Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Wolverine (Movie 2013)

I've been dying to see Pacific Rim but one of the few people I hang with and actually do things with was like, "No hoss, we gotta see the Wolverine. You know what I'm saying hoss? Screw them Go-Bot rejects fighting Rodan."

Since he was driving I allowed him to sway my decision and will hopefully get to see Pacific Rim tomorrow or soon as I suspect it, like the Lone Ranger, will be out of the theaters relatively soon. Too much competition this summer I'm afraid.

The short review? Action packed with a few twists and turns that shouldn't surprise anyone whose paying attention. Uses a few different bits of source material, throws it in the blender and comes out with a movie that's highly watchable. I saw it in digital 3-D and while I don't think it took anything away from the movie, I also don't think it added anything. It's not like you see the Wolverine clawing at your face or anything.

Below I'll be discussing some specific spoilers of the movie and how they may apply to different role playing games. If you want no spoilers, read no further.

1. Break the rules. In Dungeons and Dragons, magic items by level are generally a must. In super hero games, characters losing their powers and overcoming that disability is a standard ploy. In this instance, Wolverine loses the ability to heal. I'd say he's forced to rely on his other skill sets but that doesn't really happen. Much like Superman plowing through something that should kill him, Wolverine does the same here. It's not necessarily a bad thing but beware that some characters are NOT going to work around any disadvantages you place on them and may just launch themselves forward. Depending on how you run your game, that may be a death sentence in and of itself.

There are times though, when if the players have a great plan, you should allow it to blossom. For example, Death's Head in one of his older incarnations, in the graphic novel The Body In Question, is in a techno-magic zone that changes power source from technology to magic seemingly at random. Death's Head however has been rebuilt in the future from where he was originally created and his future technology is able to determine when the switch happens allowing him to get the drop on the bad guy at the best possible moment. Let the players win when they've earned it.

2. Multiple Factions. Depending on the setting, there may be multiple factions at work that actually work for each other. In the Wolverine, we have Wolverine essentially as a one man army. His love interest is the granddaughter in the Yashida family. Turns out the husband has arranged her marriage with a political faction but has also used that political faction to hire Yakuza to kill her because the patriarch of the family has left everything to the granddaughter. Throw in the grandfather having his own group of ninjas unrelated to the Yakuza and his own mutant enforcer and you have a nice variety of opposition for Wolverine to fight. This bit with multiple factions also allows the GM to throw a variety of villains at the characters as opposed to the Ninja of the Week.

3. The Unexpected. Related to #1 the Unexpected is something that shouldn't happen. Marvel tends to showcase how 'serious' things are by breaking Captain America's shield. It's a trick they don't use too often so it still has some impact. You know when the shield is broken, or Thor's hammer is broken, that Marvel is going, "This is dangerous! For reals!" and trying to showcase the level of danger the characters are in.  In the movie, for me at least, the unexpected moment happens when Wolverine has his claws actually cut off. It's a bit of a power drain but not quite in the same league as the metal claws at least, were artificial to the character.

4. Character motivation. Wolverine's initial character motivation is initially to mope. Thankfully once he gets into mission mode that tends to fade until at the end Wolverine is... while I don't want to say back to his old butt kicking self, he is at least back in the game and is more appreciative of what he has.  What motivates the characters? If they're motivated by protecting the weak, give them someone to protect. If they're motivated by righting wrongs, give them some wrongs to right.

5. Visual Inspiration. I've mentioned before that the environment should play some type of role in the game. There's a great fight sequence here where Wolverine is fighting atop a bullet train using his claws to anchor himself to the train and jumping up to avoid various obsticles and then trying to anchor himself again. When you can have the characters fighting on a moving space ship, dueling on a submerging submarine or on the back or some monstrous creature, you're doing it right. In a similar manner, the Silver Samurai of the movie is a great visual for say a Silver Golem. Way back in the day, Palladium Games made 'Grypon Claws', gloves that became invisible and let you pop claws out.  I can't remember if the claws were indestructible or not but probably. I think they did like 2d6 or something. Sound familiar? Get that and a ring of regeneration and well, there you go eh?

Imagine a game taking it's cue from the Eternal Champion. One of the characters has "the sword" and knows that they are doomed. An old ally actually takes that doom and the sword away from them but turns out the character needs the sword.

Or go "before" the movie. The characters are hired to retrieve large amounts of adamant and mithril with no questions asked. What will their mysterious employer do with all of these rare metals? Why has the cambion alchemists been seen working with him?

The Wolverine has a lot of things to consider for your own games and a lot of those bits may fit into different genres.