Sunday, March 14, 2010

G. I. Joe: Rise of Cobra

In addition to all of the streaming movies I've been watching form Netflix (or I should amend that my mother has been watching while I've been working grumble grumble), you get actual DVD's too.

One of them I've had for a week and finally managed to watch. Man, this was a train wreck. Even so though, it brought to mind a few things.

Let the players be cool: There's a scene in the movie where the 'Baroness' is sliding down a self made ramp that jump works visually. Here's the problem though, the GM is the visual interpeter of the world. You don't have HD. You don't have 7.1 surround sound. You don't have mix masters to give your sound track and the sound of the film itself techcnial prowess. You don't have people skilled in making a fighting scene blend in with everything going on around it.

You have to bring it to the table yourself. Encourage the players to take part in this. In some ways I guess this would be 'Stunting' to use an Exalted phrsae. Encourage the players to take big actions and reward them for it. Showcase the NPCs and named villains doing it so set the standards so that the players know what to expect.

Now mind you, running down the stairs five at a time doing back flips with a repeating crossbow of fireballs in each hand isn't for every campaign. But even in a grim and gritty setting where death is freqeunt, by allowing the players to still feel like they are top dog, they will act like it. Anyone read the entire Black Company series? Anyone remember Raven? Now I could be misremembering, being an old bastard does that, but he was described pretty much as the bad ass of the good guys. He goes out like a bitch. But until that point, he's kicking ass and taking names. Give the players that benefit regardless of the 'realism' notch you've got for the game.

In terms of other elements of the dreaded Rise of Cobra that might make for some compelling use:

1. Make it perosnal. Not only does Snake Eyes have a connection on the bad guys side, but so does Duke. Not only that, but some of the characters relate to other characters on the same side so that when something bad happens, its impact is personal.

2. Make it useful for everyone. At first there's a wing man with no ship. He gets a huge moment to shine in the sun at the end of the movie. Go over the player's skill sets occassionally and add encounters and challenges that require the players to use those abilities to win.

3. It's More Than Meets The Eye: Okay, I know, wrong series, but there should always be stuff going on that the players might not at first be aware of, but the clues are there. You can't set up the sequel without setting up the details ahead of time.

4. No bodies! One of the biggest fight scenes ends with a victor but doesn't end with a body. And you know what they say about villains and bodies. If it ain't there, they'll be back again. In that flavor, try to keep in mind the physical situation in which the fights occur. In the book Corsair I just read, two villains wind up falling out of sight/mind and the same thing happens here. Floods, collapsing buildings, exploding buildings, fires, etc... anything that prevents the players from directly seeing the corpse are a good method of allowing a villain to come back for more.

5. Failure is an option. I hate to say use the formula of failure, but in a lot of 'big summer movies', it seems the formula is find out too late what's going on, flub the first big mission, get chewed out over it, and then, you got it, save the world. After all, it's always darkest before the dawn or something right?

Good gaming!