The White Stripes, a crush and a lesson for life.

#FavoruitesFriday

Besides all the Darkwave, the Gothrock, the EBM, the Industrial, the Metal, the Jazz, the 70s Rock, the Batcave and the Psychobilly… The White Stripes and their dirty, violent, direct style will always be one of the most defining sounds of my most formative years.

And while I did also love Icky Thumb, and while Blue Orchid is probably my favourite song by them, Hotel Yorba and Dirty Leaves and, yes, Fell in Love With a Girl, all share a sound that I will forever miss.

Fell in Love With a Girl holds a true, special place in my heart.

It was a… Tumultuous time for me, romantically, when I was introduced to it.

The person who introduced me to that song, a dear friend at the time with whom I’ve sadly lost contact through nothing but attrition, time and distance, that person was there for me when I was going through a /heavy/ crush. A really fucking heavy crush. A “Let me drive to Cologne for a chance to have tea and listen to three songs with her.” kind of crush.

And several months later, I would sit in a car with said friend. We would sit besides each other in silence, while he would drive towards his place, where my car was standing. We were both at a loss for words.

It took him some time to get up the courage to glance at me and say: “Matt, I… I had no idea!”
And it took me a few heartbeats to close my eyes, sigh and answer: “Yeah. I gathered.”

And then I chuckled. And he nervously joined. And then we kind of started laughing.

Because we were just driving home from her place. My crush. The ephemeral, beautiful, witty and amazing Mareille. We had spent the whole weekend together (and another friend, who had left slightly earlier.). A perfect summer’s weekend. In fact, it was the day she took these two pictures of me:

matt-2

matt-3

And on Sunday evening/night, only her and Andreas and me were left. We retreated to her room and cuddled up together and she showed us her pictures from her trip to Arabia a few months ago.

Let me now state a few shortly relevant facts:
I was crushing on her /hard/.
Andreas knew this, and was there to support me. He had been creating opportunities for the four/three of us to meet and for him and Michael to give me and her space and time to talk. (In actuality, he was hugely amused by it all, and found it “cute as hell”.)

Got that? Okay. Let’s continue.

So, it was a warm July/August kind of night and we were in her room, cuddled up and looking at pictures when I… Notice something.

Andreas is kind of uncomfortable.
Mareille is visibly not.
Mostly because she kind of started to inch nearer and nearer to him, and to give… Signals, for lack of a better word.

After a few moments, I sighed internally, and announced with a smile: “Hey, I’m going down to the kitchen to make some tea, you guys want some too?”

Her eyes lit up and she smiled at me, thankfully, honestly. She nodded. She said: “The usual. Please…” (She said “please”, but it sounded a lot like “thanks”).
Andreas eyes went slightly wide and he started: “You don’t have to…”

Yes, yes I had.

I flashed him a grin, stated: “Black for you, alright.” and went down.

It was two floors down to reach the kitchen. (It was a… Big house. Outskirts of Cologne. Old artist’s community.) Down there, I sat down. I sighed. I banged my head against the heavy, solid, wooden table a few times. Then I started reading a few pages from a novel I found down there. I let… Some time pass.

I then made the tea, let it cool a bit, and went up. Slowly. Slightly louder than usual. Announcing myself.

When I got up, they were holding hands. Both happy. Both smiling. Both slightly embarrassed. (Although, as I very soon learned, Andreas had quite a bit of extra embarrassment to deal with.)

I handed out the tea, we moved near the window, sipped tea, listened to Dead Can Dance, watched the stars and continued to talk about the kinds of things good friends talk about.

A few hours later, I was in his car. During the moment I mentioned earlier.

I told him, truthfully, that I wasn’t mad. If she wanted him, she wanted him. And, yes, it hurt. It hurt like a motherfucker. But it was… It was also so goddamned hilarious. He didn’t want to get together with her. He didn’t plan for it. He did all he could to help me get a chance with her. But in the end, during all this, she fell for him.

The heart does, as it wants. :) [Addendum: What I learned for later life here? Never wait. Never waver. Never /assume/. If you fancy someone, if you love someone, if you are interested in someone, be it romantic or platonic… TELL THEM! Don’t be afraid. Don’t hesitate. Tell them. Be honest. Don’t creep. Don’t hide. Don’t play games. Clear, honest communication: Always the best way to deal with things. Always.]

Fast forward a few weeks. It’s the end of summer. Still warm, still awesome, but the nights start to carry a colder edge with them.

I was at Mareille’s place, alone this time. Adreas was gone because of his studies, and she’d soon be travelling to the UK for a few weeks, and we wanted to meet before that. I also brought her a dear-to-me T-Shirt. A limited edition Shadowrun Mailing List “Never Deal With a Dragon” t-shirt. It was both parts a gift and a good luck charm. And quite a bit of “don’t you forget about me” baked in.

It was a truly wonderful evening. I… Well, I wasn’t really “over” her, but I had learned to deal and cope, and I was healing. It didn’t hurt being with her but not being able to /be/ with her. It just lent it all a very sentimental/melancholy edge.

Shortly before I had to leave back home (I had University at 0800 the next morning, and it was already 0100, and I was one hour away from home…), a thought struck me. I still don’t know why I decided to say what I said next:

“You know what, Mareille? Even after the huge crush I had/have on you, you and Andreas make a cute couple. I’m happy you two ended up together.”

Blood fled her face. She started at me, mortified. And she then whispered: “You… Had a crush on me?”

And I just blinked back at her, stupifed for a few heartbeats. Not knowing how to respond. Total, stone-cold silence between the two of us.

“… Yes? Don’t you remember the walks we took that I planned? The times I asked you out for movies? All these time I got earlier to our GURPS sessions just to spent a few minutes with you? The looks I shot you? The braindead, happy smile I had on my face every time I could spend time with you?”

It seemed that she got paler still. “No… No! I didn’t… I didn’t realize. I didn’t know. It’s… I… I had a crush on Andreas the whole time.”

I blinked again, and just started laughing. She had a crush on the oblivious guy who had been helping me to try and spark her interest. The whole time. It was a “love at first sight” kind of think for her. He hadn’t seen that. I hadn’t seen that. And she hadn’t noticed my fumbling attempts at trying to attain her grace.

She didn’t know what was so funny, so I told her. And she snickered too.

And then we hugged. She said she was sorry, and she meant it.
I told her she didn’t have to be, and I also meant it.

We remained friends. Close, good friends. No jealousy, no bullshit. Until she had to move away a country too far for her studies. The distance, and a mental darkness inside me (university related depression), tore us apart, sadly enough.

But the time we had, we spent as friends. From start to end. We shared laughter and tears and hugs and playful punches and the most amazing, night-chewing discussions and arguments and dialogues. We danced together, we roleplayed together, we watched movies together, we ate and drank together, we lived a part of each our lives together. I even helped pick out her amazing, vintage, graduation dress. It had tassels. And a bow. And she looked fabulous in it.

And that’s why Fell in Love With a Girl will always be a special song for me. For a whole damn year, it was the song silently being played by a manically laughing deity, whenever they deigned to zoom in and focus on my attempts to gain the attention and attraction of an amazing person I had fallen in love with. It was the song I had been introduced to by the guy she actually ended up being involved with.

It’s the perfect mix of bitter-sweetness, melancholy and downright hilariousness. :)

And, as always, it’s great to remember your past. It’s NOT great to try and hide from the present and future while attempting to escape back into it… That’s a lesson that needs to be constantly applied. So, after listening to this song? Go and also listen to Blue Orchid. Because progress is good, too.

Make the game your own. Fuck parts of it up!


Dave Matthews Band – When the World Ends [Lyrics]

HH by dasTOK
“HH” by dasTOK

///An over-waist white tank-top worn over green, woolen leggings decorated with a pattern which looks suspiciously christmas like, in August. Short, almost cropped, blonde hair. Rimless glasses.///

Before we start, let me quote a short passage from the core rulebook of Dark Heresy 2nd Edition. Might be a weird choice, but bear with me here.

The single largest division of the Adeptus Terra present on Juno is the Adeptus Administratum, its headquarters located at the mighty Regis Chancellery near the centre of Vesuna Regis. This and numerous subsidiary locations house many millions of scribes, factors, and overseers, many of whom live out their lifetimes within a few metres of their ink-stained desks. Lord High Comptroller-General Avak Numinor leads the mission, and is responsible for cataloguing the sector’s resources so that proper tithe levels can be maintained for each world.

I’ll make it quick and painless: During the first sessions of play, blow that fucker up. The consequences for the sector will be immense, and it will create panic everywhere. But it will also create opportunities for your PCs.

So, how is this relevant to you, humble Urban, modern day, fantasy/horror GM?

Another quick and painless statement: Fuck something up, blow something up, muck something up in the world your game is set in, from the get go. Shake the whole world up to start with.

Why, though?
Well, many Urban Fantasy games have something along the lines of Vampire: The Masquerade’s… Masquerade.

Something that makes all the supernatural persons and beasties keep out of the eye of the mundane public. And, for 99% of gamepelay, this is utterly fine. Good, even. It gives a fig-leaf rationale for the whole “Why is the world like our real world even with all this supernatural stuff?” question.

But it also constrains many groups to keep their play at a lower level than might perhaps be preferred by the group. Don’t get me wrong, low-key games are great games. But being continuously punished and/or reprimanded for using the in-game powers of your characters can get annoying really damn quickly.

And sometimes, even GMs get into the “don’t rock the boat” mindset and can push the game towards a more mundane feel than they perhaps realize, through in and out of game, subtle and overt punitive actions against supernatural activities initiated by the PCs.

So, to break out of this, just wreck part of the setting. Perhaps don’t start with something connected to the central to the game’s premise, but chose something visible. Something with consequences and ramifications. The Dark Heresy example I posted is exactly this: It won’t end the setting, it won’t destroy the game’s premise (If you ask me, it will even enhance it.). But it’s something that’s visible. Something that your players will notice.

Here’s a warning, though. This WILL make the setting fully your own. Chances are, that you won’t be able to use further officially published setting material without some sort of re-tooling. But it will help you to get into the mindset of using the game as it was intended to be used: By you, for your group.

Let’s look at a specific example:
So, you’re running a game of Mage. You’ve talked about the premise and the scope of the game with your players, you’ve created characters and you know what will be important to them, later on. You cross all those things off the list of “stuff to blow up” and then look for something that will still resonate with your chronicle. Your game shall be one of dimensional travel and exploration of umbral realms. Mh. How about a large-scale, weird-effect explosion of the LHC? Let’s say that it was a Technocracy pet-project and that it went wrong with some sort of Paradox backlash. And the Paradox Spirit responsible was pissed off enough at the people doing it, that it decided to really piss in their cereal and let apparitions appear around it for a few weeks.

So now you have a major news report for the mundane population, something that is tearing down the veil which the Technocrats will have to work hard to fix, and something that has a good chance to come up in one of your sessions, from either side of the umbra. You just fucked with the setting. You shook up the status quo. And now your players come into it. And if you’re a good ST, they know that they too can, and are encouraged to!, change the setting if they can live with any consequences connected to it. And you yourself have a few less inhibitions to actually create world-affecting consequences. Because a setting should not be static. Your PCs should be able to change, affect, save, destroy or simply twist the world they live in. For new games, you will then be able to either start a new game in a yet un-fucked version of the setting, or start a new game in what has basically become a whole new setting for you all to play in. :)

Make the setting your own. Fuck parts of it up!

Familiartiy breeds… Many things.


Covenant – Atlas [Lyrics]

Vermillion 3 by BaalKaos
“Vermillion 3” by BaalKaos

///Feyishly thin and with straight, hard features. Wearing almost form-fitting clothes. Wearing them with class and with style, they add to her striking looks most advantageously. Making her look most captivating.///


The characters enter a room. Someone is sitting at the table, looking up at them. Smiling. STOP SCENE. FOCUS. ZOOM. RESUME SCENE.

The first thing that hits you is the smell. Strong tea. Sweet. Spicy. Mingled with the smell of “old”. Just a slight hint of mold.
You turn your heads to get a better look. The walls are cracked. Oh so slightly cracked. The wallpaper is starting to fall. Behind it, you catch a glimpse of a curious pattern.
The person at the table coughs politely. You look at them. They smile at you and take a sip of their tea. Their eyes close and they ingest the smell, savouring it. It’s now that you realize that you can’t really tell if that person is male or female. If they’re old or young. They’re just… A person. They sit at the table, sipping tea, smiling. They must be a person.

They cough politely. A raspy sound. But not unpleasant. As if someone was scratching… That itch you can’t quite reach inside your ear.

The smell of exotic spices grows stronger. Something is not right. Something does not make sense here. Your eyes dart toward something moving at the edge of your vision. The wallpaper. Now freely falling of the wall, now gives a clear view at that pattern you noticed earlier. It’s the stars. You’re looking at the stars. Unfiltered by atmosphere. Not weakened by light-pollution. You’re looking at the stars.

There is no room. There are no walls. No windows. No table. No… Person.

Another polite cough.

An ancient being looks back at you. Still clasping a mug of tea.

A voice, impossibly loud, yet not hurting you, chuckles a single question: “Where do you think you really are?”


##############

To make something seem really alien, it’s best to let it start out as mundanely as possible.
It also doesn’t hurt to retain some mundane icon, even when the weirdness has fully set in.

Entering a spirit’s sanctum and finding yourself in space is one thing.
Seeing that same spirit drinking tea while it chuckles at you in a friendly way? Not only did you just give that spirit something of an implied backstory, you also made it a very memorable scene because it wasn’t just simply “weird”. It actively provided the divider between “Weird” and “Mundane” for your players to grasp on.

Don’t make it the murder-addicted redcap. Make her the murder-addicted redcap who always listens to Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” album, on a Mini-Disc player.
Don’t make it the hulking, ponderous grove-guardian. Make it the hulking, ponderous grove-guardian that likes to hum a particular set of notes which, when researched, turn out to be a very old drinking song from Imperial France.
Don’t make it the sensuous Vampire. Make him the sensuous Vampire who’s utterly brand-conscious and obsessed with twitter, make him follow some truly mundane, boring people.

You don’t have to have an immediate reason as to WHY. And you will be able to gloss over many of those as simple quirks. But sometimes you might just surprise yourself with a really great idea that connects with your game. And sometimes, more often than you’d think, your players will latch on to that and give you a few theories. Many of which will be golden.

Yes. Yes, this is partly one of the older GM tricks in the world.

But its other part is something that really helps to give Urban Fantasy games that particular “Our world, but… Off.” feeling that makes them really shine.

Neil Gaiman is a master of this. The Serial Killer convention? The old Slavic god who loves to play chess? The two Angelic&Demonic spies who love to feed ducks/drive vintage cars? Hell… Death? (Death! Not DEATH. Although, well, DEATH also qualifies.)

Making something supernatural being 100% “out there” has its uses, yes, of course. But when you mix something mundane and normal with the supernatural, you give it more texture. And you can reinforce your world’s/game’s themes with it. Amusingly enough, I still find Shadowrun to have the best example of this with Dunkelzahn. He was an ancient, great Dragon… Who hosted his own talk show (Wyrm Talk) and ran for the UCAS presidency. Those two things really helped drive home that, yes, he was a Dragon. But no, it was not just a Fantasy Setting Dragon in the future. Dunkelzahn was a MODERN dragon in the future. He interacted with it. He influenced the world around him, but was also influenced himself.

The next time you create or just describe a mystical/supernatural NPC, keep in mind to give it a truly mundane feature/tic/quirk/hobby. Something your players will have a chance to witness. Show them that the NPC isn’t just there because they meet it. It’s there because it exists in the world.

Sense of Loss. Sense of Dislocation.


Massive Attack – Dissolved Girl [Lyrics]


“City Lights” by Susan Coffey

///A tattoo made out of geometric forms and symbols, Triangles. Squares. Connected by Lines., drawn in light-red on sun-bathed skin, decorating the whole of the arm from shoulder to elbow, looking almost like scars, almost but not quite.///

There are times when the city the characters inhabit should be a strange, mystifying, haunting place. Not immediately dangerous, not scary, but… Strange.

They might have lived there their whole life, but one night they will find themselves in an area that’s alien to them. They are looking for someone. Or chasing someone. Or fleeing from someone. And they turn around a corner, and then another one. Or maybe they step out at a bus-stop they never used before. And they look around and… They feel that they don’t quite belong.

A sense of disorientation within the familiar should emerge. They know that they’re in the right place, yet… Still. Something isn’t quite right.

The buildings seem slightly off. The streets are strangely empty and the few pedestrians who still walk them avoid eye-contact, keeping to themselves. There is something about this district that lets the PCs question some established preconceptions.

  • Perhaps a long-ago shut-down school, with heavy chains on its gates, that still draws them towards it.
  • Perhaps a regional or national organization they haven’t dealt with as of yet has an office here, currently closed to the time, but with some windows still curiously lit.
  • Perhaps a cemetery looks slightly older and weirder than the ones they have driven past in the last few years.
  • Perhaps a store stands out, selling some obscure/arcane/occult/foreign pieces they would have never expected to find in a local shop.
  • Perhaps a building that looks strongly out of place, but they can’t quite put a finger on WHY.
  • Perhaps a historical location or building with connections to an important event in the regions past that they never heard before.


  • The City (and I will try to talk about the city as a quasi-NPC later…) should be large enough to hide something weird. Something strange. Or just something quirky. Something to be built up into a sub-plot later down the line, to spark the players creativity and curiosity.

    ///
    This is influenced by something that happened to me almost 15 years ago. I was pretty tired after a night out, and kind of slept through my bus-stop. When some kind passenger finally woke me, as they couldn’t remember me ever taking that bus so far, I half-panicked asked the driver where I could get out to catch the next best bus back. I got out at the station he indicated, but had to wait for 30 minutes for the next bus back, as it was after midnight on a work-day.

    And I wandered around a bit. It was autumn, and while not particularly cold, I preferred to move around. When I turned a corner, I didn’t believe my eyes: A WW2 bunker. Almost squarely inside city limits. Not 3km away from my home, not 2km away from my school. Standing there. Rotting away, stacked with “danger” signs. I explored a bit and nearly had a heart attack when a cop tapped me on the shoulder a few minutes in. I was listening to my walkman and hadn’t heard him approach. They were looking for someone and harshly reprimanded me to at least not go exploring a dangerous structure at night.

    The next day, I wanted to go there again, but couldn’t find it. Because I was so tired and panicked the night before, I misremembered the stop I got out at, and the area looked utterly different during the day. A few days later I asked my history teacher, and he gave me the address. Still, for a few days I actually had one of those “Did that really happen…?” thoughts going through my head.
    ///

    ##########################


    Godsmack – Serenity [Lyrics]


    “***” by invisigoth88

    ///Twins in matching black tops and burgundy skirts. Beautiful. Striking. Their hairstyle the only difference, yet it is enough to set them apart. Their smiles, when focused, melt the coldest heart.///

    It’s all too easy to concentrate on the weird creatures, insidious antagonists and otherworldly affairs. But it’s crucial to remember the personal side of it all. Even with a cosmic war being fought between two power-blocks inside the shadows of the world, there should be those moments where this all takes a harsh back-seat and the PCs innermost thoughts come to the fore-front. It doesn’t even have to be something as drastic as a Quiet in Mage.

    While modern RPG wisdom seems to strongly favor “skipping to the meaty bits”, I always like to give something that’s basically “downtime” its own place and focus. It helps to build the mood you and your group are going for.

    Troupe Style really shines here. Look at the PCs you are working with. Think of a personal, intimate moment for each of them. Then scribble down some NPCs for each of those moments and assigns behaviour, mood and goals to each of them. As succinctly as possible. Then build towards one of those moments as naturally as possible. (Alternatively, you could just reserve a session for a “A day in the life of…” session)

    Then give each of the non-focused players one of those NPCs to play and… Yeah. Play it out. Try to not to create rules-using moments and/or fudge the rules for a seamless experience. Don’t force anything. Let the situation develop. Don’t shy away from incorporating plot-hooks, -seeds, -advancements or -resolutions into those moments, either, if they fit the bill!

  • Perhaps one of them will be snowed in a diner during a heavy storm, and share a moment of interpersonal connection with total strangers. (Think Frasier)
  • Perhaps they spend an evening at their favourite coffee place and talk about books, coffee and music with some other regulars, baring some of their fears and anxieties in the process. (Think Friends. … And, well, also Frasier.)
  • Perhaps they’re having a fun night out and get to dance and drink and flirt and get some stress-relief that way. Meeting interesting people and interacting with others who want to dance away /something/.

  • Whatever fears or problems a character is experiencing, try to focus on them in a slow, dedicated session. For each player. The more comfortable the players are with each other, the looser the scenes can be and the deeper into characterization this can go. But you’ll be surprised how much you can learn about a characters motivations and goals even from “game-night buddies only” gamers if you give it a strict enough framework for them to fall back to.

    For me, games like Mage and Vampire (and even Shadowrun, to be honest…) always shined when the PCs got enough chances to interact with more than just the setting’s premise. Just think about it: Sometimes you sit at a Starbucks, scribbling some notes into your laptop or notebook, drinking some coffee, listening to the store’s or your own music and watching strangers, perhaps flirting, perhaps even striking a conversation. And those moments are often very… Personal. Very intimate. And they often help you to deal with some thoughts. Or just help to relax and focus and regain strength and purpose. Let the PCs experience those moments too, don’t just gloss over them. Don’t brush them away to get on with the action.

    ///
    The inspiration for this come, entwined, from two sources. A theoretical and a practical one. The theoretical one was that one Babylon 5 Episode where a space battle was being fought outside the station, but the episode focused on smaller stories inside the station. Just characters interacting with each other. … It was one of the more emotionally powerful episodes.
    And it led me to once do something similar during a Rogue Trader game three or four years ago. During a warp-storm, the PCs were each confined to their areas of the ship. And so I focused on each of them in turn, letting the other player’s be the “local” NPCs. The Rogue Trader had his ship-crew, the Enginseer had his engine-deck crew, the Navigator her entourage, the Void Master had the ship’s Armsmen with her. The session lasted about six hours, and we had more than one hour per PCs. And in this hour, they actually developed and advanced relationships with their underlings which lasted until the campaign’s end. It made the rest of the campaign so much better, as many NPCs evolved from “background figure” status to actors with their own emotional weight for the PCs. It really helped with immersion and involvement.

    If it can work in a 40k RPG, it will work in the Urban Fantasy/Horror game you’re running. ;)
    ///

    Matt’s bag of Urban Fantasy/Horror Inspirations, Ideas and Ideals.

    tl;dr: This thread will be filled with music, pictures and text snippets which mean to help people run games in the wider Urban Fantasy genre (which for me right now is oWoD, nWoD and Dresden Files when it comes to games owned and actively played) as well as/or at least giving already seasoned GMs some more food for thought.

    Right, let’s expand this short explanation.
    Because I’m preparing for a M20 chronicle in the, hopefully not too far off, future with players whom I consider worlds more familiar and mature than I ever was with any players when Mage was actually a new and current game, I’ve started preparing for it. One part are the, slowly growing, playlists I keep on Spotify and my own harddrive. (It’s sad how much of music which I’d love to have available fully online still aren’t cleared by their labels. And it’s doubtful they ever will be, too. *sighs*)

    Another part is a very slowly growing archive of pictures. Photographs I’ve taken myself, taken by friends as well as stuff that I find online. Most of it I will be able to attribute and credit properly. For some, even reverese GIS failed me.

    Yet another part are text snippets. During the last few weeks I found enough free time to visit several cities near me, sit down somewhere in their busiest parts and, well, take “textual caricatures” of people who struck me as impressive and memorable in some way. With a clear focus on “What a cool NPC I could craft out of them!”. I will continue doing so for the foreseeable future, and do so at various points in time (Morning, afternoons and nights) to get a really good, broad selection.

    And the final part is having general thoughts about the themes, moods and ideas I want to explore in that game. And as those often grow very broad, they sparked the idea of recording them in their full, broad state instead of just distilling them down for later use.

    Also, writing this stuff out in the open often helps me get some more focus. Feedback/Reflection by others often helps too, so if something strikes you, please comment on it.

    To bring some underlying biases and foundations to the forefront:
    Musically, I listen to a broad array of stuff. From avant-garde Jazz to Extreme Metal. But my most intimate focus is on various styles of “goth” music. Dead Can Dance, Depeche Mode, VNV Nation, Crüxshadows, Grauzone, New Order, Joy Division, Nitzer Ebb, Deine Lakaien, Sister of Mercy, Front 242.

    As you can see, it’s very much 80s/90s focused. And I admit, at times I’m stuck in those times. Which doesn’t mean that I’m already calcified. Far from it, thank the old gods. So expect more modern artists, too. But those acts were, and still are, formative to the moods and images and ideas and themes and scenes of the game I’m thinking about running.

    I was listening to “Winter Fish Testosterone” by Deine Lakaien on my trusty Walkman when walking, at night, across half the city which was covered in snow, to get to a Mage game, carrying nothing but the Mage 2nd Ed core book, a notebook, some pencils, d10s and a TPB issue of Sandman in my messenger back, dressed in black boots, black jeans, black shirt, black leather jacket, smelling of patchouli and grinning widely into the lamplight reflected by the snow because I’d get to see some cool people, two crushes and one best friend very soon, and we’d begin a Mage game set to last for three days. / I also had my very first, extremely intense, relationship pretty much underscored by going dancing twice a months to clubs playing New Order, Joy Division, The Cure, Nitzer Ebb, Goethe’s Erben and others, for over three years. … Such experiences really help forming you.

    And living in Germany, I can (and do!) still get to see all those bands live regularly, still visits clubs where they are played on heavy rotation, and can still dress in all-black, smelling faintly of patchouli while also being a responsible adult. So they stuck with me. Hard.

    If I ever start sounding like an authoritative asshole because of… Please disregard. That will be just my underlying experiences colouring my writing when I lose myself in it a bit too much.

    As this is a pretty “spur of the moment” decision, the first post I will make today will be on the shorter side. The next few will probably also remain slightly “thin”. But they should gain more “meat” with time, when I get more comfortable actually taking comprehensive notes for a change, instead of just relying on my brain. (Heh. Early 30s and it’s already starting to get problematic. )

    Nevertheless… I have no idea how much this will interest and/or help others. I hope that at least some people will get some use out of it.

    And if you like the music here, and do use spotify, consider subscribing to those playlists. They should start growing more and more the coming weeks.

    (I’m aware that most people here will probably now 90% of the music that I’m about to post. But still, even if you know the song, it might be nice to listen to it with a different frame of mind, which I’m hoping to achieve here, through the incidental media.)

    (Also: I, mostly, suggest to look at the picture and listening to the music at the same time, as I often chose them to compliment each other. If they’re independent, I’ll (hopefully!) remember to state so.)

    [GTA5][Rambling] On music and inspirations, and why they make a game for me.

    Hiring Tangerine Dream and DJ Shadow (and a few other greats!) to make the GTAV soundtrack was a stroke of goddamned genius by Rockstar. The score is one of the best action/thriller MOVIE scores I’ve ever listened to, even coming clones to Wang Chung’s “To Live And Die in L.A.”. It’s got that chilled, mellowed, 80s aesthetic of synths and sound textures mixed with the knowledge of what makes a track dynamic and when such moments need to be used.

    The psychological and emotional impact of the score on the game and the gameplay is /immense/.

    Especially in the missions where you’re playing as Micheal and he’s going all John McLane (I’m sure the animator had to watch Die Hard a few dozen times to get it THAT perfectly. Even the climbing, falling and jumping look just /right/!)

    The whole game is underscored not just but that beautiful and awesome music, but also by pulling just the right amount of blatant scene and/or theme-rips from successful movies. Fargo, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, To Live and Die in L.A., 48 Hours… ALL of them (and many more!) get a shout-out in this game. Some are obvious, some are subtle. But they’re all used to great effect. People who know these movies will know what it’s all about. And people who don’t know these movies (sad wretches that they are… ), will still feel the impact of a scene/moment done /RIGHT/.

    GTA5 has many flaws. Some because it’s by Rockstar. Some because it’s a game of our times and the current gamer-“core”-demographic. Some because of its almost blatant sexism that isn’t inverted as much as other tropes are. But the soundtrack and the use of “movie moments”? … They nailed it. And I think it’s a big part of why the game is the most successful selling piece of entertainment the history of video-gaming.

    (Don’t believe me?

    “In just its first three days after release, Grand Theft Auto 5 raked in more than $1 billion in sales. Compare that to this summer’s biggest blockbuster at the box office, Iron Man 3, which brought in “only” $372 million in its first weekend across the globe.”

    “The game’s publisher, Take Two, was quick to note that Grand Theft Auto 5’s mere three days needed to reach $1 billion in sales makes it the fastest selling property across all forms of entertainment. To put the games sales into context across other forms of entertainment, the global music industry sees less than $1.4 billion in record and song sales each month. In its first month of release, Grand Theft Auto 5 looks set to outsell the entire global music industry.”

    http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/09/28/gta-5-sales-hit-1-billion/)

    Even when the 80s had JUST BEGUN…

    …they were already awesome.

    Listen to those Post-Punk roots. It’s… It’s punk. Yet it’s not any more.
    It’s slightly goth-ish, yet it’s not yet.

    And what it is… Is being full of energy. Full of social significance. And seeping that rather distinctly 80s form of ass-kicking. The one where you imagine skinny-ties and immaculate (if off-colour) suits and some amount of coke (the non-liquid kind) to.

    It also really filled the need for some headache-soothing music. So it’s got that as a bonus going for it, too.

    But, seriously, get some of Gang of Four’s albums. Or even vinyls, if you can. You won’t be disappointed if you a) like 80s sounds and b) haven’t heard of them yet.

    [EDIT]

    You know what? It wouldn’t be the same without the b-side.
    So have that too!