Saturday, August 15, 2015

Mutants In The News — "Cuteness Poisoning (Almost Literally)" Edition

For once, it's China with terrifying / awesome serpent news, instead of the accursed swampscape that is Florida.

Behold, the huggliest and wuggliest deadly freak the world has ever seen!


Sometimes Ol' Lady Nature makes the SyFy Channel's job just too easy, y'all.

News report (or what passes for one) below!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Radioactive Review: 'Rotted Capes' (2013)

While I generally try to keep things on the radioactive-n-mutalicious side of the post-apocalyptic spectrum for this here blog, zombageddons certainly come close enough to count.

Cross-posted from my more monster-centric musings over at The Haunted Spookshow Of Channel X.





If you buy me a beer and have a few spare hours you'll definitely wish you could get back, I'll wax necrophilic about how and why zombies became the pop-cultural juggernaut of the new millennium.

(Some snippets:  vidya games; the Y2K non-event; September 11th and the GWB presidency; 28 Days Later and the Dawn Of The Dead remake; Reality TV; Internet comment sections.)

Funnybooks certainly get their due in my sermon, and definite credit / blame goes towards the insanely popular—and wholly disgusting—Marvel Zombies franchise.

EARTH'S BITIEST HEROES!!!

Starting in 2005 (and years late to the undead zeitgeist shindig, as is Marvel Editorial's wont), Marvel Zombies involves a necrotic infection that turns Marvel's good guys into intelligence-retaining-but-now-malevolent ghouls that devour and / or corrupt all life on Earth... and beyond.

Over the last decade, Marvel's published about a dozen assorted mini-series starring the superhuman shamblers, and they're still going strong.

It's only natural that RPGs jumped on the bandwagon, which brings us to Paradigm ConceptsRotted Capes.  I Kickstarted the rulebook over two years ago, and glanced at it and put it on the shelf.  But I just finished a zombies-n-supers novel (Ex-Heroes), and got in the mood for more gore-n-spandex.

Despite A Flaw Or Three, It's A Nifty Little Diversion

Time to revisit the game!


Rotted Capes takes place after a devastating zombocalypse ("Z-Day") and puts the players in the roles of the B-Listers:  the sidekicks, the street-heroes, the has-beens, the never-weres, and the low-rent villains.  All the A-Listers and assorted big guns got devoured by the ghouls... or worse, transformed into them.

There are no more cities proper to protect, so the B-Listers' duties include establishing hideouts, defending survivors, scavenging for supplies, and avoiding being eaten (which means fleeing, more often than not).

Rotted Capes combines superheroics and survival horror and post-apocalyptic gaming into one package...

I'm Positive There's A Zombie Under That Armor

...which means it's pretty much Necessary Evil, using zombies instead of aliens.

Works for me!


Being based on comics and all, I'll start with the art.  Rotted Capes has some evocative images that capture the right mix of grody and heroic.  Groderoic?







I dig it.  Gets me in the mood to serve up some two-fisted, brain-pulping justice!

The cover of the Limited Edition version of the book is pretty cool, too...

Cover by Rudy Nurdiawan (2012)

...but it's obvious some serious Swipe File'n went down.

Promo Poster by Drew Struzan (2010)

Here they are again, side by side:

Sure, All Zombies Look Pretty Much The Same, But...

Yeahhhhhhhhh.  Let's move on.


The core system involves your standard "beat the Target Number" mechanic.  Roll 2d10 (the Action Dice), then add the relevant Attribute Die, then add modifiers from Combat Maneuvers and Skills and Tricks and whatever, and exceed the baseline.  There are Exploding Dice and Criticals and Bumps and Penalties that modify the grand total.

It's cumbersome, but not complicated.

On to char-gen!


Rotted Capes uses a buy-build system, and intro B-Lister characters start at 150 points.  Other tiers include the more proficient Beta characters at 300, plus the opposing A-Listers at 600, Omegas at 1200, and Cosmics at 2400.  

That scale is terrifying, and really drives home the scrawniness and out-classed-ness of the PCs. But I'm totally down with that, because plenty of My Very Favorite Comic Characters score high on the Mort-o-meter.

The Legion Of L-AWSOMES Is More Like It!

To build a B-Lister, first you pick your Power Source (Super-HumanSkill Hero, or Tech Hero), and that determines particular Attribute BonusesUnique Advantages, and Unique Disadvantages.

Then you pick an Archetype (BlasterBrawler, etc.).  Not only does your Archetype yield more more Attribute Bonuses, but it also indicates what Primary Powers you can get at a reduced cost.  If you're, say, a Heavy, you can buy Growth cheaper than an Infiltrator can, while an Infiltrator gets Illusion cheaper than a Heavy.

B-Listers are supposed to have only a handful of Powers, to really represent their underdog statuses; points-wise, three seems about the doable maximum.

Then you pick Disadvantages, which are physical disabilities that provide more build points.

After that you have to choose at least one Personality Flaw (DarwinistHaunted By NightmaresVillainous Past, etc.), which when triggered, provides Fate Chips Plot Dice to alter outcomes in game play.

Then you pick a Tagline ("It's clobberin' time!"), which allows further manipulation of Plot Dice when bellowed on the battlefield

FINALLY, you get to spend some points, starting with Attributes (and the corresponding Derived Attributes), then Skills (which come in bulk discount if you buy Skill Sets, like AthleteDetective, etc.), then Advantages (AttractiveMartial ArtistRapid Draw, etc.), then Powers (almost all the usual in some form or fashion, with "weather control" conspicuously absent).  AttributesSkills, and Powers are all purchased by the Rank, at an escalating scale:  Rank 1 costs 1 point, 2 costs 1+2 points, 3 costs 1+2+3 points, and so on.

After that comes Power Modifications (tweaks that make Powers more or less, uh, powerful, and correspondingly more or less expensive), and Gear (weapons, armor, batteries(!), etc.) rounds out the process.

In conclusion, char-gen is a hot fucking mess.


Everything listed above encompasses sixty-five pages of confusing, jumbled, disorganized nonsense.

The step-by-step character guide lists eleven parts, but there are actually twelve... and the steps don't jibe with the order of the book's contents.  Commence copious page-flipping.

And the rules describe numerical bonuses and costs pertaining to concepts before defining said concepts.  Take Attributes.  The "choose your Power Source and Archetype" phases both make key notations to Attribute Bonuses, but you don't know what the Attributes are or do until 10 pages later.

It's infuriating,

Then there's the Ranks.  Trying to figure out how much, well, anything ultimately costs is a nightmare, especially when incorporating the assorted Power Source bonuses and Power Modification discounts / penalties.

I'm no rookie when it comes to point-buy games, having played Champions / HERO System pretty much non-stop since 5th Grade, with meanderings into Mutants & Masterminds and World Of Darkness and Savage Worlds along the way.  I grok building my own characters.

But with Rotted Capes, trying to build what is essentially the simplest PC possible—a Tech Hero in a no-frills bird suit—took me two evenings and over six hours total, and I had ZERO confidence I actually did it right.


THE MOST COMPLICATED CHARACTER EVER CONCEIVED!!!

I even tried comparing my character to the sample NPCs in the back, but the numbers didn't sync up. So that led me to writing out a few of the NPCs in longhand, trying to reverse-engineer them... and after copious crumbled pages of notebook paper, I'm 99% certain that the designers' math is wrong on their own damned characters.  And there's absolutely no way to verify which of us screwed up, as the official write-ups don't break down how the numbers shake out.

"MY KINGDOM FOR A HERO CHARACTER SHEET!!!"

I wanted to hurl the rulebook across the room.

I ultimately scrapped the Tech Hero version of my flying-guy—fer Mephisto's sake, THAT'S ALL HE DOES!!!—and worked him out as a Super-Human.  Things seemingly fell into place then, but I'm still sore that I didn't get to make the character as conceived.

Seriously.  Char-gen in Rotted Capes suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks.


After character creation, there's eighteen pages of combat rules, with damage and stunts and status conditions and vehicle crashes and the like.

The key timing mechanism is The Clock, which is a Frankenstein'd combination of basic "rolling for Initiative", HERO's Speed Chart, and Savage Worlds' card countdown.

I'm so irked at Rotted Capes' char-gen that I can't give proper attention the combat section. I have zero clue if the system works, but my gut tells me it's unreasonably clunky, because of stuff like Actions breaking down into four speed categories: TrivialSimpleComplex, and Ehhhhhh, Who The Fuck Cares, Because I'll Never Use These Rules As Written, What With Them Being So Terrible And All.

Oh, yeah—there's Burnout, which is when powers shut down from exhaustion, leaving the PC in the lurch.  Tech-based characters seem particularly susceptible to Burnout, and it looks about as fun to play with as Encumbrance in D&D.  At least everything resets after each scene (which is appropriate, modeling the "recharge effect" that happens between comic panels).


As lousy as the first half of Rotted Capes is—and, boy howdy, is it lousy—there's great stuff in the Game Master Editor-In-Chief section.

Rudimentary survival is key in all artworks of zombiedom, and the book details all the important hazards:  contaminated eats, diseases, starvation-n-dehydration, animals (domestic, wild, and "escapees"), survivors (antagonistic and otherwise)...

...and zombies.  Zombies, zombies, zombies.  There's standard shamblers, plus video-gamey types like Damsels (smart and  disguise-y!) and Ninja'z (sneaky!) and Cleavers (stabby!) and Phasers (ghostly—gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!) and Abominations (monsters!) and Super Zs (your former costumed friendlies and foe-ys!).  There's an infinite variety of undead antagonists.

With No Mention Of Plastic Mini-Zs, It's Actually "Almost Infinite"


For those lacking imaginations and / or windows to the outside world, there's a sample setting (Paradigm City—sigh) with an extensive (but stat-less, which is totally okay) Who's Who that hits all the standard comic beats.

Perhaps most interesting is the section on building an Enclave, the little hold-out of humanity your B-Listers protect.  It almost reads like a mini-game, with figuring out logistics for encampments, defenses, caravans, governments, laws, entertainments (now with bloodsports!), and agriculture.

Anyone remember Gamma World 6e, with the mechanics for PCs to actively design their community's philosophy, size, manufacturing, etc.?  Enclaves are like that in spirit, but without the crunch.  

Enclaves bring novelty and a unique vibe to tabletop superheroics, and that's dandy for this jaded GM.

There's also suggestions of incorporating comic book tropes, such as DramaFlashbacks, and Issues (as in "very special episode" fodder, not individual comics themselves) into the game.

I totally love the Flashbacks, and would use them in any Rotted Capes session I ran.  Like, do a scenario with a zombie villain, then "flashback" to a pre-apocalypse combat with the PCs and the same baddie.  Play it out and everything to establish the history and relationships, then jump back to the zombified present.  Flashbacks cater to my GM-ing style, and I'd use them with abandon.

Oh—one more thing about Enclaves.  They bring me back full circle to the novel Ex-Heroes, which prompted this whole review.   The tale goes into great detail about the hassles—supply raids, shoring up defenses, illnesses, roving gangs, boredom—inherent in superheroes keeping "normals" safe from flesh-rending hordes.  Ex-Heroes came out in 2010, and it's clear the Rotted Capes crew were inspired by the novel.

That's not a dig, by the way; just noting that the influences run deep.


The book wraps up with the handful of math-sloppy NPCs I lamented above.  Almost every Archetype is represented, and the characters are either quirky or lame, with no middle ground.  For every La Pulga ("The Flea" in Español!) and One-Man Mob there's a Shank and a Transporter.  I don't fault the book's writers, though, because the characters were created by the Kickstarter's top donors.


Like the zombie comics it seeks to emulate, Rotted Capes is a cool costume over a rotten husk. I'd take everything in the Editor-In-Chief section and convert it to another ruleset.  Savage Worlds (quelle surprise!) seems ideal, because Necessary Evil does the legwork for this exact kind of game.

I'd also love to try FASERIP and play in the Unofficial Official Marvel Universe, just for nostalgia's sake.  That'd be a hoot, converting characters into their ghoulified incarnations.

More Like Kraven The Hunger, Amirite?!!!

Hell, I'd even use Champions, and that's a huge freakin' deal because I swore off running it.  [If I had to describe my current relationship with the HERO System, it'd be: "we're seeing other people".]

What I'm saying is, that in spite of itself,  I really, Really, REALLY like Rotted Capes, y'all.

If you're gonna hunt it down, the PDF is theoretically cheaper than a hardcopy, but certain online retailers have it discounted enough that the prices even out.


Final Review Score:  3 Hovering Headpools out of 5 (but it probably deserves only 2.5).


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"B" is for "Blimpborg"

Blimpborg  ("Gasbag")

Hit Dice:  15
Frame:  Biomorph
Locomotion:  Legs (Pair), Rotor
Manipulators:  Pincer
Armor:  Alumisteel (AC 4)
Sensors:  Class IV
Mental Programming:  Programming
Accessories:  AV Transmitter, Loading Mechanism, Self-Destruct System, Weapon Mount
Weaponry:  Flamethrower, Grenade Launcher (with 12 Grenades)
XP:  6,900

Considered ridiculous and primitive even by The Ancients, blimpborgs are clunky, rust-prone, man-sized robots designed to float over and into enemy terrain.  Their torsos contain "atmospheric helium converters" that inflate bladders for limited flight.

Blimpborgs are equipped with arm-mounted flamethrowers, chest-mounted grenade cannons, and head-mounted navigational systems. They are programmed to explode when surrounded by 4 or more foes, or when within 20' of an enemy vehicle.

Blimpborgs saw limited battlefield use, as they were too dependent on environmental conditions to be effective...and thanks to floating back into their own territories, the robots ultimately inflicted more friendly fire deaths than enemy kills.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fun With Feedback — Jurassic Edition

I made this is for Official Friend Of The Field Guide, Legion.

Thanks for enjoying my review!



video

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mutants In The News — "SyFy Movie Come To Life" Edition


Amazing footage of what it's really like in The Outback, where everything tries to straight-up murder everything else.

Mutations just make it better.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

"C" is for "Chudstak"

Chudstak

No. Enc.:  3 (2d8)
Alignment:  Chaotic
Movement:  105' (35')
Armor Class:  3
Hit Dice:  7+1
Attacks:  3 (2 claws, 1 bite)
Damage:  2d6 / 2d6 / 1d10
Save:  L4
Morale:  11
Hoard Class:  VII, VIII
XP:  4,500

The subterranean chudstaks are nightmarish crossbreeds between two dreaded, degenerate races, and they combine the worst aspects of each.  They are 7'-tall, blackish-green beings with oversized claws and snaggle-toothed maws, and their bodies drip so much slime they seem to be melting. Though gangly, chudstaks possess ferocious strength, and the damage they inflict takes twice as long to heal.

Chudstaks' eyes blaze with such enmity that anyone beholding the brutes must make a Saving Throw Vs Stun, or be Paralyzed in shrieking terror for 1d4+1 rounds.  The creatures are immune to radiation, toxins, and disease, and their viscous coating makes them impervious to flame-based attacks.  Chudstaks Surprise only on a 1 on 1d6, though, due to a combination of their luminous gaze and continual hissing.

Chudstaks haunt ruined sewers, befouled basements, and underground contaminant (nuclear, biohazard, etc.) depositories, and their nauseating lairs are littered with the rotting corpses of their victims.  They are too stunted to use technology, but possess a feral cunning, and set traps, deadfalls, and ambushes to waylay prey.  Chudstaks can also contort and stretch their frames to pass through apertures too small for most humanoids, allowing them to invade otherwise secure domiciles.

Wandering chudstaks are always encountered in groups of 3.

Mutations:  Atrophied Cerebellum (D)Enhanced Vision (Night, Thermal, Ultraviolet), Increased Sense (Hearing, Smell)







Thursday, June 11, 2015

Radioactive Review — 'Jurassic Park III'



It should come as no surprise that I'm excited for Jurassic World.

Yes, the trailers are obnoxious in their video game-y effects, and I can't think of a single Bryce Dallas Howard flick I've enjoyed.  

But there's gonna be a mosasaurus and Chris Pratt and trained velociraptors and motorcycles (which HAS to mean Chris Pratt and trained velociraptors on motorcycles!!!), so I'm totally psyched.

THIS.  BETTER.  HAPPEN.

In preparation for this surefire blockbuster that can in no way, shape, or form shatter my fragile heart beneath crushing disappointment, I've spent the week re-watching the original JP trilogy so I won't miss any nuances.

Jurassic Park (1993) is awesome.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) is hot garbage.  Yet I've mellowed—and trust me, no one is more surprised than me—on the flick, as it no longer fills me with seething, blistering vitriol; hell, it's even demoted from my Top Five Most Reviled Films list.

But what about the much-maligned Jurassic Park III (2001)?  Not only is it better than I remembered, it's interesting enough to revisit with a rambling quasi-review fourteen (!) years after the fact, particularly in the context of this here blog.



The Setup:  Jurassic Park III begins with a pretty flimsy premise:  obscenely wealthy, extreme (in the Mountain Dew-ian sense of the term) vacationers Paul and Amanda Kirby want to do a fly-by of The Isle Of Dread Pellucidar The Savage Land Isla Sorna (evil dino-company InGen's secret breeding ground for bioengineered beastes, as revealed in TLW:JP) for a photo safari, and need the chronically under-funded and ever-chapeau'd Dr. Alan Grant to give them aerial commentary on any fauna they spot.

Remember This Prop

Grant wants nothing of it, however, because of his aversion to being devoured.

There's Historical Precedent

But money talks, and Grant believes the Kirbys when they insist they'll pay any sum, and swear they will never, ever, Ever, EVER land on the island,.

So he and his pretty-boy assistant agree to the trip...

Seriously—It's Important

...which proves problematic because Paul and Amanda are bald-faced liars.

Portraits Of Punchability

Nope, the Kirbys aren't wastrel billionaires; instead, they're hardware-store-owning schmucks who happen to be divorced (AWKWARD), and team up again (in spectacularly awful fashion) to find their kid, who just so happened to go missing months ago on dino-island via a parasailing accident with Mama's new beau.

In other words, they're the freaking Van Houtens.

Ravenous Dinosaurs Are Preferable To These Two
Oops.

Dr. Grant comes across pretty terribly in this sequence.  I mean, I realize that this is a movie from the World Wide Web wasteland of 2001 and "Google" didn't become a verb until 2006, but everybody knows you investigate your employer(s)...

...particularly if they look like doomed grifters straight from a Tarantino movie.  

At the very least, Doc, you wait for the check to clear.  Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.

"I've Made A Huge Mistake."

The Action:  Of course, they land.  Cue thundery, lizardy hijinks.

And there's a ton of 'em, with chases through forests and ruins and more forests and more ruins.  With a run time of 92 minutes (a good 30 shorter than its predecessors), JPIII wastes little time and deftly moves from setpiece to setpiece to setpiece.

They eventually find the missing kid (because, Spielberg), and wonder of wonders, he doesn't suck.

He's crafty.  

"Wardrobe Provided By Botany 500"

He hides out in a wrecked ATV.

I Bet There's Shag Carpeting And A Waterbed In The Back

He scavenges the InGen ruins for eats, weapons (like gas grenades), and tools.

Proper Diet Is Always The First Thing To Go 

And, best of all, he isn't whiny.  Kid's made of pretty resourceful, stern stuff.  He even keeps jars of tyrannosaurus urine around to scare away the smaller predators.

"You're A Teenage Boy Who's Been Alone For Months
Without Kleenex Or Socks.  Disgusting, But Understandable."

All things considered, Kid Kirby is the only competent person on the whole damned island.



The Setpieces:  There's some doozies.  My favorite involves a crazy aviary.

I've been a sucker for pterano-related mayhem since I saw The People That Time Forgot in 1977 as a wee one, so this bit was a hoot AND a holler.

One Might Say It Imprinted On Me...
...As Unto A Fanged, Clawed, Leathery Baby Bird

It's suspenseful as hell, and shows that even man-sized-ish, hollow-boned dinos are a legitimate threat.

Someone's Been Watching Too Much Batman.  Or Darkwing Duck.

"I Am The Terror That Flaps In The Night...."

The Kid even gets dropped into a nest chock full o' babies, and they do their damnedest to gobble him to death.  

And because I'm a terrible person, I laughed.

At Least I'm Embarrassed About It.

And though Kirby Junior survives his ordeal, Pretty Boy does not.  He gets hammered and bludgeoned and drowned and pecked to death.  It's a bad way to go.

But It Sure Makes A Bitchin' Obituary

Another neat sequence involves midnight dino-piracy in the rain.

Something, Something, "Bigger Boat", Something

When watching the Jurassic Park franchise back to back, it's obvious the production crews had a fondness for combining inclement weather, darkness, and monster attacks.  I can't decide if it's a budgetary thang to skimp on FX, or a way to mask clumsy animatronics, or just a case of "the audience liked it before, so ...."

Oh, What A Feeling

Hurm.  With the misty aviary and the midnight boat ride, there sure is a lot of "fog of war" in JPIII.

And, obviously, there's Mandatory Fun With Velociraptors.  They're essential to the series.



The Stars:  All that said, Jurassic Park III excels when it comes to the entire reason for watching in the first place:  the dinosaurs.

The first two installments focused on the creatures' grandeur and power and capacity to terrify, and chronicled how the humans reacted to them.  But in JPIII, there's a new-found intimacy with the beasts, and plenty of attention paid to how they respond to the humans.

And it's hysterical.






I mean, just look at that dripping disdain...that complete and utter contempt...that sublime whatchoo-talkin'-'bout-Willis-ness.

Glorious.  Absolutely, positively glorious.

And this little scene, where the protagonists do a collective slow turn to see what terror's behind them, ripped a surprise guffaw right from me because it's obvious what that spinosaurus is thinking:

"Y'all crackers done fucked up."

Sure, there's a lamentable over-reliance on CGI instead of practical effects and puppetry, but the dinosaurs generally work.  

Speaking of puppets, one raptor in particular brought a certain favorite felty fiend to mind.

You Can't Un-see It



The Issues:  Jurassic Park III's biggest flaw is that Téa Leoni doesn't die.

A Face Made For Being-Eaten-By-Dinosaurs

Women haven't been well served by the Jurassic Park franchise, and you'd think it impossible to find a character more inept than The Lost World's stone-stupid "wildlife expert", Sarah Harding (she of the "only there to document and record, but gotta first pet this here hatchling and almost get bludgeoned to death in the process" and "running around a carnivore-filled jungle bathed in the blood of a baby T-Rex" fame, a thankless role portrayed by Julianne Moore).

But you'd be wrong, as Leoni's Amanda Kirby is The Worst.

"THIS IS MY IMPRESSION OF A DINNER GONG.  PRETTY GOOD ONE, RIGHT?!!!"
"HUH?!!!  YOU WANT ME TO—WHAT'S THAT—BE QUIETER?!!!
SORRY!!!  I CAN BARELY UNDERSTAND YOU OVER THIS BLARING MEGAPHONE!!!"

She's shrill, obstinate, and—most egregious of all—oblivious, and the direct cause of 99% of the reptile-related havoc that befalls our protagonists.

Her First Victim

She's solely responsible for stranding the group on the island.

She gets half the cast devoured, and loses the only satellite phone in the process.

And consequently creates and unleashes nothing less than JP's version of Tick-Tock, cinema's saurian stalker supreme.

The Resemblance Is Uncanny

And because Amanda's a parent in a Spielberg movie, you're supposed to root for her, and savor her triumphs.  Like finding her son, repairing her broken marriage, and, you know, not dying.

But not a single victory is earned...

I Despise Her Happiness

...and the one thing she does deserve doesn't happen.

"Just One Bite.  Please.  You'd Be Doing Me A Solid." — Dr. Grant

And the movie is the lesser for it.

PS:  She also looks like my first ex-girlfriend.  No good comes of that.

The Jawline Of Nightmares



But Wait, There's More:  There are some other major problems, like Dr. Grant communing with the dinosaurs.

Remember that pic at the top, where he's is holding what looks like a horrifying marital aid? Turns out it's a model of a "skull resonance chamber" that allows the wielder to speak fluent raptese.

That Skull Resonance Chamber Ain't Gonna Blow Itself, Doc

Yeah, Grant totally Zamfirs away a pack of pissed-off velociraptors.  They telegraphed it in the first ten minutes of the movie, and it's corny as hell.  I remember the audience's collective groan when I saw it in the theater way back when.

Another thing:  the movie doesn't so much end as come to an abrupt, nonsensical halt with a convenient military rescue.

Deus Ex Marine-a

It's like they ran out of money and just slapped on an ending with extras from an adjoining film set.

Oh, and during said rescue?  Turns out Pretty Boy is alive, and somehow already safe and bandaged on a transport.  It's totally out of left field and utterly, completely insipid.

His miraculous survival ranks in the Top Three Lousiest Cinematic Death Cop-Outs, right behind Tom Cruise's immaculate, completely unscathed-by-interplanetary-invasion family in War Of The Worlds (2005)...

Not Seen:  LITERALLY EVERYTHING Outside The Frame Is Smoldering Rubble

 ...and Mario Van Peebles' "reverse-Bruce-ing" in the execrable Jaws: The Revenge (1987).

They Say Saltwater Aids The Resurrection Process

Pretty Boy straight-up needed to stay deceased.

Everybody Knows You Never Go Full Van Peebles

One last thing:  the music is utterly forgettable.  Jurassic Park gave us a sweeping, epic John Williams score that was as much a character as the actors themselves, but JPIII's composer Don Davis doesn't have the chops.  He does all right with the action bits, but overall, the soundtrack is sorely lacking...and big chunks are just reused from the prior movies.

Second Billing Behind Recycled Snippets?  Ouch.



RPG Relevance:  Jurassic Park III is the Platonic Ideal of a Tabletop Game Session Ported To The Silver Screen.

I mean, you just can't get more elegant in role-playing simplicity than "the party is trapped on a ruin-laden, monster-infested island with nothing but their wits and scavenged equipment to save them".

A True Classic Of The Medium

And JPIII's Isla Sorna is absolutely perfect for post-apocalyptic gaming in the Metamorphosis Alpha-ish / Mutant Future-y / Gamma World-ian vein.

Just look at the place!













Those ruins!
Those artifacts!
Those mutants!
That wreckage!
That rubble!
That overgrowth!  

As Dr. Grant says in the very beginning of the film, "what John Hammond and InGen did at Jurassic Park is create genetically-engineered theme park monsters."

If you can't mine that quote for hours and hours of gamma-gaming goodness, you need to surrender your Mutant Lord credentials.  Hell, I've even done a ton of heavy lifting for you, when it comes to those aforementioned lab-grown critters.

And if you tire of pure beastliness in your antagonists, JPIII's velociraptors make amazing foes.  They're clearly smarter and more linguistic than their relatives in the prior installments, and it wouldn't take much to make them sentient and technological.  (Again, someone else—in this case, Goodman Games—has done the work for you.)

Courtesy Of The (Woefully Unappreciated) Broncosaurus Rex Line

Me?  I'd really irradiate those raptors, and make 'em full-on telepathic, with a full suite of Mental Mutations.

And probably laser-vision, because I loves me some overkill.



The Wrap-Up:  As a movie, Jurassic Park III is definitely flawed, but it's innocuous.  And it goes by so quickly that it doesn't wear out any welcomes.

But as a source of role-playing ideas?  It's a veritable goldmine.  Definitely one of the most inspirational gaming flicks ever.



Final Review Score:  Three Carnosaur 3 VHS cassettes out of five.  (Though it's probably closer to 2.5, mosasaurus-induced giddiness makes me generous.)