A new photo has been reveled for another vehicle redesign from Transformers 4, and this one gives us our first look at Optimus Prime's new design. Michael Bay previously said that he was going to deliver all new robot designs, and as you can see he's followed through with his word. That's one burly big rig! Bay describes it as a "completely upgraded, custom-built Optimus Prime from Western Star (a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America)." I'm looking forward to seeing what the robots end up looking like.
The movie also stars Mark Wahlberg, Jack Reynor, Nicola Peltz, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Sophia Myles, T.J. Miller, and Li Bingbing. We're still waiting on official story details, but the movie comes out in theaters on June 27th, 2014.
The Walking Dead series is obviously doing very well for AMC because they never want to see the show end. When series creator Robert Kirkman created the comic, he envisioned it as a "never ending zombie story," and it seems AMC is envisioning the same thing for the series, which is pretty freakin' awesome!
AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan recently told THR,
"We hope that zombies live forever and we’ve just begun to find out what the post-apocalyptic world is like. So that we’ll be sitting here at the Barclays conference in 2022 discussing the fact that Walking Dead is not over."
The Walking Dead is currently in production of the fourth season in Atlanta Georgia. If we see this series continue, we could see Carl grow up in the series... if he doesn't end up being killed off somewhere down the line. It's a cool prospect to think about.
Even though it probably won't happen, what do you think of the prospect of this series living on forever? I could see it going for 15-20 seasons.
Star Trek costume designer Michael Kaplan has confirmed that he'll be teaming back up with J.J. Abrams to design the costumes that we'll end up seeing in Star Wars: Episode VII. Here's what he told Clothes on Film in an interview:
"I am very excited to be working on Star Wars. I’m so looking forward to collaborating, once again, with JJ."
Kaplan has also worked with Abrams on Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, and other classic films such as Fight Club and Blade Runner.
The screenplay for the movie is currently being written by Michael Arndt, and Disney is pushing it to be released in the summer of 2015.
The cheers and whoops that greeted the 2009 relaunch of the Star Trek series contained in them, I thought, a big bass note of relief. For JJ Abrams had taken on the tricky task of not only of appeasing a notoriously judgmental fan base but of winning over a new generation of Trekkies.
Abrams’s film was respectful of but not slavish towards the tradition of the TV series and previous movies, acknowledging its epic proportions without pretending that any of it was Homer. Some smart casting and a better than average script ensured that intergalactic harmony was promisingly established between old school and new.
Four years down the road and we now have this follow-up. Star Trek Into Darkness is no disaster – it has too much competence on its side for that. Abrams understands the dynamics of the blockbuster, that ability to blend the outsize with the intimate, and he has got the same writing team (Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, plus newcomer Damon Lindelof) to keep the ship steady. Once again, the conflict is scaled at a human level, turning on a moral debate between what is expedient and what is right. Once again, the Starship crew are once again sporting those mustard- colored V-necks that used to clad William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy et al. But there’s something missing, some vital creative spark to spring it from the crepuscular realm of the so-so and its border territory, the so-what.
As if to answer the burden of expectation, the film plunges us immediately into a set-piece of chaotic urgency. Spock (Zachary Quinto) is beamed down into the roaring heart of a volcano that will incinerate a whole planet unless he can put it out. Hellfires rage around him while the crew of the Enterprise make anxious faces at one another. It actually plays like the climax of a movie rather than its opening. When the danger approaches meltdown Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) contravenes Starfleet regulations by allowing the chalk-faced natives to clap eyes on the Starship rising from the ocean to rescue Spock from fiery doom. But Jim Kirk doesn’t bother about protocol, he just wants to save the life of his friend and first officer, though he omits this violation in his debrief to the authorities.
So imagine the captain’s outrage when the authorities get wind of his little misdemeanor – from Spock himself! There’s gratitude: you save a fellow from certain death, and then he goes and tattles on you for flouting the rules. Vulcans, as Spock explains, cannot lie, but that’s no comfort to Kirk as he’s stripped of his command and demoted to a subordinate role under his mentor Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood)
In truth, the relationship between Kirk and Spock is the heart and soul of Star Trek, being an ambiguous compound of rivalry, warmth and interspecies misunderstanding. As played by Pine, Kirk is a hothead and a daredevil who relies largely on instinct. Spock, of course, is the logician nonpareil, and Quinto has just the right expression of intellectual bemusement when faced with the muddle of human emotion. One of the best moments here comes when Kirk, about to part with his first officer, goes all misty-eyed. “Truth is, I’m gonna miss you,” he says, echoing one of the movies’ universal refrains of buddyhood, and looks to Spock’s reciprocation of the sentiment. But Spock just stares back, impassive, and poor old Jim’s left hanging, like the high-five that gets no returning smack.
Their sundering is short-lived, because news arrives from London of a major terrorist attack that has devastated its towered skyline. (Our capital in the 23rd century now resembles Dubai on steroids. ) It seems this is the fiendish handiwork of one John Harrison, played in Brit-thespian, Benedict Cumberbatch, his resonant basso profundo carrying the same frisson of sophisticated menace that won Alan Rickman similar roles 20-odd years ago. Harrison proceeds to lay waste to a Starfleet meeting in San Francisco, the cue for Kirk and Spock to reunite and pursue him to his hideout on the planet Kronos.
At which point the film enters the deep space of secret identities, interstellar debris and the notable reprise of a plot from an earlier installment of the Star Trek canon. There’s still room for a little interaction between Kirk’s faithful crew, chiefly Scotty (Simon Pegg), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), and the ever-moaning Bones (Karl Urban), while Alice Eve freshens up the cast as an unlikely weapons expert and a possible love interest for Kirk. Spock gamely puts forward the counter-argument to the crew’s avowed mission to destroy the fugitive Harrison: is it not morally incumbent on them to capture the suspect and bring him to trial instead?
That fine discrimination gets rather lost amid a welter of juddering explosions, collapsing scenery and technical glitches aboard the Enterprise, which generally involve the poor engineer Chekov (Anton Yelchin) scurrying about below decks and frantically explaining to the bridge that – well, who knows what? There’s not a great deal of suspense here. However frantic the scramble, however frequent the panic stations, do we believe that the Starship is heading into anything but the next sequel?
Star Trek Into Darkness gets the job done without ever threatening to raise one’s pulse. It’s a thoroughly professional entertainment.
The fun and versatility of the Dungeon Command series has made Flagoon and Revan huge fans of the game. Not only is the game wonderfully fun, but the good folks at Wizards of the Coast have included monster cards for each of the twelve monsters in each kit so you can repurpose them as foes in D&D Adventure System games like Wrath of Ashardalon and Castle Ravenloft. Also these great looking minis can be used in your table top, pencil & paper game as well!!
But with all those choices, the straight Dungeon Command game is quickly becoming one of our favorites. In Dungeon Command you don’t have to worry about the luck of dice rolling in your favor, It comes down to pure strategy when going up against another commander’s mind. The action is quick and bloody and there is plenty of attrition. In Blood of Gruumsh, there are a half dozen types of Orcs to choose from – druids, chieftains, drudges, archers, clerics, and barbarians – as well as a boar, wereboar, an owlbear, and a big, mean, and nasty Ogre.
Read our previous posts about Dungeon Command to get a better understanding of the game play and keep in mind that, while you can play the game with a single faction pack, Dungeon Command is intended to be played with a faction pack for each of the suggested two to four players. Blood of Gruumsh is in stores now so go pick up your copy today!
Diminutive Jedi master rumored to be first of several characters from Star Wars universe in line to feature in his own spinoff film.
An iconic figure he is, beloved of generations of children and adults alike. Now Yoda is rumored to be getting his own spinoff movie as part of Disney's new series of Star Wars films.
News of the diminutive Jedi master's elevation from supporting character status comes following the announcement of a new trilogy of Star Wars films after Disney purchased all rights to the series for $4.05bn last October.
The studio announced last month that Star Trek director JJ Abrams will take on the first movie, Episode VII, and screenwriters are already in place to take on the two subsequent installments. However, there have also been regular rumors that Disney plans spinoff films in a similar vein to the plethora of character-based superhero movies that have emerged in the past few years under its wholly-owned Marvel Studios banner. Now it looks as if Yoda could be coming out of retirement as part of plans put in place by new LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy.
"The first standalone film is going to center upon Yoda. At this stage, specifics are sparse, but Kathleen Kennedy is putting together a Star Wars slate.
"I've also heard tale of a Jabba story that Lucas has floated to some of his buddies. But word is Yoda is first."
Yoda featured in all three of the prequel movies, though in the last two he was depicted in CGI rather than in original puppet mode, much to the chagrin of some older fans. The character was voiced (and controlled for the classic trilogy) by Frank Oz, the former Jim Henson collaborator who also brought Muppets such as Miss Piggy to life. It is not known whether the 68-year-old, who has made a career as a film director in recent years, is in line to return to the role.
A Yoda movie could potentially throw a spanner in the works for Disney's previously announced plans to set the new Star Wars trilogy after 1983's Return of the Jedi. Were the Jedi master to appear in his own movie before turning up in the new trilogy, it would require some serious recon work, because Yoda died in that film. Nevertheless, the series has shown in the past that death need not be a barrier to returning in a future installment. Despite being killed off in the Return of the Jedi, Alec Guinness played Obi Wan Kenobi in two more Star Wars films.
I recently was invited to play in a new gaming group and it was just my luck that they were playing the new Iron Kingdoms RPG. So for the last few days I have been reading through the new Iron Kingdoms Core Rules book graciously provided by my GM for the purpose creating my character and learning more about the game.. And I have to admit I have been smiling from ear to ear all the time.
The new Iron Kingdoms Core Rules book is a 358-paged full-color hardcover book which contains all the rules and background needed to run games set in the Iron Kingdoms campaign setting. As expected from a Privateer Press product the production quality is extremely high. Artwork and layout are on par with what you’ve seen in any of the WARMACHINE products. It’s a pleasure just to leaf through the book and enjoy the artwork. Yes, it’s that good.
The first section of the book (about 100 pages) focuses on the world of Caen in general and the area of Western Immoren in particular. You get a detailed description of the history of the Iron Kingdoms, the cosmology and an overview of life in Western Immoren. By the way, some of you might not have heard of the Iron Kingdoms before, so let me give you a short introduction: The world of Caen is not your regular fantasy world. Yes, there are the typical fantasy races you’d expect and yes, there is magic, but Western Immoen (which is the area the game is set in) also went through an industrial revolution, which led to all kinds of mechanical marvels like Steamjacks (coal-driven golems), trains, steam engines and firearms. The nations of Western Immoren which are also called the Iron Kingdoms were formed after the successful rebellion against the evil Orgoth Empire who had conquered the area four centuries earlier. Nowadays the Iron Kingdoms consist of the human nations of Cygnar, Khador, Llael, Ord, the Protectorate of Menoth, the dwarven nation of Rhul, Ios, the homeland of the elves and the hostile island nation of Cryx. The Iron Kingdoms are ripe for conflict and there are countless opportunities for adventures.
The second section of the book (about 70 pages) is all about characters. Character creation in the IK RPG is a pretty straight forward process but allows for a huge variety of different characters. You start by choosing your character’s race (Human, Dwarf, Iosan (Elf), Nyss (Elf), Gobber, Ogrun, and Trollkin). After that you pick one of the four archetypes: Gifted, Intellectual, Mighty and Skilled. Each archetype grants the character with a special ability (like an additional die on melee damage rolls in the case of the Mighty) and allows the player to pick once from a list of benefits (like Photographic Memory or Genius for the Intellectual). Archetypes also play a role when it comes to picking careers. Each character gets to pick two careers. Some careers have prerequisites (like Gifted only or Human only), but aside from that you’re free to mix and match.
In my opinion the career system is a stroke of genius. It takes the best aspects of class systems but none of the inherent problems. Class systems have the advantage that they make things much easier especially for new players like myself. But often classes can also be restrictive in certain ways. The careers in the IK RPG provide the character with a set of skills, abilities, spells (if the career allows spellcasting) and starting gear. Each career also comes with a list of skills and abilities a character following said career can learn in the future. By combining two careers you basically get a huge number of different combinations that allow for a wide variety of character types. You want to play a noble mage? Then combine Arcanist with Aristocrat. Your perfect character started out as a priest but decided to join the military instead, why not combine Priest and Soldier? The following careers are in the book: Alchemist, Arcane Mechanik, Arcanist, Aristocrat, Bounty Hunter, Cutthroat, Duellist, Explorer, Fell Caller, Field Mechanik, Gun Mage, Highwayman, Investigator, Iron Fang, Knight, Mage Hunter, Man-at-Arms, Military Officer, Pirate, Priest, Rifleman, Soldier, Sorcerer, Spy, Stormblade, Thief, Trencher, and last but not least Warcaster.
After picking your career you get to increase your character’s stats (each member of a race starts with the same stat profile) and then you can apply some finishing touches. What I like most about the system is that character creation is very quick and quite straightforward while still giving the players access to a huge variety of character concepts. The Character section of the book also contains an extensive description of all the skills and abilities and gives examples for target numbers with each skill.
Then after creating your characters the party comes together and picks from one of the available Adventuring Companies. These companies not only provide a theme and some special benefits, they also give a reason why the characters are working together. Choosing an adventuring company is of course optional and subject to GM discretion, but it’s another idea that could help players and GM to get into the game quicker.
The third section of the book covers the rules of the game. I have to admit that I was actually surprised that the general rules section (including combat rules) is just about 30 pages. Skill rolls are done by rolling 2d6 and adding the relevant Skill Level and Stat. The result is then combined with a target number set by the GM. The game gives examples for appropriate target numbers for all the skills, but an experienced GM may basically use handwaving to come up with target numbers if he or she wishes to. Especially when it comes to non-combat actions the crunch level is surprisingly low.
Things get a bit more complex when combat is involved and the Iron Kingdoms RPG shows its kinship to the WARMACHINE miniature game here. If you have played WARMACHINE or HORDES before, you should feel right at home. The rules recommend that you use miniatures and a battlemap for combat, but there are also guidelines for people who prefer not to. Ranges are given in both inches (for miniature play) and feet, which is something I wish other games would have done as well (D&D 4th Edition I am looking at you!). Explaining all the various combat rules would probably be beyond the scope of the review. If you wish to get an idea of what combat in the IK RPG looks like, check out the WARMACHINE quick start rules which are freely available on the Privateer Press site. As you would expect from a combat system based on a miniatures game there are rules for every situation and there’s not a lot of room for GM fiat when it comes to combat. The combat rules are also a bit more crunchy than I usually prefer but it’s definitely less complex than games like D&D 3rd Edition.
One aspect of the combat rules I like a lot are the Life Spirals. In the case of simple NPCs the game usually just uses Vitality points to track damage. But in the case of important NPCs and Player Character the Life Spiral is used. As you can see to the right each character has a life spiral with 6 branches grouped into three aspects tied to the character’s main stats: Physique, Agility and Intellect. Whenever a character takes damage, you roll a d6 to determine where you start marking off Vitality points. Are there no more unmarked Vitality points in the branch, you move to the next one clockwise. If all Vitality points are filled the character succumbs to his or her wounds. So what’s the deal with the branches then? When all Vitality points of a branch are filled the character suffers from the effects listed next to the Life Spiral. A crippled physique reduces a characters STR by two for example. It’s not as elaborate as other systems, but quite effective.
Another thing I like a lot is the Injury Table you roll on after a character has been incapacitated. The long-term effects of the injuries the character sustained can reach from death (on a roll of 3 on 3d6) to being scarred or even crippled. The table in my opinion perfectly fits into the somewhat gritty feel of the Iron Kingdoms setting.
The next chapter in the book is about Magic. In the Iron Kingdoms there are two kinds of magic traditions: will weavers and focusers. Will weavers use their own willpower to harness arcane energies while focusers tap into the ambient magical energies around them. As a Gifted character you have to choose between those traditions. Will Weavers are a lot like the spell casters you know from other games, while focusers are a bit different. They can use their arcane energies to control steamjacks and also use their magic to boost attack and damage rolls (even for non-magical attacks). The book contains a quite extensive list of spells and each Gifted career has its own spell list. The only thing that bothers me a bit is that the spells are very combat focused and the spell descriptions are extremely short. Some more fluff texts would have been nice there. But this is nothing that couldn’t be remedied in later books.
Gear, Mechanika, and Alchemy are the topics of the following chapter and again it’s one of the highlights of the book. The gear list covers everything your character could ever have dreamed of from a simple knife to Warcaster armor and the iconic Iron Kingdoms Great Coat. The rules for creating your own mechnika like mechanikal weapons or armor are another highlight of the book. For a lot of people (including me) the mechanikal marvels of the setting were what made us fall in love with the Iron Kingdoms, so having some crafting rules at our fingertips is a huge thing! The section on Alchemy starts by giving us some information on the origins and usage of Alchemy in Western Immoren and the rules needed to create Alchemical items in-game. There are basically sixteen primary ingredients alchemists can buy or gather which can be used to mix several alchemical items including grenades.
The next chapter is all about Steamjacks, probably the most iconic aspect of the setting. Steamjacks are mechanikal constructs, not unlike golems in other settings, that are given the ability to think by a magical brain called the cortex. Steamjacks are usually powered by coal and can be commanded by simple spoken commands or by a Warcaster through telepathy. Steamjacks are used in all parts of Western Immoen. There are Laborjacks built for physical labor and the more elaborate military Warjacks. The chapter describes the components of Steamjacks in detail and provides rules for assembling and updating your own steamjack. In addition to that additional combat rules for steamjacks are given, which are – not surprisingly – based on the WARMACHINE rules for steamjacks. There are also rules for steamjack development. Yes, your Warcaster’s steamjack can get better over time and even develop a personality. Thumbs up!
The last chapter is on “Full-Metal Fantasy Game Mastering”. Luckily it doesn’t try to give you game mastering advice you have heard thousands of times before but focuses on what you need to successfully run a game set into the Iron Kingdoms. There are guidelines on how to create NPCs, how to design encounters and the book gives you some advice on what kind of scenarios and campaigns to run. Last but not least some tips on how to play without miniatures are given.
The book concludes with a very short bestiary that looks more like an afterthought than a proper bestiary, a couple of useful (and very good-looking) sheets and an extensive index.
Overall the Iron Kingdoms roleplaying is exactly what I hoped for when I first saw the Privateer Press booth and information on Iron Kingdoms RPG at Gen Con this last year. The production value of the book is top-notch, the career system is pure genius and the background chapters are the most in-depth look on the Iron Kingdoms I’ve read so far. The combat rules are a bit on the crunchy side, but because of the compatibility to the WARMACHINE rules, veteran WARMACHINE players should have no trouble getting into the RPG as well. The only disappointing aspects of the book is the very short bestiary and the lack of an introductory adventure. Luckily Privateer Press already provided an expanded bestiary as a free PDF on their site. The Iron Kingdoms RPG by Privateer Press is definitely a must-have for every Iron Kingdom fan!
Do you remember back in July when we had author Timothy Zahn on the show and he mentioned his upcoming Star Wars book “Scoundrels”? Its out now and this book is Timothy Zahn’s return to the Star Wars universe and he delivers us what he called a Star Wars meets Ocean’s Eleven, starring Han Solo, Chewbacca, Lando, and a number of other characters for those of us who have read any of the Expanded Universe would know (and several new characters, too.)
The story is set just after the events of A New Hope, Han Solo is as we know in debt to Jabba, and is looking for a score that will settle his debts with the crime lord. When one that is too good to be true falls into his lap. It’s a daring heist and he’ll need a team to pull it off. He brings in a whole host of criminals, rogues, and scoundrels and they get set to work.
The story Zahn has created written very well and is straightforward for the long-con structure. That’s not to say there aren’t any twists and turns, like any good Ocean’s story there are MANY twists and turns, but they’re almost to be expected for this kind of story. Zahn manages to find ways to twist them one step further than you’d expect. There truly is nothing predictable about this book. And every time our scoundrels get a bead on how to do things, a new hydrospanner is thrown into the sublight drive.
The book is highly entertaining and enjoyable. I had a smile on my face and chuckled the whole time while readin. Tim’s writing just does that. It’s sure of itself and knows what it’s doing. To quote Bryan Young of Big Shiny Robot, “there aren’t enough Star Wars books that maintain that light-hearted sense of adventure that permeates Star Wars. Too often they’re brooding affairs”. Sometimes you just want a fun Star Wars book, and this book delivers just that!
The assortment of characters is great, from the con-men employed to Han and Lando’s delicate relationship. It all rang in such a way that it made me very happy. I also really loved the way Winter was used in the book, and how they actually played on the recent destruction of the planet Alderaan. In the movie it really didn’t seem like enough attention was paid to the fact that billions of people were killed on Alderaan and there are people in the galaxy who felt it. Zahn gives us that window through Winter and utilizes her better than I can ever remember her being used.
This book is a great read because the book ends in a way that forces you to want to immediately start it over again, and I wouldn’t blame anyone who does. It’s a totally different experience reading it over from the beginning knowing what you learned through the first read through. Just know that there are revelations you learn by the end of the book that almost require a second reading.
I would give this book 5 star. Its excellent Star Wars book and a must read!