Thursday, November 19, 2009

Away for Wedding Bliss

Back in early December . . .

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fantasy Football Week 10

Man, I got creamed again! This time it wasn't so much my fault: I got a respectable 89 points, my second highest of the season; my opponent, however, scored 145 and had four players with 20 or more. That's the odd thing about fantasy football--you have a say in how well you do "offensively" but it's pure luck how you do "defensively."


Peyton Manning, Ind QB 25
Ricky Williams, Mia RB 10
Jonathan Stewart, Car RB 20
Mike Wallace, Pit WR 1
Chad Ochocinco, Cin WR 2
Jeremy Maclin, Phi WR 13
Fred Davis, Was TE 5
Steelers D/ST, Pit D/ST 2
David Akers, Phi K 11

SNOWMEN: 145 Points

Kurt Warner, Ari QB 21
Adrian Peterson, Min RB 22
Laurence Maroney, NE RB 8
Randy Moss, NE WR 29
Steve Smith, Car WR 15
DeSean Jackson, Phi WR 9
Kellen Winslow, TB TE 10
Ravens D/ST, Bal D/ST 24
Neil Rackers, Ari K 7

Blade: Nightstalking

This was a cool, pocket-sized comic included with the Blade: Trinity DVD. Blade himself doesn't actually appear: instead, it tells how Abigail, Whistler, and Hannibal meet up and ends as Abigail and Hannibal walk up the steps of the FBI building (where the movie begins). Nice artwork and action scenes--and a guy can't complain when it's free!

Torchwood Magazine # 8

Here's what Torchwood Magazine had to say for itself in September of 2008:

* An ad for the Torchwood Yearbook, which I was planning to ignore since it's mostly a collection of articles from the magazine--except here I learn it also has five original short stories. Now there's something else I must buy!

* An interview with exec producer Julie Gardner. Not a lot interesting here, other than that she hated the Torchwood SUV and that t.v. type people generally don't like flashbacks as they're considered complicated.

* A cool tour guide to Torchwood locations in Wales. If I ever visited Cardiff, I would totally be one of those dumb tourists standing outside Roald Dahl Plass pretending to stand on the descending pavement slab of the Hub.

* Part Five of Rift War! The crummy artwork continues. Jack and Gwen travel back in time to circa 600 C.E. (Jack can tell by tasting the carbon build-up in the dirt . . . ooookay).

* Part One of a short story by Trevor Baxendale titled Harm's Way. Basically, the team finds an alien egg-type thing and brings it back to the Hub for examination. As these things are wont to do, the egg splits apart to reveal a giant arachnid-monster sort of thing. I make it sound worse than it is, as Trevor Baxendale is actually a pretty good writer.


Underworld is the third book in the Last of the Jedi series. Jedi Ferus Olin and his young partner Trever head back to Coruscant to track down rumors of an imprisoned Jedi. Unsurprisingly (to me at least), the Temple has been turned into a trap that almost ensnares the two. There's some exciting scenes when Inquisitor Malorum and Darth Vader appear, and a nice appearance by Dexter Jettster from Attack of the Clones (he's had to abandon his diner and go underground since he's a suspected Jedi sympathizer). Sometimes these YA novels bring me as much satisfaction as the full-length adult Star Wars books, and at a much faster pace.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Panel to Panel

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Panel to Panel

Dark Horse (2007)
RATING: 2/5 Stakes

BACK-OF-THE-BOOK SUMMARY: "Buffy Summers--at once invincible and vulnerable, beautiful and brave--has grown into a mythic figure. After a shaky start inthe cult film, her icon status arose with the 1997 launch of Joss Whedon's critically acclaimed television series, where her valley-girl charm won audiences young and old. It seemed only natural that this Slayer of vampires and demons would find herself the start of her own comic. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Panel to Panel collects the artwork that first brought the comic book to life, including work by acclaimed artists J. Scott Campbell, Tim Sale, Jeff Matsuda, and Eric Powell. This book captures the action, adventure, and drama of the television show through comic-book storytelling. Each image reveals the creative and collaborative efforts that have made Buffy a success in both TV and comics. Panel to Panel chronicles Buffy's life, death, and resurrection, and catapults fans into Whedon's comic-book continuation of the show in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight."


Panel to Panel is basically a collection of covers, interior artwork, and concept designs taken from Dark Horse Comics original run of Buffy comics (that is, the comics before Joss Whedon took a direct hand with the launch of Season Eight). There's a few paragraphs here and there written by Scott Allie, the comics' editor, about why certain artists were chosen. But by and large this is very much an art book--and if you have the actual comics, you can see pretty much everything that's in this book. In other words, as far as I can tell, unless you're crazy about comic art there's not really a lot of point to buying Panel to Panel.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Intersectionality and Posthumanist Visions of Equality

I wanted to flag this interesting article in the Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender, and Society, Intersectionality and Posthumanist Visions of Equality by Maneesha Deckha. The article lays out the case that speciesism should be included along with racism, sexism, homopohobia, ageism, and more when analyzing the implications of laws and legal theory. Here are a couple of points I find especially interesting:

* The degree to which the legal system (and mainstream society) is concerned with animal abuse is heavily contingent on purely cultural constructions of the "worth" of those animals. That is, (using Western society as a background) animals that have reputations as being "dirty" or "savage" (rats or coyotes, for example) are rarely going to be the subject of concern; animals culturally constructed as "loyal" or "noble" (dogs & horses, for example) will receive greater protection. Different cultures value different animals differently (cows in India are sacred; horsemeat or dogmeat is common in others).

* Along these lines (my own observation here), there's a strange dichotomy with the phenomenon that inflicting pain on a single animal is likely to be considered morally culpable, while inflicting pain on thousands or millions of animals as part of a larger project is considered blameless: slitting the throat of a chicken for animal sacrifice by members of Santeria can incur legal difficulties, but industrial food production involving chicken will escape scrutiny.

* There's also an interesting discussion of Cary Wolfe's arrangement of species on a sort of grid that reflects cultural conceptions of their worth. At the highest are "humanized humans"--that his, human beings whose worth is fully embraced. A step below are "animalized humans", human beings whose worth is considered lesser by racist theories labelling them as "savage" or "bestial" (ethnic cleansing campaigns often reflect this sort of thinking). A step lower are "humanized animals", animals to which we assign traits (intelligence, affection, loyalty, etc.) that we considered valuable: dolphins, chimpanzees, dogs, etc. And then lowest are "animalized animals", those animals who receive little or no value and are seen merely as sources of food, clothing, sport, or experimentation.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Torchwood: Countrycide: (S1, E6)

"I hate the countryside."

Countrycide, Season One, Episode Six

("Torchwood investigates a series of gruesome deaths in the Brecon Beacons, only to confront a terrifying enemy.")

What I Liked

* A great opening sequence--very scary, but with a victim who isn't stupid or cliched (she brings the baseball bat with her, for example).

* Getting Torchwood out of the Hub, and even out of Cardiff. I know filming on location is expensive, but a show that stays in one setting too long can start to feel claustrophobic or repetitive. According to the commentary, the beautiful, haunting darkened-cloud skies were naturally there.

* Owen's hatred of the country. "What's that awful smell?" he asks. "Grass," Gwen replies.

* A story that has nothing at all to do with aliens--again, a surprising and original twist in the Whoniverse.

* Seeing Gwen & Owen hook up at the end--another big twist, taking the show down a darker path and giving an "episode of the week" larger implications.

What I'm Not Sure About

* Owen is just plain mean to Tosh (talking about making out with Gwen in front of her, for example). Why's a nice girl like her crushing on a jerk like him?

* Jack's saying that he was once a professional torturer--this has never been referenced again and seems out of place with his being a con man and time cop. Was he making it up?

What I Didn't Like

* Gwen giving up her gun while in a stand-off: listen lady, they're cannibalistic serial killers. Wouldn't you rather take your chances in a gun battle than be slowly tortured and eaten alive?

* The ending, with Jack crashing through the wall guns-a-blazing and shooting down all the bad guys. It was a little too Hollywood action movie for an episode that had been all about gruesome horror. Not that it wasn't cool--just, out of place and the wrong tone.


By: Andy Goddard (Director), Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto), and Chris Chibnall (Writer)

Tone: Director-focussed, somewhat technical, but balanced discussion of pros and cons

Interesting bits:

* Gareth David-Lloyd regretted eating several of the roadside stand burgers.

* The scenes prior to the SUV being stolen were supposed to take place around a campfire, but apparently getting permits and ensuring the safety of the actors was too expensive and difficult. It's a bad sign for t.v. when simple campfires become logistical nightmares.

* A reference to "The Harkinator" debate: what I talked about above, with Jack turning into super killing machine.

Torchwood Declassified: "The Country Club"

* Discussion of the episode as being intended to drive Gwen & Owen together

* A feature on making the gory special effects--and how there are tone limits, even for late-night T.V.

* Discussion among the crew over the ending: some thought Jack should have been very stealthy and emotionless, while other's like the big finish with his face full of rage.
Deleted Scenes
* A different edit of Jack crashing into the barn and going gun crazy.
* A brief aftermath shot of a wounded Gwen walking towards emergency vehicles. Jack says the place will probably become a shrine to monsters.
* Gwen and Rhys sitting at home after everything that happened--it's awkward and uncomfortable, and Gwen pretends she's been called in to Torchwood so that she can leave.

Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque

Continuing with my collection of Worth Literary Classics: Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. This is kind of the "other" collection of Poe's short stories: most of his famous works (The Fall of the House of Usher, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Masque of the Red Death, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Cask of Amontillado and The Tell-Tale Heart) are in another collection ("Tales of Mystery and Imagination"). Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque really shows Poe's diversity: a lot of the pieces are humorous, a few show his trademark interest in the Gothic, and a couple are more in the nature of science-fiction. There were a handful I thought were really good: King Pest (set during plague-infested London, when grotesque mockeries of normal life are enacted by people who have given up hope); William Wilson (an early example of psychological horror); The Unparalled Adventure of One Hans Pfaal (a science-filled hoax about a trip to the moon in a hot-air balloon); and The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether (inmates running the asylum: a bit of a hoary plot today, but still effectively creepy). The Worth edition comes with an introduction and an essay on "Poe and the Gothic", which probably would have belonged better in the other collection. Surprisingly, there's no table of contents--something really necessary for a short story collection. I really liked the Publishing History section, which included full-color reproductions of gothic art inspired by Poe's work.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Reflections of a Rock Super-Hero

Man, I wish I had an 8-track of Reflections of a Rock Super-Hero, "the beginning of a musical revolution!" Mainly, because "it's not just for the younger set" and is indeed "an honest-to-Aunt May Rock-and-Roll album that's the answer to any disc jockey's prayer." One of the "Super Songs" on the album is "No One Has a Crush on Peter", which I'm sure was an instant classic.

Proof that ads are often as much fun as old comics themselves.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fantasy Football: Week 9

Week 9 resulted in another loss (71-89), dropping me to 3-6 on the season. This was a game I could have won if a couple of breaks had gone my way (like Peyton Manning or Ochcinco getting a TD). I picked up Jonathan Stewart on waivers to replace the benched Steve Slaton, but although Stewart got plenty of carries he didn't get plenty of yards.

SUN RUNNERS: 71 Points

Peyton Manning, Ind QB 14
Ricky Williams, Mia RB 9
Jonathan Stewart, Car RB 1
Pierre Garcon, Ind WR 6
Chad Ochocinco, Cin WR 4
Jeremy Maclin, Phi WR 4
Fred Davis, Was TE 2
Steelers D/ST, Pit D/ST 18
John Carney, NO K 13


Drew Brees, NO QB 13
Ryan Grant, GB RB 15
Ray Rice, Bal RB 18
Rashard Mendenhall, Pit RB 15
Andre Johnson, Hou WR 10
Dwayne Bowe, KC WR 7
Brent Celek, Phi TE 9
49ers D/ST, SF D/ST -3
Josh Scobee, Jac K 5

Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader

Set immediately after Revenge of the Sith, Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader gives some interesting insight into how Anakin makes the physical and psychological transformation into Vader. Psychologically, he scorns the Jedi for their weakness and inability to see what Palpatine was doing, while at the same time biding his time until Palpatine has taught him everything there is to know about Sith lore before betraying him. Physically, there's a good explanation of how difficult it is to adjust to having a largely cybernetic body, and how it forces the formerly agile and somersaulting Anakin into the ponderous, but implacable, Darth Vader (or, in other words, why the fight between Anakin & Obi-Wan at the end of Revenge of the Sith is such a dramatic departure from the fight between Vader & Obi-Wan in A New Hope). We also see some early glimpses of (future) Grand Moff Tarkin, the enslavement of the Wookies (including the apparent death of Chewbacca's family, forcing him off-world), the construction of the first Death Star, and Obi-Wan's first realization, while on Tatooine, that his former Padawan is still alive.

Apart from Vader, there's a plot concerning Roan Shryne and other Jedi who managed to survive Order 66--although some of them survive the events of the book, they haven't yet made appearances in any other canon fiction (at least according to Wookiepedia).

Friday, November 6, 2009

Montreal Bound

I'm off to Montreal on Friday for the big American Academy of Religion annual meeting, where I'm presenting a paper for a special panel on blasphemy. New posts to come circa Tuesday.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Clone Wars: Season 1

I picked up Season 1 of the The Clone Wars animated series today. I wasn't a very big fan of this when it first came out (though I really liked the animated movie prequel), mainly because it is very kid-focussed: black and white morality, proverbs at the beginning of every episode, simplistic story-telling, and silly humor (especially with the B-1 battle droids). I also think that Obi-Wan has a terrible personality (annoyingly snarky instead of dry wit),that the Separatists villians (Asajj Ventress, Dooku, & Grievous) are over-used to the point where they are no longer scary because they never win, and there's little tension because we know nothing bad can happen to the protagonists since they appear in Revenge of the Sith (except for tube-top wearing Ahsoka, whom I really doubt they're going to kill off). I've probably said this before, but the original Dark Horse Comics series of nine Clone Wars graphic novels does a much better job of portraying the war as a terrible, violent, and morally ambiguous thing.

But I bought the damn DVDs anyway. Now that I know what I'm getting, I don't hate the episodes as much. I've chosen to consider them Jedi/Republic propaganda that takes kernels of what "actually" happened and massages them to make the Jedi and Clones look perfectly moral, while the Separatists are simply dastardly villains with no legitimate grievances.
This post, which I'll update frequently, is a list of the episodes with a few brief comments. One thing I really like, which doesn't get much attention, is that a few-page long prequel comic has been posted online for each episode--the comics serve as nice introductions to the episodes and explain a few things that are glossed over. I'll be talking about the comics here as well.

Episode 1: Ambush

The story here concerns Yoda being sent to an uninhabited moon Rugosa to meet the King of Toydaria & try to convince him to join the Republic. The Separatists intercept the transmission and send Asajj Ventress and battle droids to stop him. Yoda carries the day, convincing the Toydarian King to declare for the Republic.

Recently in the Clone Wars RPG I direct, I thought one of the players wasn't doing a great job role-playing when he had his character charge straight toward a Trade Federation tank--after all, who charges a tank!?! Well, in this episode Yoda charges three Trade Federation tanks and destroys them all single-handedly. Mea culpa.

The prequel comic introduces some of the Clones seen in the episode--they're stationed on Coruscant and anxious to see some action. It also shows Skytop Station, a secret Separatist communications facility (run by Aqualish Senator Nudo) that allows Dooku to intercept Republic transmissions--including the conversation between Chancellor Palpatine and the Toydarian King Katuuko.
Episode 2: Rising Malevolence
Malevolence is a secret Separatist super-weapon: basically, a massive ion cannon housed in a capital ship that is capable of tearing apart entire Republic fleets. After each attack, the Malevolence sends out hunter-killer droid vehicles to destroy all escape pods so that no witnesses survive. After Jedi General Plo Koon's fleet is destroyed, he manages to keep himself and a handful of Clones alive in an escape pod until Anakin & Ahsoka manage to rescue them.
This is definitely a darker story than Ambush, insofar as we see Republic troopers murdered when Separatists droids tear off the canopy to their escape pod & expose them to vacuum. I like Anakin's personality in this episode--he's butted head with the Jedi Council enough times to figure out how to tell them what they need to hear while still doing what he wants (a lesson he tries to give Ahsoka). It's good to have stories focus on characters who don't appear much in the movies, like Plo Koon--his fighting with a lightsaber in outer space was kinda nifty & we learn he was the one who found Ahsoka and took her to the Temple for training. The episode also has a couple of in-joke references to the Death Star: "You may fire when ready" and a bit of a spoof of the famous rail-less platform overlooking the accumulating energy (staffed with droids here, of course).
The online comics don't have a lot to add--they just show Anakin & Ahsoka being frustrated that they're guarding the Bith system while others are out hunting for the Separatist superweapon, Plo Koon being chosen to lead the search, and a Republic fleet being destroyed.
Episode 3: Shadow of Malevolence
After their narrow escape, Anakin, Ahsoka, and Plo Koon rejoin the main Republic fleet charged with hunting down the Malevolence before it can destroy a major medcenter. Anakin decides the best chance of destroying this Separatist superweapon is by leading in a squadron of fighter-bombers to destroy the ship's bridge. However, as his fellow pilots are getting torn apart, Anakin changes plans and instead they torpedo the super ion cannon array. The heavily damaged Malevolence is pursued by Obi-Wan and three Republic capital ships.
This episode is mostly space combat. I like the idea that, although Anakin is an extraordinarily skilled pilot, the rest of the squadron can't live up to his abilities and attack plans consequently need to be altered. This is the first we see the prototype Y-Wings in the animated series (they have gun turrets). I also quite liked the design concept for the Republic medcenter and it was interesting to see a Kaminoan in charge of the facility (it makes sense that, sense they grew the Clones, Kaminoans would be in the best position to heal them).
The prequel comic shows Anakin and Palpatine colluding to deploy the prototype Y-Wings before they've finished testing from the Bormus shipyards (and thus outmaneuvering the procedure-bound Gran Senator Aak).
Episode 4: Destroy Malevolence
The heavily damaged Malevolence is under heavy attack from three Republic cruisers. Fortunately for Grievous, Count Dooku (and Chancellor Palpatine) have a contingency plan: Senator Amidala has been sent to negotiate with a supposed Banking Clan representative, but has really been sent to be captured and act as a hostage. The plan goes awry, however, when Amidala escapes the Malevolence's hanger and is soon joined on-board by Anakin and Obi-Wan. Together, they sabotage the ship's hyperdrive and manage to escape. The Malevolence collides with a small moon, but General Grievous lives to fight another day.
I really liked the concept for the inside of the Malevolence--in all of the live-action movies, starship interiors are clean, well-lit places with straight corridors. The Malevolence, on the other hand, is dark, gun-metal gray, with sharp, odd angles. It seems a little more alien in construction and works well. I also like the concept of a central axis along which railcars run--these ships are supposed to be massive--carrying the equivalent of tens of thousands of people--so having fast ways to move people and supplies makes perfect sense.
The prequel features Padme, C3P0, and (regrettably) Jar-Jar. Padme goes on a news program (TriNebulon News) where she's questioned about recent pirate attacks on Rodia by a broadcaster named Yutsen and forced to admit, to her embarrassment, that she hasn't been paying any attention. Later, she's summoned by Chancellor Palpatine (with Senate Guardsman Argyus making his first appearance in the background) and sent to meet the non-existent Banking Clan envoy.
Episode 5: Rookies
The prequel comic here shows several Clones destroying mouse droids before they can sabotage a Republic facility. It's pretty slight stuff.
The episode is one I liked much better on second viewing. General Grievous is planning a secret attack on the Kamino cloning facility; but to get there, he needs to disable a Republic outpost before it can warn the Republic fleet. He sends in a team of cool Commando Droids who manage to capture the facility, but several Clones strike back and one sacrifices himself to blow it up (thus warning the Republic that something is wrong). There's some nice humor and cool action scenes.
Episode 6: Downfall of a Droid
General Grievous' fleet is destroyed when Anakin succeeds with kind of a crazy stunt (landing several Walkers on an asteroid to fire on the Separatist fleet from the rear). However, Anakin's starship is damaged and, although the Jedi escapes, R2-D2 is captured by a Trandoshan salvager. Anakin and Ahsoka try to rescue R2, but a "bumbling" R3-S6 gets in the way and R-2 is sold to the Separatists. It's a moderately interesting episode, but R3's betrayal is rather predictable and Ahoska's naievete can be annoying. There's a scene in the episode where the Twilight flies right between two Separatist capital ships before escaping; in my Clone Wars role-playing game, a player tried something only half as dangerous (skimming the surface of a single capital ship) and got blown to pieces by a critical hit. I guess the Force just wasn't with him . . .
The prequel comic has nothing to do with the episode, though I assume it'll tie in later in the story arc. On the planet Falleen, Asajj Ventress infiltrates a palace--it looks like the palace's Prince has gotten the drop on her, but she was simply acting as a distraction for Count Dooku. There's some nice, moody artwork.
Episode 7: Duel of the Droids
Anakin and Ahsoka, along with several Clones, find the secret Separatist listening post droid where Grievous has the Trandoshan salvager, Gha Nachkt, download R-2's memory bank (Grievous kills Gha Nachkt after the job is done, with the enjoyable remark "There's your bonus!"). Anakin and Company infiltrate the base, plant explosives, and manage to rescue R-2 and the diminutive droid defeats R3-S6 in a duel. Although the listening post is destroyed, Grievous manages to escape and live to fight another day (something which happens pretty much every episode, as far as I can tell).
This is a good example of how villains become less intimidating through repeated failure. In his first appearance in the original Clone Wars cartoon (the one with the funky Samurai Jack style animation), Grievous single-handedly kills several Jedi; when he appears again in Revenge of the Sith, he puts on quite a show before Obi-Wan finally manages to kill him. In this cartoon series, however, Grievous barely escapes every encounter and (in this particular episode) engages in lengthy duels with Ahsoka Tano and she survives unscathed. Otherwise, it's not really a bad episode--Grievous stabbing Gha Nachkt in the back was quite fun.
The prequel comic depicts one Separatist leader (Passel Argente) buying a specially-modified droid from Gha Nachkt to act as a spy on another Separatist leader (Wat Tambor). In a nice twist, Nachkt has actually been working with Tambor all along to double-cross Argente.
Episode 8: Bombad Jedi
The prequel comic sets up the silly tone of the episode: two con men (named Dannl and Achk) are on the run from Senate guards on Coruscant. They disguise themselves as Judicials and try to commandeer the starship that C-3PO and Jar-Jar are getting ready for Padmé. In his supreme goofiness, Jar-Jar accidentally lips the floating landing pad upside down, sending the ship and the fake Judicials flying. Padmé, Jar-Jar, and C-3PO end up having to take the yacht instead of the skiff to . . .
. . . Rodia, where Padmé plans to meet with a long-time family friend, a certain Senator Farr, over Rodia's threats to join the Separatists. However, Farr betrays Padmé and turns her over to Nute Gunray. Extreme slapstick ensues, as the Separatist battle droids think Jar-Jar is actually a Jedi. Through an unlikely series of incredible events, the tables are turned at the end and it's Nute Gunray who is the prisoner.
The writer of this episode had some balls to feature the most loathed character in Star Wars history, but it's actually pretty fun. I think it helps that Jar-Jar's silliness is a major part of the story, and not an annoying distraction from the otherwise serious events going on around him (like it was in Phantom Menace).
Episode 9: Cloak of Darkness
The prequel comic features bad artwork in which all the characters look like little kids. Anakin talks a reluctant Ahsoka into helping oversee the transfer of Nute Gunray to Republic custody, and we also see that Luminara Unduli and Captain Argyus (TRAITOR!) will be there as well.
The episode features Asajj Ventress' mission to rescue Gunray; with Argyus' help, she succeeds and then (literally) stabs Argyus in the back. It was nice to see one of the show's trio of recurring villians (Ventress, Dooku, Grievous) actually succeed at a plan. Ventress' escape was pretty cool and exciting, and I especially liked where the cut the pipes on the ceiling. She's still not as scary as she should be--heck, Ahsoka fought her to a virtual standstill. It would have been better if, instead of sending Luminara (who was frankly kinda boring), the show would have had a new Jedi appear whom Ventress could have killed and thus establish some street cred. As far as I can tell, only battle droids, unnamed Clones, and assistant bad guys (Argyus this episode, the Trandoshan the other episode) actually die.
The other thing I'm starting to notice at this point is how empty ships and cities are, which I think is a function of the difficulty and cost of animating additional CGI models. It's rare to see "extras" in the background of most scenes. Also, where the heck was the ship's damage control crew after Ventress set explosives in the engine room? Anyway, a pretty decent episode.
Episode 10: Lair of Grievous
Kay, remember two paragraphs up where I suggested they introduce a new Jedi that Ventress could kill (to "establish some street cred"). Well, nevermind. In this episode, a former Padawan of Kit Fisto (named Nahdar Vebb) is killed by General Grievous. Vebb was an annoying little bastard, so I don't think anyone (even Fisto, judging by the end of the episode) felt too bad about it. It all came about because Dooku was starting to think Grievous had gotten soft, so he made sure the Jedi knew where Grievous' fortress/shrine was.
I think Fisto is given a Jamaican accent, which is a little weird. We also get introduced to EV-A4-D, the sarcastic medical droid that handles Grievous' repairs.
The prequel comic shows flashbacks to when Grievous was organic and one of the finest warriors who ever lived. Modern day Grievous laments the fact that he now commands soulless battle droids, which are the furthest thing from the true warriors he once fought beside. It's actually surprisingly poignant.
Episode 11: Dooku Captured
Obi-Wan infiltrates Dooku's flagship in order to rescue a captured Anakin. Only, it turns out that Anakin and Obi-Wan set it all up to try and capture Dooku. Dooku escapes in the cruiser in his personal ship and the Jedi give chase, and the two ships crash land on the planet Vanqotr While Anakin & Obi-Wan run into trouble with cave gundarks, Dooku manages to get himself snatched by Weequay pirates who plan to turn him over to the Republic for a nice reward. After Ahsoka rescues them, Anakin & Obi-Wan are sent to meet with the Weequay to negotiate for Dooku's transfer on the planet Florrum. So . . . trap?
A solid episode here, with nice background artwork for Vanqor (kinda cool they used the planet, since it was originally introduced in one of the Jedi Quest YA novels). The Weeqay basically have flying saucers for starships, which is a bit odd but I suppose it's a perfectly reasonable design. The prequel comic shows Anakin intentionally damaging his starfighter to make it look like authentic battle damage, as well as his actually getting captured by the Separatists.
Episode 12: The Gungan General
The prequel comic is a silly bit of wordless fluff, as Pilf (the Kowakian monkey-lizard) tries all sorts of things before finally managing to knock Obi-Wan and Anakin unconscious.
The Republic sends Jar-Jar and a Gran Senator named Kharrus to meet with the Weequay pirates and deliver a load of spice as payment for Dooku. One of the pirates decides he would like that spice for himself, and attacks the shuttle. Kharrus is killed in the crash (a nice surprise there) and the survivors mount these strange hippo-like beasts to head toward the pirate base, but they're attacked by the pirates on swoops. Meanwhile, Dooku, Obi-Wan, and Anakin, working together, have tried and failed a few different schemes to escape. Dooku manages to escape on his own, and then the Republic shows up to rescue the Jedi.
Jar-Jar's voice sounds weird in this episode--presumably a new voice actor. My new theory is that, like God, the Force looks out for small children and idiots.
It was kinda fun seeing Dooku forced to work with Anakin and Obi-wan, though you keep wondering the whole time why he doesn't start throwing force lightning left and right to kill the pirates (he does strangle and force choke some of them near the end of the episode).
Seeing a bunch of bandits on swoops charging toward the wreck of a ship to recover spice brought back memories of when the exact same thing happened during the Clone Wars RPG I won. Only in the game, our Duro character left handfuls of grenades and wiped all but one of the swoop-bikers out.
Episode 13: Jedi Crash
This episode starts out in a damn exciting way, with a frantic space battle between Republic ships commanded by Aayla Secura and three Separatist cruisers. Anakin and Ahsoka manage to help Aayla fight off Separatist rocket droids (basically, B-2 droids with jet packs), but their ship is heavily damaged and the hyperdrive misfires, sending them on a wild course towards a star. With Anakin injured during the attack, Ahsoka takes the helm and manages to make a crash landing on a nearby planet (Maridun), populated by Lurmen, a pacifist species. The Jedi manage to convince the Lurmen to send a healer to save Anakin's life.
They do a give job with Aayla's personality--she seems like a Jedi willing to make the tough decisions, a good example of a General. I don't quite understand why she says the Republic is fighting for "liberty" in the Clone Wars, as it seems to be fighting to keep planets from seceding--but the political justification for the Republic's role in the civil war has never been fully explained.
The prequel comic depicts Aayla and her Clones to luring a Separatist tactical droid into a trap. Aayla cuts the droid in half before it can erase it's memory banks. Although both the comic and the episode have a tactical droid, there's otherwise no connection between the two that I can see.
Episode 14: Defenders of Peace
This ep starts off with the Jedi and Clones still hanging out on Maridun with the Lurmen (they don't have a ship capable of getting them off the planet). A Separatist leader arrives (General Lok Durd) and decides that Maridun is the perfect place to test out the experimental weapon he's been developing: the Defoliator. Basically, it's a surging burst of energy designed to kill all organic life without harming battle droids. The Jedi mount a defense of the Lurmen village, and some Lurmen join in (much to the dismay of their leader, a stout pacifist). Eventually, of course, the Jedi are victorious, Lok Durd is captured, and the village is saved.
I think the writers here tried to do justice to pacifism as a philosophy, but the Lurmen leader still came across as a stubborn ostrich with its head in the sand. Unfortunately, I think it's just too difficult to explain philosophical and moral arguments for pacifism in the context of a 20-minute kids' cartoon. Also, the Lurmen leader speaks with a funny Scottish accent. What's up with that? I guess if Neimodians have faux-Chinese accents, Gungans have faux-Jamaican accents, and Imperial Admirals are all British, it's only fair.
The prequel comic explains how, when the Lurmen first arrived on Maridun, the planet's native inhabitants attacked them and drove them away from their ship.
Episode 15: Trespass
The prequel comic here is very well done. It's partially the contents of a letter written by a Clone named Shiv for a Clone who died long ago (Flanker). The letter is never meant to be sent, of course, but it details the difficulties the Clones are having on the planet Orto Plutonia, an icy wasteland that seems to inhabited by savage, monstrous "ice men". After the letter is finished, we realize that the entire Clone outpost will be wiped out.
The silence from the outpost is the hook for the story in the episode, as Anakin and Obi-Wan are sent to investigate. Accompanying them are a Senator and the Chairman of the neighboring moon of Pantora. The Jedi quickly realize that the natives of Ordo Plutonia are Talz, and that they destroyed the Clone outpost (and a nearby Separatist base) because they felt their lands were being encroached upon. Anakin and Obi-Wan manage to negotiate a shaky truce with the Talz, but Chairman Chi Cho has very colonialist leanings and provokes a war. Fortunately, he takes a spear to the stomach and Senator Riyo Chuchi negotiates a lasting peace.
A few things struck me as interesting here. First, we see another Senator who appears to be a teenage girl (like Padme). I still find it hard to conceptualize a government that would put its foreign policy in the hands of teenagers, but if nothing else the idea is certainly empowering to girls. Second, there's some interesting bits dropped by Obi-Wan about the limits of their ability to intervene in the domestic affairs of Republic signatories. It'd be interesting to see this fleshed out a bit, as we generally just see the Jedi go anywhere and do anything. Also? Cool snowspeeders.
Episode 16: The Hidden Enemy
Bit of an odd episode here, as it's basically a prequel to the animated Clone Wars movie--I imagine that perhaps they wanted a different beginning to that or a shorter running time, so they cut this part and decided to show it later. Anyway, Christophsis is still under seige by the Separatists, but someone in the Grand Army of the Republic is leaking information. Anakin escapes one of the Separatist traps in a really cool scene where he crosses from one tower to another by crashing through the glass and ziplining across. Anyway, the search for the spy continues at the Republic base, and it's revealed to be a Clone who goes by the "I'm not a spy!" name of Slick (I will say, they gave him nice motivation for the betrayal). Slick gets captured, but not before destroying all the Republic vehicles except for the heavy artillery (which is exactly where the movie picks up). There's also the standard scene of Anakin & Obi-Wan dueling inconclusively with Ventress. It's not a bad episode by any means, but it feels rather out-of-place after having seen the movie.
The prequel comic doesn't have much going on. Everyone watches a holovid of the Separatists announcing they've captured Christophsis. The Clones are disgusted as a guy rats them out to battle droids. Ventress gives secret info (delivered by Slick) to General Loathsome.
Episode 17: Blue Shadow Virus
The prequel comic shows Captain Typho leading a patrol on Naboo. They encounter a small group of B-1 battle droids and destroy them. Queen Neeyutnee (who apparently was after Padme and before the Queen in Revenge of the Sith) decides to call Padme for help.
The episode is all about the Republic's attempts to find and stop a Separatist scientist named Nuvo Vindi from detonating bombs filled with the Blue Shadow Virus. It looks like they save the day, but since this is a two-parter I'm guessing something bad happens next ep.
I loved Doctor Nuvo Vindi because he is so over-the-top as a mad scientist in the greatest tradition of Doctor Frankenstein (Vindi even has some sort of Eastern European accent). I also think his little rabbit droid is irrepressibly cute.
My notes, scrawled while watching the episode, include the phrase "Is Padme retarded?" I think that had to do with her decision to go looking for the secret Separatist base in the marsh while bringing along only Jar-Jar for back-up. In retrospect, I feel kinda bad for using the slur, because even retarded people would know not to bring Jar-Jar as a bodyguard.
Episode 18: The Mystery of a Thousand Moons
This is the only episode of the season not to receive a prequel comic. It picks up right at the end of the last episode, where everything relating to the Blue Shadow virus seemed to be under control. However, that super-cute rabbit droid steals a container of the virus from one of the undetonated bombs and the viral breaks, contaminating the entire facility--Ahsoka, most of the Clones, Jar-Jar, and Padme are trapped inside, while Obi-Wan and Anakin are stuck outside. In an amazing display of unprecedented scientific genius, Captain Typho and the Naboo figure out (seemingly within minutes) that the way to cure this historically cataclysmic plague is to retrieve a rare plant found only on the planet Iego--the so-called "World of a Thousand Moons."
The Jedi journey to Iego, only to find a veritable graveyard of ships surrounding it--apparently (and I'm not sure why here) the Separatists withdrew from the planet but left a powerful orbital laser to keep any of the planet's inhabitants from leaving. On Iego, the Jedi meet up a teenaged scavenger and other castaways who help the Jedi escape after they retrieve the plant.
We also get to see one of the Angels of Millieus Prime, the fictional cause of one of the worst bits of dialogue in Star Wars history (in The Phantom Menace, where young Anakin first sees Padme and asks "if she's an angel").
As an aside, if you've ever wondered what happened to Jake Lloyd, the actor who delivered that line, Wikipedia says he hasn't acted since 2001. Yes, George Lucas, the kid you cast as the central figure in the Star Wars mythos is apparently not seen by other directors as some sort of acting prodigy.
Episode 19: Storm Over Ryloth
My memory's a bit fuzzy about this one as I watched a couple of weeks before writing this entry. Basically, the Republic learns of a Separatist blockade and plans to invade Ryloth. A Republic fleet, led by Anakin & Ahsoka, engage the Separatist fleet in a long (but very cool and exciting) space battle. Eventually, Anakin hits upon a play where he empties out one of his cruisers and crashes it into the Separatist flagship and the blockade is broken. One of the things I really liked about this episode was that the Separatist Captain comes across as an intelligent, well-prepared officer who learns about his enemies and prepares for their likely moves.
The prequel comic features Techno-Union Emir Wat Tambor watching through secret holo-cams as (I'm a bit fuzzy on this) a Separatist leader delivers packages to a local Ryloth magistrate. This seems to anger Tambor, and he orders an immediate invasion of the planet.
Episode 20: Innocents of Ryloth
Obi-wan leads a Clone assault to capture the city of Nabat in order to provide a staging area for the liberation of Ryloth. However, a smart-thinking Separatist tactical droid has placed captured Twi-leks around defensive positions, keeping the G.A.R. from using orbital bombardment or heavy weapons. A couple of Clone scouts find a young Twi-lek girl, and she shows them hidden tunnels that the G.A.R. uses to get close enough to rescue the living shields and defeat the droids.
The prequel here shows the young Twi-lek girl waking up in the middle of the night to realize that the Separatists have invaded and have captured her family. Blah.
No prequel comic.
Episode 21: Liberty on Ryloth
The prequel comic is set on Ryloth, as a minstrel named Gobi delivers a verse poem about the heroic victories he hopes that his friend, rebel Cham Syndulla, will deliver.
The episode features Mace Windu in charge of a Republic army, tasked with capturing Lessu, the capital city of Ryloth. The main obstacle in their path is that a plasma bridge, which can be turned on and off, separates Lessu from the mainland. Mace recruits Cham Syndulla, and with a not-particularly-clever ploy, manages to lead his army across the plasma bridge and capture Separatist leader Wat Tambor. It's a pretty standard episode.
As an aside, no matter how geeky you are when it comes to continuity about a shared universe, there will always be people geekier. This episode, for instance, spawned a major dispute on Wookieepedia about whether Ryloth has a normal day/night cycle or not.
Episode 22: Hostage Crisis
Really nice artwork graces the prequel comic, which features an assassination attempt on Duros Cad Bane ("the greatest bounty hunter since Jango Fett) that goes wrong for would-be assassin Davtokk. It turns out, the whole thing was a set up so Bane could test his team for an upcoming mission.
Said mission is an audacious takeover of the Senate building on Coruscant. Bane and team pull off the plan flawlessly, taking Senators hostage and ransoming them for the freedom of Ziro the Hutt. This is probably the best episode of the season: a worthwhile villain, some nice twists, and exciting action scenes. If Season Two is more like this, the cartoon will have redeemed itself for an otherwise lackluster series.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Clone Wars Campaign: Recap # 29

This is the beginning of what became my favorite story arc of the campaign (at least so far). This session in particular had (to my mind, at least) an original and interesting mystery-based plot, some exciting action scenes, and a dramatic adventure hook to propel the story forward. I was also really happy with my role-playing of two major NPCs that until now hadn't received a lot of real "screen time": Stefan Cassadine & Horellius Creen.

Two new player characters appeared for the first time. Doxen was the creation of the guy who played the short-lived Zee a few sessions earlier; although Ewoks and Endor are unknown at the time of the Clone Wars, his appearance is explained as his being one of a handful of Ewoks taken off-planet by an explorer (and future Senator) named Orelus. The other new character, A'tel Por'Ten, was the creation of a player joining the campaign for the first time. The addition of a Jedi character to the ranks always helps to spice things up by adding a level to the game (the vagaries of the Force, the lure of the Dark Side, etc.) that can be missing from a "smugglers and scoundrels" type game. The disappearance of Zero & Natany is explained in the session as well, since their players dropped out months before.

Having a very straight-forward opening scene (protect the Senator) was intended to be an easy entry point for the new player. This story arc was planned as a major "myth-arc" episode (the "City of Sand" was referenced by the Oracle as being a place where she would re-appear), with some underlying structure taken from the only full length pre-made adventure available at the time, Tempest Feud (which involves Hutts & spice smuggling), elements of which begin to appear in the following session. Padawans Whie & Scout are taken from the Clone Wars novel Yoda: Dark Rendezvous (though their appearance here is set earlier in their lives). Sian Suan is a character I used to play years ago in a Star Wars RPG, while Carn Sokhol was an NPC in that campaign.

The appearance of the Seducer was intended both as a reminder of the Anomaly's existence, the dangers posed by the Forgotten (especially if they are beginning to escape), and a chance to throw some new Force-based dangers at the PCs since they'd pretty much exhausted the possibilities of droids and traditional blaster fights. I especially wanted to feature the Seducer in a story that involved . . . well, seduction, since that aspect of his character didn't really come across during the previous adventure into the Anomaly.

As I always say with gaming, the best part of being a director is seeing the creative or surprising things the players have their characters do. In this session, Daal gets himself in more and more trouble with Jocasta and Arresta decides to secretly slip away from the Temple without informing her husband. Each of these decisions would have a major impact on the future of the campaign.

Update (June 20, 2012):  Added in the previous secret passage where Arresta talks to Horellius Creen and learns more about Tarn's disappearance.



Not since the Second Sith War, millenia ago, have so many Knights of the Jedi Order taken up arms on behalf of the Republic. Once keepers of the peace, and now soldiers, the Order is stretched thin, fighting battles on a thousand worlds. With the pall of the Dark Side clouding the Force, even great Jedi Masters find it difficult to see beyond the exigencies of war. And now, a new threat has struck at the heart of the Order, and the Jedi must seek the aid of outsiders.

[A.G. 286]

At Horellius Creen's "suggestion," Daal Mordo has spent the last several weeks in a small apartment near the Jedi Temple. Little of interest occurs during this time, apart from word that Separatist assassin Greesh Leedo apparently escaped from a detention facility with help from the inside.

At a small diner in Republic City on Coruscant, Daal is perusing some neo-tech on his datapad when he notices that the place has quieted down and is now empty except for himself and a group in the corner. Some of the Sun Runners are present, including the corsair Jocasta, the Gammorean thug Korkoth, a Cerean sociologist named Kylo-Vas, and a strange, husky bald man who talks like he has some ability to predict the future. Jocasta confronts Daal about his having taken payment to retrieve a mysterious package on Nar Shadda and then having run off without retrieving it. Daal bluffs that he doesn't have the money or his credit chip on him, but promises to return the package (the severed head of an MD-4 medical droid) and the credits plus interest in three days' time. Jocasta relucantly agrees and gives Daal her comlink frequency, but also exacts a further price: Daal must join her crew and pilot her ship once it's out of drydock in a few weeks' time, since her former pilot had decided life would be more profitable as a freelancer. Daal leaves the diner without further incident and makes his way to an appointment at the Republic Senate Building set up for him by Jedi Master Horellius Creen.

Doxen discovers that two of his fellow Ewoks on Melosia have been kidnapped by a ruthless slaver named Harno. But the trail has grown cold, and Doxen decides to respond to a request from his friend and patron, the new Senator from Melosia, to visit the Republic Senate Building to help with an urgent task.

Jedi Knight Atel Por'Ten is forced to call off his search for a pair of Force-sensitive twins on the planet Romin because the Order has asked him to return to Coruscant to assist the Chair of the Senate's Jedi Oversight Sub-committee with an important task.

After arriving at the Outcast Tiara aboard a stolen Separatist shuttle, Arresta and Krevlax learn that the freighter has been deserted: Zero and Natany have undertaken the risky gambit of mounting the ship's back-up hyperdrive on the remaining escape pod and have ventured off to parts unknown. Lacking the parts and expertise needed to fix the freighter, the Anx and the Noble have little choice but to return to Coruscant aboard the cramped, slow-moving shuttle.

The shuttle carrying Arresta Cassadine and Krevlax Mex emerges from hyperspace near Coruscant. The shuttle is forced to divert for inspection since it lacks a transponder signal and Krevlax is almost detained for carrying an unlicensed blaster rifle. Arresta manages to convince the security team that they have important business on behalf of the Republic, and the two travelers are allowed to depart. As soon as the shuttle draws within range of Coruscant's planetary communications network, Arresta's comlink beeps with a priority message from her husband, Stefan Cassadine, urging them not to land but to instead rendezvous with his yacht, the Knife's Edge. On the damaged yacht, Stefan reveals that Arresta and Krevlax incurred great Separatist wrath on their last adventure: Arresta's captured bodyguard has been returned with his lips sewn shut, her apartment's security is compromised, and bounty hunters have been sent to shut her up. Stefan claims that he's managed to call in enough favors to have the guild cancel the contract on her life, but that great danger still exists from freelancers. He tells Arresta that he's arranged with a business associate for her to be safeguarded in the Jedi Temple, after she has a meeting at the Republic Senate Building. Stefan makes it clear he expects Arresta to stay at the Temple for both her own safety and that of the child; he also tells her to make it to clear to "that foolish Jedi boy" that the child is Stefan's and that Arresta is to be left alone.

A two-month recess has left the Republic Senate Building mostly empty. Senator Orelus of Melosia finishes his last committee hearing and then speaks to the group assembled before him: a short, furry creature named Doxen, a young Jedi Knight named Atel Por'ten, a Durosian named Daal Mordo, and a pregnant, blonde woman dressed in expensive clothing named Arresta Cassadine. Senator Orelus explains that he's called the meeting because an investigation at the Jedi Temple has fallen under his Committee's jurisdiction. In the past few weeks, three Jedi have committed suicide under suspicious circumstances and one Padawan, named Tarn Tamarand, has disappeared. As the Senator attempts to use a holo-projector to explain in more detail, the lights slowly dim and then go off completely--it looks like the power to the building has been turned off. Atel explores the darkened hallway outside of the meeting room and stumbles over the corpse of a Senate Guard. The group decides to split up: Atel, Daal, Arresta, and the Senator head for a turbolift on the Concourse, while Doxen makes his way to the Grand Convocation Chamber, a vast room filled with 1024 repulsorpods for Senators from around the galaxy. In the Chamber, Doxen spots three black-garbed figures planting explosives in the Chancellor's Podium. Doxen rejoins the others, who have spent their time attempting to open the door to a turbolift. The group agrees to investigate Doxen's sighting.

Inside the Grand Convocation Chamber, Doxen takes up a sniping position, Daal rigs one of the repulsorpods to crash into the Chancellor's Podium, Atel moves stealthily to the base of the Podium, and Arresta protects the Senator by keeping him out of sight. At a pre-arranged signal, the group strikes. Doxen's opening salvo strikes home, knocking one of the saboteurs off of the platform before finishing him with another grisly shot. Atel calls upon the Force to leap aboard the Podium and fight a second saboteur with his lightsaber, while Daal eventually catches up in a repulsorpod of his own. A long and bloody fight ensues, as the saboteurs are determined to fight to the death. Eventually they are subdued, but not before Atel takes several blaster wounds and Doxen gets a bloody mouth from a misfire of his rifle. Daal disarms the explosive charges and the group take their one surviving prisoner back to the Concourse. There, they find a maintenance tunnel which will hopefully lead them outside. Atel scouts ahead and sees a suspicious looking airtaxi waiting near an outer disc hatch, but the driver is scared off. Eventually, the group calls another taxi and drops the grateful Senator and the prisoner off at the nearest Coruscant Metropol station.

At the Jedi Temple, the group is quickly introduced to Tyree Coramon, a Twi'lek member of Metropol and the law enforcement liason to the Jedi Order. Tyree explains that two Padawans and the Mistress of Novices have been found dead in recent weeks, each of an apparent suicide and surrounded by evidence indicating a romantic rendezvous. In addition, Padawan Tarn Tamarand disappeared three days ago. Arresta leaves the group to see to her quarters. Meanwhile, the remaining investigators search computer records in the archives, examine death scenes, and question witnesses and friends of the deceased. Padawans Whie Malreaux and Scout provide helpful information, as does Carn Sokhol, a heavily-scarred Jedi recently returned from an almost-fatal encounter in the Tion Cluster. Eventually, the investigators realize that all three of the deceased had shirked their official duties in the days before their deaths. In addition, all three had received messages or even visits from people with whom they had once formed strong attachments--people who had, in fact, died months or even years earlier! Noticing that the two dead Padawans had been cited for roaming after curfew shortly before their deaths, Doxen decides to see if any current Padawans have been similarly cited in recent days and learns about a Sullustan named Sian Suan. The group, apart from Arresta (who pleads illness), decides to set up a rotating watch outside Suan's quarters and see if she leads them to the solution of the mystery.

During her time away from the others, Arresta meets with Horellius Creen.  Creen insinuates that he knows who the true father of Arresta's baby is, and states that Tarn truly cared for Arresta--he even left a message that "When all is dark, you will see the light."  Nonetheless, Creen insists that Arresta find the droid head, as "it's the key to everything."  He also tells her that someone else has survived a trip into the anomaly--Sian Suan.  Arresta decides to search Tarn's quarters.  She learns that he had been in correspondence with the asylum on Alderaan where Ycram Notwal resides.  No sign of Tarn's affection for Arresta is present in the room, but after she leaves  and turns off the light, a glow-in-the-dark image of her appears on the wall.  Arresta returns to her quarters, logs on to her computer to search for flights "to Corellia", leaves a timed message on her message recorder, and then leaves the Temple intending to catch the next spaceflight to Alderaan.

[A.G. 287]

Shortly after midnight, Daal meets with the reclusive Horellius Creen and is told that "the girl" has already been told everything important. Creen reiterates that Tamarand has taken the medical droid's head--the key to discovering where the anomaly will reappear. Creen says he is close to discovering who had originally found the head to sell on Nar Shadda which may provide a lead, but that the bottom line is that the head, with or without Tamarand, must be retrieved.

In the early hours of the morning, the three remaining investigators spot Sian Suan leaving her quarters and heading for the South gardens. They see her embrace a dark-skinned woman near an artificial stream. The woman tells Sian in a soothing voice that the only way they can be together forever is by shedding the limitations of mortal life. Atel, Doxen, and Daal confront the strange woman and insist she come with them. For a moment it seems as if Mace Windu has arrived and ordered the investigators to stand down, but Atel senses something is not right and sees through the illusion. Suddenly, the sinister figure behind the "suicides" decides to reveal himself. Standing before the group is a muscular, tattooed figure with a long black sword--the Seventh of the Nine Forgotten Sith. The Seducer had somehow managed to escape from the strange cosmic vessel (known as the anomaly) once encountered by Arresta.

The Seducer tells the sobbing Sian to go drown herself in the stream, and she promptly throws herself in, face first. Daal tries to save Sian, as Doxen tries to fire from hiding (with little success), and Atel ignites his lightsaber and prepares to duel. Atel manages to land one blow but is then forced to withdrawal from the sheer fury of the Seducer's mastery of both the Force and the Sith War Sword. Daal, having barely managed to save Sian from drowning, hurls the explosive charges he found at the Senate Building and tremendous explosions shake the gardens. The Seducer is hurt and torn by indecision--he hears the sounds of reinforcements arriving and knows he will soon be discovered by the entire Jedi Order, but the chance to toy once more with the Duros he calls "The Stranger" is too good to pass up. The Seducer summons the Force to cloud the minds of Doxen and Atel, making them completely forget his presence. He then trades blows and words with Daal before disappearing into the smoke caused by the burning shrubbery.

Seconds later, Tyree Coramon and several Jedi appear. Daal tries to explain what has just happened, but a search of the area doesn't turn up the supposed assailant. The Durosian decides to check on Arresta, only to receive a pre-recorded message: "By the time you receive this, I'll be gone. If you are who I think you are, this will make sense. I think he's going back in. We have to find it--to figure out where it will be. I've gone to see the mad old man. I'm sorry about this, but I have to find Tarn--I think I was wrong--I think he still loves me."

Return to Clone Wars Campaign Main Page

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Club Zero-G

I picked up Club Zero-G by Douglas Rushkoff & Steph Dumas for $ 2 in a bargain bin--that's probably the only way I would have bought it, as neither the interior artwork nor the back cover blurb made it look all that appealling. The story concerns a guy named Zeke who every night dreams he's attending a club called Zero-G, where many of his friends gather and dance all night long. The twist is that some of his friends remember having the same dream as well, and they realize that Club Zero-G is (and here I'm a bit fuzzy, so bear with me) a portal to another dimension (or the future--I'm not really sure) and they're being contacted by the equivalent of the Rebel Alliance to help fight the equivalent of the Empire, a tyrannical government which is trying to ensure that everyone has exactly the same view of reality known as Consensus. It's not badly written, but it is difficult to follow the first time through and I think the cartoony artwork doesn't do it any favors. All in all, I probably got my money's worth.

Fantasy Football: Week 8

Well, I got thumped pretty bad this time out, losing by a pathetic 61 points. There's a lot of culprits: Peyton Manning underperformed, Ricky Williams was stymied by the Jets, but worst of all was that my main RB, Steve Slaton, was benched in the first quarter for a fumble, which means he netted me -1 points (his replacement, of course, ran for three TDs). I'm not sure what to do with Slaton next game as I don't know if he'll be on the bench again or starting and I don't have a lot of depth at RB.


Peyton Manning, Ind QB 13
Steve Slaton, Hou RB -1
Ricky Williams, Mia RB 6
Pierre Garcon, Ind WR 5
Patrick Crayton, Dal WR 9
Jeremy Maclin, Phi WR 10
John Carlson, Sea TE 3
Texans D/ST, Hou D/ST 10
John Carney, NO K 4

BIGT: 120

Aaron Rodgers, GB QB 28
Michael Turner, Atl RB 21
Kevin Smith, Det RB 8
Marion Barber, Dal RB 11
Vincent Jackson, SD WR 16
Lee Evans, Buf WR 2
Marcedes Lewis, Jac TE 2
Bears D/ST, Chi D/ST 26
Nate Kaeding, SD K 6

Monday, November 2, 2009

Torchwood Magazine # 7

Now that the dissertation chapter is finished, I can focus on more important things like catching up on back issues of Torchwood Magazine. Issue # 7 includes:

* A big feature on the Doctor Who finale that includes the Daleks invading the Hub. I had never seen Torchwood when I saw the episode originally, so it'd be fun to go back and re-watch it.

* Interviews with two actors from Out of the Rain. I thought that was the worst Torchwood episode ever, and the interviews didn't make me like it any more . . .

* Part four of the Rift War! cartoon strip, in which a herd (literally--they are apparently tamed) dinosaurs crashes through the Rift and must be corralled by the Torchwood team. Over the top and silly (but with decent artwork).
* Fun pull-out posters of initial concept art for the Hub by Peter McKinstry (super cool and my new desktop background), target range cut outs of a blowfish alien and a weevil, and "The Amazing Pearl" from Out of the Rain

Brothers of the Snake

I borrowed the Warhammer 40,000 role-playing game from a friend and I really liked the setting: in the far future, humanity has been ruled for millennia by an undead God-Emperor, and his agents, the Inquisitors, scour the galaxy putting down heresy and keeping the Empire pure of aliens, daemons, and things from other dimensions. In many respects, it's very anti-Star Wars: this isn't a galaxy of heroism and redemption, but of survival, duty, and oblivion.

Anyway, I picked up Brothers of the Snake, a stand-alone book in the Warhammer 40K setting. I was a bit thrown because instead of being a standard novel it's more a collection of short-stories spanning several years in the life of a Space Marine named Priad. I don't tend to like short story collections all that much, because by the time I figure out the setting, plot, and get interested in supporting characters, the story's over and a new one awaits. Still, this was well-written--very dark and gory, hard military-SF. It didn't have a lot of the flavour of the setting in terms of Inquisitors, arcane conspiracies, etc., but I could imagine picking up another Warhammer 40K book in the future.