Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, James Bond, No One Lives Forever, Role Playing Games, Spy-Fi

The secret is out… on secret tunnels

I’m sure that no one will talk about this project outside of work.

So I love watching YouTube videos. Primarily because they can cover a wide variety of interesting subjects that you won’t usually find in regular educational (or semi-educational) channels. I’ve been able to find interesting looks at how common people lived and ate not only in medieval times, but in the 1920’s and 30’s (which make for interesting game fodder for gangster type role playing games). We all have a general idea how Mob leaders and the royalty lived by the various movies and glamorous stories. But informative videos talking about the other side of the coin for various eras can help when adding atmosphere to different RPGs in different eras.

YouTube has an interesting algorithm on suggesting other possible videos that may be of interest. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t (I won’t go into details but I wish that the YT apps on my TV had a way to give a “not interested” without having to go to the video itself).

One recent suggestion from YouTube was “Digging a Secret Tunnel” by a British content provider using the handle “colinfurze”. Apparently he’s been digging a secret tunnel that connects his house to his workshop and then to a backyard underground bunker for the past three years. Note: The video linked above is part six of the series, but it was the first one I had watched and inspired me to create this blog post. Also a warning, Colin comes across a little like a used car salesman in his enthusiasm. But don’t let that bug you, the video was quite interesting despite his almost game show host like quality.

The first reason that I clicked on the video was because I was one of the many young boys growing up who had the idea of making a secret tunnel in his basement as a means to covertly get out of the house. Luckily my parents never found out about me trying to cut through the walls in our home. And I didn’t get very far because the house was very well built. Colin’s video showed the amount of preparation and effort that was being put into the tunnel project. It was being built under his house, driveway and workshop before it made it to the bunker. You don’t want the ground sinking underneath those items. So it had to be re-enforced to hold the weight above them. They had to get the large amount of dirt and rocks hauled out through a 5×5 hatch that was built into the workshop. Colin claimed in the video that he is making the tunnel without the knowledge of his neighbors. Reading the comments was interesting (avoid the spambots) with posts from mining engineers and other interested parties.

The second thing that caught my attention wasn’t with the tunnel itself, but my thoughts that came up while watching the video. How many times have we seen a villain’s secret tunnel in an espionage movie? The image I used at the top of this blog came from the spy-fi video game “No One Lives Forever” and I remember seeing this scene thinking “who built this?” and “How did they keep it a secret?” As a gamer, I also thought about the various dungeons that our Dungeons and Dragons characters have crawled through. Quite a few times they were 10×10 tunnels underground occupied by various Orcs, Gelatinous Cubes and other dangerous creatures. While someone may have drawn the straight line on grid paper, in the game world someone would have had to dig it out, build supports and haul away the rock. Why was this built this way?

I eventually had a bunch of thoughts in my head that I knew I had to put it down as a blog post. I watched a really good video about creating a dungeon for D&D which went briefly into the whys and hows (and I learned quite a bit from the video). But it didn’t really get to the nitty gritty for me.

So why would a tunnel (secret or not) be built with the cost and effort involved? I think it comes down to several reasons. The first one that comes to mind is wealth. The tunnels are built as part of a mine trying to extract various ores and precious gems. While these may not be secret at the start (unless the digger wanted to keep others from getting to his prize) they could easily become forgotten. Just finding out which mine a highly prized gem used in an ancient crown came from could be the start of a quest all on it’s own. These mines could have been built by dwarves or other subterranean races. Mines were featured quite a bit in several westerns. Every once in a while the news reports about another soul lost while trying to explore a closed up mine or a murder victim being thrown down a mine shaft.

Another reason that a tunnel could be built is for transportation. Going over a mountain or across the English Channel represents a physical barrier. If you could tunnel under that barrier, you can make transportation much easier. Again, most of these would be known (at the start). However there have been smuggling tunnels built to avoid border patrols. The movie “The Great Escape” detailed the efforts of prisoners attempting to tunnel their way to freedom from a Nazi POW camp. This movie would also be inspirational about how to hide the tunnel and dispose of the debris needing to be dispersed all while trying to keep the tunnel from collapsing on them. When I visited the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in 2019, I learned about the railways and water tunnels and how they were built. They were built in a time before OSHA and safety guidelines. So corporations could hire workers to quickly dig, and if a worker was injured, they would hire the next guy to step up and replace them. This allowed them to build these tunnels quickly at the cost of human lives.

Housing and storage is another reason to build tunnels. I recall watching documentaries about World War II and how residents of some towns escaped into tunnels under the city to escape bombing raids. Repurposing tunnels from another use has allowed underground survival dwellings to be built. In Utah, the LDS Church stores massive amounts of genealogical records in an underground vault in the Wasatch mountains. In Norway, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault preserves over a million seed samples underground in a former coal mine. Both locations could make for interesting modern day missions in an RPG. On the fantasy side, how many times have we heard about massive underground cities used by the Dwarves and the Drow. Tunnels would connect them all to each other and to the surface.

The last reason may sound weird, but I think is valid. Tunnels could be built for a sense of vanity. A cult, probably using cultists or slaves to dig, could build secret tunnels in order to hide their temples of worship. The image that I used above is a tunnel under a Swiss Alp chalet as seen in the video game No One Lives Forever. In the second video game of this series a very interesting quote came up. “Why do you think we have our headquarters in underground caverns? It’d be a lot cheaper and more convenient to lease an office building, but then you get potential clients who don’t think you’re evil enough for the really high profile operations.” If you look at movies like the various James Bond entries, the Flint and the Matt Helm movies all the way up to the Austin Powers series, they all made the secret underground lair look cool.

So Game Masters, think about the tunnels that you use in your games. Sure they are easy to draw on graph paper, but how did they get there? What was the cost to build these tunnels? How did they become secret? A king killing the slaves that built the secret tunnels may become the avenging undead monsters encountered by the players. A missing handyman may lead to the clue that the agents are needing to find the bad guy’s underground lair. Those lines on the map may look cool, but they hide much more than the treasure the adventurers are trying to find. They hide a possible story.

(looking at the wall on the side of my office) “I wonder if the wife would notice if I put in a secret tunnel?”

Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Video Game

New Video Games to play

New PS4 video games I just picked up.

So last month was my birthday. One of the gifts I received from my from my wonderful wife was several gift cards for ThinkGeek. In the past she had given me the same gift and I was able to pick up several interesting items off of their website. So with a lot of excitement I pulled up the ThinkGeek website… only to be sorely disappointed. It had been several years since I had been to the site and it was a shell of what it use to be. Only a handful of items and none of them interesting. The really off the wall geek items use to be available on ThinkGeek. However once it was taken over by GameStop, the number of items was cut back to nothing.

Luckily for me, the local GameStop would take the gift cards for any purchases. So the next question was, what would I pick up. They had the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition starter set, but no other books. I would have picked up anything if it had been available. A bunch of Funko Pop stuff, which I don’t collect. Some other nick-nacks, which again were uninteresting or too expensive. And of course a lot of video games. I’ve been more of a computer gamer than a console gamer. I’ve played a few games that I’ve enjoyed on the Nintendo systems. I had yet to find an XBox 360 game that has kept my attention. My college age kid loves several PS4 games and there were a lot of them in the store. But again, how do I make sure I get a game that I’ll actually enjoy. I left the store and started doing some different searches on PS4 games. And I thought I had found one.

As it turns out, Blizzard has released a re-master of the Diablo II game. I loved this game on my PC several years ago since no two gaming sessions were the same. The first Diablo game had also been very enjoyable, but Diablo III on the XBox 360 was… well just there. It didn’t grip me like Diablo II had. I haven’t had a chance to play Diablo II recently as my laptop is still a hold-over from school. The advertisements stated that the game was available for the PS4. So that was going to be my choice. I had some back up ideas based off of several video game articles I had read, but the re-mastered D2 is what I wanted.

So a few days ago I went back into my local GameStop and talked with the employee. She looked up the game and discovered that they did not have it at all. They didn’t even have any “coming soon” options. So I looked around for some of the backup ideas.

I had read some good reviews on the Dishonored series and a game called Prey. It had been recommended in an article for fans of stealth type games like the No One Lives Forever series. Luckily all of the games were in one collection. I had been looking at a few other options such as Wolfenstein and other titles I had recognized. But then the Baldur’s Gate series jumped out. This was a game based off of 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. It was enough that I pulled the trigger on both sets.

Since the Dishonored set was brand new, I elected to wait on that game. Baldur’s Gate was used so I wanted to check it out first just in case it didn’t work. So far I’ve actually been impressed. It feels like I’m playing a 2nd edition game. There have been several THAC0 references and some familiar spells. As I was going through the tutorial, I kept looking to the left where my gaming shelf was and wondered if I should pull out the 2nd edition AD&D player’s handbook for reference. I just might do that in future gaming sessions.

So I’ve found a game that I can hop on and play for a few hours. This should help distract me when I want to stop thinking about things for a while. I’ll report on the other games as I get a chance to play them.

Posted in: Dune, Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek, Star Wars

#RPGaDay2021 Day 29: System

Day 29: System

So when it comes to selecting a role playing system to play, which is better? Learning something new or going with a system you are already familiar with that has been adapted for the universe you want to play in?

For me, it’s sixes. Recently I had the option to play in an online game and the game master gave us the option of a D20 system (Starfinder) or something else. I don’t even really recall what the second option was because I was more worried about trying to learn how to use the online virtual table top application (another post for another day). While I was happy for the easy of the D20 system, I also discovered that Starfinder (and I later found out that Pathfinder was the same way) was just a little too crunchy for me. It seems like it has taken the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 book and added way to many additional rules to the system.

On the other hand, the D20 based Star Wars RPG released in the early 2000’s didn’t really attract me at the time. I’m a big Star Wars fan, but I remember thinking that “Seeing Luke and company with D&D stats just seemed off.” I don’t know if it’s because of all the D6 Star Wars games that I had played, or that I just didn’t have the money at the time to buy another set of books. So I never got into the game at the time it was being published. If someone were to invite me to a game now, I’d take them up on the offer.

There are generic systems out there. I had played GURPS back in the early 90’s. It seemed ok at the time, but a lot of math. So it’s not one of my first choices. I just received Dune: Adventures in the Imperium for a birthday gift which is a 2d20 system like Star Trek Adventures. It’s been interesting to see the tweaks between the two rulebooks. (again another blog post will go into further details on this) The D6 system that was used in the WEG Star Wars system has been ported over to a series of generic RPG books. I could see myself using the D6 system for a classic Battlestar Galactica game.

I haven’t even scratched the surface on which systems have stood out to me or failed to grab my attention. There are just way to many out there. But I have tried a few. When I was going through my three-ringed binder of old characters, I noticed I had sheets for some games that I don’t even remember playing. I must not have been very impressed with the system if I can’t remember them now.

Final Thoughts:

All of the remaining dates in the challenge only have one suggestion for each day. It almost seemed like the list just sputtered out of ideas.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart
Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games

#RPGaDay2021 Day 26: Origin

Day 26: Origin

Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink, he would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark.

Dr. Evil- Austin Powers (1997)

When creating an origin for a character, how much backstory is too much backstory? I believe that should depend upon what level you are starting that character out with. If a character is starting out at first level, then the backstory shouldn’t be more than a few sentences. Perhaps a half-a-page at the most. Where did you grow up at and why did you take off for your life of adventure? Is there anyone from your past that is notable? Not a ton of detail, but at least one or two ideas for the GM to use in the game if needed.

If the character has a higher level when starting, then yes create a longer backstory. I’ve heard of players who have written up an 18-page backstory for a peasant that is out seeking his fortune. That much detail may be too much for the GM to read and why would a newbie character be that detailed.

I’ve heard from some players that they have enjoyed making up the origin of their character as they play the game. A creative process between party members and game master. Sometimes these could turn out to be the most interesting stories of all.

I did have one Dungeon Master who had me give him a series of 10-20 random dice rolls before starting a campaign. From those dice rolls he sent back information on my character. Are one or both parents still alive? Any siblings? Occupation of family members (or my character) before he left for adventure. I need to see where he got that table from so I can use it in future games. I recall early characters seemed to be orphaned loners (thus the bad guy, i.e. GM, couldn’t use the family against the character later in the game. Unless you murdered your family like Elric the Kinslayer, they would probably still be around.

I’ve always thought that session zero was a perfect opportunity to talk about the origin of characters as they are being rolled up. This could also explain how the party members came to be together. If someone wrote up a reasonable backstory, I could see myself giving that player experience points for the effort.

Final Thoughts:

These last minute decisions on entries are becoming easier. I’m not certain why. I couldn’t think of anything for “Theory”. “Play” seemed very generic and could go almost anywhere. Every time I thought about “Renew”, I kept thinking of Logan’s Run.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart
Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games

#RPGaDay2021 Day 23: Memory

Day 23: Memory

I have a memory of my first time trying to be a Dungeon Master back in the early 80’s. I had the Basic Dungeons and Dragons set which included Module B2 The Keep on the Borderlands. My regular gaming buddies at my junior high school already had read through this book and knew of the dangers contained within. But I really wanted to DM, so who could I get to play?

My younger brothers. This could be their introduction to the game. Perhaps they would want to play more of this afterwards. I was able to talk them into trying out the game. We made some characters and they headed up to the Caves of Chaos.

And promptly got slaughtered in the first encounter they came up to. Total (but unintentional) party kill.

Needless to say, my brothers were not impressed. They never played again (however one of them did ask me to DM an introductory session to show the game to his kids just a few years ago).

When I thought about the session afterwards, I realized I had ran the game completely wrong. We were all so excited to get into a dungeon and start swinging some swords that we missed some opportunities. I could have explained the rules a little bit better. Not just the actual mechanics, but the additional items as well such as tactics. They were very young teenagers so they didn’t know about the option to run away (insert Monty Python and the Holy Grail joke here). I could have run a little role playing at the keep itself to give the players some rumors and allow them the opportunity to bring along some hirelings. As a DM, I also could have fudged the dice for newbie players. The dice were very savage in that particular session.

I had learned my lesson and tried to implement them in a game the next time I ran one (which wasn’t for quite some time after watching a few other GMs). When my brother asked me to run an introductory adventure I came prepared. I gave my niece and nephew their own set of RPG dice that I had just picked up from a local store. I had pre-made characters created before hand and allowed the two players to take first pick. My wife also played as a cleric in the party. As a veteran player, she would know when to step in and help and heal. I had the party get into role playing by having them approach a small village at the same time that a band of low powered orc raiders showed up. The raiders were quickly driven off, but the players found out (again through role play) that the raid was a distraction. While the town and party was trying to fend off the raiders, someone had broken into the village church and stole a sacred statue. A statue that the village believed they needed to keep themselves safe and was willing to pay the party to retrieve. They were able to quickly track down the orcs and enter the caverns that they were using as a base.

Long story short, my niece and nephew had fun. My brother loved watching them have fun. I heard later that my nephew had joined a gaming club at his school which allowed him to get involved with some social interaction.

So I guess things turned out all right in the end. But every once in a while, I wonder; what would have happened if I could have turned my siblings into participants of the RPG hobby? Think of the memories we could have made.

Final Thoughts:

I was kind of lukewarm on the other suggestions for this date. “Innovation”, “Quick” and “Surprise” all had items that could have been talked about. But nothing was really coming to the surface on these three topics.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart
Posted in: Collecting, Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek

#RPGaDay2021 Day 15: Supplement

Day 15: Supplement

All right. The topic of the day is “Supplement”. I’d like to post some covers from my favorite role playing game supplements that I’ve collected.

The Star Trek Ship Construction Manual by FASA: I used this supplement for the Star Trek Role Playing Game so much that I had to tape the book together. Not only had I collected every starship for the game from different supplements, modules and magazine articles, I used this book to create stats for vessels found in various tech manuals and blueprints. I started scanning some of the printouts that I made in the 90’s and you can find the ships (or links) here.

The Gazetteer series by TSR: I LOVED this series. I was a bigger fan of the BECMI Dungeons and Dragons game in my earlier days of gaming. As I mentioned during the Maps entry into the #RPGaDAY2021 Challenge, I loved the created world that was presented in the game. When I heard about the Gazetteers I knew I had to check them out. I remember hoping on a bus and taking a ride to a downtown book store just to pick up the first book. It had pull out maps and a ton of details on the lands that we had only briefly seen in the game manuals. I also liked how it added elements to the game such as Dwarf Clerics in The Dwarves of Rockholme supplement. I wondered if these extra rules ever got collected into a single book.

The Prisoner by Steve Jackson Games: I had played a few GURPS games, but I was not a big fan of the system. What I did like was the many, many supplements that was released for the system. Even though you may not play GURPS, the supplements contained a good amount of information that you could use for other games. Being a big fan of the British surreal spy-fi television series, The Prisoner, I had to pick up this book when it came out.

Final Thoughts:

This was a great topic. When I was creating the spreadsheet in July with all of the suggestions on them, I filled in an idea for this topic right away.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart
Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Quotes, Rant, Role Playing Games, Video Game

#RPGaDay2021 Day 12: Triumph

Day 12: Triumph

“To feel the thrill of victory…there has to be the possibility of failure. Where’s the victory in winning a battle you can’t possibly lose?” Dr. Pulaski- Elementary, Dear Data, Stardate: 42286.3

I’ve been playing role playing games for a long time. Probably longer than some of my readers have been alive. I’ve seen and heard about many different styles of gaming and GMing. I know these #RPGaDAY2021 posts are supposed to be focusing on the positive side of our hobby. But I wanted to make today’s post some constructive criticism.

I’ve never found “Monty Haul” campaigns enjoyable. For those of you not aware of what this is, let me quote page 229 of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 1st Edition Dungeon Masters guide by Gary Gygax.

Monty Haul – A campaign (or the DM running it) in which greatly excessive amounts of treasure and/or experience are given out.

Further insight on this is where the name came from. Monty Hall was a game show host who’s famous program was “Let’s Make A Deal”. He was known for giving away a ton of prizes to the contestants. DMs and GMs who give a lot of unique items, money or experience points to players beyond the scope of their character level, run the risk of giving too much. Thus the term “haul” in “Monty Haul”.

I know that when I’ve reached the top of the mountain, I’ve accomplished a major goal. That mountain I may be climbing could be a earning rank advancement in my Star Trek club through service, a character I’ve moved from 1st to 15th level naturally, or even enjoying the vegetables from my garden that I tended all summer. If I’m a 3rd-Level Fighter, don’t bequeath me a castle just yet, I know that I haven’t earned it. Yet I’ve had a DM try to do that. Let me work my way through the levels, role playing my way in the game. I know eventually I’ll get that castle/hideout/wizard’s magical realm in another dimension.

Giving away items that are too powerful (or quickly running us up through the levels by awarding excessive experience points) reminds me of the cheat codes in video games. I’ve had friends that would only play these games with the cheat codes. They wanted to get through the story faster is what I was told. I only used cheat codes in very difficult circumstances or if I’ve already played the game a million times and I want to get past an unpleasant level. WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness was a really popular video game that I enjoyed. I would still play it now. It is also popular when we use to hold LAN parties (I haven’t heard that word in a long time) with WarCraft II being one of the games scheduled. I recall one LAN party where we all had our computers in the same room with our speakers on. We could hear where other players were at when units were created or buildings finished. You could not use cheat codes in WarCraft II without the benefits also being applied to the other players. So we agreed not to use them. As I was managing my resources and building my troops, I was able to create three Griffin lairs. Griffins were flying troops and very nasty in large numbers. I had planned it so that all three would generate a new unit at the same time. In the middle of the LAN party the sound coming from my speakers was not one, not two but three Griffin cries (the sound the unit made when it was ready for battle) happening one after the other. From across the room I suddenly heard one of my friends exclaim: “He has three Griffins? Crap! I haven’t even made it to Archers yet.” My triumph was listening to the sounds of panic fill the room as suddenly everyone was re-adjusting their defenses to counter my upcoming aerial assault.

There is no winning in role playing games other than everyone having fun. I believe that fun should come through overcoming the challenge naturally and not having triumph handed to me on a silver platter. Don’t give me a helicopter to fly to the top of the mountain, let me make that climb with the possibility of my character failing.

Of course that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Final Thoughts:

Today’s suggestions was a difficult batch. It was days like this one that made me wonder if I wanted to participate in this challenge. Other days have been just as uninspiring. “Think” didn’t make me think of anything. Same with “Consensus” and “Deep”. I almost waited until the day of to see what other participants were posting about. But I also wanted to get these blog posts done in advance and schedule them for the day of. I was really worried that I was going to turn today’s post into a massive soapbox. I may have still stood on one, but I hope it helps some DMs/GMs with their future campaigns.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart
Posted in: Collecting, Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games

#RPGaDay2021 Day 11: Heavy

Day 11: Heavy

One of the marvels of our internet age is the ability to obtain almost any role playing book from a variety of sources. DriveThruRPG has a large number of current titles and some classic favorites. Charity sites such as Humble Bundle and Bundle of Holding always have sales where you can get a large number of PDF books at a very good price.

However there is nothing like the feel of a physical book in your hands. Every time I pick up a role playing book from the shelf, I feel like this..

These books had weight. The best books were laid out eloquently and had wonderful artwork. Even in my later gaming groups, while we still have access to the information in soft copy and internet, we still had our books on the table. If you had just one or two books, it wasn’t that big of a deal to throw them into a backpack and head off to your friends house for the session. I’ve known some RPG buddies that have started placing their books in those portable filing boxes (with the lids that lock and the handle on top). I even recall a friend from the early gaming days that purchased a moving trunk to put his books into. This way he could just place the trunk in his car when it was time to go to the game.

My last wizard character had an Excel spreadsheet for a character sheet (provided by the DM). I remember spending time making links on the spell list to the online descriptions for quick access. I’m starting to get use to reading books on my tablet (and I like the fact that I can mark some of the text for later reference). Having the RPG books at my fingertips on my laptop for quick reference has been very useful. But when it come time to introducing myself to a new gaming system or just reading an older gaming book to relax, there is nothing like the weight of a heavy book in your hands.

Final Thoughts:

“Wilderness” wasn’t a bad suggestion and I’m sure it will generate a lot of posts about hex crawl adventures. However I think I already touched upon that topic with “Explore” a few days ago. “Listen” will probably generate some posts about past stories of trying to listen at the door. Both were decent suggestions. “Despair” made me scratch my head. I don’t know how that could be a positive #RPGaDAY2021 entry.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart

Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games

#RPGaDay2021 Day 10: Light

Day 10: Light

One of the things that Game Masters have to keep in mind is the ingenuity of their players. I had one GM keep a tally sheet for the Star Trek RPG by Decipher game that he was running. He had goals he wanted to mark down as they were part of the plot. If we accomplished the items he had set out, we earned points for meeting them. Then he had a miscellaneous section on his tally sheet. We would come up with ideas and solutions that he hadn’t thought of.

Back in the days of gaming with my junior high crew, we had come up with a few of these unusual ideas. One that has stuck with me all these years has been the “D&D Flashlight”. One of the members in our party played a wizard. He took a wand that had run out of charges and cast a spell of continual light on it. He then took some black felt and lined it inside a small scroll case. When he needed light, he would open up the cap to the scroll case and it would shine a beam in one direction. It was a magical short range flashlight. He could pull the wand out if he wanted to use it as a lantern. When he was done, back in the special scroll case it went and the light was covered up.

Every once in a while I’ll see something that reminds me of an older gaming session and how we impressed or shocked (sometimes both) the Game Master.

Final Thoughts:

This was another set of suggestions that had some good and some bad in them. “Trust” was really broad and could have been anything. It is the same with “Conscience”. None of them really inspired me for a blog post. “Advantage” had some possibilities, but lost out on the memory of the “D&D Flashlight” recipe.

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart
Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Movies, MST3K, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction

#RPGaDay2021 Day 8: Stream

Day 8: Stream

Inspiration can come from a wide variety of sources. The original source can be very good work, or it can be a bad one with a good idea, just poorly delivered. An example of this is the 2000 film, Battlefield Earth. Yes this disaster of a film actually inspired a story idea for me. It was being shown on a channel after midnight (probably the only way to really watch this box office bomb) and I didn’t need to get up in the morning so I decided to see if the rumors of how bad this movie was true. Let me just say, it’s very true. But the ending made me think, what would happen to a series of conquered worlds if the occupying aliens suddenly found their source of power and transportation gone?

So I love watching various science-fiction, fantasy and horror TV shows and movies. Both the good and the bad kind. If a show is too bad, I can elect to not watch it. There is plenty of other shows to move onto. But where can you find these shows? I have lots of memories in the 80’s and 90’s visiting the local video rental store. When I went with my family, I was always trying to find the weirdest, oddest film to watch. Often I was over ruled since my siblings usually wanted to watch something from Disney or other main-stream films. So later when I lived on my own, I had to be lucky to catch the show on a time it was aired (such as Battlefield Earth listed above) or I had to buy a VHS tape (later DVD). This had two issues, if it wasn’t a money maker, it may not have had a lot of media releases. When they were found, they were either really expensive, or really cheap in the discount bin. If cost wasn’t too big of a factor, what would I do with the media afterwards. I don’t mind buying DVDs of Star Trek or other favorites that I would enjoy watching at any time. But would I really want to watch Hell Comes to Frogtown again and again?

Luckily the internet came to our rescue. The rise of streaming services has given some of these diamond in the rough films a home where you can give them a view. So I thought I’d share where I’ve found some of my more unusual films. Yes there is a large variety on Netflix, Hulu or Paramount+. However these services are like cable channels. They only hold the rights to some films for so long (unless they are originals specifically for the streaming service). I’ve discovered that some of the streaming services like Amazon Prime, Pluto TV and Tubi have held some interesting titles. I’ve been able to watch some of the films in the Darkstalker series (boy that was cheesy). You can also find shows like Mystery Science Theater 3000, Creature Features, Elvira and more where they re-show off-kilter films (sometimes by adding comedy in the process).

Another amazing service for films and different documentaries has been plain old YouTube. As I type out this blog post, I’ve been watching episodes of Timeline (where they are building a medieval castle and exploring the life of ordinary people who built them).

I’ve also added apps on my Smart TV for Xumo, Crackle, Ruko TV and others, but I don’t get a chance to get into those as often. But you can find a cheesy 80’s sword and sorcery film that may give you an idea for your next Dungeons and Dragons game.

Final Thoughts:

I suspect that fifteen years ago this topic wouldn’t have come up in an #RPGaDAY style challenge. At least not one that would have inspired discussion on streaming services. I wonder if this single suggestion was used to gather links on possible streaming sources for other’s to explore?

RPGaDay 2021 chart
The RPGaDay 2021 chart
Back to Top