My Big Theory About Avengers: Age of Ultron

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I know it’s been forever since I posted on IoM (between relationships, moving, and work I’ve been absent from a lot), but I got to thinking and figured it was a good place for an article like this.  Keep in mind this is 100% my own fan theory but it makes absolute sense considering the future of the MCU and the writer/director of Age of Ultron.  Possible Spoilers follow.

So, what we know so far about Avengers: Age of Ultron is that Tony builds Ultron along with a bunch of drones to act as a police force to assist when the Avengers can’t. Ultron goes completely Skynet and the Avengers have to save the world.  Wheden has promised an ending that will act to alter the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I think I know what one of the factors of the ending will be.

I think he’s going to kill Pepper Potts.

Now, hear me out on this one.  Iron Man 3 tried it, but pulled the punch at the last minute for the sake of a happy ending.  Honestly, considering that Wheden is famous for killing relationships, Potts’ death wouldn’t surprise me at all. Here’s a brief list of Wheden’s relationship killings:

  • Angel in “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer”
  • Jenny Calendar in “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer”
  • Tara in “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer”
  • Anya in “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer”
  • Doyle in “Angel”
  • Cordelia in “Angel”
  • Fred in “Angel”
  • Wesley in “Angel”
  • Penny in “Doctor Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog”
  • Paul Ballard in “Dollhouse”
  • Wash in “Firefly/Serenity”
  • Phil Coulson in “Avengers” (after revealing he had a relationship with a Cellist)

Wheden hates relationships and/or popular characters and every fan of his work knows it.  That lost doesn’t even include favourite characters like Shepherd Book (Firefly), Joyce Summers (Buffy), Kitty Pride (X-Men Comics) or Rupert Giles (Buffy Season 8 Comic). All that’s left is to figure out who he’s killing this time. Natalie Portman’s actions surrounding Thor: The Dark World and her not returning means it won’t be her,  Hawkeye and Black Widow are both Avengers, and Rhodie, Banner and Cap don’t have a significant other we’re aware of.  This means the only person he can kill off and not be an Avenger confirmed as involved in future films would be Potts.

Not only that, but Pepper’s death would perfectly set up Captain America: Civil War.  Her death at the hands of something that Tony created to make the world better, right after she ALMOST died at the hands of something Tony somewhat helped create to make the world better (Extremis) would be a major factor to Tony deciding that people with great power need to be regulated because the best intentions can have the worst results.  Between Ultron’s failure and Pepper’s death Tony would be driven to create the registration act.

Now, all this is just my crazy crackpot theories so feel free to sound off below on what you think.

Beer. Run. Geek. The Collection!

We take a break from both beer and running this episode to give you a tour of Paul’s geeky collection! If you’re a fan of shelf pron, this episode is for you!

Send us feedback at BeerRunGeek@outlook.com

Torture the RPG – No Bad Fun?

The idea of lines and veils is one that is relatively new to me. From the beginning of my role-playing experience I have always played with people that I knew well. My fellow players and I have always had a good feel of what was too extreme for each other and we were able to quickly adjust if necessary. The biggest jar was when I went to college and my new fellow players were guys I’d only known for a few weeks. Torture has never been something that I’ve thought was important in a game and the people I’ve played with felt the same way. But, if listening to the Walking Eye podcast (and gaming podcasts in general) has taught me anything, it’s that almost every group of players plays different from the way I do. Most game systems, especially the older and more main stream ones, don’t deal with some of the more extreme aspects of the world. Sex and torture are two of the areas that generally get glossed over, though violence in general is at the core of most of them. While I’m sure that there is a sex RPG out there, I haven’t seen it and I’m not sure I want to, but I have seen one focused on torture.

Speaking of one of the podcasts that has taught me how wide the world of role playing is, Torture the RPG is dedicated to Fear the Boot. I suspect that this would horrify many of members of said podcast, though, knowing them, there is an almost equal chance they would judge it based on their “no bad fun” position. In any case, the game was inspired by a discussion the guys on the podcast had about torture and how to deal with it within a larger game. This game probably grew out of a feeling that I’ve had before, where a single small idea won’t leave me alone until I explore it and write things out. The sort of “but what about…?” thoughts that won’t leave you alone even if you don’t want to think about them.

The game is, given its topic, mercifully short and simple. This is no extensive description of the topic with modifiers and tables of different devices and strategies. Instead, it is a quick, narrative game. It’s also designed so that it can a standalone game, though I have to wonder at the drive to simply play a session of torture.

The game can be incorporated in the appropriate points in a different game as part of a larger campaign. As designed, it is not meant to incorporate or utilize the rules from these other games, but is rather intended as becomes a sort of minigame. In fact, the author suggests that the rules NOT be used with another game system because the balance of this game will be upset. I would have to disagree with this point since it means that every character whether PC or NPC would have the same chance of success and failure. Basically, it would be as easy to get information out of a lowly kobold as a hardended Jedi master. Instead, I would suggest this system would form a great framework to be modified by a GM for their own game using the stats and modifiers from their favorite game system.

The game is heavily story based and, as such, the characters involved are an integral part of the mechanics on both sides. Even if one of those characters is an NPC. A cardboard cutout of a bad guy is not only not going to provide an interesting game but will, to a very real degree, make it impossible to have a game at all. As such, character creation, while simple comes first.

I won’t get too deep into the mechanics, because there aren’t a lot and it would be difficult to describe them without giving them away. But, they hinge around 3 secrets. These are the 3 bits of information that the victim is trying to hide and the 3 bits of information the torturer is trying to get out of the victim. These secrets are not of equal weight and they increase from a minor secret that is almost meaningless up to a medium level that is worth getting and hiding and a final secret that everything else hinges on. Fortunately for the victim, these secrets are doled out in that exact order, as well. Each time the mechanics demand that a secret be given up, the next level of question is revealed starting with the minor secret and working up to the bit one.

In addition to the set number of secrets, there are a set number of rounds in the game. There are 5 rounds and each round has a name that reflects the way the situation is escalating. This means that the system is weighted so that both sides have about a 50/50 chance of succeeding as a torturer needs to get all three secrets to truly succeed while the victim can give up 1 without failing and the second secret is sort of a draw for both sides.

Each round is further broken into 3 stages. This begins with the victim summary, which is essentially the player playing the victim describing the victim’s mental, physical and emotional state. Each side then rolls and adds some modifiers and the higher score is the winner for the round. If the victim wins, he keeps his secret. If the torturer wins he learns a secret. The final stage of the round is a collaborative narration of what happens in that round based on the victim summary and the results of the rolls. That collaboration is very important in this game. In fact, the last thing said in the game reinforces that it is very important that no one overstep the boundaries of comfort of the other players and that the players should work together at each stage to make the game interesting.

At first glance, it seems the game is mechanically weighted toward the torturer as he gets a bonus every round after the first to reflect that the torture is getting worse. However, there are actual bonuses that each side can choose to use as well. These reflect both mental and physical things each side can do to aid them in a round. Each has its own value and the victim gets 1 more and one more that is bigger than any that the torturer gets. While these factors mean that there is, theoretically, some strategizing that can be done by each side, I suspect that most games of Torture the RPG take the same path with each side simply using their growing bonuses with each succeeding round. Then again, less obvious strategies become evident the more you play even the simplest of games. Then again, it would be kind of weird if torture became enough of a factor in any game to play this game enough times to actually develop different strategies.

Torture the RPG deals well with one of the aspects of many game worlds that commonly gets glossed over. After all, many characters lead lives of violent conflict, often in setting with opponents who are particularly savage. This combination almost guarantees that someone would get tortured at some point if there was any chance of being captured. Of course, whether or not this is something that actually needs to be addressed in a game is a matter of some debate but a matter of debate that would be up to each group. And an argument could be made that a person, even a character isn’t really defined unless he is put to the test and torture is, by definition an extreme test.

BRG & IoM: MMPR Saba, Star Wars Battle Pod, and #TAOVG Opening Night!

So much gaming goodness this episode! Sadly, not a lot of time for craft beer this episode, because we continue our search for the new Legacy Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Saba, stop by Dave and Busters to play the awesome new Star Wars Battle Pod, and check out opening night of The Art of Video Games at Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Va!

Leave us comments at BeerRunGeek@outlook.com!

Funnybooks with Aron and Paulie: Acquisitions!

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This week, Funnybooks is in the bidness…of acquisitions! Aron confronts a weird Russian lady! Toy Fair news that will make us all broke! And of course the big Spider-Man news! All this and more in another awesome episode of Funnybooks.

• Aron’s encounter with the Russian lady
• Toy Fair news
• Spider-Man joins the MCU
• Spider-Verse (Amazing Spider-Man #14, Spider-Woman #4) – PWA
• Marvel Unlimited Spotlight: Avengers Forever – PWA
• Star Wars Celebration
• Darth Vader #1 – PWA
• Dave Bautista in the Highlander reboot
• Guardians of the Galaxy #24 – PA
• The Dying and the Dead #1 – PA
• Divinity #1 – PA

We’re looking for writers! Pop us an email at ideologyofmadness@gmail.com for more info!

Interested in checking out LootCrate? Sign up using this link!

We apologize for our comments not working – we are looking into the issue!

Also, check out friend of Funnybooks Raven Gregory’s new comic company, Broken Butterfly Comics, and their Kickstarter campaign for their first book, Widow’s Web! It starts February 27, and you can find out more information at www.TheRavenGregory.com!

Our new vlog, Beer. Run. Geek. has begun! Paul travels breweries and does craft beer reviews, as well as delves into his running training and, of course, talks about great geeky things! If you’re curious about getting into running, or dig beer, this is definitely worth checking out. Watch it now!

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Hard Sci Fi? Harp-SF!

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Is the average role-playing game not quite an accurate enough mathematical representation of the universe for you? When you’re playing science fiction do you prefer the science to the fiction? Especially the parts that involve math? If you answered “yes” Harp SF is just the right game for you.

The core rule book of Harp SF is very much a core rulebook, even starting with the obligatory explanation of what an RPG is and how to people play them. This is interesting because, as good as this game is for what it is, I would not recommend using it as an introductory system for a new player. The game comes in two volumes, Harp SF and Harp SF Extreme but can be played only with this core rulebook. The other book includes things like vehicles and animals and more detailed rules for both than what is included in this book.

While Harp SF can very easily be used as a genre specific but setting agnostic system, there is a setting included in the book so players and DM’s (called SysOps in this system) can jump right in without having to create an entire universe from the ground up. That universe is called “Tintamar” and is pretty interesting even without the system.

The first thing they provide for the Tintamar universe is the sci fi trope I like to call a “future history.” Like many science fiction universes, they provide a timeline starting from the recent past of the real world proceeding forward to the “current time” within the game. This includes all the major milestones including when the technology involved in faster than light travel was/will be invented, colonization of other planets, first contact with other species and interstellar wars. The nice thing about this timeline is that it not only addresses future history from the human point of view but also includes the timeline from the point of view of the alien species in the universe.

There is also a cosmography given for the Tintamar universe. Of course, this does not include everything but focuses on both human and alien dominated areas. There is a focus on the human dominated areas of the universe but the strongholds of other alien cultures are also noted. While the description of the universe is not exhaustive (how could it be?), it is exceptionally thorough. This section doesn’t include any game specific information and could serve as a good guide for any science fiction system.

All of this comes before the character creation section, breaking the usual mold for the layout of role playing games. There are benefits to this method, though. It allows players and GM’s to really immerse themselves in the universe before having to think about their characters. It is odd, though because it is a lot of information to get through before getting to the actual rules for playing the game, which is usually the hook to get players into the system.

In another tradition that breaks traditional format, when character creation finally comes around, it comes in a strange order. For instance the options for a character’s “profession” which is basically a character’s class, comes before descriptions of the species that are available to play. There are rules for playing characters with multiple professions as they progress and the system uses a fairly standard XP system. Over all, this portion has a feel much like a lot of other games, most notably several different editions of D&D. This is not a bad thing, as it will be familiar to a lot of players, especially the ones who might find this game particularly enjoyable, and, much as some people might like to, there is little need or room to reinvent the wheel when it comes to this sort of thing. Things feel more open ended than any edition of D&D, though and there is no limit to how many levels a character can have and a player could simply continue to add professions to their character as long as they liked to play them.

Just as odd when it comes to the order in which the information is presented, the different stats used in the game are explained now and the modifiers from the different species are given but the method for generating and assigning them doesn’t come until much later in the book.

The species themselves are done extremely well, though. Beyond the ubiquitous humans and not one but two distinctly different reptilian species, there are some nicely odd choices. The Krakur are an excellent example of one of these species, being squid like beings. They are largely aquatic and invertebrates so they’re not too radically different from what a human would find recognizable but they are far beyond the usual cat people that make up the races in many science fiction settings. There is a species that is plant based as well and written in a way that encourages the players to approach them as a truly alien species with a truly alien mindset.

Harp SF delves into other sci fi tropes like genetic alteration. This is another segment where they do a good job, and they are exceptionally thorough, even going so far as to discuss the usual alterations selected for the different species, but it continues the trend of things coming in an odd order.

Because it is not until after this section that the Skills section comes. These skills are pretty standard, though, in what is a trend for this game, very, very extensive. Whereas, even in more modern versions of Dungeons and Dragons, for example, skills are relatively generic, with broad expanses of skills being included under a single choice, pretty much every skill is separate in Harp SF. Not only is there not a single shooting skill, but there are about half a dozen skills needed to encompass all the ranged weapons available in the game. There are a variety of skills to deal with melee weapons as well and just as many or more to take into account all the different sciences possible in a sci fi setting.

Following after the skills is a section of Talents. These function much like Feats or Edges from other games, providing advantages to characters that can’t necessarily be defined or accounted for by abilities or skills.

No system or setting could be considered science fiction without technology. Just knowing what is available can often inform players about the setting as much as anything else. Harp SF does not skimp in this regard, either. One of the features of this game are tables and lists and there is a crazy big list of equipment available. This goes beyond the simple and obvious topics of weapons and defensive items and includes things like various types of sensors and assorted medical devices. It does not include vehicles, though, which are one of the focus subjects in the sister book, Harp SF Extreme.

But even this simple, massive list of equipment is not the extent of options available. To take into account the widely varying levels of technology that can be evident in any science fiction universe, there is a nice, detailed section on how to adjust the equipment provided for these different technology levels. This is done well and keeps the list from being even larger to account for each different technology level without being too mathematically complex.

Also, keeping the list from getting even larger, there are standardized rules for integrating multiple devices into a single device and rules for miniaturizing different devices.

The game play rules are just as deep and complex as the character creation and equipment lists. The basic mechanic is percentile based with higher scores being better. The rolls are open ended and any natural roll from 96 – 100 explodes, with the new results added to the first roll. This can go on indefinitely, assuming the roller continues to score 96 – 100’s. And in a game as interested in reproducing reality as this one, the opposite has to be true, too. Just as there has to be a chance for exceptional successes, there has to be the chance for exceptional failures. Particularly low natural rolls induce fumbles. There are several tables to take into account all the possible tasks that a character could fumble and the disastrous results that could result.

The open ended nature of the rolls is not the only way to exceed a hundred, which is good as many tasks require a result higher than could be achieved with a percentile roll. Skills and talents as well as equipment and its quality can all add to a roll. But even these are just a part of the modifiers that can be applied to a roll. In fact, so many modifiers can end up applying to a roll, especially an attack roll that they end up looking like algebra problems.

And speaking of algebra, it actually plays a role in the game. The following appears in the text of Harp SF – d = √(2Rh + h2) where d is…something…I dunno…math-y. But apparently, this is the actual method for determining how far it is from any point and the horizon on any planet. And this is not the only time when an actual physics equation is included in the book. The formula for calculating acceleration due to gravity is also provided, for example.

Despite this focus on actual science in this sci fi game, the potential for magic is mentioned throughout. Because this system is based on the basic Harp system, and the Harp system focuses on fantasy, it is repeatedly pointed out and the rules take into account that magic could occur in one of these science fiction settings, though it does not exist in the setting provided, Tintamar.

They do flirt with magic, though. The system gets as close to magic as it can without saying it with the psionics rules that are included. Actually, they go to fairly extensive lengths to point out the quantum mechanical explanation that could explain psionics, so that there can be no mistake that they aren’t magic and are science. This keeps the game in relatively hard science fiction territory despite the lack of hard science backing up the concept. And to make sure there’s no mistake about there being any hand waving “magic” these rules are just as complex as any other in the system. There are many modifiers and variables that go into each psionics attempt and each usage requires points from a character’s pool. But even determining how many points each power needs requires math as each power has several variables with their own points costs.

Though the system is realistic about just how terrible it is to get shot or otherwise injured in combat, it is hard to imagine an RPG that doesn’t include at least the potential for characters fighting and getting hurt. Damage in Harp SF includes criticals and these are an important part of combat, not something that happens on rare occasions as in other games but a regular part of a fight. And, true to the design of the game, these criticals are listed out in tables and there are a LOT of them. In fact there are 30 different critical tables that take into account pretty much any kind of damage a living being could take. I would be hard pressed to come up with a method of injuring someone not taken into account with one of these tables.

The players aren’t the only ones with math to do, though and the SysOp has some, to do as well. But, there is some subjectivity to what the SysOp gets to do. After all, experience points are integral to this type of game and there is a formula for this as well. It is not a straightforward formula and includes factors such as how dangerous the challenges the characters faced were, how far they advanced the plot by overcoming those challenged and how well they overcame those challenges.

There are a lot of things to like about Harp SF and I suspect that for the sort of people who like this genre, it might be perfect. After all, this game is meant to appeal to people who like hard sci fi and if you’re going to go in for hard sci fi, you want it to be as accurate as possible and don’t mind doing the math for it. This system does that perfectly.

Harp SF is full of lots of tables and formulas but it is exceptionally coherent. If you’re not opposed to keeping track of lots of modifiers for almost every roll and doing a fair amount of math then it is an excellent way to reproduce a hard sci fi setting.

BRG & IoM Check out THE ART OF VIDEO GAMES at Chrysler Museum in Norfolk!

BeerRunGeek.com and IdeologyofMadness.com were lucky enough to be invited to a media preview at the new Art of Video Games exhibit at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, which opens to the public this Saturday, February 14th! In addition, Paul picks up the new Darth Vader comic from Marvel Comics, and has a business card dilemma!

Check out more information about THE ART OF VIDEO GAMES at Chrysler.org!

Funnybooks with Aron and Paulie: Bidness!

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Aron, Paulie, and Wayne have some bidness to discuss with you! We’re looking for writers! Pop us an email at ideologyofmadness@gmail.com for more info! We’ve got an extra-sized episode this week, because we have a TON to talk about, including the new Justice League animated movie, Throne of Atlantis; DC’s new publishing line for June; Bendis’ run ending on X-Men; the new issue of Star Wars, and plenty more!

  • Justice League: Throne of Atlantis
  • DC’s New Publishing line in June
  • Superman #38
  • A-Force announcement
  • Avengers #41
  • Bendis’ run on X-Men ends
  • Guardians of the Galaxy & X-Men: The Black Vortex #1
  • Star Wars #2
  • King: Jungle Jim #1
  • Nameless #1

Interested in checking out LootCrate? Sign up using this link!

We apologize for our comments not working – we are looking into the issue!

Also, check out friend of Funnybooks Raven Gregory’s new comic company, Broken Butterfly Comics, and their Kickstarter campaign for their first book, Widow’s Web! It starts February 27, and you can find out more information at www.TheRavenGregory.com!

Our new vlog, Beer. Run. Geek. has begun! Paul travels breweries and does craft beer reviews, as well as delves into his running training and, of course, talks about great geeky things! If you’re curious about getting into running, or dig beer, this is definitely worth checking out. Watch it now!

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Beer. Run. Geek. 15-Mile Weekend!

Okay…so we went a little kookoo pants this weekend. Didn’t want to miss out on our training schedule, but wanted to do the Game Day 10k in Newport News, Virginia. So we did both! a 15-mile weekend!

We also check out a pop-up growler fill event, held by Crafty’s, a new growler and bottle shop coming to Norfolk, Virginia! (craftysnorfolk.com)

Funnybooks with Aron and Paulie: Return of the King!

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This week, Funnybooks celebrates the return of the King! King Features, that is. The Phantom and Flash Gordon are back, thanks to the good folks at Dynamite! We also talk about…

Interested in checking out LootCrate? Sign up using this link!

Our new vlog, Beer. Run. Geek. has begun! Paul travels breweries and does craft beer reviews, as well as delves into his running training and, of course, talks about great geeky things! If you’re curious about getting into running, or dig beer, this is definitely worth checking out. Watch it now!

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