's gone legit and switched to the synthi-pet trade.  After some intimidation he explains that
 
"If it's live animals that you want then you need to go see the animals in The Jungle..."   

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Movieweek 5 - The House with Gunpowder Milkshake

Hopefully my real life has settled down a bit and I can get on with doing what I love which is watching movies and playing games.

The House (2020) - 6/10

This is an incredibly creepy stop-motion animated film comprising three short stories.  To be absolutely honest took me several attempts to get through the first story as it was so creepy.  The set dressing and animation style is perfect.  It's a blend of Coraline meets Fantastic Mr Fox and there is a good deal of "boil" (when a models hair or fur moves between shots and makes it look like their skin is boiling) which adds to the creepiness of the whole thing. 

The voice cast are a all great British talents, including Mark Heap, Paul Kaye, Stephanie Cole, Helena Bonham-Carter, Miranda Richardson and even Jarvis Cocker.  I'm a big fan of Mark Heap who just manages to deliver his officious lines as Mr.Thomas in a way that hints subtly at something dark, something with menacing undertones. 

I'm not a big fan of creepy movies in general, so I was glad that the second story was much more to my liking.  The central character is a struggling hobbyist property developer trying to renovate and sell the house as a recession begins to bite.  Anthroporphised animals doing human things is stock in trade for animated movies and this one pulls it off extremely well.  It leans hard into the weird rather than creepy and there is a moment that reminded me of the Whoopi Goldberg movie The Telephone which brought a wry smile.  

The third act was even better and definitely an homage to both Wes Anderson's animated work with shades of Studio Ghibli thrown in for good measure.  It was a great way to end what were three very different tales about this mysterious house and the people who live in it. 

There's a gem of an RPG plot in there as well.  It would be very interesting to play a game where the location stays the same but you play different descendents of your character throughout time.  Sort of how they reused the set of Nerva Beacon in the epic Dr Who stories Ark in Space / Revenge of the Cybermen story.   

If you can get past the first act then you will enjoy this.

Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)

Karen Gillan and Lena Heady team up in this brutal comic book style assassination story.  It feels like it was based on a comic book in the same way as Guns Akimbo or Polar, but this is an original story from the pens of and .

Very stylishly shot, with heavy 50s come 80s pop culture palette this movie leans heavily into dramatic cinematography.  Paul Giamatti is seen once again as a menacing crime boss (I loved his role in Shoot'em Up) and I absolutely loved the Librarian characters played by Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh and Carla Gugino.  In fact I've been a massive fan of Angela Bassett since I first watched the dystopian sci-fi movie Strange Days which has to be one of the best cyberpunk movies of them all.  

This movie is popcorn fare of the highest order, a classic tale of the hitman who hits the wrong man and then gets thrown to the wolves.  Very enjoyable if you are a fan of violent gun movies like Hard Boiled, John Wick or Nobody.  Karen Gillan performs adequately but when she shares the screen with real acting talent she just doesn't dominate the screen.  Intensity is the name of the game here and she just doesn't burn as bright as her co-stars.  Ralph Inneson also does a good turn as Jim Mcalester.

Saturday, 12 February 2022

Meanwhile in Mega City One - Prog 1: Rolling with the Rookies

Meanwhile in Mega City One is a roleplaying game which takes place every Friday Night at Dragons Keep Roleplay Club in Chislehurst, South East London.  Games Master is Tony

Cast

  • Judge Cully - A no-nonsense female street judge with a penchant for heavy weapons - Kat
  • Judge Krush - A hard as nails street judge who goes by the book - Steve
  • Judge Swiss - A rookie street Judge - Alex
  • Psi Judge Pike - A Psi Division rookie Judge - Connor

Rookie Patrol

Sector 55 in Mega City 1 Judge Dredd Savage Worlds

Wednesday morning, like any other morning, starts with the 9am briefing.  Watch Commander Judge Belloch is a grizzled veteran of the streets which took one of his legs many years back.

He quickly assigns the new rookie judges, Swiss and Psi Judge Pike to the seasoned veterans Cully and Krush and continues his briefing...

"Don Ookie was released from the zoo yesterday and the jungle partied all night, it was bananas untill the early hours of this morning.  We don't expect those boys to be up to any monkey business for a few days whilst they sleep it off, but keep your eyes peeled.

Weather control claims they've fixed the system so expect a regulation rain shower at 11am.  

Fingers crossed this is going to be a quiet day but stay frosty and get out there and lay down the law"

Cully, Krush, Pike and Swiss head to the motor pool and pick up their bikes.  One of the Tek Judges tells the rookies

"We've given you 20 minuters a couple of old girls.  Nice and reliable but ready for retirement if you know what I mean.  Bring yourselves back in one piece and we'll give you some fresh metal tomorrow."

Outside Heavenly Havens

As the Judges cruise North along Duke Street they spot a couple of juves wearing Heavens Angel duds giving an umpty candy machine some percussive maintenance.  A Scrawlo-gon bot is busy cleaning some fresh script from a nearby wall whistling a cheery tune.

The patrol pulls their bikes over next to the juves and Swiss orders the shifty looking pair to stop right there.  Cully and Krush spot the older Juve with his hand around a bulge in his pocket.  Pike dismounts and approaches psychically probing the pair.  The older juve's mind is a mess of emotions, he doesn't want to go back to the cubes and he bolts for it.  Pike gives chase on foot shouting at him to stop.  The younger juve spots an opportunity for escape and runs across the road.

Heavenly Havens Judge Dredd Savage Worlds
The Judges encounter some Juves up to no good outside Heavenly Havens

Cully guns her bike along the pedway ahead of the fleeing juve and slides her bike to a stop blocking the pavement.  The hapless punk careens into the Law Master and flips over the front wheel but rolls to his feet and continues to run.  Krush takes aim and shoots the perp in the back and calmly parks the front wheel of his bike on the perps leg.  

"You are going nowhere punk"

Swiss dismounts and tries to rugby tackle the fleeing juve but his leap is short and the punk slips through his fingers.

Cully chases him down on her bike and flips the trigger of her bike cannon.  

"Budda, Budda, Budda, Budda" booms the twin cannon and a hail of 20mm shells sparks off the tarmacrete roadway.  

A red ToyoFord sedan swerves to avoid the punk and careens onto the pavement narowly missing a fatty pedestrian and Judge Swiss.  It crashes into the wall of Heavenly Havens with a sickening crunch.

The Juve breaks down and drops to his knees.  Swiss picks him up and cuffs him to a nearby holding post.  Cully checks on the driver of the sedan but the seat is empty, the two young juves in school uniforms are bouncing excitedly on the rear seats.  "Again, Again" they shout.  Judge Cully pulls them out of the smoking wreck and gets their names.  Angus and Cliff Dimple were on their way to school and they give the Judge a crumbled emergency contact card.  Cully dials the number and an out of breath woman answers

What have they done now? Can't you see I'm busy! I'm in a yoga class for the next 30 minutes and slams down the phone.  She has no other option but to call child services and cuff them both to the holding post for their own safety.  

Krush rolls his tyre off the perp and Pike flips him over.  The GP round made a mess of his chest cavity.  "Call in a meat wagon Rookie"  

The observant Scrawlo-bot spots the potential biohazard and begins to cordon off the scene in hazard tape.

The fattie stands there absent mindedly munching on a muncebar when Swiss spots the small collection of wrappers at his feet.  

"That's six months in the cube for littering fatso!"  

Their radio crackles into life.  "All units.  Roadjackers on hover boards spotted on Meg 355 in the vicinity of Heavenly Havens and Duke Street."  The patrol answers the call and they head out.

Surfing Meg 355

As the patrol comes down the onramp they spot the perps.  5 sky surfers with an armed passenger each weaving among the traffic.

Sky Surfers Hijack a Tanker on Meg 355 Judge Dredd Savage Worlds
Sky Surfing Road Raiders try to hi-jack a CHOO2 Tanker


They swiftly intercept and manage to prevent them from getting to their target, a CHOO2 tanker.  Swiss boards the tanker and manages to see off two of the raiders whilst the others take on small arms fire.  The Judges execute their powers of arrest with extreme prejudice in order to prevent an even larger catastrophe occurring.

The raiders are thwarted but there are signifigant civilian casualties and collateral damage to several vehicles and the megway.

The patrol spends the rest of their day cleaning up the mess and informing next of kin before returning to the sector house. 

NEXT PROG ->

Tuesday, 8 February 2022

Boardgame Rescued - Battle Over Britain

A recent charity shop find saw me fixing up the box and sorting counters for this vintage 1983 SPI TSR copy of  Battle over Britain. 

Battle Over Britain Board Game

These sorts of counter heavy wargames are not my bag but for some reason I couldn't let it just fade away.


Sunday, 6 February 2022

Movieweek 4 - Norwegian Marital Murder , Bicycle Thieves and Revenge

A tough week in which I needed as much distraction as possible.  Thankfully I have a NETFLIX subscription.

The Trip (2021) - 7/10

Aksel Hennie has been one of my favourite Norwegian actors ever since I watched the amazing Max Manus and the stupendous Headhunters.  He is one of the countries bankable stars and crops up from time to time in Hollywood blockbusters like The Cloverfield Paradox or The Martian when there is a need for a scandanavian character.

In this dark comedy he is paired with the equally talented Noomi Rapace as a married couple who are unhappy with the way their marriage and careers have panned out.  Their answer is to kill each other for the insurance money during a planned trip to a cabin in the fjords.  There I said it fjords. 

If you like Cohen brothers style black comedies like Fargo you will like this movie.  It is well put together and pacing is great, there are very few moments when something isn't happening on screen and immediate flashbacks establish the motives and set up for what just happened when new protagonists enter the stage.

This is a Norwegian language film dubbed into English which I think is a mistake as the nuances of Rapace and Hennie's performances are lost in the dubbed dialogue.  I would recommend watching this with subtitles. 

All in all an entertaining 2 hours with stunning scenery and a fun tale of marital strife which would make a great Fiasco playset.    

Riders of Justice (2020) - 7/10

A Danish revenge saga starring Mads Mikkelsen (Fantastic Beasts 3, Casino Royale, Polar) who is always entertaining in his strong silent type roles.  If you haven't seen Polar or Arctic you need to check them out.

Mads is Markus, a hardened soldier who returns from operations in the desert when his wife is killed in a tragic train accident and he needs to look after his daughter Mathilde.  Fellow survivor Otto, a statistics expert, thinks this was deliberate and, after the police dismiss his claims, he assembles a team of hackers and goes full detective to find out who organised the assassination.

The cast are excellent and in particular Andrea Heick Gadeberg who has the difficult job of playing Mathilde, who despite being quite broken herself, is the glue that holds all these broken people together.

The story is double edged as you follow the emotional ups and downs of a bunch of very broken characters whilst they try to keep their covert operation a secret from Mathilde and the police.  Gradually we learn how these characters got to where they are, their bonds, what dark secrets they are witholding and ultimately how they start to begin to heal by living this strange new familial existence.

When they get close to their objective, the tension ramps up considerably.  The final 30 minutes are utterly gripping and you really don't know who is going to survive.  For me the initial 20 minutes were a bit slow, but once Otto and Markus meet for the first time, it really picked up and I was hooked.  Well worth the price of admission.


Wednesday, 2 February 2022

YouTube Gem - Fighting Fantasy Playthrough - Caverns of the Snow Witch

I never knew that playthroughs of old Fighting Fantasy books were a thing until I stumbled upon the excellent video below.  Enjoy...

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Tuesday, 1 February 2022

Thai Cuisine - TIL that Thai Food didn't exist before 1939

One of those "well blow me down" videos that the YouTube algorithm throws up every now and then.

The Thai Government's Massive Restaurant Program 

Fascinating...

Monday, 31 January 2022

Achievement Unlocked - Bloganuary

I mentioned in my New Years Resolutions post that I wanted to try to blog more and so I have, well at least for January 2022 that is.

What was the secret to your success?

Getting ahead of the game was key.  Writing and scheduling posts made the task much less stressfull and less prone to writers block.

I regularly spend my Saturday morning anlysing my notes from the previous nights session at Dragons Keep Roleplay Club and committing the action to our session blog.  

I find writing is cathartic and you need something to warm you up and get the creative juices flowing.  Our session blogs were an excellent motivational tool for this.

What about Inspiration?

A lot of my blog is about getting my ideas out of my head and onto a page where they can be immortalised and free up some space for something new.  Sometimes this is immediate, I have an idea in the shower and scribble it down, other times it takes more planning and production. These longer form articles can take many weeks to craft, especially if they are accompanied by original artwork.

Can you keep this up?

Maybe... Today, I return to work which means early starts and a long commute into and out of the office.  Will I have the energy to think about things or will I just decompress myself on the sofa. who knows...

Sunday, 30 January 2022

Movieweek 3 - Spider-men vs Munich

Real life events once again got in the way of my screentime and life appears to be giving me a bit of a punch in the guts at the moment.  However, I did manage to slip in one long awaited movie and a bit of an epic historical espionage thriller. 

Spider-man: No Way Home (2021) - 8/10

I was really looking forward to this latest outing of Tom Holland's Peter Parker and to be fair it was a pretty good movie if you view it through the lens of setting up the Multiverse of Madness story arc.  As a standalone spiderman movie it kind of sucked.  

I totally get what they were trying to do with the premise.  Bring back some characters from yesteryear, fan favourites.  It was a neat idea which fell flat in execution.  We have seen this spider-man fight, as a member of The Avengers, much more imposing and dangerous villains than those from his past and they just seemed so provincial.  Moving the focus to helping and not killing them was something new but I just didn't care enough about them to feel empathy towards them.  

Live action Doc Oc was always a talker rather than a doer and whilst I always enjoy seeing Alfred Molina on the screen, this role is really beneath him.  I did like that he accepted his redemption with grace and humility which made him seem like a much more complex character than perhaps his earlier outing gave him credit for.  However, Sandman was always a pretty pathetic character, Electro's alter ego was more interesting than he was and Willem Dafoe's green goblin was only interesting when he went full goblin.

It was nice, but a bit weird, to see the other spider-men, although Toby Macguire is really starting to show his age.  This felt like they were trying to reference Spider-Man into the Spider Verse but in a much less satisfying way.  Each has their own cautionary tale for the MCU spider-man and this was painfully self aware such as referencing the back problems, the "Amazing" prefix etc etc.  I'm not adverse to a dollop of fan service every now and then, but this was really quite heavy handed.

Ultimately the film is a two hour prelude to a quick and largely down beat finale in the last 30 minutes.  I felt quite depressed by the ending and I hope that this will ultimately be resolved in future MCU movies because I truly felt that everyone got a raw deal at the end of this movie.  

Perhaps this is the MCU's defining moment, it's Empire Strikes Back middle film, it just definitely wasn't what I expected of a spider-man movie.

Munich: The Edge of War (2021) - 9/10

Wow, what a movie!!  This is a real tense espionage thriller set against the backdrop of impending war and the Munich peace conference.  Wonderfully cast with the ever classy Jeremy Irons who blows everyone away with his portrayal of Neville Chamberlain, but some creditable performances by some younger faces.  

This movie is based on the best selling book by Robert Harris and is an insight into the year long prelude before the outbreak of WWII which gave the Allies the time to prepare to win.  Chamberlain has been treated quite badly by history, mostly through the benefit of hindsight, and this movie goes someway towards trying to explain the events surrounding the peace conference and the famous piece of paper waving moment which ultimately defined his Prime Ministership.

It's a beautifully crafted movie with perfect pacing and stage craft which is rare from Netflix.  Every moment is engrossing and the viewer feels like they are transported to Autumn 1938 and that they are a fly on the wall at a pivotal moment in history.  The last time I felt like this was when I watched the masterfull Churchill.

This movie manages to pull off the almost impossible, a war movie without any war.  I recommend any real cinefile should put this on their bucketlist immediately.  

Saturday, 29 January 2022

Dungeonquest - It's a Classic!

One of my passions is the Games Workshop Bookcase format games of the 1980s.  I am gradually completing my collection and one of the games I absolutely had to have was Dungeonquest.

Dungeonquest (or should I call it Dragon Keep)

Drakborgen was designed by two Swedes Jakob Bond and Dan Glimme and licensed to a range of board game companies.  Games Workshop picked up the license for the UK and sold it as Dungeonquest.

The game is essentially a race to the center of a randomly generated maze where you grab some of the Dragon's hoard and try to get out before the dragon wakes up.  As you generate your path you will encounter variouos obstacles, dead ends, traps, monsters designed to halt your progress or rob you of valuable turns.  

There is a heavy push your luck element to the game and whilst on your way out of the dungeon you won't have to face any of the monsters you encountered getting to the dragon, your path out may have been blocked requiring you to start finding a new path and encountering new monsters and traps.

Man, is this game stacked against you.  I remember playing it once back in the 80s but I didn't remember how hard it is to win.  It's a lot of fun 

It's a component fest with lots of cards and tiles, 4 character models in really cheap hard styrene and plenty of plastic cones which were the defacto stat tracking counter of the day.  The component quality is classic Games Workshop, thin as you like cardboard that just wouldn't fly in todays boardgame market.

Replayability is high because every game will have a different collection of tiles in your path.  Yes, the choice of monsters is limited, but the ingenious combat mechanism means that the monsters react differently and your combat outcome will vary depending on the cards you and the monster play against each other.  

Dungeonquest (1985) Games Workshop

Art was provided by Gary Chalk (creator of the Lone Wolf books) and it is very much of its era.

Re-releases and Immitators

There have been numerous reissues of this game.  It was rereleased in Sweden as Drakborgen Legenden in 2002 and in the 2010s Fantasy Flight teamed up to reissue a few of the Games Workshop bookcase games they chose Dungeonquest alongside Fury of Dracula and Warrior Knights (probably the three best games of the series).

Drakon is another random tile laying dragon heist boardgame which Fantasy Flight re-released back in 2006 as part of their silverline game range.  A super simple game which turns it from being a race to the center to get to the dragon into a race against the other players and avoid the dragon.  I also own this and for a time it was a go-to filler game if our friday night sessions started late or ended early.  It's a quick game and is so easy to pick up for new players.

RPG Inspiration

The tile laying aspect of this game really floats my boat.  I'm a big fan of the dungeonmorphs concept and have created a bunch of my own tiles over the years and even contributed some art to a kickstarter and the davesmapper project.

It would be childs play to use the tiles to map out a random dungeon for use in any role playing game.  Much quicker than the famous Appendix A - Random Dungeon Generator found in the Dungeon Masters Guide (DMG) in my opinion.  I might even have a go myself one day. 

Every year at Dragons Keep Roleplay Club we host a memorial trophy in honour of members who are no longer with us.  One year, I actually went to the trouble of building a 2d cardboard version of the game but with a simplified combat system and character generation which used playing cards.