Thursday, September 19, 2013


Too much advice this week? Yes, yes, I know, I get started and I just go on and on.

I haven't worked much on new rules, I'm sure no one wants to hear about my personal life, I've banned myself from writing on politics and I suppose I am thinking a lot about the whole DMing process. Scarbrow said lately my posts were getting more acute, and I think that's due to practice and a steady thought process I've adopted. I recently read the Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks (how many of you out there know he's the son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft) and I found that an interesting, instructional example of how to write a how-to book about a completely mythical subject. I've been getting a better handle on how to write meaningfully about D&D since then.

The comments being thin of late would suggest that either a) I've gone off my nut, or b) you're all blinded by my awesomeness (damn, I loved Kung Fu Panda). Guess which one I choose to believe.

There's a film for which I've searched more than 30 years ... I would guess I was 15, perhaps, when I last saw it, and I may have been 14. Watching it Tuesday night, I couldn't help thinking that it quite possibly might have pre-dated my D&D playing, which is relevant as the film is about a thief. It's the tale of a real fellow, Jack Sheppard, who in 1724 escaped four times from various prisons before ... well, I don't want to spoil the film. But wikipedia has a pleasantly long entry about the fellow.

The movie, Where's Jack, is on youtube in 12 parts, only recently put up (I've checked youtube now and then), and dates from 1969. It suffers from being a period piece created in the 1960s, and from film quality and a bit of dourness, but for the sets alone, along with the depiction of town corruption, a thieves' guild, a guildmaster thief and the whole thieving profession from a less ethical artistic culture, it is well worth the view. Ah, I miss 1960s set design. Everything is pleasantly filthy.

And I particularly like that the events of the film occur only 70 years after my world, so it's a nice, close depiction of near-Renaissance street life.

It's produced by the same fellow who did Zulu, Stanley Baker, who was a bit of a maverick in the British Film Industry before his unfortunate demise at the age of 48.  Many of you may only recognize Baker as the 'Butcher of Barcelona' from the Guns of Navarone ... but he was an artistic force to be reckoned with, with whom the reader ought to be familiar. It's a shame there's no online version of Sands of the Kalahari I can link.

Where's Jack was very influential on my conception of thieves early on in my gaming, and I suppose its one of the reasons I'm bitter about the Artful Dodger cliche of pickpocketing as the baseline for thieving activities. I prefer the talented escapist ... and for those who might be interested in a depiction of an 'honest' thief, the film might be enlightening.


Matthew Mantel said...

Your audience may also be interested in knowing that "Where's Jack" is still available on Netflix streaming.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Sure ... if you want to pay for it.

Thank you Matthew.

Scarbrow said...

About the scarcity of comments...

One (which I suppose applies to several of us), if we appear too often around here to sing your praises we risk appearing to be too eager, or even not entirely credible.

Two, the recent political rant may have scared some of the newer people who still didn't knew you well. They will be back, or others will.

Three, about DMing is hard to argue against your experience, and even harder to find something to add to it. As for myself, count me on the "blinded by your awesomeness" camp :)

Vlad Malkav said...

Hello, gentle host.

Too much advice ? No, far from it, please continue. They're very interesting and the last one was spot on what I was starting to get into in my Deadlands game. Insightful.

Concerning rules, can't say a word, I'm not on the D&D wagon (but I'm always hungry for more on your wilderness works), your personal life presented with your writing style would probably be a fine reading, your view and explanations on politics, for all the interest that'd be there, would gather a lot of attention (and time), and I'm waiting for more DMing stuff ...

On to the lack of comments then !

I remember faintly (bad memory) some mention in a past post of your lack of appreciation for sycophants, and legitimate desire to have challenging and interesting comments.
This, in turn, made me avoid writing my thoughts here because, as sir Scarbrow said earlier, I'm damn too eager and pleased with your works to be credible, but also don't think I have anything insightful or interesting enough to be (from my point of view) worthy. And I think that I'm not alone in this situation.

Truth be told, you give us a lot of awesome stuff, and it takes a little time to really "make it my own", using it to wrap my mind on it and inspire my thoughts. once it's done, I usually don't have much more to say other than a big "Thank you" and some fanboy cry for more ^^, so ...

Ok, enough babling for now !

Alexis Smolensk said...

Thanks to both of you. No one likes to preach in a vacuum.

Quincy Jones said...

What Scarbrow and Vlad said. How many times can we all shout "Brilliant!" and nod like a sea of bobble-heads? Forget adding to the discussion; it's not unusual when I have to do additional research just to understand where you're coming from (the edge damage post comes to mind).

This is not the place to shoot off your metaphorical mouth, and that keeps the comment quality high. They may be scant, but they're always worth going over. My current grappling rules where tweaked because of a comment here.

Jhandar said...

Thank you for the wonderful recommendation on 'Where's Jack'. I was able to watch it over the weekend and I agree that it is a fine film with a wonderful representation of a thieves' guild.

Carl said...

I think the Thief of all the classes tries to be too much. Pick pockets and open locks? These are very different skills for what I think ought to be two classes.

The pickpocket has his place, as does the second story man, but piling both of them into an archetypical Thief is a bit of a stretch.