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Gaming in the Universe of: G. I. Joe

Recently I asked for some help from fellow RPG Bloggers writing these articles.  The response was larger than I anticipated.  Quite a few folks volunteered to write some GitUo articles.  Michael Morrison of the Rhetorical Gamer was the first turn in this little gem.  He’s mining G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra for your D&D campaign

G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra as reviewed by the family.

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra is one of those over-the-top, wild action blockbusters that resonates with fans and non-fans alike, for the explosions, the new takes on old characters and the obvious invincibility of its main characters.  No matter your opinion of this current movie incarnation of the 80s military cartoon, the movie offers up some interesting inspirations for a DM. 

Feeling lazy?  You could just “steal” a huge chunk of the plot and have a mini-campaign for your players.  Imagine if you will, the characters are travelling the countryside, looking for adventure, and they enter a Barony where the old Baron died a while back and his Baroness (yes, that’s right…) is now ruling the area with an iron fist.  She has taken a new lover, a knight who goes into battle wearing a shining silver helm, and they have begun building up their power.  They are taxing the locals into the dirt, building up their military and performing terror raids against their neighbors.  And then, just when the PCs get really into the fight, when they really think this Baroness is the worst of the worst…  You spring the surprise.

She’s being dominated/blackmailed/cursed by a powerful cult of serpent worshippers.  What fantasy world doesn’t have an evil snake cult or two?  And you’ve layered on the next set of challenges for the PCs to face.

This idea works well in the new D&D 4e “Points of Light” type settings, because without a central authority it is a lot easier for small nobles to fight one another in this way.  And with the Yuan-ti, and now psionics have joined in with the release of Player’s Handbook 3, you have a custom built mindbending snake cult.  Also, the transition between fighting the Baroness and fighting the snake cult is a good transition from heroic to paragon tier.  A solid turning point for a game.

Without being so blatant, the movie has much more to offer.  Imagine a kingdom, recovering from a devastating war, a young king in need of champions.  He goes to the veterans of this war and forms a team of the finest warriors, heroes, mages, and everything else to protect the kingdom.  You would be spies, diplomats, undercover operatives, warriors, and whatever else the kingdom needs.  Sounds very much like a group of adventurers.  Now imagine what happens when you are captured, in an allied city, after failing to protect that city from the destruction wrought by the people you were sent to stop?  Who bails you out?  And of course, who doesn’t want to be a ninja?

GI Joe has far more to offer than I can reasonably go into here…  Watch it again, think about your game, or your next game, and see what might fit.  You might be surprised.

March 19, 2010 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, Gaming in the Universe of..., Legacy D&D, RPG | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vulcan Stev Family Movie Review: GI Joe The Rise of Cobra

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje …  Heavy Duty
Christopher Eccleston …  James McCullen / Destro
Grégory Fitoussi …  Baron de Cobray
Joseph Gordon-Levitt …  The Doctor / Rex Lewis
Leo Howard …  Young Snake Eyes
Karolina Kurkova …  Courtney A. Kreiger / Cover Girl
Byung-hun Lee …  Storm Shadow
Sienna Miller …  Anastasia ‘Ana’ DeCobray / Baroness
David Murray …  James McCullen – 1641
Rachel Nichols …  Shana ‘Scarlett’ O’Hara
Kevin J. O’Connor …  Dr. Mindbender
Gerald Okamura …  Hard Master
Ray Park …  Snake Eyes
Jonathan Pryce …  U.S. President
Dennis Quaid …  General Hawk

Synopsis: An elite team made up of allied military personel fights the good fight.  Adding new members to the team, the unit takes on Destro, the Baroness, Storm Shadow and witnesses the birth of a new world-wide terrorist organization, Cobra.

Reviewers: Vulcan Stev, Pvt. Black Spartan (formerly known as PIT #1), PIT #2, PIT #3

VS – 1.5 pointed ears
I am a fan of the Larry Hama comic book series published by Marvel Comics.  I still own my complete set of G.I. Joe comics.  I am one of those fans that felt the cartoon was an absolute waste of air time.  I can recite you chapter and verse of Storm Shadow’s origin, his transformation from villain to hero and back.  In my mind Scarlett and Snake Eyes are a couple and the Pit was originally located under the Chaplain’s assistant School at Fort Wadsworth.

I am one of the fans that Hasbro and Paramount did NOT want to alienate with this two hour introduction to another potential box office franchise.  For the most part the producers were successful.  This is not a film based on reality.  It is not a treatise on how to fight terrorism.  It is a thriller from start to finish.

The producers were smart enough to set the movie into a continuity of its own without relying on the comic book or the cartoon series.  Stephen Sommers also had the brains to hire Larry Hama as a consultant on the film.  Larry Hama knows the G.I. Joe universe cold.

What did I think were the problems with this film?  First the implication that Rip-Cord was able to make it onto the team solely by being Duke’s friend.  G.I. Joe is supposed to be the BEST of the Best.  Those acceleration suits were completely unneccessary.  Brandon Fraiser’s cameo detracted from the film.  Finally excuse me for being a raving fanboy here… Scarlet and Snake Eyes 4Evar ’nuff said.

Pvt. Black Spartan – 1.8 pointed ears
This movie was nowhere near as bad as the critics implied.  My first trip off base to a civilian theater in forever would’ve been a treat if the theater didn’t have as many technical difficulties.  This movie is obviously a two hour preview for the actual series coming soon.

I had given this movie 2 pointed ears then proceeded to complain to Dad about the laughable military protocol.  Dad insisted that I deduct some for my complaints.  Most of the problems with military protocol and procedure are ones that non-military folks will never notice.

PIT #2  – 1.9 pointed ears.
This is my first exposure to the G.I. Joe universe.  I was suitably impressed with the concept that I’m looking forward to the actual movie.  This two-hour preview for the eventual movie is the best commercial I’ve ever seen.

PIT #3 – 2 pointed ears
This movie rocked.  There was absolutely nothing about this movie that made it bad.  Massive explosions, action, explosions, no kissing, explosions.  Did I mention the explosions?

7.2 pointed ears out of 8.

Aside from this being an obvious Part I, this movie provides  2 hours of mindless entertainment.  The violence is cartoonish at best.  If mild language and cartoon violence are acceptable then this is a nice way to spend an evening.

September 22, 2009 Posted by | Movie Reviews, Movies | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments