Posted in: Dune, Movies, Reviews, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction

Spoiler free thoughts on Dune

The latest Dune movie adaptation finally came out. As I had mentioned in my James Bond: No Time To Die review, I was planning to see Dune in the theaters. Today my wife and I had some free time to go catch a matinee showing. Not only did I love the movie, but it made me think back to the long relationship I’ve had with this franchise. As I’m writing this blog entry, I can turn my head to the left and see the 1984 Dune movie poster displayed in my office.

Dune is another of the many science fiction and fantasy interests that I inherited from my Father. I remember him being excited for the 1984 David Lynch Dune movie. The advertising was everywhere including a poster on the door at my neighborhood 7-11 store. When the different versions of this movie (with different intros giving more background than the theatrical release) were aired on television, we had to record them on our VCR. On one trip to see family out-of-state, my parents picked me up and we listened to one of the books on CD (it was one of the House books). I remember trying to read one of the later Dune books in high school (I didn’t get very far). But I was able to read not only the first book, but several of the books by Bryan Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. The remaining books are on my reading list to complete.

I don’t recall much from the two mini-series released by the Sci-Fi Channel (now the SyFy Channel). While I’ve watched the 1984 movie again on several occasions, I’ve never sought out the mini-series. I’ll have to make an effort to re-watch these so I can recall them for times such as this one.

Being very familiar with the source material helped me watch this latest movie. No, if you are going in cold you won’t be lost. There is a very rich universe that was created for the book and it may be a lot to take in at once. I wouldn’t be surprised if several showings are needed to take in the rich detail. But being familiar with Dune, I noticed little details that made me appreciate the efforts that went into the making of this film. Seeing these smaller items made me appreciate the film even more.

In the 1984 movie, the music was performed and assembled by the band Toto. Finding the rare CD of the music was one of my goals for the longest time. When I finally found a copy that wasn’t overpriced, I snatched it up and listened to the heck out of it. The soundtrack that was played when the Harkonnens were attacking is still one of the best movie music moments that I’ll never forget. For this new movie the very talented Hans Zimmer put together the musical tracks for this movie and he didn’t disappoint.

There are a few familiar actors in this movie and several that I’ve never had the pleasure to watch before (that I know of). Jason Momoa was an excellent Duncan Idaho. Our Duke Leto was played by Oscar Isaac, better known for his role of Poe Dameron in the last round of Star Wars movies. I didn’t recognize him right away as he had a very full beard. I hope we see more of Dave Bautista as the Beast Rabban in the second Dune movie. While he had some good lines in the first movie, his character has a big part in the story. Josh Brolin also delivered as well. Of the cast I was not familiar with, our young Paul Atreides is played by Timothée Chalamet. He actually did quite well in the roll. I felt that this character was green at the start of the movie and was developing by the end. Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica was another high point in the movie. I think that the producers put together an excellent cast for this movie.

The special effects were also really good. The Guild Highliners were very well designed on a grand scale. The ornothopters also had a very good effect that even my wife commented on it. I felt like we were really on a hostile desert world. The sandstorm did give me one moment that I wanted to heckle. I wanted to say out loud (but stopped myself) that I could see Mad Max and Furiosa could be seen driving the rig into the sandstorm. Not to say that this was a bad moment, it just gave me a flashback to the Mad Mad: Fury Road scene. I also really liked how they did the special effects for the personal combat shields. You could tell that there was

We did get to see the Sardaukar Troops and I felt that this interpretation was much better than what we saw in the 1984 movie. The books really described them as a nasty bunch of soldiers and I felt that we got that in this movie. The Fremen that we get to see in this movie also give you an excellent feel of native members of Arrakis. They were brutal and aware of what was happening. We actually got to see the rhythmic walking on the sand.

I had typed in a few additional thoughts on the movie that I then had to remove in order to keep this review spoiler free. They were minor concerns that I hope are resolved in the second movie, Dune Part Two, that was just announced.

And the last note I wanted to make was about Dune: Adventures in the Imperium Role Playing Game that was just released a few months ago by Modiphius. Thanks to a birthday gift card to Amazon I was able to pick up the hardback core rule book. The 2d20 system was similar to what I saw in Star Trek Adventures, but it was better laid out. There are some differences between the two books but after talking with players of the other 2d20 systems from Modiphius, I understand that this is common. I was pretty impressed with how they set this RPG up. There was details about political intrigue and duels.

The next movie that I’m interested in seeing in the theaters is the new Matrix sequel. I don’t think that is one I’d want to watch on my home television. With the matinee viewing the theaters haven’t been too crowded and it has made for an enjoyable experience.

Posted in: Quotes, Star Trek

Daily Star Trek Quotes: October 25-31

When someone didn’t get my last joke.

Here are the Daily Star Trek Quotes that will appear on the @STrekQuotes twitter account for the week of October 25th through the 31st.

October 25
“Quark may lend you the money, but remember Rule of Acquisition 111: ‘Treat people in your debt like family… exploit them’.” Worf- The Darkness and the Light, Stardate: 50416.2 #StarTrek #StarTrekDS9 #WeAreStarfleet

October 26
Happy Birthday to Anthony Rapp. @albinokid https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Anthony_Rapp #StarTrek #StarTrekDiscovery #WeAreStarfleet

“At the quantum level, there is no difference between biology and physics. No difference at all.” Stamets- Context is for Kings, Stardate: Unknown #StarTrek #StarTrekDiscovery #WeAreStarfleet

October 27
Happy Birthday to Robert Picardo. @RobertPicardo https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Robert_Picardo #StarTrek #StarTrekTNG #StarTrekDS9 #StarTrekVOY #WeAreStarfleet

“Now I know how Hippocrates felt when the king needed him to trim a hangnail.” The Doctor- Parallax, Stardate: 48439.7 #StarTrek #StarTrekVOY #WeAreStarfleet

October 28
Star Trek: Prodigy premieres on this date in 2021 with the episode Lost & Found. https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Star_Trek:_Prodigy #StarTrek #StarTrekProdigy #WeAreStarfleet

“I’m Kathryn Janeway, your training advisor. I’m a hologram based on one of the most decorated captains in starfleet history. Programmed to assist the Protostar’s crew on their journey back to Federation space.” Janeway Hologram- Lost & Found, Stardate: Unknown #StarTrek #StarTrekProdigy #WeAreStarfleet

October 29
“I was drinking Scotch a hundred years before you were born and I can tell you that whatever this is it is definitely not Scotch.” Scotty- Relics, Stardate: 46125.3 #StarTrek #StarTrekTNG #WeAreStarfleet

October 30
William Campbell born on this date in 1923. https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/William_Campbell #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #StarTrekDS9 #WeAreStarfleet

“Oh, how absolutely typical of your species. You don’t understand something, so you become fearful.” Trelane- The Squire of Gothos, Stardate: 2124.5 #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #WeAreStarfleet

October 31
“We’re going to be showing the three greatest horror movies ever made. Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein.” Tucker- Horizon, Date: January 10, 2153 #StarTrek #StarTrekENT #WeAreStarfleet

Posted in: Quotes, Star Trek

Daily Star Trek Quotes: October 18-24

Mr. Spock discovers that he does not understand Human or Klingon humor.

Here are the Daily Star Trek Quotes that will appear on the @STrekQuotes twitter account for the week of October 18th through the 24th.

October 18
“You make your own luck. We all know that.” Kira- Rivals, Stardate: Unknown #StarTrek #StarTrekDS9 #WeAreStarfleet

October 19
“Oh, I know you, Mister Spock. You’ve never voiced it, but you’ve always thought that logic was the best basis on which to build command. Am I right?” Dr. McCoy “I am a logical man, Doctor.” Spock- The Galileo Seven, Stardate: 2822.3 #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #WeAreStarfleet

October 20
“For humans the sexual act brings a closeness and intimacy. It can be a very pleasurable experience.” Riker- The Outcast, Stardate: 45614.6 #StarTrek #StarTrekTNG #WeAreStarfleet

October 21
“If the rest of my group arrives, you will be taken as well. I’m giving you a chance to run.” Alpha Hirogen
“We don’t run.” Janeway- Hunters, Stardate: 51501.4 #StarTrek #StarTrekVOY #WeAreStarfleet

October 22
Happy Birthday to Christopher Lloyd. @DocBrownLloyd https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Christopher_Lloyd #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #WeAreStarfleet

“He’s hiding something. We may have dealt him a more serious blow than I thought.” Kruge- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Stardate: 8210.3 #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #WeAreStarfleet

October 23
“You’ve lost compassion and empathy – things that give life meaning. And if that’s what it takes to be advanced… I don’t want any part of it.” Archer- Observer Effect, Date: Unknown #StarTrek #StarTrekENT #WeAreStarfleet

October 24
Happy Birthday to F. Murray Abraham. https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/F._Murray_Abraham #StarTrek #StarTrekTNG #WeAreStarfleet

“In six hours, every living thing in this system will be dead or dying.” Ru’afo- Star Trek: Insurrection, Stardate: Unknown #StarTrek #StarTrekTNG #WeAreStarfleet

Posted in: James Bond, Movies, Reviews

My first movie viewing at the theater in years: No Time To Die

We’ve asked The Doctor to use is TARDIS to bring you all together to deal with this situation.

NOTE: This discussion will be spoiler free as ordered by Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

On Monday my wife and I had an opportunity to go do something that we hadn’t done since the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in 2019, see a movie in the theater. Complete with popcorn and drinks. Oh how we have missed this. We felt safe going because it was a matinee show in the middle of a weekday. There was not a lot of people in the theater.

I enjoy watching movies in my home. I’ve got a good TV setup that allows me to watch a variety of movies from DVDs/Blue-Rays and streaming services. I even have a tablet set up so I can watch streaming videos while I work on my computer (currently I’m watching a surprisingly good fantasy movie that I’m thinking about writing a review for). This has it’s advantages as well as it’s disadvantages. At home I can turn on subtitles, pause the movie when it’s time to grab more snacks or use the facilities. However if the movie is dull I may find myself distracted by my phone or other shiny things that may take away my attention. Dwarves of Dragon Mountain falls into this later category. Several months later I barely remember any of the details of the movie.

In the theater, my cell phone is put on silent as to not disturb the other attendees. There is great surround sound and a very large screen. My attention is fully focused on the screen. In 2020 I saw several movies on TV that I wish I could have seen in the theater. These were Scoob! and Bill & Ted Face The Music. I also don’t know why, but the buttered popcorn taste better coming out of the bucket.

When I suggested that we go see No Time to Die at the spur of the moment, my wife jumped at the opportunity. I think she missed going to the theater as well.

I had wondered if I should have re-watched some of the other Daniel Craig entries into the James Bond franchises? While it may have helped since several of the movies are linked together, you shouldn’t have to watch the previous ones to pick up where the story is going. As a James Bond fan I noticed several Easter eggs that had been dropped throughout No Time to Die. There were several audio tracks from past Bond movies. Callbacks to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Never Say Never and others. They had paintings of the past M’s at MI-6 headquarters (a nice touch). Q had his moment to shine in several scenes, including the standard tech briefing. We see past allies and new friends. The bad guy didn’t impress me as much as past foils. But he did the job that was set before him. Bond had his “wonderful toys” which he was able to use to get out of several situations. We get to see dazzling women (who do quite a bit of butt kicking) and Bond in his tuxedo. A look I wish I could pull off. Scenes of intense action, car chases and death defying stunts. James Bond gets to drop a sarcastic remark at the right time and (as you have probably guessed) he saves the world. There were a few “oh” moments for both me and my wife and not once did I feel the need to heckle anything. This was a James Bond movie that checked off all of the boxes.

I was curious about a few things that happened and how it will affect the future of the franchise. These aren’t bad things, just questions I had in my mind when the film was over. There is no after credits scene, but the last words posted was “James Bond Will Return”. I just hope it doesn’t take a long time before the next James Bond movie comes out.

One thing I do know is that it won’t take very long for me to get back into the theater. The Sci-Fi epic, Dune, and the sequel movies, Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Matrix Resurrections and the prequel The King’s Man will be released very soon. I will be watching those movies in the theater as well with a bucket of popcorn ready to share. Until then I will bask in the glory that is Bond. James Bond.

Posted in: Quotes, Star Trek

Daily Star Trek Quotes: October 11-17

“Ya know, if you wanted to get rid of the couch, you could have sent it to a thrift store.”

Here are the Daily Star Trek Quotes that will appear on the @STrekQuotes twitter account for the week of October 11th through the 17th.

October 11
“This may be a gilded cage, filled with everything you’ve always wanted, but it’s still a cage.” Kirk- I Mudd, Stardate: 4513.3 #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #WeAreStarfleet

October 12
“Take a look around you. This is how the twentieth century saw the future. We are studying sociology.” Paris “Perhaps you can teach a course at Starfleet Academy “Satan’s Robot: An Historical Overview.”” The Doctor- Night, Stardate: 52081.2 #StarTrek #StarTrekVOY #WeAreStarfleet

October 13
“Your Honor, the courtroom is a crucible. In it, we burn away irrelevancies until we are left with a pure product—the truth—for all time.” Picard- The Measure of a Man, Stardate: 42523.7 #StarTrek #StarTrekTNG #WeAreStarfleet

October 14
“You asked me if I miss them. The answer is yes. Every one of them—the children, the wives, even the other husbands.” Dr. Phlox- A Night in Sickbay, Date: Unknown #StarTrek #StarTrekVOY #WeAreStarfleet

October 15
Mark Lenard born on this date in 1924. https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Mark_Lenard #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #StarTrekTNG #WeAreStarfleet

“It is difficult to answer…when one does not understand the question.” Sarek- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Stardate: 8390 #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #WeAreStarfleet

October 16
“There is an ancient Klingon proverb that says, You cannot loosen a man’s tongue with root beer.” Worf- Rapture, Stardate: Unknown #StarTrek #StarTrekDS9 #WeAreStarfleet

October 17
“I….love you….Brother.” Lore- Descent, Part II, Stardate: 47025.4 #StarTrek #StarTrekTNG #WeAreStarfleet

Posted in: Comic Books, Doctor Who, Role Playing Games, Star Trek

Two Trek tastes that go great together

Modiphius and IDW Publishing working together.
Modiphius and IDW Publishing working together.

In the “I wasn’t expecting this news today” department, Modiphius released a supplement for their Star Trek Adventures roleplaying game. The IDW Year Five Tie In detailing the events from the Star Trek comic series, Star Trek: Year Five by IDW Publishing.

What makes this product so unique is that it’s based off of another Star Trek licensed publication instead of from a television series or movie. This is something that I’ve been wanting to see for quite some time with a Star Trek roleplaying game. There have been comics based off of a video game (Star Trek: Elite Force) and a novel based off of the MMORPG, Star Trek Online (Star Trek Online: The Needs of the Many) but nothing with RPGs so far. Since IDW has been publishing Star Trek comics for over ten years, I hope that this is the start of a long line of products. IDW has had a successful series of Next Generation comics based off of Mirror Universe characters. There was an interesting Romulan series dealing with internal politics. The Kelvin timeline was greatly expanded with several comic series. Basically there are too many storylines to list here, most of them very enjoyable.

Having been inspired by the fan created, Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space Expanded Universe series, I was planning to write up my own series of Star Trek Expanded Universe publications (not for sale since I don’t want to violate any rights of the IP holders). Since Modiphius has released one IDW supplement (and hopefully more), I’ll avoid stepping on any toes by creating homebrew stats from non-IDW sources.

I’ve really been fired up by today’s release. I had to buy the book immediately from DriveThruRPG. It uses some of the wonderful artwork from the comics (a bonus which helped I’m certain). There are three new playable races. The I’qosa (a new race introduced in the comics), the Iotians (yea, the Piece of the Action guys) and the Tholians. We get the stats for one new Starfleet vessel as well as ships from the Tholians and I’qosa. Some of the character write ups includes Harry Mudd, Surak, Gary Seven and Isis, all of which were represented all over the Year Five series. There are also two new factions that the gamemasters can use in their campaigns.

While there was a lot packed into the 26 pages. I was really hoping for a racial write-up for the Centaurans (A Federation race featured in the series). There were also several possible NPCs such as the various candidates for UFP president that could have been written up as well. Hopefully there will be a supplement to the supplement.

One set of ships that I doubt we’ll see stats for are the original FASA Starfleet ships that made it into the artwork of Star Trek: Year Five. There were several ships that were clearly inspired by the Federation Starship Recognition Manual. FASA Star Trek references have shown up in quite a few episodes and other licensed works.

Once again, thumbs up to Fred Love and the team at Modiphius for releasing this great supplement for Star Trek Adventures. Don’t make me pull out the “Please Sir, can I have some more” meme when it comes to works like this.

UPDATE: After I posted this entry, I went into my local comic store and picked up my hold on my monthly visit. This included the last issue of Star Trek: Year Five. At the back of the comic book was an advertisement for this product. This issue was releasd on the same day as the announcement from Modiphius.

Posted in: Collecting, Role Playing Games

I look at dice purchased from Dollar Tree

Dollar Store dice
How do you say “Critical Fumble” in French?

I follow several twitter accounts that cover the subject of Role Playing Games and I noticed a trend over the past month. Gamers buying the cheap sets of RPG dice from the local dollar stores and then posting photos of them. It was a cute trend that allowed the collectors of the shiny math rocks to show off their latest acquisitions. As photos of dealers tables from gaming cons have shown up online (mostly to display the older books that were for sale) fans noticed that the dollar store dice had been picked up by vendors and added to their booth with a mild markup (usually $3-5 for a set).

Before this trend had started, I noticed that my local Dollar Tree had a bunch of dice for sale. Like most items you pick up at the dollar store, you are not going for quality. Of the three packages they had at the time, I noticed that one package had two D8 dice instead of two D10s that you normally find in a dice set. So I chuckled and passed on getting a set. The dice sets that I’ve usually picked up from the local gaming stores come in containers that allow you to open them up before purchase. I like giving a few test rolls before purchase to get the “feel” for the dice. Since these dice were sealed in a package, I had no way to test the dice beforehand.

When I realized that the trend was gaining steam, I decided to go grab a set for myself. Not because I wanted to follow the trend, but because I wanted to give a review for the blog. New gamers may want to buy a set for themselves at a lower cost. Other gamers had posted that they were buying the cheap sets to give to potential gamers showing interest in the game. Or perhaps you discovered that you had left your dice bag at home while at the con and you wanted a quick set to play with for the day.

As you can see from the image above, the dice were packaged for English and French speaking markets. According to the limited information on the back (see image below), the set was made in China but imported for the US market by a company called Grenbrier International. Canadian markets had this product imported by DTSC Imports. A quick Google search revealed that this was the parent company that operated the various Dollar Tree locations across the US and Canada.

Lot’s of white space, but that saves on ink costs.

When I decided to do a review of the set, I decided to compare them against another set I had in my collection from Chessex. Primarily because it was the only set I still had the original container for with the detail sheet inside.

“In this corner…”

One of the things I noticed is that the choking hazard warning had different ages listed. The Chessex recommended over the ages of eight while the Dollar Tree dice recommended over the age of four. Personally I’d probably feel more comfortable with any players closer to the age of nine than four. The Dollar Tree dice were made in China while the Chessex set came from Denmark. I had actually never paid attention to the country on my Chessex dice until now, but the Denmark dice sounds kinda kewl.

The Dollar Tree dice set by itself…
…and side by side with the Chessex set.

From the various social media posts that I’ve seen, the Dollar Tree set only comes in the satin brown color. If anyone has seen any other colors besides that one, let me know. As you can see, the sizes are about the same. I didn’t notice any difference from the different angles. I did notice a difference in weight. When you hold a D20 from one set in one hand and the other in the opposite hand, the Chessex dice were heavier. While taking the photos I noticed that the number locations were slightly different. The D4 seemed to be the only die matching the number location. I figured this was due to the lack of options in the smaller die. I pulled out several other die from my dice bag and noticed this trend continued with different die depending upon the source. I wonder if this is a copyright issue? Most of the D20s had the “20” opposite of the “1”, but some of the D12s had a “5” opposite of the “12”. This was another item I had never really thought about until now. As long as the dice continued to give me good rolls, I continued to use them.

I can see how the Dollar Tree set could be a good intro set for game masters wanting to give sets away to new players. The lack of a storage container would hopefully encourage the new players to obtain a dice bag of some sort. The dice make the right rolling sound when played on a hard surface. I had thought about doing the 100 roll test and seeing how many of each number comes up for the blog. But I started having flashback to the oddball math questions that came up in school so I elected not to take this route.

So I’ll be tossing the package in the recycle bin and slipping these new dice into the dice bag. Hopefully someday I’ll get a chance to participate in a game around a table with friends soon so I can actually see these dice in action. But before I decided to put the dice away, I wanted to take one more picture with a D4 from the Dollar Tree set, another D4 from the Chessex set and one of my original D4s that came with a boxed game many years ago just for an off the wall comparison.

The evolution of the D4.

UPDATE: I’ve been informed by a reader that there were other colors besides satin brown. So you may find different colors at your local stores.

Posted in: Quotes, Star Trek

Daily Star Trek Quotes: October 4-10

Use the Force, Tom Paris.

Here are the Daily Star Trek Quotes that will appear on the @STrekQuotes twitter account for the week of October 4th through the 10th.

October 4
“I can safely say that to know him was to love him and to love him was to know him. Those who knew him loved him while those who did not love him from afar.” Data – The Schizoid Man, Stardate: 42437.5 #StarTrek #StarTrekTNG #WeAreStarfleet

October 5
“It’s pretty hard to overcome prejudice.” Dr. McCoy- The Cloud Minders, Stardate: 5818.4 #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #WeAreStarfleet

October 6
“These people are natural-born explorers, Neelix.” Kes “These people are natural-born idiots if you ask me.” Neelix- The Cloud, Stardate: 48546.2 #StarTrek #StarTrekVOY #WeAreStarfleet

October 7
“Stop right there, Major! When was your last day off?” Dr. Bashir “I don’t know! What does that have to do with anything?” Kira “If you can’t remember, then it’s been too long. You’re off duty as of this moment.” Dr. Bashir- Defiant, Stardate: 48467.3 #StarTrek #StarTrekDS9 #WeAreStarfleet

October 8
“Well, your guess is as good as mine.” Dr. M’Benga “My guess, doctor, would be valueless.” Spock- That Which Survives, Stardate: Unknown #StarTrek #StarTrekTOS #WeAreStarfleet

October 9
Happy Birthday to Scott Bakula. @ScottBakula https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Scott_Bakula #StarTrek #StarTrekENT #WeAreStarfleet

“There are four hundred billion stars in our galaxy, we’ve only explored a tiny fraction. You have a lot of work to do.” Archer- Azati Prime, Date: January, 2154 #StarTrek #StarTrekENT #WeAreStarfleet

October 10
“I know you want to look beautiful but I’m just a barber, not a miracle worker.” V’sal- Data’s Day, Stardate: 44390.1 #StarTrek #StarTrekTNG #WeAreStarfleet

Posted in: Horror, Role Playing Games

Character sheets from past games: Vampire The Masquerade

With it being October, I thought I’d post a character sheet from my Book of Characters that is appropriate to Halloween and horror. The same group at Comics Utah that I played DC Superheroes, Doctor Who and Cyberpunk with also delved into a campaign for Vampire The Masquerade. For this game I created a human investigative reporter, Arthur Squire.

Arthur Squire was a reporter following up on strange stories he had heard about regarding an underground society. This society ended up being a clan of vampires. The equipment hand written on the back included camera, a special sleeping bag (I don’t recall why it was special), a camcorder, a cassette recorder and ear phones. If I recall correctly Squire had the habit of dropping listening bugs. Squire had planted one on a vampire that had hired him to track down someone.

This character never became a vampire. I don’t recall wanting him to become a vampire. I know that some of the other players wanted to be embraced. A few years later I participated in a few LARP games with a local Camarilla fan club. But I found paper and dice RPGs more enjoyable.

I’ll be getting more character sheets scanned and posted soon.