Friday, February 6, 2015

[Supers!] Big Hero 6's Wasabi

With the DVD/Blu-Ray release of Disney's Big Hero 6 coming up on February 24th, I thought it might be fun to stat up at least one of the members of the team. So here's the Supers! Revised Edition sheet for Wasabi, my favorite character in the film.


Resistances (5D)
Composure 1D
Fortitude 3D
Reaction 2D
Will 3D

Aptitudes (8D)
Academia 3D (Lasers 4D, Applied Physics 4D)
Athleticism 2D
Fighting 2D
Technology 3D

Powers (7D)
Armor 3D (Device -1D)
Super Weapon 5D (Plasma Blades, Split Action 1D, Device -1D)

Advantages (1D)
I Brought This Along 1D ("What do you need, little man? Deodorant? Breath mint? Fresh pair of underpants?")

Disadvantages (-2D)
Enemy (Yokai/Callaghan) 1D
Minor Mental Hindrance ("A place for everything, everything in its place") -1D

Competency Dice (1D)

Since the characters in Big Hero 6 are all starting their characters, I built Wasabi using the standard Supers! amount of 20 build dice. He's a big guy, and he doesn't give up, so Fortitude and Will were his top Resistances. He is also easily flustered, so Composure at 1D seems appropriate. The Athleticism and Fighting Aptitudes reflect his experience with tai chi; I've given him "lasers" and "applied physics" as specializations for his Academia, but I could just as easily move "lasers" to be a Technology specialization. Note that Wasabi very deliberately doesn't have any extra dice in Vehicles ("You have to indicate your turn, it's the law!"). Powers are straightforward: his Big Hero 6 costume ("Anyone else's suit riding up on them?") doubles as high-quality Armor, and his plasma blades are a Super Weapon with a Split Action Boost (since he can use the blades independently of one another for attack and defense). The Advantage is an obvious choice given the quote I've attached to it. Even though Yokai/Callaghan's daughter is safe, he's still in play as a potential Enemy, and Wasabi's OCD is a definite Minor Mental Hindrance. I didn't give him a Phobia (Heights) because, while he whines about having to fly holding on to Baymax, he seems just fine fighting Yokai at various elevations. Finally, I left him with a Competency Die just because it's a good idea.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Teaching Contemporary Fantasy in Spring 2015

Sorry about the delay in blogging here at Vargold: the end of the Fall 2014 semester, family vacation time during the winter break, and the beginning of the Spring 2015 semester have forced me to concentrate on non-blogging and (really) non-gaming matters. But I thought that I could at least spare a few moments to talk about my current course on contemporary fantasy novels. I've done the historical approach numerous times now, and I thought it might be interesting to concentrate only on recent books instead. I also decided to bite the bullet re J. K. Rowling and finally add a Harry Potter novel to my teaching repertoire. Since Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite Potter book, this made 1999 the terminus ab quo for the class. I also decided to try and split the reading list down the middle in both national and gender terms: four Brits and four Americans, four men and four women. The national split was easy to accomplish, with Rowling, Miéville, Pratchett, and Walton representing the UK and Le Guin, Díaz, Jemisin, and Wilson representing the States. I ended up with a slightly lopsided gender split of five women (Rowling, Le Guin, Jemisin, Walton, and Wilson) and three men (Miéville, Díaz, and Pratchett), largely because most of the contemporary male fantasists I admire are British writers (e.g., Joe Abercrombie, Neil Gaiman, etc.) and I already had enough Brits. I also tried to increase the presence of writers of color in the class (Díaz and Jemisin), a move augmented by books by white authors with explicitly non-white protagonists (Le Guin's Memer and Wilson's Alif). Finally, I owed Jemisin one, having dropped One Hundred Thousand Kingdoms from my Summer 2013 fantasy class.

In the end, I think I came up with a fairly diverse set of recent fantasy novels, both in social terms as well as thematic ones. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is the odd book out as it's less a straightforward fantasy and more of a reflection on fantasy fiction's embeddedness in the imperialist and colonialist projects of the modern West. But then my sense is that most of the best fantasies are explicitly books about writing and fiction and the nature/power of language—so the more meta Oscar Wao fits right in in this regard.

Right now we've just started The Scar. Our class discussion of Prisoner of Azkaban was outstanding: the students did a great job, and I developed a new respect for what Rowling was doing in that novel, especially in relation to the uncanny and the problem of the past.