Fugitives, Potter Books, and Sciences – Geekout 30

Well, these posts are coming along less-frequently, so I’ll try not to spend too much time on every topic in the post. I’ve been writing posts based on prompts in a page-a-day calendar I received last year. Each page has three geeky topics on it. Today I’ll be naming Two Characters that are Hunted by a Government Agency, Two Harry Potter Book Titles, and Six Types of Sciences.

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Here we go!

Two Characters that are Hunted by a Government Agency

This is a fun one! There are so many good choices here, but I doubt many of my regular readers will be surprised by my choices here!

River Tam

After listing River, I jokingly included “Simon Tam” as my second choice, however, that was just because my wife was watching me type this. I am not going to include him, and anyway, River is more important than Simon to them. They’re only after him to get River anyway. If you don’t know, River and Simon are siblings from Firefly.

Without getting too spoilery, River was extremely smart and experimented on by the Alliance government. After Simon managed to break her out of captivity, they’ve been on the run ever since. The government officials that are following River are quite scary.

Aeris Gainsborough

Everyone’s favorite Flower Girl from Final Fantasy VII, Aeris is hunted by the Turks. While we could get into a debate over the Turks, since Shinra is a corporation and not the “government”, I’m not going to fight too hard on that point. Anyone who has played the game and met the “mayor” of Midgar would likely let me slide on this one.

Two Harry Potter Book Titles

Now this is an easy one. At first seeing this prompt, my wife and I were suggesting that I should do all 7 book titles in order by the number of pages in the books. I’m not confident that I can get the ordering perfectly, and I also don’t feel like writing that much, so I’ll be naming two of the books that I like the best.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Probably my favorite of the series, this book brings in plenty of great things expanding the world. Some of the best include the Marauders’ Map, which becomes very important in later books and facilities all kinds of hijinks.  It also introduces Sirius Black, the Prisoner of Azkaban in the title. Additionally, it’s one of the books featuring a secret mission for Dumbledore.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The Order of the Phoenix was a very interesting novel in name at least. We knew the name well before the book was released, and I remember lots of discussions over what the title could meaning. Dolores Umbridge is introduced in this book, and she’s quite the monster. As always, the Defense Against the Dark Arts class needs a teacher, and she’s probably the worst choice. She’s in the pocket of a misguided government, and endangers the entire wizarding world through her actions. Makes for an interesting story though!

Six Types of Sciences

Not sure where to start here or how specific to get. Types? Physical Sciences, Earth Sciences, Life Sciences, Social Sciences, Applied Sciences, and Mathematical Sciences could be what they mean, but if we’re treating those as the “types” there aren’t enough for it to ask for six. I think it means more specific than that. Since I think we all know sciences well, I’m just going to list for this one.

  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Geology
  • Computer Science
  • Psychology

Wrap Up

Didn’t expect me to pull a Firefly character, did you? Anyway, the next one will be about Gaming, Comics, and Sci-Fi.

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Hellboy, Sci-Fi Captains, and Flying Creatures – Geekout 23

Are you as excited for this list as I am? Probably not, since I’ve seen the prompts. Let’s jump right into this one! Today I’m tasked with naming Two characters from Hellboy, Four Fictional Sci-Fi Captains, and Four Fantasy Creatures that Fly.

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Let’s put it all together!

Two characters from Hellboy

Nope. I wasn’t excited about this one. The extent of my Hellboy knowledge is that I’ve seen parts of the movie a couple of times, many years ago. I also can’t come close to naming two characters.

Hellboy

Yep. I’m cheating here probably. This is all I’ve got. I know there’s the blue fish-looking guy and some others, but this is the only name I can come up with.

Four Fictional Sci-Fi Captains

This is one of the ones I was excited about, since there are some great choices.

Malcolm Reynolds – Firefly/Serenity

Malcolm is the Captain of the Serenity, a Firefly-class transport vessel. I’m not going to sit here and try to sell you on the show, I’m sure I (and others) have done that before.

Jean-Luc Picard – Star Trek

An honorable member of Starfleet, Jean-Luc Picard captains the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation, but I’m betting most of you knew that already. He and Kirk are Star Trek’s best known, which makes sense having each captained Enterprises on television and movies. And if you want to bother him, just barge in and call him John Luck Pickerd.

James Holden – The Expanse

I originally watched this series, but started reading the books before finishing watching the first season of the show. Now I’m nearly done reading the sixth (the most recent) book in the series. Season two will be out soon. It should cover the events of the second half of the first book. I’m looking forward to it. James Holden is a good captain of the Rocinante.

Han Solo – Star Wars

Didn’t think I’d skip this one, did you? Go Han Solo! This scruffy-looking Captain of the Millennium Falcon joins up with the rebellion after agreeing to ferry Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Have you really not seen Star Wars? If not, let me know. I’ve got recommendations for where to start!

Commander Shepard – Mass Effect

“I’m Commander Shepard and this is my favorite blog on the Internet.” – Commander Shepard

The protagonist of the Mass Effect series he/she captains the Normandy. I don’t want to get too into the details, since they’re pretty significant to the stories of the games. When playing the game, you decide whether Commander Shepard is male or female, so it’s hard to pronoun in this post.

Four Fantasy Creatures that Fly

One of the most useful abilities for a creature is flight. This level of mobility makes creatures useful in stories as hunters, mounts, and sometimes both!

Dragons

I’m not really sure what I need to say about Dragons as you should know of these already. There are plenty of types of dragons, and many of them are capable of flying. D&D players enjoy telling you the alignment of dragons based on the color of the dragon. It’s a thing.

Flying Bison – Avatar: The Last Airbender/Legend of Kora

In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang is often accompanied by his lifelong companion and friend, Appa. As a flying bison, Appa is able to carry Aang and his friends in their travels. Flying bison are very large creatures without wings, so how they manage to fly is quite mysterious. We know they’re using airbending (air magic from the show) somehow, but how they can keep such a heavy creature up is beyond me!

Griffin

Common in fantasy settings, griffins are mythical creatures composed of features of a lion and an eagle. They’ve got wings and talons from the eagle and have hind legs, bodies and tails of a lion. I think there’s some disagreement on the features of griffin heads, but I usually think of a lion head with a beak. Either way, they fly using those wings, so count for this list.

Interestingly, my character in the Solar Exalted game I’ve mentioned previously just finished taming a Griffin as a makeshift mount. Should be quite useful as I need to fly quite high very soon.

Thestral – Harry Potter Series

These creatures are visible only to those who’ve seen death, which means they’re invisible to many. They’re almost skeletal horses with bat-like wings and are how the carriages are pulled to Hogwarts Castle in the Harry Potter series.

Wrap Up

That’s all I’ve got for you today. Tune in next time for a post covering General Geekiness, Gaming, and Comics.

Pi, Tabletop Currency, and Female Supervillains – Geekout 19

Today I’ve got an interesting prompt. One of them doesn’t allow me to answer as I normally would. At least I’ll be back on track today! On this page, I’ll be writing about Four Digits of Pi, Four Tabletop Games that have Currency, and Four Female Supervillains.

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Easy day! Here goes!

Four Digits of Pi

Here’s what I know: 3.14159265358979. Much fewer than some people, but far more than enough for most calculations regular people ever need to do. I’ve known these since I was in school. I believe that my calculator did 3.1415926535898. It was rounding, and I looked up the next digit, deciding it was a reasonably smart place to round with a 9 coming next.

Four Tabletop Games that have Currency

I’m going to assume this means board/card games. I’m also going to assume that the game itself should have a physical representation of said currency.

Solarquest

Most people will not have heard of this one, but it was a childhood favorite of mine. This game is similar to Monopoly, because it’s a dice-rolling, property-buying game. As a property-buying game, you probably figured out that it also has money to facilitate the purchasing of those properties, paying port fees, and buying fuel. Instead of moving around the outside of the board, you move over most of the board as you travel around the solar system, orbiting planets.

I like the game better than it’s earth-based counterpart due to the additional strategic elements and control. Your ship requires fuel and you can manipulate fuel levels against other players as well as using it to attempt to stay around friendlier planets for longer periods of time. It’s also a great way to learn the names of moons of the various planets in our solar system!

Die Macher

My favorite board game, Die Macher will take you 4-6 hours to play. It varies based on the group, and I enjoy playing with 4 or 5 players. In the game, each player takes on the role of a German political party trying to win seats in regional elections. To achieve this, you will need to spend quite a bit of money. You can get some money from your membership through the game, but you’ll likely need to accept a “donation” or two (clearly not a bribe…) Instead of paper money, the game uses cards as money. The cards are small, so it’s easy to conceal your full wealth. Being cards, however, it’s easy to deal with than paper in most cases.

7 Wonders

Coins are the currency in this game, and they’re mostly used for buying access to resources from your neighbors. This makes for a great economic element to the game, because you can generate an economy by trading with your neighbor, or try to starve them out of money and resources. And maybe you behave one of those two ways with each neighbor! I like this game for its ability to play quickly with up to seven players; most games increase time greatly for each added player.

Firefly the Game

This game is a bit thematic, so it’s certainly not for everyone. I enjoy the theme though! Some of you may have guessed this. When playing this game, you choose which scenario you want to play. One is simply amassing stockpiles of money, and other scenarios are more complicated. Regardless, all of them will require you to get money in order to hire crew and buy the supplies needed to achieve your goals. The money in this game is paper, and the designs on the money are quite detailed.

Four Female Supervillains

Not sure exactly how to define a “supervillain”, but I’ll go with the villains against the supers regardless of whether the villain herself has super powers. Time to list some dangerous women!

Harley Quinn

As far as I know, she doesn’t have any super powers of her own, but Harley is able to give Batman and others some trouble. She’s a fun, well-liked character, so she’ll make the list. I prefer the harlequin-style she had originally to the modern interpretation of her character. Then again, I prefer strong female characters to eye-candied female characters. And I don’t pretend that she wasn’t used that way previously, but I think the modern interpretation jumped over the line that was previously tiptoed around.

Catwoman

An interesting character when done well. She was a bit strange in Batman Returns, and I loved that we got to see the “making of” her costume. While she’s not always the villain, she’s certainly not completely on the Good side. I like that this character can team up with either side depending on her interests at the time. There’s no doubt that she belongs on this list though!

Mystique

Her power may not seem all that crazy, but Mystique really is one of the most powerful of the mutants. When she’s not on your side, it’s dangerous. Being able to look like anyone else can get her a lot of power when militaries like ours exist. Imagine her getting access to nuclear missiles or ordering airstrikes. Most mutants cannot detect her illusions either, so she’s able to easily fool them. It’s be to be aligned with her when you can be!

Emma Frost

As a strong telepath, Emma Frost is one dangerous opponent. On screen, we’ve seen her cause quite a bit of trouble for Professor X. Anyone who can mess with people’s minds is dangerous, but she’s more than just a telepath. She can take on a diamond form, which must be quite difficult for most mutants to deal with.

Wrap Up

Some of you may be wondering why I type “Good” instead of “good”. That comes from playing enough games where I might say “capital ‘g’ good” to make sure I’m emphasizing an alignment rather than just an action. I felt like doing it here. I’m weird sometimes. Anyway, tune in next time for Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and General Geekiness.

Joss Whedon, Train Games, and Captain America – Geekout 14

Maybe today is the day I catch up. We’ll see if I can get a second out completed. I’ve been answering prompts from a page-a-day calendar I received for Christmas last year. Each day there’s a new prompt, and it’s surprisingly difficult to come up with an answer. Today I’m supposed to come up with Two Television Shows [for] which Joss Whedon was a Writer, Two Games in which Trains appear, and Two Captain America Enemies.

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All aboard the geekout train!

Two Television Shows for which Joss Whedon was a Writer

This was a sudden, but inevitable question. Can’t really ask nerdy stuff without covering Joss Whedon these days. Naming four would have been easy enough. Two is a walk in the cemetery waiting for vampires.

Firefly

Glad I got another change to reference Firefly. So far, I’ve only mentioned it as being a Sci-Fi television show, having a comic published by Dark Horse, and for featuring an iconic named sci-fi starship. Clearly I am not a fan of the show. I’d like to thank everyone who helped make this show! It was really great!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

A show that was on at my house when I was a kid. This didn’t really catch my interest then, however, I’ve since gone back and watched it. I really enjoyed the show. Does this surprise anyone? Of course not! It’s got Quark in it! Armin Shimerman plays Principal Snyder of Sunnydale High in this show. It probably is Quark, considering that the he and Rom landed on Earth decades before the events of Buffy the Vampire Slayer took place!

Two Games in which Trains appear

The number just wasn’t high enough for me here. I’m going over two. Didn’t know what kind of games it meant, so I chose board and video.

Ticket to Ride

Starting obvious, this is the most widespread board game about trains. It’s a light-weight, fun game that you can pick up at most stores. Don’t even need to visit your local game shop for this one. They’ve released different versions of the game as well.

Mario Kart 64

Wanted to pick something unexpected, so this is it! There’s a train in the desert level of the game.

Railroad Tycoon

This one is actually a trick. Did I intend the video game or the board game? Both! And based on that name, I think you can guess that there are trains in the games. The board game is quite fun, but it’s much heavier and longer than Ticket to Ride. Also, the board game no longer has the license to use the name from the video game. It’s now called Railways of the World.

Final Fantasy VII, VIII, XIII

I am certain that more of them also have trains if I thought about it, but these definitely have them. You start the game on a train in both 7 and 13. And you first meet Laguna, Kiros, and Ward on a train ride in 8.

Two Captain America Enemies

I wanted to say “Tony Stark” and “Bucky Barnes”, but my wife got mad at me for suggesting that. Bummer. Sometimes I like being horrible like that!

Red Skull

Classic and evil-looking, Red Skull is an obvious enemy of Captain America. He’s from the comics and was portrayed by Hugo Weaving in the recent movies, which means he was well-played. Look, I know another actor’s name!

Arnim Zola

Evil nerds are fun. Here we have a brilliant enemy scientist. I don’t want to get into everything he’s involved in during the movies for fear of spoilers, but for those in the know, it’s fun stuff! For definitions of fun that don’t require being Good.

Wrap Up

Added some extras here, because these were fun choices. Tomorrow’s categories will be sci-fi, fantasy, and general geekiness.

RPGs, WW2, and Sci-Fi TV – Geekout 6

I am disappointed that the first prompt for the day only requires listing 2, but I can understand that for many people only 1 is obvious. Let’s jump in! Today’s prompt is Two Tabletop RPGs, Four Comic Book Characters Alive During WW2, and Six Sci-Fi Television Shows.

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I’ll warn you in advance that I’m adding an honorable mentions list to my gaming question of the day, since I’ve got too many to name.

Two Tabletop RPGs

Well here’s one that I wish had a larger number. Yeah, plenty of people are going to name one obvious one and have trouble coming up with a second. That’s just that outside the RPG community, only one game has risen to the public’s mind as much as D&D.

Dungeons & Dragons

Considering that the Geekout prompts have already challenged me to name Two Dungeons and Dragons Character Classes, it seems like they made this one incredibly simple to get the first. Even people who’d forgotten the game existed would’ve been reminded five days ago.

As I mentioned in that post, I’ve been playing this game a looong time. My father got my playing D&D using the first edition advanced books. As years passed, my friends and I moved through Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition, Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition, Dungeons & Dragons v3.5, Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition, and Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition. Yes, I did play Pathfinder (a.k.a. D&D 3.75).

Here are some of my D&D books that were near enough to grab and take some quick photos. I grouped them roughly by edition, having the 3.0 and 3.5 together.

AdvancedDungeonsAndDragonsSecondEditionAdvancedDungeonsAndDragonsDungeonsAndDragonsThirdEditionDungeonsAndDragonsFourthEditionDungeonsAndDragonsFifthEdition

 

Exalted

While you might have thought that my favorite Tabletop RPG (based on the amount of D&D I’ve played) is D&D. It’s not. My favorite game is definitely Exalted. I’ve been playing in an infrequently played Exalted campaign for years now, and my group gets together to play whenever we’re in the same city.

My regular, weekly gaming session is currently an Abyssal Exalted game and the less frequently played one is a classic, Solar Exalted game.

Solar Campaign

In my solar campaign, I play a priest of the Unconquered Sun. As anyone who knows the game would expect, the character is a Zenith caste. He frees slaves, protects innocents, and tries to provide food and shelter to anyone and everyone he can. Driven primarily by compassion and conviction, he’s trying to carve out a better world than what exists today.

Abyssal Campaign

Surprisingly, this campaign has had a severe lack of combat considering we’re playing Abyssals, which are commonly known as Death Knights. We’ve been working behind the scenes and are establishing positions where we’re likely to behave more like you’d expect from creatures of darkness. Just hasn’t happened yet. We find it funny, because our “light-side” game involves much more killing than the “dark-side” one.

Honorable Mentions

  • Pathfinder – Often referred to as D&D 3.75, this game leveraged the D20 system based on Wizards of the Coast making it an open system for expansion. That means that when D&D went to 4th edition, the people who thought it had gone the wrong way we able to fall back to 3.75. My group was among those, and we enjoyed Pathfinder as it added new life and ideas to D&D 3.5.
  • Eclipse Phase – A game I’ve played once that seemed very interesting. It’s futuristic, and has some cool mechanics. I’ve got the book for it, and I’d like to use that to play the game more. It’s so hard to get games going (and finding the time to play them requires even more!)
  • GURPS –  I wanted to mention this one despite my not having played it. I know plenty of people who swear by this system. They tend to be the people who play way too many Steve Jackson games already. The name of this system is ridiculous. It’s the “Generic Universal RolePlaying System”, and yes, people do say “gurps” rather than spelling G-U-R-P-S.
  • Shadowrun – I’ve only played a little bit of Shadowrun, but it’s also a very cool roleplaying game. It is set in a fictional future society and combines technology and fantasy ideas. There are fantasy creatures like elves, dwarves, etc. in their world, and it’s on Earth still. It’s set in the future, so technology has advanced some. I’ve often laughed with people about how off the game is in its technology though. A challenge that anyone imagining the future will run into!

Four Comic Book Characters Alive During WW2

OK. This one is a little tough, since I know my comic book characters mostly through their cartoon, movie, and TV adaptations rather than the comics. I’m fairly certain that my selections here were alive during WW2 in the comic books, but I can’t say for certain.

Captain America

This one should be obvious, so I started here. This is kind of his thing, since he’s basically the character made to fight that war. With all of the movies about him, do I really need to say much more? No I’m not including his friend Bucky in the list.

Magneto

I’d guess he’s that old in the comics as well, since he’s been around for quite a long time, and he’s (as far as I know) often one of the older characters. In the films they certainly have him alive for WW2. In fact, it’s quite central to his character’s backstory in the films. He’s got the tattoo as a reminder of that time period.

Wolverine

Not sure how old Wolverine is to be honest, but given that he doesn’t really get much older, it’s not hard for him to have been there. At least in his origin movie, he was definitely there for WW2.

I liked this character a lot as a kid, despite the outfits from that period that I now laugh at. He’s interesting because the claws are nice, but his real power is just healing. On the surface that might seem super amazing, but keep in mind that is different from impervious. When Superman deflects a bullet, does it hurt? I doubt it. I’d guess that Wolverine feels every cut before it heals closed. Now that would build a not-so-light-side character over time.

Peggy Carter

And we’re back to the badass herself, Agent Peggy Carter! Yes, she’s probably more of a badass now than she was in the early comics, but she’s kicks some serious butt. Obviously around for the right time period, since she was in that time period with Cap.

Six Sci-Fi Television Shows

Well here’s a great one for me! I’ve watched so many sci-fi shows, so I’m going to lump franchises together. I’d have too many to list otherwise.

Star Trek

Is there a more iconic answer to this? I don’t think anything else could have come before Star Trek. Sure, Trek and Wars are often compare, but Wars is known for movies and Trek for TV. They may both cross over that, but traditionally that’s where each stood strongest.

My favorite of these would surprise many people. I’m a Deep Space Nine fan, which is not a common opinion. It bridged the Next Generation and Voyager gap nicely. So far no Star Trek series has been made that I did not enjoy. I’m not sure if I’m going to watch the upcoming one, since they’re planning to have it be streaming only and behind a subscription paywall. If I were watching their full lineup of shows, maybe, but I’m not and won’t be.

Firefly

This is a fantastic, wonderful show that probably could have and should have been one of the greatest shows ever made. Joss Whedon is known for doing ensemble casts well, and this show is a lot of the reason why he’s known for that. I’d watch the heck out of this show if it continued, but I don’t want it to continue anymore. More than anything else, I worry that this canceled-too-soon show will be made far worse if it were continued at this point.

I did not watch the show when it originally aired. To be honest, I didn’t get a good vibes from the marketing of the show during its airing. After it was cancelled, some people made sure I saw the show. I was hooked after watching the first episode. Yes, the 2 hour pilot that Fox didn’t air until the show had been marked for cancellation was so good that it along sold me on the show. Most shows take a few episodes before I’m really into them.

Anyway, if you want t good Firefly rant, I enjoy this video. The Firefly rant starts at 1:30.

Battlestar Galactica

I’m referring to the reimagined series here, not the original. I tried to watch that one, but just didn’t get into the original one. As you’d expect, fans disagree on which parts are good and bad, etc. Through the series, however, I believe the best part is the characters. I may not always agree with the directions a character took, but I love the characters in this story. And if you’re a board gamer, I’m a big fan of the board game based on this show. The more popular game, The Resistance, is pretty much based on a mechanic from this board game.

Stargate

Again I’m talking about multiple shows here. SG1, the original series, is a classic that is loved by the fans. Before the later-season cast changes, it’s one of the best shows you’ll find within the genre. No, the issues weren’t the cast changes themselves, but the show did start going off the rails a bit toward the end. I think they were just getting exhausted for ideas and still trying to keep the show going.

Teal’c, Daniel Jackson, Samantha Carter, Jack O’Neill, “Hammond of Texas”, and a wide variety of other enjoyable characters kept that show going strong for a long time. The concept itself is great, and it allowed the series to expand on the idea a few times.

I’ll probably bug some people here, but I did not like Atlantis. I watched it at the beginning, but it lost me very quickly. The show seemed to drift from science fiction into fantasy, and that’s not what I like in my Stargate. It just didn’t feel like Stargate anymore.

And for the show that got cancelled too early, Stargate: Universe, it only received two seasons of content, which in some ways seems deserved. The issue, however, is that the show was great right at the start, and didn’t hit its stride until it was nearing its cancelation. Yes, that happens a lot with shows, they get something going and just end. And yes, I’m a big fan of Nicholas Rush in the show.

I didn’t watch infinity, so I’ve not much to say on that point.

My favorite episode of Stargate is definitely the Groundhog Day Episode, “Window of Opportunity”, which features a Groundhog Day-like timeloop. In it, Jack starts each loop being asked a question by Daniel while he’s eating his bowl of Fruit Loops. The problem is that Jack didn’t hear the question the first time, so can never answer that question. The best part is after Daniel suggests that they can do anything, so they decide to go golfing through the Stargate. “Colonel O’Neill, what the hell are you doing?” “IN THE MIDDLE OF MY BACKSWING?!?!”

Sliders

This must be the least popular of the shows on this list, but Sliders did have quite a few seasons in the 90s. In this show, the main character invents a device that allows people to “slide” between dimensions. He and some others end up traveling together through dimensions as they try to find their way home. It’s a fun show that obviously gets off its rails quickly, but there are some good seasons at the beginning if you’re interested in some 90s nostalgia.

The Expanse

My wife suggested we watch this series. I agreed, since it sounded interesting. After watching a couple of episodes, she mentioned something about the books. Well, I’d not heard of the book series, so I started reading the books. They’re great! I’m currently reading the 6th book, which came out almost exactly a month ago. I’m not reading it quickly, usually a chapter at a time. I think the TV show did the books justice, and I’m really looking forward to what they do going forward.

If you’re interested, the first season of the show doesn’t follow the books exactly, but is mostly the first half of the first book. Looks like they’re pulling in characters earlier than they appear in the books, but this makes sense for a TV show where you need to meet characters sooner. Books can get away with that a little better.