And I Thought Comic Book Fans Could Be Silly

Hey, Robo needs fan mail! letters@red5comics.com

In a move that appears to be shaking the foundations of the Free World in ways that the Cuban Missile Crisis and the fall of the Berlin Wall only wish they could have, nerds everywhere are on the verge of revolution over IKEA’s font change. As usual, I am left standing here scratching my head. In the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, with Birthers and Tea Baggers roaming the countryside spreading lies and unfounded fears, *this* is the cause that these people have deemed worth taking up?

And where were these people when the SciFi channel became SyFy, (which just begs to be pronounced “Siffy)? Not only is Siffy the most retarded name in the history of modern media, that lame motto of, “Imagine Greater,” barely makes sense.

Oh well, it’s just more fodder for my eventual PhD thesis: The Humans: Too Fucking Dumb To Live.

In life news, my wife Dorinda has been hired to teach her first college class at my old place of employment, Daniel Webster College. They offered her the job on Friday, and classes begin tomorrow. Nothing like having time to prepare for your first teaching experience ever. At the best of times Dee is a nervous creature. This weekend she has been a complete basket-case. But I have every confidence that she will do fine and that the experience will be a good one for her. Good luck babe! (Not that you ever read my blog, so you’ll never see this anyway.)

In Robo news, next year’s Free Comic Book Day story is chugging right along. I’m really enjoying the pencils-only approach. I feel like it allows me so much more freedom, giving me the confidence to try things that I wouldn’t have before. Because if I screw up now it’s just a swipe of the eraser and all is forgiven, whereas before it was bust out the pro-white and then try to ink smoothly over that. Again. And usually again.

I’ve got 8 work days to get 9 pages done if I want to have FCBD 2010 wrapped up before I leave for PittCon. When I mentioned this to Dee last night she rolled her eyes, knowing that this meant I wouldn’t really be available for family stuff next weekend.

Speaking of family stuff, I am really missing New York. I didn’t think I would, but the Old Homes festival I attended yesterday at the park next to the Widget’s school really drove home just how nice Wilton NH is, and just how little I have in common with it’s more long-term residents. I can honestly say that I really like most of the people I have met through the Widget’s school. But the hillbilly factor in this town is just more than I can take. For example, yesterday I noticed this young twenty-something playing with a baby. I tried not to be judgmental because she had a cigarette dangling from her lip and she stooped over the kid, holding the baby’s hands as it toddled around, accidentally ashing into it’s gossamer hair. Kids do dumb things, right? But then I realizes that this was the baby’s mom. And the barely middle aged lady sitting nearby? That was Grandma. If appearances were anything to go by these two could barely take care of themselves and i felt a little pang of sadness knowing that this baby would grow up to be just like them.

I guess that sounds kind of harsh. I mean, who the hell am I to judge anybody? It’s not like I’m a poster child for good living. But that was how I felt at the time anyway.

In Nerd News, my copy of the Pathfinder RPG arrived last week, just in time for my weekly game. I don’t usually get insanely excited about a new book, but damn, the people at Paizo.com have put together a beautiful product here. It is thick and heavy. Like a textbook for someone pursuing their Doctorate in Geek. Where the book really shines is in the design, layout, and artwork. Almost every image is full of such energy and mayhem that it makes you want to play the game.

We had been playing the new Dungeons & Dragons for a couple of months prior to this. I can’t say I disliked D&D 4E, though I despise the corporate policies that Hasbro has inflicted upon WoTC. The idea behind 4E seems to have been two-fold. First to simplify the game of D&D to make it more appealing, and to gain a larger audience primarily in the form of WoW and Everquest junkies. In the latter I think they will succeed -assuming they can pull those folks away from their computers for a few hours and convince them that using their imaginations can actually be a lot of fun. As far as simplifying D&D though I think they failed in a major way.

It’s true that things have been streamlined and the laws of physics completely discarded in order to make a simple and easy tabletop miniatures game. Which is really what 4E is. Role Playing definitely takes a backseat in this design process, though it can be argued that a good group of Players can work around that without any problems. But while things are simple on the surface, the devil is always in the details. By the time your character progresses a few levels you are literally buried in paperwork in the form of At-Will, Encounter, Utility, and Daily Powers, as well as whatever special inventory you might be carrying. True, if you can find what you are looking for in the stack of print outs the information is usually easy to interpret. But finding it in the first place is the hard part. You also have to remember who can Shift and how far after ana ttack, who is Marked by Who, Divine Challenges, Hunters Quarries, and a whole host of shit that’s great for the individual Player, but mind-numbing work for the GM, and death for the smooth flow of the game. And don’t get me started on Skill Challenges. Why Role Play when you can jsut roll dice? Well, because it’s a fucking ROLE PLAYING GAME. That’s why moron.

Pathfinder is basically an improvement upon D&D as it existed pre-4E rules. Figuring out how magic works is like reading the phone book if it was written by the IRS. But the actual mechanics of the game (which basically only come into play when you are killing monsters) are actually very easy to grasp and things move along quickly, allowing you (in theory) to maintain a feeling of excitement and adventure as you move your little plastic dude across the map and attack with your +1 Do-hickey. And that’s where Pathfinder comes out on top for me. I can immerse myself in that make-believe story for a few hours and I’ve been dying to play again ever since. Thursday can’t get here fast enough. I never felt that with 4E.

Finally, Atomic Robo has a TV Tropes page. Check it out. Lots of fun.

RANDOM SPLENDOR

tyrannosaurs-in-f-14s

plumbbob-stokes-blimp

nazi-super-science

  • http://east1427.livejournal.com/ Stuart

    Yeah, I tend to fiddle with your entry on TVTropes. Word of warning though, that site will ruin your life as you'll lose hours going through unrelated pages. I suggest setting an alarm. Or best of all, avoid it like some life-stealing plague. Because that's what it is.

    As for the font protest… yeeeah. See, the way I look at it, you've big problems (Crippling national debt, the rise of political extremism, plagues and famine sweeping the land, you know the sort of kidney) and you've little ones (Fonts, Optimus Prime having a flame deco in the live action movies, Games Workshop making the reissue of Space Hulk a limited edition…). Big problems are complex, depressing and, above all, are important. They're soul-destroying, and one geek behind his keyboard can't change that. Even a thousand, or a hundred thousand, isn't going to stop famine in Africa or bring an end to nutcase conspiracy theorists (In your fine and tasty land) or modern day Nazis in greasy, cheap suits (In the case of this blessed England). But those same geeks may well stop Ikea using a particular font.

    Cheerful! Still, I picked up #4 of Atomic Robo and the Shadow From Beyond Time. Loved it to pieces. Once again, Robo seems to be the only thing worth going down to the comic shop for.

  • tetsubo

    I stopped by my Father's place Sunday on my way to do laundry. And my copy of Pathfinder was there! Joy! I got to pore over it while washing my stuff. This game has be stoked about gaming like nothing has since the release of 3E. The book is such a solid, well constructed and laid out product. Well worth the price. Their message boards need a serious rebuild however.

    One thing I did notice. The intro pieces were very pleasantly written and pretty much said, “We won't screw you like WotC did with 4E.” Made me smile. :)

    I would like to thank Scott for including myself and my wife in the latest AR issue as background characters. This is just too cool.

  • http://www.nuklearpower.com Brian!

    Actually, I was just talking with the Pathfinder people earlier today. Expect a fancier website and better message board “soon”! :D

  • http://www.greymattersplat.com/ Mike

    You think the IKEA thing is bad…are you hearing the nerd rage over this whole Disney/Marvel thing? I can't wait to hear what people have to say on Wednesday when I go pick up comics! But I think the guy over at http://www.somethingpositive.net has the right idea: “anything that can lead to a Darkwing Duck/Spider-Ham crossover can't be all bad”.

    Also…I've started a letter half a dozen times, I'm just having trouble not feeling silly writing one and keep scrapping what I write. But Robo WILL get a letter from me, I promise!

  • Josh_B

    Disney buying Marvel just makes me excited for a Spider-Man Pixar movie and maybe the return of Gargoyles. Marvel have fuck-all worth buying anyway, so no big loss.

  • Dave W.

    So, this whole letters page thing, is that people are supposed to write letters to Robo? In as, he is himself and, I am me, and we agree for the duration of the letter that we are both real people? (I'm not saying Robo isn't real Brian, please don't get upset)

  • http://www.nuklearpower.com Brian!

    I personally find it much easier to answer real letters that are just readers speaking as themselves asking questions about Robo, his world, and so on. Letters that are in character beg for a response that is also in character and that seems strange next to all the regular letters and responses.

    But maybe that's just me!

  • Scott!

    Why can't I log in . . . ?

    Anyway, Dave, we prefer real questions about the book. But if letting people write to Robo like he's a real person is the only way to get them to write then we'll take what we can get.

    Maybe there should be a seperate section for that -Crank Calls, or When Crazy People Write Letters.

  • Scott!

    Aaaaaaaand, now I'm logged in.

    I hate technology.

  • Dave W.

    Oh, I just had the most terrible thought… Internet Correspondence LARPing… chills down the spine man.

  • justanotherdayintheshittycity

    The “Nazi Super Science” reminds me of the Golem from I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream.
    Jesus, the book gave me nightmares, but the GAME? Holy shit, man. If that thing weren't released before 1993, would've had an AO rating.

    Hey, has Robo ever made someone's head asplode?

  • justanotherdayintheshittycity

    The “Nazi Super Science” reminds me of the Golem from I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream.
    Jesus, the book gave me nightmares, but the GAME? Holy shit, man. If that thing weren't released before 1993, would've had an AO rating.

    Hey, has Robo ever made someone's head asplode?

  • magnetaz

    Best. Product. Ever! I didn’t even need training. suits was the best investment I ever made.

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    I guess that sounds kind of harsh. I mean, who the hell am I to judge anybody? It’s not like I’m a poster child for good living. But that was how I felt at the time anyway.