Showing posts with label Rome. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rome. Show all posts

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Centurion (2010)

One of the nice things about Netflix, is that occasionally I get a couple of days off to watch it! I'm a fan of the 'bad-good' movies where I can shut my brain off and try to enjoy some violence and blood shed in the name of killing a few hours.

Up to the plate Centurion, a movie about the massacre of the 9th Roman Legion. the costumes and makeup are pretty good but the special effects? It's like they saw some exploding blood from some of those Japanese and Chinese martial art and samurai movies from the 90's and said, "We gotta get some of that!". It's funny in its own way.

Plot wise and story wise? Its pretty thin but there are things you can drag out of it for your own gaming. I'll be discussing some of the spoilers and other bits below so if that sort of thing blows your mind, look away now! Save yourself!

1. Its The Military Life For Me. One of the things that being in the military does, is provide a quick framework for adventurers and campaigns. In adventures that meet every few weeks due to the dreaded real life issues, the game master can provide a few quick things that the military needs done and send the players off to take care of it. In a longer term campaign, the players may find themselves rivals of other members of the military, may brush up against nobles who dislike their rising star, and even come to the attraction of the gods like Ares, the god of war! Their rise in the ranks and in the social sphere can be played up as much as the game master likes.

2. Behind Enemy Lines. So what happens if you're part of a huge group of soldiers and your army gets wiped out? Try to rescue any senior officers and failing that, run like hell eh? In this movie, Olga Kurylenko best known for her role as a 'Bond' girl among other roles, plays Etain, a mute hunter whose hatred of Romans is unquenchable. She is a master ranger and wielder of spear. She is the 'Nemesis' factor here. She also has a lot of help and a few other 'named' characters who would be worthy of past minion status.

3. Betrayal. Speaking of Etain, she's initially sent with the 9th to scout out the positions of the Picts. Turns out that as a child her village was destroyed, her mother raped and put to death and her raped and her tongue cut out. She survived, found allies, became super bad ass and then went to work for the Romans. What? How? Well, it's seemingly an old trick. In Dreadstar, a similar thing happens where Dreadstar suffers a tragedy and then joins the army that did it so he can get in nice and close and take care of things personally. Of course by that time other things pop up as they so often do but it's old hat. The interesting thing here, is it's not the the only betrayal. See, the Romans aren't necessarily painted as the bringers of salvation and civilization here. No, rather, they are... well, a growing empire that does thing such an empire does, especially the soldiers and the politicians. See, when the main character makes his happy way back to camp, his thanks is that they try to kill him so that the fate of the 9th can be a mystery. This leads us to...

4. Exile. During the escape from the Picts, the Romans come across a 'witch' woman who helps them. She does this despite being a Pict herself because her own people have put a cut on her face and marked her as exile. She trades with the Romans and the Picts tend to avoid her, especially as she goes out of her way to 'goth' up the place with skulls and skins. The Roman himself? Well, after you've killed a few guards and beaten a noble's mistress, what else is there for you but exile? In a role playing game, especially a campaign length one, well, there's potential for a return of the exile and perhaps even opportunity during the initial betrayal to take things to the finale right there. In terns of the Pict exile though, when you place your NPCs around and thing about their motivations, for some, loneliness can be a powerful factor. If they see in the PCs equals or potential allies, there may be the chance for long term relationships to blossom.

Centurion isn't the best movie I've ever seen but for a gamer, well, it's grimy. The characters have scars. Everyone is dirty. The 'good guys' get their asses handed to them several times. It makes for an interesting change of pace. If you're a gamer and can shut the old brain off for a few hours, it might be worth your while.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Tribune by Patrick Larkin

Another book from the Half Price Books dollar rack. Either I've read it before or something very similar to it. Told in first person, it takes a bit of a long journey through 'Ancient Rome' and brings our hero Lucius into contact with all sorts of corruption and other issues that go against his own believes and standards.

I enjoyed reading (rereading?) it because it moves quickly. I've read some complaints that the characters takes are too modern and that the writing is wooden but it was accessible and moved quick enough for me so I didn't find either of those a big issue.

I'll be discussing some of the potential role playing bits from the novel below so if you want to avoid any specific spoilers, read no further.

1. Competing Interest: Lucius finds himself at odds with many powerful individuals but one of the things that keeps things moving and happening is that many of those powerful individuals are at odds with one another causing all manner of conflict that Lucius is able to navigate to a bit more safety than he might otherwise have.

2. Look In The Unexpected: During the second half of the book, a Senator and his guards are murdered. The Tribune must find their killers which means finding their armor, silks, vast sums of wealth, and other tell tale bits. While they are reluctant to look in the tombs, it does come up as a point of unexpected treasure hiding. Another place that might, but wasn't mentioned here, is latrines. Back in the day, digging out your latrines would at the very least, provide you a hole in the ground if nothing else.

3. Friends in High Places:  During their seeking out of clues, Lucius and his friends meet a noble woman whose elderly husband has died, leaving her a widow. Lucius and her strike out quite well which works in Lucius advantage later when he is in need of assistance. Letting the party gather allies and friends, in some games, like Hero, by spending resources is well and good, but good role playing should result in both new enemies and new allies. If the players are paladins and stand for truth and honor, then those who despite those things will become their adversaries easily enough, but those who also stand for those things should be providing information and alliance to the players on the grounds that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Or something along those lines.

4. Outlaw Wizards: One of the interesting things is that an astrologer here provides a bit of trouble. At this time, Rome has outlawed wizards and others of their magic ilk. This astrologer though operates under a special license so to speak from the Emperor himself. But when looking at how and why magic isn't everywhere and anywhere, the outlawing of magic is a quick way to turn players into refuges.