Category Archives: Crossposted

London Has Fallen

LondonHasFallenClearly, Americans have gotten tired of seeing American landmarks blowing up in movies, because this film, the sequel to Olympus Has Fallen, featured London’s landmarks getting blown up in the sort of loving detail that has been standard popcorn-fare for recognizable American architectural stuff since Independence Day (the movie, not the holiday, although there are plenty of explosions then, too.)

It’s been a long time since I was in London. I confess, I didn’t know which buildings I was supposed to be rooting for. There was a bridge that I think may have been important, too, but I didn’t recognize it. I did notice that The Gherkin survived unscathed.

London Has Fallen spent a lot of time creating suspense for the things that we saw happening in the trailer. The build-up was pretty effective, except for the bit where they also tried to get me to care about too many of the characters. Oh, and except for the part where I knew what was coming. From the one trailer I’d seen, I knew that if the person on camera was a) a major world leader, and b) not the U.S. President or Gerard Butler, that person was going to die.

Sadly, the film flinched away from what could have been a really powerful bit of storytelling. There’s this moment where the U.S. President is uncomfortable with a particularly vicious bit of knife-work on the part of his one surviving bodyguard. And to be honest, that bit stepped across a couple of lines. It was brutal, and satisfying, and very wrong.

But we never came back to that moment. The President and his bodyguard never had a discussion about becoming what we behold, or keeping to principles even when it’s inconvenient. This was truly disappointing. I never feared for either character’s life, but the film could have made me seriously worry for their friendship, their sanity, and even their souls. But no. The film flinched.

Sure, I got all the asplodey eye candy I expected, and some genuine suspense regarding secondary, non-world-leader characters, but about an hour in, the movie promised me some soul-searching, which it utterly failed to deliver. Pro-tip: Don’t wreck an okay movie by promising an awesome moment you can’t, or won’t, deliver.

Olympus London Has Fallen enters my list at the bottom, and is this year’s first entry below the Threshold of Disappointment.



I went in to Zootopia knowing very little about it beyond the fact that it was computer animated “anthro.”

ZootopiaIt was delightful. I’ll be buying the Blu-Ray, because this is one of those films I’ll just want to have around the house forever.

I have no idea how the dyed-in-the-wool (pardon-the-pun) furry fans will feel about Zootopia, because I’m not really conversant in their culture. It is possible that furries will see the film as a re-tread of stuff they’ve been consuming, and creating, for decades. Or maybe they’ll find it fresh and wonderful. I don’t know.

Zootopia leaps across my Threshold of Awesome, and sits just under the only other film this year to make that leap, Kung Fu Panda 3. That movie is also anthropomorphic, and I’m not quite sure how I should feel about that, since I only noticed the correlation while writing this paragraph.

A Planet Mercenary Update

I just posted an update to the Planet Mercenary Kickstarter page. Here’s most of it:

We plan to ship in September 2016, rather than in May as originally planned. May is now impossible, and even July would mean rushing the editing and final layout phases. We don’t want to “rush” anything. We want this book to amaze and delight you. And now we plan for that delighted amazement to land in Autumn rather than Spring.

  • Backers can change their shipping addresses using their Backerkit links (email, if you’ve lost your link. We’ll re-send it to you.)
  • This schedule should let us have PDFs out to all backers in July.
  • If you will be at GenCon in August, we will have a few advance copies for people to handle, but not to take home.

(Details on the schedule slip are below. Please don’t be distracted by this picture of an Ursumari and a Human)

Art by Rodolpho Langhi
Art by Rodolpho Langhi

Back in December we began working with Patrick Kapera, who is serving as our editor, and as an RPG expert who does not know the Schlock Mercenary universe. When Patrick joined us he was pleased to see that we were much closer to a finished product than he expected us to be. We were not, however, as close to a finished product as we thought we were.

At that point we expected that we would be sending things to our printer in April rather than February. Shipping to the printer in April would have meant that we could ship books to backers in July, and then have books to sell at GenCon Indy in August. During the last week of February, however, we carefully evaluated the progress we’d made, and realized that April wasn’t realistic.

Sandra and I decided immediately that we would not try to have the books at GenCon¹. That would have been terribly unfair to you, our backers, who wouldn’t receive your Planet Mercenary goodies until after people who bought them at the convention.

With this decision made, we knew that the earliest we could ship books to our backers would be September of 2016. We are now driving toward sending books to the printer by mid-June, and shipping things to backers 90 days later (it takes 90 days for our printer to turn around an order of this size.)

So where are we, really, in terms of the book?

  • Editing is 100% done on the Mayhem Cards and Mayhem rules. This means the cards can go to print now.
  • Editing is 75% done on the rules text.  These sections on character creation, basic rules, ship combat, charter rules, and equipment are by far the most time-consuming part of the editing, because there are words that must be used very precisely to avoid confusion.
  • Layout is running in parallel. As pages clear Patrick’s queue, they get final layout. Overall, the layout is only about 10% done, but every day more pages get finished.
  • Art is about half done. We took a long break when we realized that we needed much more layout finished before we could know what art to go get. During March, April, and May we’ll be grinding hard on the art.
  • The “fluff” text is about 75% done. Once Patrick reaches that stage, he and Howard will be blasting through it very quickly. Patrick’s job is to make sure that Howard tells players what they need to know while finishing the various worlds, cities, warrens, and Big-Dumb-Objects that will go into this book. In word-count terms, Howard probably has another 15,000 words to write. That’s about a week of work, once Howard knows which 15,000 words Patrick wants players to have.

It’s worth noting that one of the most popular elements of this project, the in-universe copy ofThe Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries, is coming along nicely. Howard has about 3,000 words to write here, but we already have book-blanks in hand that are telling us we’ve picked the right paper, and the right aspect ratio for the pages.

There is a remote possibility that the 70MoMEM books will go to the printer early—far enough ahead of the core RPG book that we will be able to ship Maxim books separately. We’ll post an update if the print schedule and the shipping budget can be aligned to make that happen.

We’re sorry to slip the schedule, but we believe that the extra three months are necessary for us to deliver an RPG that meets the high standards you’ve come to expect from us. Thank you for your patience, and again, thank you for your generous, enthusiastic support for this project.

—The Planet Mercenary Team
Howard, Sandra, Alan, and Patrick

1: Yes, this decision costs us about $10,000 in lost sales at GenCon Indy. We budgeted this project independently of selling things at GenCon, so we’re not actually losing any money by doing this. We’ll find other things to sell in Indianapolis this August.