Roundup: LARP, Tabletop, and Fate/Stay Night

LARP The Series

Synopsis: The show follows (fictional) snippets of the lives of a group of LARP players–both in-game and out.

Series: First season.

I’ve Watched: Up to episode 7.

Verdict: Fun

Another web series on Geek and Sundry, told in a series of short vignettes. The characters are fun to watch–I particularly love the new and quite bloodthirsty paladin that joins the party. Apparently, paladins aren’t required to be Lawful Good in this game.

And it’s fantastic to watch things that depict geeky stuff from a place of respect and understanding, instead of the usual oh-look-at-how-weird-these-people-are I tend to see in more mainstream stuff. The latter really takes all the fun out of it.

Tabletop

Genre: Reality tabletop gaming

Synopsis: Wil Wheaton invites guests, often from geek culture or media, to play board games with him.

Series: Third season, but for obvious reasons, they don’t have to be seen in any kind of order.

I’ve Watched: A lot of it.

Verdict: So fun.

Oddly enough, I tried to watch this show when it came out in its first season (as it’s a Geek and Sundry production), and I couldn’t get into it. Cue two years later, I tried again, and I love it–even the episodes I wasn’t getting into the first time around. So I guess I changed?

There have been tons of awesome guests I was really excited about because of their work:

Felicia Day (creator/actress for The Guild, creator of Geek and Sundry),
J. August Richards (actor in Angel and Agents of SHIELD)
Amber Benson (actress on Buffy, author of the Calliope Reaper-Jones series)
Seth Green (actor on Buffy, voice actor in Mass Effect)
Allison Scagliotti (actress on Warehouse 13)
John Scalzi (SFF author)
Bobak Ferdowsi (NASA engineer)
Yuri Lowenthal (voice actor in Dragon Age, Naruto, and Sunset Overdrive)
Kelly Hu (actress in X-Men: 2 and Warehouse 13)
Pat Rothfuss (fantasy author)

And I do believe Karen Gillian (Doctor Who) and Jennifer Hale (Mass Effect, Eternal Darkness, Broken Age) are scheduled to appear this season.

The episodes can be very varied, because of how different some of the games are. So it’s a lot of fun to get exposure to these different games, and watch some pretty entertaining people demonstrate them. Some of my favorite episodes include:

Castle Panic, because of the sheer, unadulterated enthusiasm of the players. As they play a cooperative board game version of a tower defense.

Forbidden Desert, for stranding Felicia Day and Alan Tudyk in a desert. And for how the players’ characters interacted in-game. There was some fun and clever role-playing, in the midst of the strategy of actually getting out of the desert before dying.

Fiasco, for shaking things up and being mostly a storytelling game. The players create a story where their characters succeed or fail according to certain rules. Here, the game is as fun as the players make it–and the players seem to be pretty good at improv and creativity. Fair warning, there might be some mature themes.

Sheriff of Nottingham, for watching the players bluffing (either well or badly) in order to get their smuggled goods past the suspicious sheriff.

(Btw, I embedded these episodes into the post, so if your reader can’t see them and you want to watch, they should be visible on the main site. Or you can just look them up on Youtube.)

Fate/stay night

Borrowed from myanimelist.net

Genre: Supernatural/fantasy

Synopsis: High school student Shirou has been inadvertently drafted to fight in the Holy Grail War, a recurring fight-to-the-death between powerful magicians (usually from legacy families) and the spirits of historical/mythological figures. The winner gets a wish, any wish, fulfilled.

Unfortunately, Shirou doesn’t like fighting or hurting people. He’s certainly against killing people. What’s a guy to do?

Series: First season

I’ve Watched: The first few episodes? Maybe up to 5?

Verdict: Dropped. Too boring.

Shirou’s the protagonist now, which is too bad, as I was enjoying Rin taking center stage. This boy is just too innocent for this world. How did Kiritsugu raise a kid like that?

Shirou might be too naive to live, but at least he is willing to stand up for others more than he’s willing to stand up for himself–not that the bar for that is very high. He seems to fit right in with a horde of too-idealistic shounen heroes (who traditionally manage to change the world into a utopia through sheer willpower). I have no idea how Fate/stay night goes, although I’ve been given an impression it isn’t as dark as its predecessor. Still, I hope Shirou gets some character growth on this point instead of falling into the standard trope. Not that I’ll know, since I’m not watching the show anymore.

One thing I find annoying: these people are all in a fight to the death, and the show wants us to know more about them before slaughtering them. That’s a good tactic, but it manifests itself into some very jarring ways to end the early fights. Rather than finish fights, one party just up and decides to walk away from battle for some arbitrary reason. I get that this was kind of their intro so we could see what they were capable of before they really threw down with our protagonists, but come on.

There are more organic ways to introduce these people. Fate/zero did it by having one party behave in a way that threatened to expose magic to the general population, necessitating that everyone else take them down first. Here, it’s like people aren’t even taking these fights seriously, despite their lives being on the line. Press your advantage, people!

And for another, everything is just happening so slowly. The back and forth between whether or not Rin and Shirou are allies is ridiculous. And I’m just getting bored. I don’t believe this show has the same potential as Fate/Zero, and I’m not sticking around to find out.

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