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DVD Review: 'Mr. Holmes' a different take on the Great Detective -- A Q&A with the write

Holmesian Musings and Ripping Yarns

"Mr Holmes" DVD Review

'Mr. Holmes’ is a Sherlock Holmes movie that will come as a shock to anyone expecting the action of the Robert Downey Jr. films, the fast-paced narrative of ‘Sherlock’ or even the modest thrills of a cozy mystery that ‘Elementary’ has to offer.

This film stars Ian McKellen from the Lord of the Rings and X Men films as an aging Holmes who is now keeping bees in Sussex, England. Screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher, who adapted the script from the Mitch Cullin novel ‘A Slight Trick of the Mind,’ foreshadows his intentions early on by writing Watson out of the story early on.

The film’s theme is the conflict between truth when it brings no comfort to its recipient and kindness. The film illustrates the point by jumping between two narratives that a now-senile Holmes in his 90s’ is attempting to recall – a case involving a woman’s peculiar behavior following the death of her child and a journey to Japan. In both situations Holmes is confronted with the dilemma of whether to provide information that on revelation may harm others. This theme also manifests in the lives of a widowed housekeeper (Laura Linney) and her son (Milo Parker) that live with Holmes

Director Bill Condon establishes the bone-dry atmosphere of a drama. The Holmes of this movie lets the audience know that the events about to unfold mark a deconstruction of the Sherlock Holmes personae and not an adventure film. The performances are solid, with Hiroyuki Sanada of ‘The Last Samurai’ and the 2016 ‘Godzilla’ in a pivotal supporting role.

Adjust your expectations accordingly.

A Look at 'Rippers'

Pinnacle Entertainment Group’s pen-and-paper roleplaying game ‘Rippers’ offers adventures in a late nineteenth-century setting. While nominally a horror game, it offers a few twists that fall outside of that genre.

“Rippers uses the award-winning Savage Worlds roleplaying game system,” said Jodi T. Black, COO and managing editor of the company. “Characters' skills and attributes are rated by the die type rolled from a four-sided die up to a twelve-sided die. With the Acing mechanic, where rolling the highest number on a die allows rerolling and adding to the total, even the lowest die type has a chance of success at the hardest task. Each character also has access to Edges, which grant special abilities, for greater capabilities and customization.

We have a free Test Drive of the rules with more details on how the game works and even a free adventure with premade characters to try it out. Just to be clear, Savage Worlds is the core system for multiple settings, and the adventure is for another Pinnacle setting, the fantasy world of Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar. You can find the Test Drive with Lankhmar adventure here:”

Chris Dolunt was the lead author and game designer for 'Rippers', which began development about 10 years ago from an idea by Shane Hensley. The game’s original editor, Simon Lucas, is now its lead author.

We spoke with Lucas about the latest edition of the game and a recent Kickstarter campaign to move it forward.

Geeksagogo: Where did you get the idea for the game?

Simon Lucas: The idea for the game originally came from Shane Hensley, who owns Pinnacle. He created a small skirmish game for Rippers that had this unique background and incorporated a wide range of different monsters. Christopher Dolunt then wrote the first draft of the roleplaying game, and I worked with the material he had put together to complete the book. Geeksagogo: How long has it been around prior to the kickstarter?

Simon Lucas: The original edition of Rippers came out in 2005, so the setting has been around for a while. That book sold out several years ago, however, so a new edition is overdue. Geeksagogo: How much actual history as opposed to fiction is represented in the game?

Simon Lucas: The game is based against the backdrop of the real Victorian age. A lot of real world events are referenced in the book, along with a great many real world characters. The secrets of the Rippers world are woven into the backdrop, with a few amendments to history for the sake of the story. In general though, the heads of state and international relations are much the same, and technology is pretty similar. The Rippers, being a secret society, have access to the "real story" and to more advanced technology. Geeksagogo: What is the premise?

Simon Lucas: The basic premise for the game is that the monsters of myth and legend are real, and threaten to destroy mankind for their own evil ends. The Rippers, a secret society of Victorian heroes, stands against this evil as mankind's last hope. Outnumbered and overpowered by the monsters, the Rippers have developed a method of removing parts of the evils they defeat and grafting them into their own bodies to take the monsters' powers. This Rippertech gives the Rippers their chance to even the odds, but is not without risks. Geeksagogo: What differentiates the game from its competitors?

Simon Lucas: There are a lot of great horror roleplaying games out there, with Call of Cthulhu being one of my personal favorites. Rippers stands apart from those in my mind for a couple of reasons. Firstly, being a Savage Worlds setting, it is pretty heroic: characters have a chance to defeat their enemies in cinematic battles. But I think the thing that most differentiates Rippers is the Rippertech, the idea that in order to fight the toughest monsters the enemy has to offer, Rippers must consider grafting other monster parts into themselves to gain an edge, and in the process risk turning into the very thing they hunt.

Geeksagogo: What is the appeal of the gaslight era, in your estimation?

Simon Lucas: That's a great question. For myself, it's that it's such a time of contrasts, a time when a tiny European island controls a huge Empire, when the west is rapidly developing industrially while large areas of the globe are yet to be mapped and explored, when rapid technological advancements come thick and fast while most people don't yet have electricity. Add to that the powerful images of red coats defending far-flung colonial outposts and Jack the Ripper stalking London's fog-shrouded streets, and you have a potent mix in which to create compelling stories. Geeksagogo: Who worked on the game?

Simon Lucas: I wrote the bulk of this edition, including the all-new Plot Point story. The incomparable Matt Cutter edited and added to the material, with Clint Black lending a critical eye for continuity and mechanics. The design and art have been overseen by Aaron Acevedo, with Cheyenne Wright putting together a ton of extra graphics for the various add-ons. Shane Hensley, of course, is involved every step of the way, and the whole process is shepherded, coaxed, and cajoled along to completion by the tireless Jodi Black, who deserves a lot of credit for her infinite patience. Geeksagogo: How many editions are there?

Simon Lucas: Rippers Resurrected is the second edition of the book. It includes all the setting-specific rules for Rippers, so it (along with the basic Savage Worlds rules) is all you need to play.

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