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.

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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.

D&D, SHIELD, and Starships – Geekout 1

Welcome to my first GeekOut post! I received an interesting page-a-day desk calendar for Christmas 2016, and I feel like writing about the topics in the calendar. We’ll see how frequently I post these, but it should make for an interesting topic prompt for a geeky guy like me!

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Is this easy mode? I can easily manage this challenge. I expect this will get more difficult given time.

Two Dungeons and Dragons Character Classes

Anyone who knows me well enough will know exactly where I’m going to start with this one, as I often enjoy playing a Bard. A little more difficult to choose my second answer (with there being so many), but I’ll discuss Druids, a more unique spell-caster in the game. I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons in one form or another since I was a very small child. I must’ve been five or six years old when I first played the game with my father and slightly older brother. I still play D&D or other role-playing games on a regular basis.

Bard

Not always the most powerful character, in fact often known for never being the most powerful character, Bards are an absolute blast to play! As the name suggests, this class represents a traditional storytelling, poetic, musically inclined individual. While playing Dungeons and Dragons or other role-playing games, the bard’s role is more supportive than directly influential, inspiring greatness in others rather than himself.

Bards tend to wield poetics and music to affect a situation using an almost (or sometimes literal) magical element of their performance. Often spell-casters in D&D, bards magic (when they have it) is wielded through these performances, and can sometimes have their effects hidden within the songs themselves, making the onlookers unaware of the magical nature.

What I think many players of D&D campaigns miss, however, is that a party of adventurers is often liked for the wealth they bring to town. Their actions, while sometimes benevolent, are often also arrogant and destructive. Many campaigns seem to gloss over this, your adventurers may not be well liked. Your bard acts as your ambassador, both a well-liked person about town and also one to tell the tales of your actions that often improve the lives of the townsfolk.

Without a bard, who would tell the tales of how your barbarian wrestled the dragon to the ground or how your ranger managed to find the encampment of slavers who nearly made their escape with a dozen of your friends and family?

Often, however, people will leverage a bard to inspire humor rather than actual support.

Druid

Everyone knows of the studied Wizard in his robes and beard, but fewer know of the more primal magic of Druids. As on of the representatives of the natural world, the druid can be a useful ally in the wilderness. Druids come in all shapes and sizes, but tend to wield nature’s magic at the same level as their more studied, wizard peers. Druids spend their lives attuning themselves to nature rather than the arcane, and through it wield a different type of magic. Druidic magic works with plants, animals, and the world around them.

Rather than subverting the natural ways of things, the druid will attempt to work with them. Being a friend to nature, Druids also often have animal companions traveling with them, a fun addition to every party of adventurers making their way about town. That hermit in the woods with the magical powers, making potions, etc. is often the “druid” in story-telling. While he’s not a druid, Radagast the Brown is a nice stand-in for one within Middle-Earth.

Two S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents

While there may still be many to choose from, this is somewhat tougher than Dungeons and Dragons was. I enjoy Marvel (especially what they’ve done with their “Cinematic Universe” so far), but outside of a few team-ups, I wasn’t big into these growing up.

Peggy Carter

All of the filming that Marvel’s been doing lately has brought a lot of prominence to Agent Carter. With her receiving her own show after entering the Marvel Cinematic Universe through Captain America’s movie. Simply put, she’s quite the badass.

What makes these agents great (and she’s a standout in this regard) is that a lack of super powers never stops them from saving the world repeatedly. Peggy relies on her friends (being far greater for it), and is an inspiring leader to them as well!

Nick Fury

This character may be out of his original era, but he’s been re-invigorated by Samuel L. Jackson’s portrayal. This eyepatch-wearing director of shield seems to have plans within his plans. He’s one you don’t mess with, and it’s fun to see him on screen still.

The way he holds himself while dealing with (often uncontrollable) super heroes is impressive. He stands on their level and doesn’t back down. It’s hard to not have some respect for Nick Fury.

Phil Coulson a.k.a “Agent”

I couldn’t leave this one out. We’ll call him an honorable mention and leave it at that.

Six Iconic Named Sci-Fi Starships

And we’re back into an area I know well. I’ve been watching sci-fi shows since I was quite young. Growing up in a nerdy family meant that Star Trek TNG was on every week when I was little. As I grew older, I read and watched a great deal of sci-fi. Let’s jump/warp into some ships.

Starship Enterprise

Where else could I start this? I thought about cheating and answering with Enterprises: NX-01, NCC-1701, NCC-1701-A, NCC-1701-B, NCC-1701-D, and NCC-1701-E, but that did feel a bit like cheating. For this I’ll count them all as the USS Enterprise, but the number of incarnations of the vessel should show how iconic it is within the Star Trek universe.

While I may be a fan of Deep Space Nine, the USS Defiant isn’t as iconic as the Enterprise. It’s had more captains mentioned on screen than I can remember, and I’m sure the books have mentioned more individuals who’ve captained Enterprises (but I’ve not read the books). Kirk and Picard will both be remembered for a long time as captaining their vessels through TV shows and movies.

Millennium Falcon

I think many would have me strung up if I went somewhere other than Star Wars after Star Trek. Prior to being the smuggling freighter flown by Han Solo, this star ship belong to Lando Calrissian. Whil Star Wars is full of interesting ships, including Star Destroyers, Super Star Destroyers, X-Wings, Y-Wings, A-Wings, TIE Fighters, TIE bombers, etc. Those, however, are all types of ships, and often not named. While there are some important ships in the series like the Tantive IV, the Slave I, or the Executor, none follow the action of the series as well or as significantly as the Falcon.

Plus, there’s something magical about the idea of the independent ship out for itself in a whole galaxy full of danger and opportunity. I think this ship must have influenced a lot of others, and the idea certainly resonates with me. I can see the influence in Firefly as well as Outlaw Star, two of my favorite shows.

Serenity

Firefly may have ended earlier than many would liked, the show continues to live on in the fans. The Firefly-class ship featured in the show is Serenity, a cargo vessel captained by Malcom Reynolds. The show may seem to be an ensemble cast of 9 characters crewing the vessel, but when you watch the show, you realize the 10th character is the vessel.

With the reception the show has had, and all of the love from fans, I think this less-than-one-season show will live in people’s hearts longer than one would otherwise expect. Amazingly, the vessel (and its show) was brought back to wrap up the story in the film named for the ship!

Battlestar Galactica

I think having a television series re-imagined decades later, and both series being titled for one-specific show the entire series revolves around makes a starship fairly iconic. While many may not know the show at all, the name is likely known to them well.

Being a bastion of humanity traveling through space makes the ship important throughout the story, and while some may argue about the quality of the shows, it’s hard to argue that this is not an iconic ship.

Heck, I’ve played the Battlestar Galactica board game more times than most people want to think about, and I do still enjoy the game!

Discovery One

While 2001: A Space Odyssey may not have continued the way that some other science fiction stories have, many know of it still. I think what makes this ship iconic today is less the ship itself than HAL 9000, the AI in control of many of the ships functions.

Take this off the list, HAL.
I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
What’s the problem?
I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.

The Milano

Yeah, I’m stretching here, since I kind of decided to keep it to one per franchise, but Guardians of the Galaxy has really captured people’s attention. Star Lord a.k.a Peter Quill owns and pilots this nimble vessel. Plus, it’s got a cassette player! Who doesn’t love that?!?!

I’m noticing a trend here, with the Milano, Millennium Falcon, and Serenity making three ships involved in not-so-legal activies captained by similarly overconfident characters. Either way, they’re fun!

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order)

  • Slave I – Star Wars
  • Executor – Star Wars
  • Tantive IV – Star Wars
  • USS Voyager – Star Trek
  • USS Defiant – Star Trek
  • Rodger Young – Starship Troopers
  • Rocinante – The Expanse
  • The Heart of Gold – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • Normandy – Mass Effect
  • O’Neill – Stargate
  • George Hammond – Stargate
  • Destiny – Stargate