Silver Screen Smackdown-Pacific Rim

I went to see Pacific Rim last Thursday.  Let’s see what I thought…..

 

TL;DR-GO SEE THIS NOW!  GO!  WHY ARE YOU STILL READING?!  GO!

 

Plot-This movie has a simple plot.  Let me spoil it for you.  Monsters show up, we built robots, fights ensue.  Now the robots are being shelved in favor of a giant wall.  The lone military man has a drastic plan to bring things to a climatic finish…  Wow, that’s original..but it works!  The whole thing seems way to simple on paper, but there it is.  And it does its story proud.  The movies about giant robots, and you get giant robots.  People on scene?  Talk about robots or monsters.  Every second drive the plot, and the plot is robots!  This is awesome.  You don’t get some weird “America #1” message, or hate OPEC, you get a streamlined plot dedicated to making you love giant robots and feel for the people caught in the monsters path.  This is what I wanted, and this is what I received.

 

Theme and Elements-In a bold move for a movie, the movie has some political elements mixed in, but only as at most a simple side quest in a giant movie.  Ideas like a giant wall to keep things out that ultimately don’t work, international collaboration etc are background noise in the movie.  Nothing that makes the movie jump the rails to a different path, but it’s there.  The major theme is-HERE IS AN ANIME MOVIE ABOUT ROBOTS AND MONSTERS!  All the set pieces are here and they do the dance that has been made famous in Japan quite well.  The stereotypes are there:  Russians who walked right out of Stalin Propaganda, the Asian kung-fu masters, romances between robot pilots, and interestingly enough an Australian pair who only missed a didgeridoo to be from the set of Mad Max.  Think of any 1980’s keiju anime series, and you have most of the elements of this movie.  That’s not bad, that what I wanted out of this.  This movie could have done something completely strange and tried to do what so many failed anime/American movie combos have been (looking at you Street Fighter and Dragon Ball Z, and you in the corner Matrix, I haven’t forgotten about you!).  Del Toro made the last 1/4 of a excellent anime series.  The first 3/4 is done in an excellent pre-title montage that handles thing well and jumps you right into the action.  While I love a convoluted story as much as the next guy, the original Super Mario Brothers was the last 1/4 of the story, and that made it great!  The same can be said here.  The movie knows what ground it wants to cover and it does it well.

 

The elephant in the room-Two quotes from two movies

“Today we are canceling the apocalypse!”-Pacific Rim

“On this our Independence Day!”-Independence Day

Combined-“Today we are canceling the apocalypse on this out Independence Day!”  reads like it belongs there, doesn’t it?  While I love this movie, it does feel like a strange homage to ID4.  That’s not bad, but it’s a thing.  The movie feels a bit like a distilled ID4 to capture all the good parts of the movie and make them better in this one.  Almost like distilling rotten water to make a good liquor.  You can feel the ID4 roots in this.  If you loved ID4, you will love this!

 

Cinematography and Looks-This movie is gorgeous!  The monsters are beautiful, and the mechs are beautiful.  Those are the focus and they shine.  The backgrounds are beautiful as well, but not distractingly so.  Actors look appropriate to the stereotypes they fill.  Best part that you might not notice: the helicopters!  They provide light.  You have night battles and they helicopters are a mobile light source that makes life that much better as you see what the hell is going on! (looking at you 1st AvP!)

 

Acting-  Let’s be honest, you’re not here to see Shakespeare, you’re here for robots!  But, in true Del Toro style, the part of the most that could have been neglected wasn’t.  The actors portray believable people in the world, and it makes the world that much more real.  No Oscars, but much better then it needed to be.

 

Let Downs-No movie is perfect, and a few logic things come to mind.  Why build the wall if monsters punch through it?  That isn’t really explained.  Why are the keiju a surprise if you know they come from one area?  Couldn’t you have teams out there 24-7 just ready to hit them when they happen?  Oceans big, but if there is only one door in, its not that hard!  Why is the one Australian such a dick at the start?  Why is the one scientist the first person to meld with a monster?  Heck, if I lived in that world, I’d be melding with any animal out there to see if it works!  These are small nitpicky things, but they make you wonder….

 

Things that you should look for like Waldo-

Russian Gwen Stefani

“Where is my shoe!”-Stay after the credits

Tentacles in a jar moving

Cthulhu Tech the movie!

Mi-Go

 

Final Thoughts-Its got its faults, but its awesome.  A worthy movie that you should go see now.  Worth the time and money.  Great new IP.  Now I just want to know if Del Toro will give up the mantel of this new world or remake this movie with enough sequels to kill the originality of the idea.  Rating: 8/10

Daily Punch 7-11-13

Lets work on the Monk of the Healing Way some more  now LEVEL 5!

Special Power-

The Price of Healing, lesser-When you use your channel divinity class feature, if you heal an enemy, roll the dice as normal.  For each enemy healed in this way, you may heal an ally the same number of hit points times 1.5.  The healed enemy must have been damaged during the battle, you may not benefit from this ability by healing an enemy who is at full hit points.  If no legal targets exist for this ability, it has no effect.

Daily Punch 7-9-13

Lets keep the Monk of the Healing Way going with its Level 3 power

 

The Empty Way to Peace-Monks of the Healing Way believe that weapons not only hurt the victim  but also the soul of those wielding them.  You gain the improved disarm feat.  In addition,you gain a +1 proficiency bonus to all disarm CMB attempts.  This increase every three levels of Monk of the Healing way.

Daily Punch 7-9-13

Lets keep rolling with my Monk of the Healing Way  Level 2!

 

Special Ability level 2

 

Flurry of Healing-As a full round action, a Monk of the Healing Way cast any spell with the healing descriptor.  She then casts the spell, but before resolving the effects, she may move as far as her movement speed.  This movement provokes attack of opportunity.  She may touch a number of allies equal to the number attacks granted by here flurry of blows class feature.  She may divide the amount of hit points healed by her spell among the allies touched in any way she chooses.

Daily Punch 7-8-13

I think for this week lets make a monk prestege class.  I love monks and clerics, will two good tastes go great together?

 

Monk on the Healing Way

Class Details

Hit Die: d8.

Requirements

To qualify to become a Monk of the Healing Way, a character must fulfill all the following criteria:

  • Skills: Knowledge (religion) 5 ranks, acrobatics 5 ranks, Diplomacy 5 ranks
  • Spells: Able to cast 2nd level divine spells.
  • Deity: Must have a patron deity with the healing domain.

Class Skills

The divine scion’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are acrobatics (Dex), climb (Str), Diplomacy (Cha),Heal (Wis), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Perception (Wis),Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), and Spellcraft (Int).

Skill Ranks Per Level: 3 + Int modifier.

Level Bonuses

Base Attack Bonus 3/4 Hit die

Fort 1/2 level + 1

Ref 1/2 Level + 1

Will 1/2 Level + 1

Level 1

Special

Cleric and Monk Abilities-A Monk of the Healing Way counts as a monk and a cleric for maintaining monk powers and cleric abilities.  Each level of Monk of the Healing way counts as an extra level of cleric for spell casting and channel energy and a monk for flurry of blows, unarmed damage, AC bonus, and fast movement.

Vow of Non-Violence-a Monk of the Healing Way has taken a vow to avoid violence through out his life.  He may never cast a spell from the necromancy school, must only do subdual damage to any living enemy, may never take part in an ambush, cannot attack before being attacked, must give aid to any creature asking for succor, and must attempt to pursue a peaceful resolution of any situation.  If at any time he breaks this vow, he loses all his cleric and monk class features including spell casting.  To regain these abilities, he must have an atonement spell cast upon him.

Daily Punch 4-5-13

I was playing some DnD Next with some friends, and I’ve had a special request for  an item

 

Bullwark Shield

A large shield made of heavy steel with a small arrow slit inthe front.  When viewed from above it looks like a large L.  The base is serrated to better dig into the ground

Price: 50gp

AC: +3

Weight: 50lb

Speed: -10 feet/-5 feet at Strength 16

Requires: Strength 13

This “shield” is not so much a shield as a portable wall.  You may use this as shield, but as a free action, you may dig the shield into the ground in front of you.  When you do so, you pick two connected sides.  You now have heavy cover from attacks made from those sides.  You may attack through the arrow slit at now penalty.

 

Daily Punch 7-4-13

Let’s round out the last of my Defender Classes in pathfinder with the fighter  I think a feat will start this off nicely….

Intimidating Glare-You stare down one enemy until he has no choice but fight you-You may target an enemy as a swift action with an intimidation check.  The DC of the check is equal to 10+CR of the monster.  If you succeed, the monster takes a -1 moral penalty to all attacks that do not target you.  For every five you beat the DC by, the moral penalty increase by one.  Monsters immune to fear and mind effects or mindless are immune to this ability.

 

Thoughts?

Ring Side Report-Shadowrun 5th Edition

I was one of the lucky few to get a copy of the Origins release of Shadowrun 5th edition (5e).  I’ve played 4th edition and love it, but what do I think about the new edition?  Let’s go into detail.

TL; DR-Great changes to a great system to make things run faster and better.  9.5/10

Physical Book-The physical book has to at least be five pounds!  That is impressive itself.  Just that alone pretty much justifies the $50 price tag, but wait there’s more!  The art is gorgeous and it’s on high quality glossy paper.  No, your sweaty hands will not rub off the ink.  I hate cheap paper and ink…  Based solely on the book quality, I was very happy.

Mechanics-While the game world may have changed, the mechanics really haven’t.  Take a skill, add the proper attribute, and roll that number of dice.  Quick, easy, fast.  That makes the game feel like Shadowrun.  You take a brick of d6’s, roll them, and pray for 5’s and 6’s.  Classic fun.  What did change is some of the smaller details.  I’ve seen two really big ones that stuck out in my mind: limits and attributes in tech.  In Shadowrun 4eA, you could roll 30 dice and get 30 successes (if you somehow do, buy a lotto ticket), but this doesn’t really make much sense.  You shouldn’t be able to bench press a Buick if your body and bones would break under the stress no matter how strong you are.  In the same way, if you are a silver-tongued devil, but you can’t read a person worth a damn, you can’t really do amazing feats of persuasion.  The limits in 5e prevent you from doing too much at a time.  Limits have also been added to gear to indicate that cheap gear is cheap for a reason (it doesn’t work that well).  The second thing is how much tech is dependent on attributes now.  To defend against a hacker you now use the abilities of the person it’s attached to or who is controlling/protecting it.  As someone who played a 4e hacker, it just stuck out in my mind as I ran the game.  There are smaller details like no multiple attacks in a round, just more penalties to the defender, but all and all the rules feel like Shadowrun, and that’s a good thing.  But at the same time, the game removed a bunch of smaller details from 4e.  There were fiddly bits that really didn’t make things better, they just added complication and that only served to keep the uninitiated out.  I tell you now, this edition of Shadowrun is the most user friendly for the hardcore runner and the fresh faced chummer out there.

Character Generation-Here is why I think 5e was created.  I LOVED 4e Shadowrun because of the customization, but that customization scared away more players that I can really count.  At character generation, you can build some impressive creations, but you can also make a problem that will only frustrate you to no end.  5e fixes this by adding a five by five grid for character generation.  If you can play simple Sudoku, you can now make a Shadowrun character in about 10 minutes.  The grid makes life SO MUCH EASIER!  Basically, you pick what you think is most important for your character: race (plus bonuses), ability points, magic ability, skills, and money.  The higher the row you pick, the better the items in that row.  This reinforces the mechanics and theme quite nicely.  Great mages can’t have too much money, but they don’t need much because it’s all internal.  Deckers and Riggers need nice toys, but magic isn’t important to them.  Pick how important things are to you, pick the row of that and move on.  Skill points and ability points are now 1 to 1 at character generation making life that much easier for quick start games and GM doing demos (THANK YOU!).  My only problem is gear is still hard to do.  I’m waiting for the gear packs to come out and make character generation an even easier process.

Theme-Shadowrun is cyberpunk.  Rolling d6’s for everything is an abstraction, but no more so than rolling a d20.  Aside from the realities of RPGs and dice, the game and theme work excellently together.  I was somewhat iffy on the limits, but they really make things feel more “real” in my fake fantasy game.  I even like the new rules for extended tests.  The quick thing is you can repeat some tests, but each time you do you lose one die.  Lose all the dice and you can’t get any better on some task.  Using attributes makes the tech heavy classes have to spread a bit more evenly on their persons instead of just buying new gear.  The priority system drives home choices you make and how they affect the person you’re playing before you even touch dice.  That makes me happy.  What I almost play a game making my person (one that will not kill my person as I make them, looking at you Battle tech!), it makes me happy.  Again, this edition of the game makes me very happy.

The elephant in the room-I’ve gushed over this edition for over a page, but the big question that I think most of you will ask is, is 5e worth it?  I had a friend ask me because less than 2 years ago, I bought all the 4eA books and now they are not really useful.  And after reading the book, and playing the game, I have to have to say a resounding yes!  The game is different enough to make it more fun.  I loved 4eA, but this game makes it better.  No messy character generation.  Fewer complicated rules for complication’s sake.  Less obfuscation to keep the more casual gamer out.  I was less happy when I bought my first Shadowrun 4e book then a year later bought the beginner box and had to get a 4eA book, but the 5e book is worth it on many levels.  It’s over 5lbs for one and for two the game feels right.  It’s fun, fast, and quick.  It feels like Shadowrun should feel, and I know that hard to get just right (fun).  The game moves quick now.  You don’t have one character steal the show by making 6 attacks in a round; more people get to shine in even clumsy GM hands (fast).  And finally, you don’t have the character generation problem.  When I ran my first demo of the game, we had two books and 7 people who did not have a character.  Two hours later, we had fully fleshed out mages, riggers, snipers, and adepts.  This makes the game quick. And this quickness makes it available to more gamers.  I really do hope this is the year of Shadowrun.  Even better, by making a new edition, I am less intimidated by the number of books out there.  In 4e, there were so many books, it was hard to know where to start; now I think I’ll be able to get them as they come out.  If you’re listening Catalyst, check out 13th ages’ model where I buy from a friendly local gaming store and you give me a free PDF.  That would make my day….

GM fun-I love the game, but only GM’ed a few times before.  Since this is a new edition, I’ve decided I want to break more into GM’ing this game since we are all on equal footing.   Since this is an RPG, the players immediately went off the rails and destroyed the well written plot within minutes.  I had to improvise quickly.  Using the new rules and book, I was able to keep the game rolling quickly and we all had a great time.  This looks very promising.

Non sequitur-Now a days, I do most of my reading about RPGs on my ipad.  This book came out only as a giant tome (yes, Catalyst, your book is so big it’s a tome not just a book).  It was somewhat strange to read this book about the future on ancient paper….I’m getting the PDF when it comes out (July 11th and ~$20, yes, you should go get it)

Summary-New, approachable edition of the game.  For ~$20 it’s worth every penny for the book.  Got get it!  Great changes to a great system to make things run faster and better.  9.5/10

Daily Punch 7-2-13

How about some love for the ranger in Pathfinder?

 

Intelligent Guidance-Its not what you know or who you know, its what your friends know-As a swift action, you may make a monster knowledge check against one monster that is considered you favored enemy.  The base DC for the check is equal to 10+CR of the monster.  If you meet the DC, you may extend you favored enemy benefits to every ally in 30 feet for one round.  For every five you beat the DC by, you may extend your benefits for an additional round.  This check only works for one particular enemy.  You must make additional checks for each enemy of a particular type you fight in a particular encounter.