Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Dream Inspiration

I had a dream.

I was in a large, old building in London. The sort of building you see in the movies, that are owned by the rich, or possibly even a gentleman's club. I remember going through to the kitchen, and someone I recognised offered me a piece of chocolate cake. It was a huge chocolate cake, with white icing, but it was balanced on a breadboard on top of the washing up. As I turned to rescue it, it sank into the washing up water, and I ended up scooping it up in my hands and throwing it into the bin.

Poster for Peter Dinklage's movie,
REMEMORY
(available now on Google Play)
I returned to the main sitting room of the "club" and Peter Dinklage and Al Pacino were there, discussing their film work. I sat at the table wanting to join in with the conversation, when a tall, skinny guy came up to me and asked who I was. He kept asking me strange questions, but I was frustrated because he didn't listen to any of my answers - he was just waiting for a space to talk to me about his project.

However, his project was a book. He handed me a copy and told me to have a look. It was large, like a phone book, and I started trying to read it. It was full of pretentious language and made little sense, but the further through the book I got, the more illustrations appeared. It became almost half graphic novel, half book, with individual words in different colours. Some of the images moved, parts we orientated differently.

I asked if he'd been influenced by "House of Leaves", and I closed the book. He pretentiously called it a Bible, but I recognised the cover from one of the advance catalogues I'd used at work.

I woke inspired.

--

But what to do with this information?

This is obviously my subconscious trying to tell me that I like the idea I'd already had for how I want the book to look. But who was the person telling me about his book in my dream? I seem to remember him looking a lot like Tony Hale from Arrested Development, but I haven't watched that in many years.


And why were Al Pacino and Peter Dinklage there? Maybe it's a subconscious thing again, knowing that Dinklage is in a movie I'm about to watch ("Rememory") that uses a headset device to access the memories of people... a sort of murder mystery type thing. Al Pacino? Maybe that's from Insomnia, and the video documentary I was watching about Christopher Nolan films?


They say you never dream of a face you haven't seen.

What should I do with this new knowledge? Go with it? Know that I'm on the right track?


Dreams can be quite an inspiration. There's always the legend of various scientists and artists waking from their dreams with ideas for formulas, works of art or songs, perfectly formed and them leaping to desperately note their ideas before they vanish.

Hell, going back to David Lynch (see previous post), one of the great inspirations for my creative life for many years. He uses dreams to inspire and even "catches the big fish" - that is, finds the inspiration and the ideas by swimming the great lake of the collective unconscious through transcendental meditation.

If my dreams are telling me that I'm on the right track, I just hope they give me ideas that I can use.




Friday, September 8, 2017

Never mind the quality, feel the width...


Just a quickie to say that there have been some minor cosmetic changes to the blog. It was annoying me that the actual area the text filled on the blog was tiny compared to the background. Recently, Blogger has added a way to adjust the width of elements, and I've done a little tweaking.

So, if you look at any of the older posts on here (after all, this is my 252nd post on here) and the pictures, and the runaround of the text around the pictures, seems a little weird, it's because I've changed the width. I've corrected a host of the major posts, like the Harry Potter ones, and the RPGaDAY posts, but some of the older ones may not flow perfectly.

Sorry! Hope you think the site looks better for it!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

We Live Inside a Dream

I mentioned in a post a while back that I was a huge fan of Twin Peaks (and David Lynch in general). I really wanted to write a post on here about the finale of the third season of Twin Peaks, or Twin Peaks: The Return as it's often called. But where to begin?

I LOVE the unexpected. Anything that avoids that moment when you go "Ah, I can see what's going to happen" is great in my book. I love to be surprised by TV and movies, to not see the same old plots and tropes. Twin Peaks is far from predictable. Where the first couple of series were a soap opera / murder mystery with some paranormal elements, the third / return series has been full-on David Lynch.

My old post was just after watching the first two episodes and I was already hooked and thrilled. It did everything I wanted - it introduced new characters, a new murder mystery, addressed some of the Cooper elements with the Black Lodge and the doppelgänger, and had some stand out weird elements.

But nothing prepared me for the now legendary Episode 8 (aka "Gotta Light?") where, after a brief period of relatively normal narrative, we are treated to a live performance by my favourite band ever (Nine Inch Nails), then 45mins of strange black and white sequences with the nuclear explosion at Trinity, the birth of BOB from the "Mother", the Fireman sending a golden orb of Laura Palmer into the desert, strange frog-legged bugs crawling into the mouth of a young girl as she sleeps, and various woodsmen breaking into our reality and killing people.

The birth of BOB in Episode 8 of Twin Peaks: The Return

That was the moment I had an epiphany. Twin Peaks had a message for me.

"Do whatever you like. Don't try to please everyone, just create."

Do you think David Lynch, when he was coming up with that episode, thought "I really shouldn't do this, people won't get it." I know Mark Frost co-wrote this series, but there's so much Lynch in this episode - so much Eraserhead and his wacky b/w art-movie feel - that I don't think Frost got much of an input on this one.

But it really did make me think that I should stop worrying about what I'm writing, and just get it out there. Not everyone is going to like it, but someone will. Maybe just one person who's as nuts as me.

Then came Episode 14, aka "We are like the Dreamer". Like Lynch, I'm fascinated by dreams. I wish I could do the transcendental meditation where he catches his big fish. But if you've followed my game writing, especially for WILD and what I've been trying to do for the last six years with it, you'll understand. When Episode 14 started and Gordon Cole (played by David Lynch) says that he had "another Monica Bellucci dream" and we see the strangeness that unlocks a memory of his encounter with Philip Jeffries (the late, great David Bowie) back in the movie Fire Walk With Me - you'll know I was squirming and giggling with delight.

The ever amazing Monica Bellucci - subject of Gordon Cole's dreams...


"We are like the dreamer, who dreams, and then lives inside the dream. But who is the dreamer?"

The finale was shown as two episodes (17 & 18). Everything was perfectly wrapped up in Episode 17 pretty early on - evil Cooper doppelgänger (Mr. C) had been dispatched, the BOB inside was punched into oblivion, and then it all gets REALLY weird. With a close up of Cooper's face superimposed over a lot of the scene, Cooper foreshadows what he intends to do - "There are some things that will change. The past dictates the future." But the superimposed face of Cooper reminds us - "We live inside a dream."

While Cooper travels back to the night Laura Palmer died, he tries to intervene and stop her murder. We see scenes from the first ever episode, as if Laura was never found "wrapped in plastic". But she vanishes when Cooper tries to lead her home and Cooper leaves the Lodge to be greeted by Diane. They set off to travel into another reality to save Laura. It all gets even weirder as the final eighteenth episode progresses with changes of personality, of name, of reality. All culminating in a final scene that will resonate in TV history and spark even more debate than "How's Annie?" ever did twenty six years ago...

"What year is it?"

Twenty six years ago I was just as obsessed with Twin Peaks. As I mentioned in my previous post, I recorded them all off of BBC2, and analysed them as much as my younger brain could. When I had to present a project for my graphic design course (the project was to explain something to someone) I foolishly picked Twin Peaks.

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across a photo I took of the project, trying to make a relationship map with all of the characters from the original two series.

Photo of my Twin Peaks relationship map project from 1992

It's not very good, and I didn't have the internet to check all of the relationships, but it does show how completely and utterly obsessed I was with the series back then. I hope it raises a smile at least!

Now, with the finale out of the way, it still inspires me. There are huge elements that tie in with what I've been writing - dreamlike narratives, the strange seeping into reality, tulpas, etc. I'm looking forward to a rewatch of all 18 hours (though it may be a bit mindblowing to do it in one sitting).

All I can really say at the end of all of this is a huge thank you to Mark Frost and David Lynch. For letting us into their world, and telling us that it's okay to be inspired by our dreams. And thank you to everyone involved with the series. For challenging what a TV series can be and getting everyone talking and thinking.

Please don't leave us wanting for another twenty five years!


Thursday, August 31, 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - This is the End (for now): Recap Days 17-31



The final post of #RPGaDAY for 2017. However, before I post a recap of the second half of the month, I wanted to take a moment to thank Anthony Boyd (Runeslinger) and the RPGBrigade for hosting #RPGaDAY again this year. Together they came up with this year's questions, hosted the site, posted the questions on the Facebook page, supplied back-up alternative questions for those who didn't like the question of the day, and (with the help of RPGBrigadiers worldwide) sourced translations of the questions into multiple languages to make it easier for gamers to get involved all around the globe.

Once again, Anthony and the Brigade, thank you for your help, support and enthusiasm, keeping #RPGaDAY alive for another year.

Another big thank you goes out to Will Brooks for his super-classy graphic design again, producing the cool infographic that you've seen just about everywhere this month. You're a star!

And finally, thank you to everyone who took part - spreading the word of tabletop gaming, getting people talking in a positive way about RPGs and posting blog entries, making videos, or just posting on Facebook or Twitter. I hope you've enjoyed this year's #RPGaDAY and are not too sick of it.

We've had four years' worth of questions, and it's getting tricky coming up with new ones, so I'm pondering something a little different next year. But that's a long way off. Don't worry, #RPGaDAY will return (hopefully) next year in some form or other.

Thank you again, and without further ado here are my last few responses.

Until next time, stay multi-classy!
















Wednesday, August 16, 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - Week 2 Recap (Days 10-16)

Another busy week online for #RPGaDAY, though I'm expecting it to quieten down for a bit while everyone goes to the gaming event of the year - GenCon.

Meanwhile, I'm still home and posting videos. Here's a recap of days 10-16...








Wednesday, August 9, 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - Week 1 (Questions 1-9)

We're already on Day 9 of #RPGaDAY 2017, and I've been absolutely blown away by the response. So many people all over the world posting, chatting, and discovering games new and old. It's been amazing. Thank you everyone.



Rather than bombard you all with multiple posts various things, I thought I'd just do a few recap posts so you can see any of the daily video responses you may have missed.

It's not too late to get involved, feel free to jump in at any time. Just go to this post to find the graphics, the list of questions as text, and the questions in different languages.

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So, without further ado, here's the first nine videos I've posted for #RPGaDAY 2017.










Thursday, August 3, 2017

RPGaDistraction

It's August, and #RPGaDAY is underway. There seems to be a lot more people involved this year, with my Facebook and Twitter feeds filled with the cool gold infographic that Will Brooks kindly designed for us again this year.


#RPGaDAY was, as I mentioned before, a reaction to some of the negativity that was going around online when it came to our hobby, and gaming in general. Inspired by BookaDayUK, it hopes to get people talking about tabletop gaming in a positive way.

But there was another ulterior motive behind me starting this. It wasn't a conscious one at the time, but it must have been in the back of my head when I started putting plans into action. I wasn't busy besides the day job in retail, and subconsciously my mind was desperately searching for distraction.


2017 marks the fourth year that #RPGaDAY has dominated my head in August. Today, the 3rd of August, also marks the fifth anniversary of losing my mother. It seems to be the way I deal with things like that. When my dad died in 2003, it was just a week after I signed a contract with Eden Studios to write four 100k+ word books for Conspiracy X 2.0. He had been very ill for a while, and proud of my writing. I don't thing he read any of it (after all, it was boring roleplaying rules) but it didn't stop him taking a copy of them with him to show various relatives, or showing my books off when there were visitors at home. I think the last few things I told him, was that I was going to be writing some books for a company in New York, and that Debs and I had gotten engaged. I dealt with his passing by immersing myself in writing, aliens and conspiracies, seldom coming up for air. The real world just hurt a little too much.

Me, my mum and dad, at my graduation in 1995
When mum died, five years ago, there was the initial busy-ness of sorting the house and moving my remaining belonging out of my childhood home. When it was sold, there was a strange double sense of loss. Not only had I lost my mother, but the house I grew up in had gone.

The idea of #RPGaDAY spreading a little love around the world, getting people talking and communicating in a positive way seemed to be a great plan. I didn't consciously think "Oh this is a great distraction," but somewhere subconsciously I think my brain welcomed the rush of activity. And while I don't think my parents would have understood half of what I was doing, they'd have been glad to see that I was encouraging people to talk in a positive way with each other.

So, in essence, this post is a thank you. Thank you everyone who has taken part in #RPGaDAY in the past, and this year. Thank you for filling my head with tales of adventure and excitement. Fantastic quests and daring escapes. Reminding me of a time when I gamed with my old group in that childhood home (I think my parents really liked that I was playing D&D rather than becoming a drunk layabout).

Thank you for spreading the word of how much fun our hobby can be, and how we can make friends through gaming that can last a lifetime.

And thank you for taking my mind off of the real world for a little while, just when I need it.

Above all, thank you. Keep writing those blog posts, recording those videos, and sharing the fun. It means a lot to me.

Stay multi-classy.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - Announcing #RPGaDAY, again!

A few years ago I felt there was a negative undercurrent in our hobby. Sorry to say that, but I felt it was there, and inspired by one of those "aDay" things for bibliophiles I thought that I could try to get the world talking about tabletop RPGs in a positive and encouraging way. I know, it's sappy and you probably think I'm being ridiculous, but it's all positive and it's a bit of fun - just trying to get people talking in a good way about tabletop gaming. After all, it's a great hobby that gets us talking in person, socially, without staring at a screen. It stimulates the imagination, forms bonds and friendships that can last a lifetime, and gets you thinking outside of the box.

So, I came up with a list of 31 questions for August (GenCon month, seeing as I couldn't go and I wanted to feel involved in some way), and the internet joined in. Well, a few did, anyway. All over the world, from America to Australia, from Brazil to Berlin, people were joining in the conversation, hashtagging everything #RPGaDAY so you could see what people were saying on the various social media.

If nothing else, it got people blogging and vlogging.

The following year, I thought I'd run it again with new questions. I also managed to get cool people from the gaming industry to join in on my daily videos, and it was great.

Last year, I was a little busy. I thought about not doing it, but Anthony Boyd and the RPGBrigade stepped in and said they'd run the event for the month. It gave them some publicity (which is great, as their BrigadeCon raises money for charity) and the few posts I did do that month reached a lot further than I could alone.

So this year, while I'm not massively busy, I thought I'd let Anthony and the RPGBrigade run things again. Hopefully I'll join in as much as possible.

I recorded some video footage to join with Anthony's to announce this month's event.



You can download the infographic, brilliantly designed again by Will Brooks, from the images below... (click the images to embiggen them!!)



There's also a high definition if you it find easier to read -





More information can be found at the CastingShadowsBlog here. and check out the Facebook page here.

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Addendum:

For a plain text version if you'd prefer, here are the questions for August:


1st) What published RPG do you wish you were playing right now?
2nd) What is an RPG you would like to see published?
3rd) How do you find out about new RPGs?
4th) Which RPG have you played the most since August 2016?
5th) Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?
6th) You can game every day for a week. Describe what you’d do!
7th) What was your most impactful RPG session?
8th) What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?
9th) What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?
10th) Where do you go for RPG reviews?
11th) Which ‘dead game’ would you like to see reborn?
12th) Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?
13th) Describe a game experience that changed how you play.
14th) Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?
15th) Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?
16th) Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?
17th) Which RPG have you owned the longest but not played?
18th) Which RPG have you played the most in your life?
19th) Which RPG features the best writing?
20th) What is the best source for out-of-print RPGs?
21st) Which RPG does the most with the least words?
22nd) Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?
23rd) Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?
24th) Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.
25th) What is the best way to thank your GM?
26th) Which RPG provides the most useful resources?
27th) What are your essential tools for good gaming?
28th) What film or series is the most-frequent source of quotes in your group?
29th) What has been the best-run RPG Kickstarter you have backed?
30th) What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

31st) What do you anticipate most for gaming in 2018?

Here are the questions in French, with thanks to Sébastien ‘Nolinquisitor‘ Allard:
1) Quel JDR en circulation désiriez-vous jouer en ce moment?
2) Quel JDR aimeriez-vous voir publié?
3) De quelle façon découvrez-vous de nouveaux jeux de rôle?
4) Quel JDR avez-vous joué le plus depuis août 2016?
5) Quel JDR capture le mieux l’esprit du jeu?
6) Vous pouvez jouer tous les jours, pendant une semaine. Décrivez ce que vous faites!
7) Quelle a été la session ayant eue le plus grand impact?
8) Quel JDR est bon pour des sessions de 2 heures ou moins?
9) Quel JDR est bon pour environ 10 sessions?
10) Où allez-vous pour vos critiques de JDR?
11) Quel “jeu mort” voudriez-vous voir renaître?
12) Quel JDR possède les plus inspirantes illustrations intérieures?
13) Décrivez une expérience de jeu qui a changée votre façon de jouer.
14) Quel est votre JDR préféré pour les campagnes ouvertes et sans-fin.
15) Quel JDR aimez-vous le plus adapter et modifier?
16) Quel JDR aimez-vous utiliser tel quel?
17) Quel JDR possédez-vous depuis le plus longtemps mais que vous n’avez pas jouer?
18) Quel JDR avez vous jouer le plus dans votre vie?
19) Quel JDR présente la plus belle écriture?
20) Quelle est la meilleure source pour trouver des JDRs épuisés?
21) Quel JDR accomplit le plus avec le moins de mots?
22) Quel JDR vous est le plus facile à faire jouer?
23) Quel JDR a la mise en page la plus renversante?
24) Partagez un éditeur de “Pay What You Want” qui devrait charger plus.
25) Quelle est la meilleure façon de remercier son MJ?
26) Quel JDR offre les meilleurs ressources?
27) Quels sont vos outils essentiels pour faire une bonne partie?
28) Quel film ou série est la plus grande source de citations pour votre groupe?
29) Quel a été la campagne de financement participatif la mieux dirigée que vous avez appuyée?
30) Quel mixage de genres aimeriez-vous voir en JDR?
31) Qu’est-ce que vous anticipez le plus pour 2018?

Here are the questions in German, thanks to Michael Jaegers (click the link).

For the questions in Portuguese, click here for the list thanks to Felipe Holzmann.

Roberto Micheri  has kindly translated the questions in to Spanish (below):

Preguntas para un Juego de Rol al Día 


Agosto 1: ¿Cuál juego de rol ya publicado desearía jugar en la actualidad?

Agosto 2: ¿Cuál sería un juego de rol que le gustaría ver publicado? 
Agosto 3: ¿Cómo se entera de nuevos juegos de rol? 
Agosto 4: ¿Cuál es el juego de rol que más ha jugado desde agosto 2016?
Agosto 5: ¿Cuál portada de un juego de rol captura mejor el espíritu del juego?
Agosto 6: Puede jugar todos los días por una semana. ¡Describa lo que haría!
Agosto 7: ¿Cuál fue la sesión más impactante de un juego rol?
Agosto 8: ¿Cuál es un buen juego de rol para una sesión de 2 horas o menos?
Agosto 9: ¿Cuál es un buen juego para jugar aproximadamente 10 sesiones?
Agosto 10: ¿Donde va para reseñas de juegos de rol?
Agosto 11: ¿Cuál juego “muerto” le gustaría ver resucitado?
Agosto 12: ¿Cuál juego de rol tiene el arte interior más inspirador?
Agosto 13: Describa una experiencia en un juego de rol que cambió como juega.
Agosto 14: ¿Cuál juego de rol prefiere para una campaña sin un final definido?
Agosto 15: ¿Cuál juego de rol disfruta más modificar?
Agosto 16: ¿Cuál juego de rol disfruta tal como está escrito?
Agosto 17: ¿Cuál juego de rol ha tenido por más tiempo sin haberlo jugado?
Agosto 18: ¿Cuál juego de rol ha jugado más en su vida?
Agosto 19: ¿Cuál juego esta mejor escrito?
Agosto 20: ¿Cuál es la mejor fuente de juegos que se encuentran fuera de publicación?
Agosto 21: ¿Cuál juego de rol hace más con las menos palabras?
Agosto 22: ¿Cuáles juegos de rol son más fáciles de correr para usted?
Agosto 23: ¿Cuál libro de juego de rol tiene la diagramación más impresionante?
Agosto 24: Comparta una casa publicadora que ofrece sus productos al precio que el cliente desee pagar, pero que debería cobrar más.
Agosto 25: ¿Cuál es la mejor forma para agradecer al GM o director del juego?
Agosto 26: ¿Cuál juego de rol provee los recursos más útiles?
Agosto 27: ¿Cuáles son sus herramientas esenciales para un buen juego?
Agosto 28: ¿Cuál película o serie es la más citada en su grupo de juego?
Agosto 29: ¿Cuál ha sido la campaña de mecenazgo mejor dirigida que ha apoyado?
Agosto 30: ¿Qué combinación de géneros de juegos de rol más le gustaría ver?
Agosto 31: ¿Que anticipa mas para los juegos en el 2018?


(Hope that helps!!)


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Change, my dear. And it seems not a moment too soon...

Announcing the 13th Doctor - Jodie Whittaker
It was only to be expected - an albeit brief post about Doctor Who. Today, they revealed the new face of the Doctor, the 13th (or is it 15th?) incarnation, in the form of Jodie Whittaker. All I can say is - AWESOME!

I haven't been this excited about the future of Doctor Who since I was sat in the BBC offices with Dominic McDowall-Thomas (head of Cubicle 7) and we were given the scripts for Series 5 (Matt Smith's first series) to read in preparation of the new edition of the RPG, Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space (as it was then - now it's just Doctor Who The Roleplaying Game). We weren't allowed to take the scripts out of the room, but we were allowed to make notes, and I remember reading "The Eleventh Hour" thinking "This is going to be brilliant".

I remember we knew we weren't going to get through all the scripts in one day, so we split the pile randomly. I still have my notes somewhere. I remember one particular line, I was so disappointed they cut from the episode "The Beast Below" where Amy asks the Doctor what it must be like in his head. His reply was simply - "A rollercoaster of geniuses, all going Wheeeeee!!!" (or something like that - I have it written down somewhere in that notebook).

I loved Matt Smith as the Doctor, and while I thought the stories weren't as strong as his tenure gave way to Peter Capaldi, this last series (series 10, or season 36 if you're being like that) has been bloomin' brilliant. Bill (Pearl Mackie) has been a great companion, and even Nardole (Matt Lucas) has surprised me with how good he's been.

That said, Doctor Who is all about change, and the brilliant casting of Jodie Whittaker (who was great in Broadchurch, and that really haunting episode of Black Mirror - "The Entire History of You") is certainly a great change in its fifty-plus years.

I'm really excited to see what they do with her Doctor - new TARDIS? What will the companions be like? Chris Chibnall has stated it's going to be a new approach, and I'm very intrigued!

I, for one, will definitely be watching.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Next time, Indiana Jones, it will take more than children to save you...

I'd been thinking about writing a blog post about Indiana Jones for a little while now, and today being the date of the release of the original movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, waaaaay back on the 12th June 1981, it felt like today was a good day to do it.

I have very vivid memories of seeing Raiders for the first time. I was 13, and I remember my grandparents were up in Yorkshire visiting from their home in East London. They came to stay for a week, and the first weekend they were up they sent "the kids" off to the cinema to see Clash of the Titans on its last week of its run. The trip went well, and we enjoyed the film loads. So the end of their visit, at the end of the week, they sent us off to the cinema again to see a new film that I knew nothing about called Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was from the makers of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind so it was bound to be good, and it had Han Solo in it. What's not to love?

This will probably have been the Friday 31st July 1981, opening weekend in the UK. It was a bit of a shock to me as, after Star Wars, I mostly watched science fiction or fantasy stuff, so I wasn't really expecting a traditional action adventure. Needless to say, it was ace, but I do remember being a little freaked out by the more horrific elements - the impaling of Satipo, the gross crypt of skeletons, and, of course, the melty nazis. I was only 13, and wasn't really a horror watcher, and the image of Toht's face melting off like a candle would remain in my unconscious for many years.

But it was great. Not a clean cut, perfect hero. He was bruised, tired, and a little quick to leap into foolishly dangerous situations. I bought the book (which was something I had a habit of doing - after all, you couldn't rewatch the video so you bought the book and reread the movie), and the comic adaptation. When my parents bought our first VHS recorder, Raiders was one of the first movies to come out at a price that was affordable to buy - £20 if I remember rightly. I bought it straight away after many weeks of saving up pocket money for it.

And that first time on VHS... when I put the cassette in and the first thing you saw was the red line going over the map, telling you where they were filming Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom... awesome.


Strangely, despite being criticised for being more violent and darker than Raiders, I actually loved Temple of Doom more. Possibly thanks to its relentless pace and crazy action scenes (the mine-cart sequence is still brilliant, as is the final bridge scene). I was such a fan of Temple of Doom that I asked to buy the VHS of it when it came out to rent. Our local rental store agreed to sell me a new one at cost (£55 if I remember correctly) which I paid for in weekly instalments before its release.

Heck, Temple of Doom is one of the only reasons I passed my English at school - part of the exam was to do an oral element, reading aloud from a book. I picked the section from the novel of Temple of Doom with the bug filled corridor ("We... are going... to DIE!!") and it went down far better than my previous attempts.

-

You know where this is leading don't you? Yes. My obsession with licensed RPGs. The same year as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1984, TSR released the Adventures of Indiana Jones roleplaying game. I loved TSR - Star Frontiers was the first RPG I purchased. The prospect of playing daring adventurers punching nazis around the world sounded awesome, and I managed to pick up the game from my not-so-local game store (hidden above a picture framing shop an hour's bus ride away).

The Adventures of Indiana Jones boxed set - (1984)
Yes, this is still the same one I bought way back then. Scuffed, and loved.
The game came in a boxed set, with a rulebook, Judge's Screen (Gamemasters were called Judges), character sheets for the main characters, dice, and 3D cutout "minis", as well as a map of the world, the reverse of which doubled as a square grid for the minis.

The Judge's Screen (a bit marked by sellotape), the main rulebook, and the slide-rule that helped
calculate the results of your roll.


The minis were a bit of a gimmick, as I really didn't use minis for any of my gaming, but I had a bit of a laugh trying to put them together (rather badly, using tape and UHU). Most of them, though not the more complex pieces like the truck and jeep, have survived the years in storage in a cake tin.

The Indiana Jones minis: Sallah, Willie and Indy face off against a Nazi (tm), Mola Ram and Toht.
In the foreground is a tent, and a rather square motorcycle-sidecar.

We played a few games, but the biggest frustration was the lack of character creation rules. The game expected you to play as the main cast of the first two movies, with some secondary characters in the mix like Jock the pilot.

I guess this may be where my RPG writing first started. Equipped with a typewriter, film magazines they gave away at the cinema, a pair of scissors and a glue-stick, I set to creating a supplement for my own use that was mostly character creation.

My character creation rules from 1984 - do excuse the bad pun.
I even discovered if you laid out the character sheet using graph paper, and letraset, when you photocopied it at the local library the squares didn't come out. This way, you could create character sheets that had straight lines, and looked fairly neat.

Handmade character sheets, and the master sheet, along with gun stats.
The character was Bragi's character, Joan Wilder, based on the character from
the movie Romancing the Stone (1984).
Of course, a year later the Judge's Survival Pack came out and rectified the lack of character creation rules, bringing in the official way to create new heroes for your adventures. But the Judge's Survival Pack had a couple of even more essential elements - the random ruins tables and charts, and the endless chase flowchart. The chase charts in Indiana Jones were brilliant, and only surpassed by the James Bond chase system (which I think I used the Indy flowcharts for to help with the scenery).

The Judge's Survival Pack, and the epic chase flowcharts! (1985)








Along with the Judge's Survival Pack, they released six adventures. The first two were the obvious Temple of Doom and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The adventures for The Adventures of Indiana Jones


The remaining four were considerably thinner and shorter - The Crystal Death, The Golden Goddess, Nepal Nightmare and The Fourth Nail. The Golden Goddess and some elements of the last two adventures featured the "Magic Viewer" system which obscured the text - the whole of the text in the case of the Golden Goddess adventure (designed for solo play) - unless you held a small piece of red plastic over it to clear the red mess.

The inside of "The Golden Goddess" showing off how the pages looked without the Magic Viewer!

The actual adventures for IJ3-IJ6 were based upon the Marvel Comics "The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones", so players who had read the comics kinda knew what was coming.

However, it didn't last, and besides a set of metal minis (which I didn't get - never been much of a minis person) that was all for TSR's Indiana Jones RPG. Of course, the game has gone on to be immortalised. Legend has it when the license expired, all unsold copies were destroyed and employees at TSR had some of the burnt cardstock minis encased in perspex. Only part of the name survived in the perspex, and it became the trophy for the coveted "Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming".

Indiana Jones would return to the tabletop ten years later, in 1994 with West End Games' "The World of Indiana Jones". I really wish I'd picked it up, even though the Masterbook system that powered it wasn't something I'd tried, and it was West End Games (who produced two of my favourite games ever - Ghostbusters and Star Wars). However, I'd moved city, was in the middle of my degree, and the only game I was playing involved brooding vampires, and reality shifting mages.

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With the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull released in 2008, I was half expecting someone to take another crack at the whip of Indiana Jones roleplaying. Alas... nothing. But with Lucasfilm being taken over by Disney, and them doing such a fantastic job of breathing life into Star Wars - pleasing fans old and new - you have to wonder, with a new Indiana Jones movie scheduled for 2020, will someone try again to bring Indy back to the gaming table?