Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Messenger - Movie Review

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc

I'm not gonna review the movie per say. That's been done to death by better than I. Although I did like it. The plot and portrayal was compelling. The art direction vibrant. Luckily I'm immune to bad, or in this case Milla's non-acting. I want to focus on is it's gaming / inspiration aspects.


I really enjoyed the battle scenes. This quote demonstrates partly why (I think it was meant as a negative.) "there are plenty of decapitations with blood spewing everywhere, severed arms and general random acts of horrific depravity." Featured weapons you don't often see morning stars, spiked armor. But more than that the scenes provide a good sense of battle and warfare. Maybe not historically accurate, it's definitely close enough to be "fantasy accurate". A good compliment to Flesh + Blood.

The "open air", battles in fields are chaotic and ya, a little bloody. But, they're also just a lot of running around and yelling. Most combatants don't die, they run away. The movie really highlights and portrays well the effects of morale. Both breaking, one battle won and another avoided from failed morale. And also, how inspired troops can achieve the seemingly impossible.

The sieges are a different thing all together. On the walls, in the cramped corridors it is brutal, bloody and death is quick. There's (almost) no place to retreat. When your moral breaks you get a spectum in the stomach.

Throughout it all the "party" Joan and her lieutenants are running around, organizing troops, bashing heads, doing their own thing while the mass combat rages on around them.

Great methods and inspiration for running a battle or a whole "war campaign". For the players, it's all honor and fun, riding horses around the battle field, banners fluttering in the winds. Until there's a castle or tower to besiege. Then it's time to get all Stalingrad on their asses.

An Aside on Morale
Morale is a very important mechanic/flavor that got lost somewhere along the editions of D&D. Most combat should not be to the death, last man/creature standing. Besides creating more varied and interesting outcomes moral is an important compliment to not always having level appropriate encounters. In addition it opens up another avenue for smart, creative players. If you can bluff (put the dice down, I don't mean a skill check) or scare your adversary into leaving, you win. Without risking your life!

Cool Siege Weapons

The Fortifications of Tourelles are just plain bad ass. The multiple towers, gates, construction is neat. The defenses include boiling oil, murder holes, spinning chain blades (which unlike what some numskull critic thinks I'm fairly certain are historical), tubes in the walls just large enough for foot and half wide stone balls with horizontal exit holes at ground level and the Porcupine.

Ah, the beautiful Porcupine. A large block of wood with 3 rows of 10 holes each. Into which are slotted bolts. Crank the tension, balista like mechanism, hit the trigger and swoosh thirty crossbow bolts are sticking out of your attackers. This thing could be pushed around and the main gate had 30 holes in it so that the Porcupine could be fired through the door at whomever was trying to smash it down. The Orcs/Goblins in some dungeon of mine are certainly gonna have a Porcupine.

Enough words, Just watch.

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