Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Revisiting Teenage Mutant Horror Comet Zombies

Had some down time last week and decided to revisit one of those 80s movies which I raved about after seeing it on Alex Cox's "Moviedrome".  For me it was seminal TV and regularly showed cult movies I had heard of but never seen.  Good Times.

They Came They Shopped They Saved The World
"Night of the Comet" (or as it was known in the UK "Teenage Mutant Horror Comet Zombies") was a relatively low budget (£3million) sci-fi movie released in 1984.  Written and directed by Thom Eberhardt it stars Catherine Mary Stewart (Weekend at Bernie's) and Kelli Maroney (Fast Times at Ridgemont High) as Regina and Samantha, as sassy valley girl sisters who end up missing out on the greatest spectacle of their lives, a comet passing Earth.  Does this sound familiar? (Day of The Triffids anyone...)

When morning comes they discover that everyone they ever knew is missing and a dusty red smog has filled the air.  Enter Robert Beltran (ST Voyager's Chakotay) as Hector, the mexican truck driver, an unlikely but entertaining hero who tries to help the girls come to terms with the new world order.

Meanwhile the saviours of humanity in the form of a bunch of "Apocalypse Nuts" led by Geoffrey Lewis are emerging from their underground bunker to start afresh by gathering up all the survivors.

Without giving anything away it's an entertaining slice of 80s L.A. teen culture, deely boppers, rampant consumerism and zombies.  It's got a few great one liners like "Daddy would have gotten us Uzi's" and "The legal drinking is ten... but you will need ID, lets be real".  The two girls are the absolute stars and strong female characters are hard to come by in any post apocalypse movie.

Great inspiration particularly in the case of the two strong female characters, and as a genre setting for an apocalyptic game when you're bored with "The Walking Dead",

Friday, 1 August 2014

Ennie Award for Best Cavern Map goes to... Fire Ants.

One of the staple RPG tropes is the "Bug Hunt", we've all done them.  There are some pretty cool bug hunt tunnel maps out there, but even the best human cartographers can't come close in complexity to these real world Fire Ant Colonies.  These stunning aluminium casts are the work of

Fire Ant Colony #45 - 18.5"x12.5"x13" (HxWxL)
Carpenter Ant Colony #31 - 16.5"x4.5"x8" (HxWxL)
The artists YouTube channel has some interesting videos showing the whole casting process which inevitably causes the destruction of the colony.  I'm rooting for Hicks and Hudson on this one and prefer to immortalize the work of these pests rather than go down the "nuke it from orbit" route.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

More uses for those pesky Loom Bands?

If you've got a child aged between 10 and 15 you will have probably been unable to avoid the current craze of "Loom Bands".  These tiny multicoloured rubber bands are intended to be woven together, in a form of phsychedelic macrame, to make friendship bracelets and other strap like objects.

But they have a far more useful use...  as wound markers for your tabletop miniature games!!

Loom Bands make great wound markers
They're stupidly cheap (1000 for about £3), you can find them just about everywhere at the moment and come in an astonishing array of colours. 

I'm going to throw down the gauntlet and challenge you crafty readers to weave up a set of spell effect templates.  Post links to your achievements in the comments below.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Mad Max 4 - Fury Road Comic-Con Trailer

There's only one word for it...


Dazzle Camoflague for the Future

Back in WW1 artist and Naval Reservist Norman Wilkinson came up with the idea of covering ships in bizarre geometric paint schemes to make it harder enemy submarines to target them.

HMS Kildwick in Dazzle Camoflauge
Fast forward a hundred years and we are fast approaching a minority report scenario where we are all subjected to face recognition scanning to some degree as we pass through public spaces.  We even carry these devices with us every day (it's in the software of most digital cameras in our smartphones). 

Thankfully we're not at the stage where you are scanned by GAP as you walk past their billboard at the tube station, but I'm sure that I'm not alone in thinking that things like facebook's face recognition software are a bit creepy, So here's a free app idea for some enterprising mobile developer.
Muppet face recognition

Enter the guys at CV Dazzle who are developing simple makeup and hair techniques to fool facial recognition software.  The only downside is that it makes you look like some uber futuristic cyberpunk cosplayer or Lady Gaga fan depending on your perspective (and age).

CV Dazzle Makeup and Hair Techniques

Which brings us back to Sci-Fi and RPGs in particular.  The most common party concept for Sci-Fi games is the band of misfits sticking it to the empire/corporation/man and engaging in lots of covert ops where your ability to hide your identity is crucial.  Unless there's been some sort of utopian revolution there is likely to be some form of mass surveillance at work. 

R Talsorian's Cyberpunk 2020 had a plethora of fashionware items such as light emitting tattoos, colour changing hair and contact lenses squarely pitched as mere character affectations.  The 2006 adaptation of Philip K Dick's "A Scanner Darkly" had undercover cop Keanu Reeves in his hi tech "Scramble Suit" to prevent his identity from being revealed.  Even Milla Jovovich got her identity fooling fashion camo together in the visually entertaining "Ultraviolet".

Put these all together and you've got a really sweet combo which should keep those algorithms busy.