445 – Recap: 2

445

Lena and I saw the Watchmen last night. After 2 hours and forty minutes of sitting through that movie, at the end all I wanted to was… stay in my seat and see it again, and maybe one more time after that.

I loved the books when they first came out back in 1986 and ’87, and I suppose I had been waiting for this movie to arrive ever since. Somehow, I’m really glad it took this long.

Alan Moore, the writer of the Watchmen, was completely against this movie ever being made. In fact, he wrote the work as a sort of “anti-movie.” His intention was to really drive at the things about storytelling in a comic book that the format did the best, did better than other mediums. Especially movies.

Moore had said that Watchmen was designed to be read four or five times, with readers carefully teasing out the story elements and relationships of the work. He felt that a movie, where the viewer sat passively while the images were breathlessly flung at him all in one streaming burst, was an entirely inappropriate medium for his deliberately constructed tale. Happily, Moore was not right.

As I said, I loved the Watchmen books, and I loved the movie for all the same reasons. Beautiful characters, lovingly written, and smartly realized move about a world that seems like it could have been real. For me the central conceit of the Watchmen was always how real-life super-heroes would affect the psyches of not only the world, but of the heroes themselves. The story (movie and books) drags you into it’s world, forcing you to confront the challenges it presents on it’s turf, not yours. Leaving the theater was sort of like walking back onto dry land after an extended time at sea.

What I had sort of forgotten about was that the over-arching plot of the Watchmen story isn’t really what it’s about. It is just a device used to tell the stories of these characters, people who have had greatness thrust upon them and are, to varying degrees, out of touch with their humanity as a result. The real story is watching the Watchmen live their lives, overcoming their demons — or surrendering to them.

I will see this movie again, maybe with luck it’ll coincide with my new TV and Blue-Ray player… both still comfortably off in the future. In all I’m sure I’ll end up watching it four or five times…

And maybe Alan will forgive me for it.

15 Responses to 445 – Recap: 2

  1. This is, without a doubt, the most unrealistic comic page, in all of the D&D comics, I have ever read. You are seriously telling me that, somehow, these players don’t just not know their level but they don’t even know their APPROXIMATE level?

    Riiiiiiight…

    Please tell me just one instance of a decent player not knowing their level. lol

    I’m glad you liked the movie. I was thinking about Alan’s rejection of it too. It was closer to the source material then some other adaptations of his works. Seems such a shame he just dismissed any idea that his novel could be made into a movie. I think I might get the DVD when it comes out. This is the best superhero movie I have seen (even better then the last Batman one, which is saying something). I just love it.

  2. I would have to agree to a point.

    I hate to tell you this, but there are some games which DON’T HAVE LEVELS.

    Seriously, they just have experience which goes towards buying new abilities in a more dynamic and fluid way.

    This does make it more difficult to keep track of how much you have, particularly as there doesn’t tend to be a group experience level.

    As a GM, I have occasionally forgotten to give out XP, but this is soon rectified as the players notice that there is a gap in their sheets.

    Players do tend to spend inordinate amounts of time drooling over the uses of their next advances.

    I can only think that this group is just so not optimised that they don’t even look down at their own sheets while playing.

    Rulebook? Oh yeah, we had one of those. I think it is under that pile of crisp packets, haven’t seen it for a while.

  3. @Toma02: Almost this identical situation happened in the last D&D game I played in. Every player in the game, DM included, had a different experience total for where we were supposed to be. In the end, the DM simply “reset” the game and put everyone at the level he wanted them.

    Strangely enough, If I stopped giving out experience points tomorrow, I think only a minority of people in my game would notice. They tend to see “leveling up” as an impediment to play. They don’t really care for the bookkeeping, and would rather get back to finding out what’s wrong with the mayor, or where the wizard’s visions are coming from.

    (However, Toma02, this page is really more about how there are no decent players in this game, and an excuse to run the recap at the top of book IV.)

    @Alan: I have played many of those games. Hero System, GURPS, White Wolf… all great systems, though in my experience point-based systems sort of encourage min-maxing. My favorite games tend to be the ones where the rules sort of fade away into the background.

  4. I know it wasn’t immensely popular, but I liked Marvel Superheros……you’d spend the points generally tweaking what you already had……with the occassional new power (as long as you could justify it with story — that was probably just our rule, though). If you missed some experience, it wasn’t critical…..and we tended to do all of your character building while waiting for stragglers to show up.

  5. Ah, Champions is a great system for min-maxing. Although, a min-maxer will find a way to min-max in any system.

    But it does remind me of a min-maxer I used to play Champions with. We were starting a new campaign once and we were working out character concepts. I turned to him and asked, “So what’s your character concept?”

    He replied, “Speed 6, Dex 20.”

  6. @SQLGuru: I liked Marvel Super Heroes. That was the first RPG I remember that was specifically for a non-RPG crowd… which could be why it’s gone now. The DC system was a little more robust, though I remember playing Aquaman in a JLA game at a convention (I had arrived at the table last) and completely dominating the game just because I didn’t care about conserving the karma points. (Karma points were a combination of experience, improvement, and dice roll manipulation points. Ordinarily you only spent them to tweak die rolls in the most extreme of circumstances… unless you’re playing at a con.)

    @Ron: At least he knew what was important to him! 😀

  7. @Kevin: Yeah, unfortunately, this was his “concept” for every character.

    Every. Character.

    Ever.

    (Unless the point-buy allowed higher, of course)

  8. @Ron: Aye, Had a mate who was great in a virtual scrap, but always seemed to forget the basics of his character…. i.e. Character name: uhhh… we decided to name all of his characters for him “Myguy”. He always says “My Guy will attack X” ~grin~

    @StoryPanelThisOne: hehe I ran a couple games where I ‘hid’ their XP from them. I did the accounting and then would try to work in a ‘mentor’ to help them learn new skills or buff up etc. It amazed me when I had one of my players come up and say. ‘According to my calculations, I’m level X and should be able to get Y.” I just WISH that guy had gone on to be an accountant. Maybe the stocks would be better off today.

  9. Alan wrote: I hate to tell you this, but there are some games which DON’T HAVE LEVELS.
    (No need to be patronizing, Alan.) True, but I was under the impression they were playing D&D 4E. I’m not sure it’s even possible to play 4E without a character sheet, which has to list the level, because all the other crap like class feats is tied to the level.

    I can only assume the cleric’s player lost the character sheet. His dwarf character had been reincarnated as a troll, and then randomly transformed from troll into a weird bunny, the gamemaster arbitrarily took away his Hat of Disguise and threw him in a dungeon…. he’s probably given up on the game at this point and has put his cleric on auto-heal duty.

  10. Saw watchmen last night, too 🙂
    Great Movie, I loved it 🙂

    About Moore, I believe he adopted this stance after seeing his works and reputation drawn in the mud so many times he had really enough about it.
    However, to me, the experience is different. There are a lot of details to the comics that are more difficult to show in a movie, or that stand up better (like rorschach without his mask), it makes it easier to tell a story, but the movie is more dynamic.

    As per Marvel RPG, I loved it. In fact, I loved all 3 marvel RPGs, for they had innovative systems, whatever their soudness of design. The first, in some ways, was way ahead of its time.

  11. Moore, by all accounts (I’ve never read any of his graphic novels) is a genius and thus entitled to be eccentric, stubborn and grumpy.

    I thought the movie was good, and I keep reading it was as faithful as it is possible to be to the original material (giant squid notwithstanding). Moore just has issues with the principle of adapting comic books into movies. It doesn’t matter how faithful it is, the point is it is not a comic book so it cannot convey the whole extent of Moore’s vision.

    Anyway Kevin, how many studios are bidding for the movie rights to HOLE? I’m thinking Brad Pitt as Bunker and Halle Berry as Freya… or is your artistic integrity more important than millions and millions of dollars?

  12. Our way of distributing XP was to total it up at the end of the night. My DM tended to have mini-campaigns that could be accomplished in one night of playing, at the end of which, we’d get XP, divide the spoils, and make any transactions we wanted to. Over the course of a few months, we’d have completed the grand campaign that he’d dreamed up. He was one of those that had a storyline and wanted us to stick to it (for the most part). That’s not to say he wasn’t pretty quick on his feet, but when we made him think too hard it annoyed him.

  13. @Noodlebug

    My movie ideas:
    Bunker: Thomas Hayden Church
    Freya: Gina Torres
    Martin: The guys that plays Q on Star Trek….John deLancie
    Fleece: Anna “House Bunny” Ferris
    Enkidu: …Hmmm. I have to think about this one.
    Morty: Ethan Suplee (Randy from “My Name is Earl”)

  14. @Vincent: According to Moore his own self, Watchmen was a story told specifically for the comic format. The sense of pacing, dialog, and art direction were all engineered to read from a four-color page. Even the panel scheme (3 rows of 3 uniform panels per page) was a deliberate attempt to create an atmosphere that would pull you into the story. All of that goes away in a movie. It’s like reading someone the funny papers. Sometimes you might get a smile or a nod, but the impact the creator tried to make is gone. Now I personally think that Moore didn’t give enough credit to the theatrical form, but I understand his point.

    @Noodlebug: As for MY artistic integrity, well, there’s always a price. As of last count, there were literally nones of studios desperately clawing to get their hands on my creation… though I do have a dream cast in mind.

    Bunker… Dwayne Johnson
    Freya… Gina Torres
    Enkidu… Dane Cook
    Morty… Terry Jones
    Martin… Alan Rickman
    Fleece… Sarah Michelle Gellar

    @Andrew: The nightly XP was how we ended up in so much trouble with our group. Most nights the DM was good about it, but sometimes he’d forget, sometimes he’d do it at the beginning of the next game, sometimes he’d email it… we just ended up kind of confused.

    I write a post on a forum I use just for the campaign at the end of every game. In it, I list the amount they get for that game, their current total, and the next goal. They really don’t have to think about it at all, which everyone seems to like MUCH better.