Saturday 25 November 2023

Napoleon (meh)


Well, Napoleon was not great. Joachim Phoenix was great, as was Vanessa Kirby playing Josephine, but Napoleon as a whole was not.

The timeline was scattered, to say the least, and the pacing overall was pretty poor. It seems that Bonaparte just sort of kind of accidentally became emperor, and entirely without any agency of his own.

The war in the Peninsula was not mentioned at all. Not once. In spite of five French marshals — or was it six? — being defeated there by Wellesley.

Apparently Napoleonic battlefield tactics consisted mostly of disordered mobs of men running at each other.

No French attack columns at all, and not until near the very end of the film did we see some British troops forming square and then dropping back into line. Though to be fair, the aerial shots of those manoeuvres did look pretty good.

And although never even hinted at in any history I've ever read, it seems that Boney charged with the cavalry at Waterloo just before the Prussians arrived.

Also, the riflemen at Waterloo with telescopic sights on their Baker rifles made me snort air through my nose. Let us also not forget the complete misinterpretation of the nature of Napoleonic mortars.

I'm aware of the need for the massaging of events for dramatic effect in cinema, but this was a lot less massage and a lot more kitten-in-a-blender.

Ridley Scott may or may not have had the services of a military historian when blocking out his battle scenes, but if he did, it was not somebody who knew anything much about Napoleonic warfare. Or if they did, he ignored them.

Come to think of it, didn't he also give us D-Day landing craft in Robin Hood?

Friday 17 November 2023

Space Opera Revisited

Some years ago — quite a few years, now — I ran a space opera campaign using the Hero System Star Hero rules.

I put my house rules and some other campaign information, including some session journals, on my website at (There was another that I'd done previously, also using the Hero System, set in a slightly modified version of Jack Vance's Gaean Reach.)

Terran Empire cover

It was nominally run in the Terran Empire milieu, though in fact not a lot of that background ever made it into the foreground of the game. I think there were some hints of covert Vorgon interference in Terran space, and the party did a salvage job on a drifting Hzeel freighter, but that was bout it.

Anyway, I quite enjoyed that campaign, and the main reason it folded (apart from my usual mayfly attention span) was because I was getting pretty sick of the Hero System's constant pernickety accounting. I had a character generation app that helped a lot, but even so...

It occurs to me now that the generic nature of the Chaosium Basic Roleplaying System, along with the simplicity of its basic mechanisms, might suit me a bit better. I don't know the system very thoroughly, but one way to amend that might be to build a whole heap of stuff in it, and one way to do that might be to convert my old campaign to it.

So I thought I'd give it a go. Why not?

There is a pretty comprehensive BRP sci-fi horror game already in existence, New Horizon, but it is pretty massive, about a thousand pages just in the two volumes of its core rules, and I don't know that I have the endurance required to absorb that much milieu information when I already have a milieu that I'm somewhat familiar with.

Friday 3 November 2023


 I’m away from home at the moment, and will be for an indeterminate length of time. It’s family stuff.

That means, of course, that I don’t have access to my workroom for any of the things I normally do to engage my interest and fill my time. I’m very, very bored.