Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Last month, I broke a six year game hiatus and bought Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I've been playing for about a month now. And I am
finding the playing of it to be incredible. Without being spoilery - The basic set up is that a Roman like power has taken a sudden and increased interest in policing the northernmost edge of their territories, Skyrim, home to a Norse type people called the Nords. This is building towards a civil war, and apparently I'll have to pick a side at some point.

My character started off avoiding both favors and conflicts, just exploring and staying out of the way of big events,  but because of mistreatment at the hands of the "Imperials," I found I didn't mind stealing from them or local Jarls who were obviously in their pocket. Gradually, my character is coming to sympathize with the Nords and tries not to steal from Nords or harm Nords. I say "tries," because I did steal some coins from a table in an inn, only to hear the innkeeper tell a maid that she wishes she could afford to keep her on full time. I felt guilty and spent the a good deal on breakfast there the next morning.

Then, I needed to practice lockpicking. It was night, I was outdoors, and figured I'd pick a stable door. I had no interest in thievery, just saw it as a low risk chance to bone up on my skills. I was spotted, panicked, and stole a horse. I felt guilty, tried to take it back, panicked again, then rode off on it. I stumbled on a bridge and fell in a swift current, was knocked unconscious and the horse was killed, smashed on a rock. Man, I felt bad about that horse.

I've decided I won't back up to the last save. My character lives with their mistakes. So I felt terrible that I'd stolen a horse and killed it a half mile later. But that's what I did.

Then two weeks ago, I entered someone's house, sat at their table, and tried to talk. I accidentally hit the wrong button and stole some food off their table in their view. I put it back, then put back more than I intended, so took my food back again. The woman cried thief and attacked me with a dagger. I ran back, trying to get away and very deliberately not drawing my weapon. But my trigger happy hireling, obviously defending me, whipped out her sword and cut the woman down. At which point a blood curdling shriek to my left made me aware that we had murdered an innocent woman in view of her little boy. He cried "oh my gods know" and ran out into the street. And we rode out of town fast.

So, my "basically good" character has stolen from a poor innkeeper, stolen and killed a horse, and cut down a woman in front of her son. And feels terrible about it.

And yesterday I got my housecarl Lydia killed. The fact that I didn't like her (and she doesn't seem to have liked me) makes the guilt worse.

This is so different from all the sick things you can do in GTA or something. You could play Skyrim as a psychopath and kill everyone (though I suspect you'd be cut down by bounty hunters before you got very far) or you can play it as a white knight and help everyone. But what amazes me is the way I'm playing as someone who is trying, but not always succeeding, in being good, and has done some terrible things. I'm amazed at the way that my intentions combined with the game environment is creating a moral character personal beyond what just I, or just the game, wants for her to have. I've never played a game this nuanced before in my life.

I'm going to be playing it for a long time.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The SF Signal Podcast: 2012 Sword & Sorcery Mega Panel (Pt 1)

Today, SF Signal has posted the first of their new series of sword & sorcery themed podcasts with a focus on contemporary works and authors. Episode 108 features a panel of such S&S notables as Scott H. Andrews, editor of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Violette Malan, of the Dhulyn and Parno novels, and James L. Sutter, co-creator of the Pathfinder RPG, fiction editor of the Pathfinder Tales line, and author of the B&N Top Ten fantasy novel, Death's Heretic. And then there's me, relevant to this discussion as editor of many fine S&S novels, as well as co-editor of the WFC, Locus, and Shirley Jackson-nominated anthology, Swords & Dark Magic. S&S is a subgenre near and dear to my heart, and this podcast was a tremendous pleasure. Do check it out, and thanks to Patrick Hester and Jaym Gates for making it happen.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Enhanced Game of Thrones (UK Only)

Oh, I hope the US publisher is looking into this. Also, I'd love it if iBooks had a feature that allowed you to "upgrade to the enhanced version" if you've already bought the non-enhanced.

Fan Made John Carter Trailer

This fan - cut trailer for John Carter is better than anything the studios have put out. So much so that's it's pumped my excitement for the movie up a notch.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


I, for one, am very curious to hear the backstory on how this came about...

This summer, DC Entertainment will publish all-new stories expanding on the acclaimed WATCHMEN universe. As highly anticipated as they are controversial, the seven inter-connected prequel mini-series will build on the foundation of the original WATCHMEN, the bestselling graphic novel of all time. BEFORE WATCHMEN will be the collective banner for all seven titles, from DC Comics.
“It’s our responsibility as publishers to find new ways to keep all of our characters relevant,” said DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. “After twenty five years, the Watchmen are classic characters whose time has come for new stories to be told. We sought out the best writers and artists in the industry to build on the complex mythology of the original.”
Stepping up to the challenge is a group of the comic book industry’s most iconoclastic writers and artists – including Brian Azzarello (100 BULLETS), Lee Bermejo (JOKER), Amanda Conner (POWER GIRL), Darwyn Cooke (JUSTICE LEAGUE: NEW FRONTIER), John Higgins (WATCHMEN), Adam Hughes (CATWOMAN), J.G. Jones (FINAL CRISIS), Andy Kubert (FLASHPOINT), Joe Kubert (SGT. ROCK), Jae Lee (BATMAN: JEKYLL AND HYDE), J. Michael Straczynski (SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE) and Len Wein (SWAMP THING).
-       RORSCHACH (4 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Lee Bermejo
-       MINUTEMEN (6 issues) – Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
-       COMEDIAN (6 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: J.G. Jones
-       DR. MANHATTAN (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artist:  Adam Hughes
-       NITE OWL (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artists: Andy and Joe Kubert
-       OZYMANDIAS (6 issues) – Writer: Len Wein. Artist: Jae Lee
-       SILK SPECTRE (4 issues) – Writer: Darwyn Cooke. Artist: Amanda Conner
Each week, a new issue will be released, and will feature a two-page back-up story called CURSE OF THE CRIMSON CORSAIR, written by original series editor Len Wein and with art by original series colorist John Higgins. There will also be a single issue, BEFORE WATCHMEN: EPILOGUE, featuring the work of various writers and artists, and a CRIMSON CORSAIR story by Wein and Higgins.
“The original series of WATCHMEN is the complete story that Alan Moore and I wanted to tell. However, I appreciate DC's reasons for this initiative and the wish of the artists and writers involved to pay tribute to our work. May these new additions have the success they desire,” said Dave Gibbons, WATCHMEN co-creator and original series artist.
“Comic books are perhaps the largest and longest running form of collaborative fiction,” said DiDio and Lee. “Collaborative storytelling is what keeps these fictional universes current and relevant.”
David Hyde | Vice President of Publicity
DC Entertainment | A Warner Bros. Entertainment Group
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