Ongoing Investigations: Case #201

Narutaki, my roommate, and I ventured to downtown Brooklyn to see the unboxing of a new table top roleplaying game magazine called Gygax Magazine (named after Gary Gygax who was one of the co-founders of Dungeons and Dragons). We trekked on down to the Brooklyn Strategist to see the event. I had never been to the store before so it was nice to see another gaming store in the area.

If nothing else Narutaki learned that not all stereotypes are baseless slander. The Brooklyn Strategist was hardly a huge shop so when the place was packed with people you had to get pretty close to most of the attendees. So we got very clear proof that the archetypical unwashed slightly balding guy was out in full force. Not everyone was like that but the gamer smell was strong. I want to go back to that store when it is not as crowed to get a better impression of what the place is like normally.

But during the event we were able to pick up the first issue of the Gygax Magazine which is a pen and paper roleplaying game magazine. While the name would imply a wholly Dungeons and Dragons themed magazine it is a general pen and paper roleplaying game magazine with a D&D slant. Some of the content was purposely generic swamp town write-up to the very specific like modified Pathfinder feats.

I really liked the Cosmology of Role-Playing Games article. It tried to create a galactic map of American pen and paper roleplaying games from 1974 until today. It states up front that it is clearly incomplete. Any complete guide would be a monumental undertaking but overall it seems fairly comprehensive and at least touches up some of the smaller independent titles. I think they could have broken down the groupings a little better as opposed to sort of throwing very disparate games of the same wave in with each other. But at the same time creating very distinct blood lines might have overcomplicated an already pretty monumental article. So I liked what I saw. I just wanted more. That said I think anyone other than hardcore tabletop players will find one or two titles on the list they would probably want to look into on name alone. Stars Without Number and Gumshoe seemed interesting to me.

Random thought: A modified Traveler could be used to run an awesome Legend of the Galactic Heroes game.

Leomund’s Secure Shelter is pretty much the rules lawyer section of the magazine. I will also say that the Keeping Magic Magical is pretty much my philosophy to a tee. The Banshee section was quite good at laying out different ways of playing a classic monster that would work in almost any fantasy setting.

I would have liked a few more sci-fi, horror, historical, or other style of RPG articles but it is the first issue. They did have a Godlike article which is a historical superheroes so it was hardly all fantasy all the time.

As always What’s New with Phil & Dixie is a classic strip and always enjoyable.

I liked the magazine a lot and I hope they can continue creating compelling content in the future.

As I have just started playing Dungeons & Dragons, this new quarterly Gygax Magazine promising insights into the game and others got me curious. It is also available digitally which might be how I’d read it in the future.

The first issue is a mix of history delving, anecdotes, and ways to add new experiences to your current games.

Some of the shorter articles felt as though they had a lot more to say but get cut off before they could. I understand space restrictions of course, but in the future it might be better to structure the article to be short as opposed to just cutting it off at its limit.

It was fun reading about other DM experiences in “Still Playing After All These Years” as well as the piece about the storytelling of Gary Gyax from his son’s perspective “The Gygax Family Storyteller.”

I found the piece about running a campaign for your toddler rather fascinating! Before reading it I didn’t imagine it really possible for that age group but it sounds pretty fun from the writer’s experience.

The comics in the back are a fun extra. I really loved the one from Girl Genius creators What’s New with Phil & Dixie.

I liked this magazine even though I’m a newbie player.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching and reading outside of our main posts on the blog. We each pick three things that we were interested in a week and talk a bit about them. There is often not much rhyme or reason to what we pick. They are just the most interesting things we saw since the last Ongoing Investigation.

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We finished up Smile PreCure! pretty much the day it come out. Overall I think that Smile was a bang-up addition to the Pretty Cure lineup. It always had a vibrant energy and a plucky spirit that really made the series endearing.

It is a great lesson in how to do an episodic series right. If you are going to use a monster of the week formula you need an effervescent feel to the episodes to keep people coming back. Smile’s cast was just so adorable that you could not help but want to see their adventures. They excelled at playing their archetypes in a way that was always endearing as opposed to derivative. Everyone from Akane’s fun relationship with Brian Taylor to Midorikawa Nao always being awesome. Also they were able to really keep the episodes fresh. With Cure Happy being turned into a robot, the episode where Miyuki’s grandmother proves to be immune to having her happiness drained, and the episode where Miyuki and Akane turn invisible are good examples of how they kept things fresh. By making the stand alone episodes so very fun it keeps the show popping.

The ending was a pretty darn strong if fairly formulaic. As Narutaki mentioned it does have the major flaw that almost every Pretty Cure series has which is that the main boss villain has no personality or motives other than being evil for evil’s sake. Joker and the was super creepy and had a distinct personality, the fairly tale villain trio was hysterical and charming, but Pierrot was a super bland evil. In many ways the more satisfying climax is the Precure’s fighting their shadow selves. Then bittersweet ending was a little surprising but they mostly take that all back in the last few seconds. Part of me wonders in there was a simple reason for that or a more meta reason for the last second turn around. Either way the ending was fun which is the most important thing.

I will say that the most crazily well animated scene was probably that fight at the end of episode 43. If you were every curious who the staff’s favorite Cure was just look how much effort they put in Cure Beauty’s fight. There is some distinctly  Unlimited Blade Works action going on there. Just look at how Reika picks up her sword and fires her bow. Very strong shades of Archer. I think that episode has better animation that even most of the last three episodes.

Smile Precure is a wonderful entry when it comes to the sentai team category of magical girls shows. It is a great title for anyone who is or was a Sailor Moon fan and wants something that can scratch that same itch. It is a wonderful use for the formula who parts work so well together they make a far greater whole. Smile’s great legacy might be that it helps people begin to stop comparing everything to Heartcatch. Now everything will be compared to Heartcatch and Smile. I’m hoping that Dokidoki can be this good.

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Like everyone else in America, I picked up a copy of Hyrule Historia. It is a really impress book if you need convincing.

The big thing about this book is the timeline and bringing all the iterations of Link and Zelda together. I knew that was a big part of it going in, but I was still really impressed with the thought that went into the timelines (which branch depending on the outcome of Ocarina of Time).

There is a ton of art both final and per-production making the book a treasure trove of details. Every page is filled with details on decision-making and other factoids. Many of the individual images even have little explanations on them. It is impossible to take it all in one sitting.

And finally, there is a short manga at the back that leads into the story of Skyward Sword. Link has got some serious abs! Japan, feel free to make more of this manga.

If feels like a book you’ll always go back and pick up and probably see something you didn’t notice the time before.

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They finally went back a translated the 6th chapter of All Around Type-Moon – Ahnenerbe No Nichijou after skipping ahead to chapter 8 (but 8 was Saber X Saber so it was all good.) This story around that loser villain Shinji getting control of some faeries from the Oblivion Recorder chapter of Kara no Kyoukai. He uses them to harass the patrons of the Ahnenerbe while trying to get his non-consensual loving on with Akiha phenotype of Type Moon heroines (Akiha, Rin, & Azaka.) Thankfully with the limited help of Sakura they give him his just deserts.

It was a fun little chapter that really let some of the more ignored heroines while as the main heroines were out of commission. It also let Shinji do what he does best: Be a total waste of existence.

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I read the short one book manga I.O.N. by Arina Tanemura. This is actually her first professional work and you feel it in both the storytelling and art style.

I.O.N is centered around a girl who develops psychic powers and the president of school’s psychic research club. Romance blooms between the two but they have to sort out whether it is about the psychic powers or real feelings.

There are a couple of love rivals that don’t really distinguish themselves but do throw in a wrench or two which are quickly cleared up. And there are even a couple of surprises pertaining to Ion’s powers.

It isn’t bad but it has a bit of a stilted quality to it and the personalities don’t shine.

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