Being in the Main the Mouth of Olde House Rules

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Woodwyrm (Pits & Perils)...

Merry Christmas (and Happy New year), everyone!  We're getting ready for the coming holidays and probably won't be back until after the new year.  But in the meantime, here's a little something for Pits & Perils easily convertible to the OSR at large. 

It's the mysterious (and deadly) woodwyrm; a little something Robyn came up with to terrorize an unsuspecting party and get them killed.  Damn, sweetheart, but you're monsters can be downright deadly!  Anyway, we worked out the details and offer it here.  It's our Christmas gift to P&P fans, and maybe an idea for everyone else...

Just click on the following link for the PDF version - and try not to kill the party!

Who are we kidding?  Let 'em fry if they aren't prepared!  But if you do that, do it in the spirit of good fun.  And more importantly, wish everyone you know a safe and happy holiday...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

In Defense of the Railroad (or the Dungeon as "Bounded Sandbox", Whichever You Prefer)...

Choo!  Choo!  Time to ride the railroad, everyone...

There seems to be (at least) two approaches to a campaign.  First, there's the so-called sandbox.  A vast, open world reduced to a hex map and reliant on random tables.  This has the advantage of freedom and a certain "realism".  The characters can go where they will and deal with whatever they must.  Life's like that.  Shit happens, and the "story" of our day (or week or whatever) arises organically in the heat of battle.  For instance, the party approaches a pastureland and the GM rolls an ankheg.  Battle ensues, and the fighter ends up tossing the badly wounded Halfling to the cleric for healing!  You can't script this stuff...

Later, the characters stagger into the nearby village, where they're hailed as heroes (the ankheg was terrorizing their pastures for months).  And so it goes.

What could be more open?  Or more free?  But all's not well in Hexland.  Ever read The Hobbit?  Or Lord of the Rings?  Or anything else along those lines?  These don't read like a hex crawl.  They read like a railroad.  The fact is, the narrative flow of our favorite literature (ostensibly, a major inspiration for our games) simply cannot be reduced to an assemblage of random encounters.  And just how long could we be entertained by endless battles with wandering orcs anyway?  But I understand, it's different in a game.  Games are about what we do, and it's impossible not to get caught up in our battles - or our characters.  

Now, in truth, many GMs steer a middle course, superimposing sandbox elements over an overarching storyline.  I'd argue this is best.  But "best" is subjective, and who am I to tell anyone they're not having the right kind of fun?  Still, for sandbox purists, modules and other scripted adventures are (sometimes) derided as uninspired railroading.

Nothing linear about this dungeon...

So, about the railroad.  The GM writes a quest (often, a dungeon), and the players ride its single rail to whatever the scenario dictates.  They have no option to decline.  Or to leave.  Or to wander off and do something else.  And I've experienced the worst this approach has to offer.  You see, I knew this guy back in the 80's.  I won't name names, but we called him "The Conductor" because his adventures were (quite literally) a straight line corridor through a dungeon with a linear progression of encounters.  This was the worst version of the style, and we avoided his games.  No offense to him if he's reading this!  We were kids...

But, again, most GMs steer a middle course.  Moreover, the dungeon is (or can be) a bounded sandbox complete with abundant choices combined with a quest-like atmosphere and an overarching storyline to tie the characters to something bigger.  Once Bilbo agreed to accompany the dwarves, it became a (sort-of) railroad.  But there were also many random encounters to season its otherwise linear flow.  For instance, while the dwarves were seeking the Misty Mountains, they could choose where to rest.  And if they'd passed up the goblins' back porch in favor of something else, there'd be no riddles and no ring.

This is randomness superimposed over an overarching storyline.  Better still, it's a bounded sandbox - and something worth exploiting in a game.  A tool for the old toolkit.

The town is a bounded sandbox.  There are multiple locations.  The blacksmith (who runs a secret gambling den in his basement), the cleric (who fears an infiltration of undead in the catacombs beneath his chapel), and the innkeeper and his (magic-using) wife (both members of a druidic cult keeping vigil against a demon lord).  The players can go where they wish, and in any order.  And they're free to deal with these NPCs however they wish and decline their offered quests in the process.  But there are quests.  Several.  Because, realistically, the world is full of location-specific quests.  And more importantly, everything encountered (or undertaken) is fleshed out in a way that random encounters can never be...

The best ones are like this, I think.

But the dungeon is also a bounded sandbox.  At least it can be.   Let's say the entrance is a massive (50' x 50') vault with a door on each wall.  Each, in turn, opens to a passageway bisecting many more - not to mention numerous chambers along their path.  And the players are free to go where they please and in any order, perhaps taking the western door, going north, and encountering area #27 before anything else!  This matters, trust me.  Taking on the bugbear garrison in area 12 is a different thing entirely if you've already gotten the wand of fireballs from area 21!  And not all choices are spatial either.  The players are free to react as they wish, perhaps leading an uprising of kobold slaves against their bugbear masters or whatnot.  There's a thousand stories in the dungeon - no exaggeration 

No, the dungeon doesn't have to be a railroad.  It can be more like the street plan of a metropolitan city, complete with busy intersections and neighborhoods.  And superimposed over its scripted encounters are many random happenings.  It's the best of both worlds underground!  But also in terms of strategic choices, for even an individual encounter is a sandbox of sorts with many strategic choices ready to exploit...

Ditto for the local wilderness.  And there's an overarching storyline and fleshed-out encounters that benefit from being prepared in advance.  Remember that demon lord?  He commands the bugbears from afar and has seduced a local necromancer to stir up an undead army beneath the cleric's chapel.  And the more successful the party is at thwarting his servants, the more aggressive he'll become towards the characters.  Nope, this isn't railroading.  This is consequences.  But even then, the players have choices, whether joining the demon or converting the bugbears to the "one true faith" and making them give up their evil ways.  The possibilities are endless for a clever and creative group...

And all because the GM has "scaled down" their sandbox to a manageable town, local wilderness, and one or two dungeons.  Again, it's the best of both worlds and something to keep in mind when preparing your own games.  So all aboard!  And tickets, please...

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Against Gonzo Dungeons and Total Party Kills (or Some Old-School Tropes Overturned)...

Old-school gaming.  The dungeons are gonzo, funhouse constructs with no discernable purpose save to be plundered by a never-ending succession of short-lived characters.  Death is commonplace, and the narrative structure of a game (such that any exists) is akin to the Donner expedition with swords and spells.  This is the customary image of old-school, and it certainly has its adherents.  But it's one I accept while also rejecting...

So let's start with the dungeons, because these are central.

Yes, some of the earliest dungeons were, in fact, gonzo affairs.  Arneson's Blackmoor dungeon was pay-as-you go, complete with turnstiles to admit a never-ending succession of enthusiastic adventurers.  And the elves kept fire hoses nearby to douse any undead with holy water (since the pesky things sometimes tried to get out)!  In short, the dungeon was a  landscape, deep and endlessly stocked with monsters and treasure.

This is the classic dungeon crawl.  The dungeon is just there.  And so are the largely disposable characters.  Play exists in the moment divorced from any overarching narrative, because that's the nature of the beast.  And it's a beast we all know and love...

Death happened, just not all the time which,
arguably, made it more impactful in a campaign with
established (and beloved) characters...

But by 1975 (still respectably old-school), Arneson's Blackmoor supplement to OD&D included the first published scenario; Temple of the Frog.  No spoilers here, but the dungeon was built for a reason.  There was an overarching storyline, complete with non-players possessing complex motivations.  And the characters could shape the 'story" through their own interactions.  In short, we're talking about bona fide role-playing.

So now we see two divergent models early on.  The gonzo, funhouse dungeon crawl and adventures with complex storylines with abiding (and interesting) characters...

In 1978 (still old-school), Gygax wrote Steading of the Hill Giant Chief and its esteemed follow-ups; Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl and Hall of the Fire Giant King.  Once again, there was an overarching storyline with plenty of complex non-players to interact with, perhaps shaping the story in new ways.  Yes, a party could approach the whole thing as a hack-and-slash affair, but only if they ignore content and miss opportunities.

Oh, and the terrible conspiracy unearthed will lead the characters underground and, eventually, to another dimension!  It's a deep and richly satisfying campaign - and one that plays out like an epic novel.  And this approach was inevitable.  Once you have a game capable of replicating fantasy adventures, clever and creative players will absolutely turn it to recreating heroic tales because who wouldn't want to take part in a fantasy epic?

So is old-school just dungeon crawls with disposable characters?  No!  There were two parallel traditions - and almost right from the start.  Story has always mattered.

Having a game capable of fantasy simulation and
limiting it to hack and slash expeditions divorced from any real
storyline is a missed opportunity.  What do you think?

But what about the supposed "disposable" heroes?  One need only read OD&D's Men and Magic to understand that at least some were expected to reach higher levels and build strongholds.  Much time was given over to higher-level spells, for instance, which would have been a colossal waste of time if some longevity weren't expected.  Back in '78, we actively avoided combat and sought wealth with minimal danger.  Gold was experience, and we sought this with minimal fuss.  The thieves plied their trade, and everyone else gave them cover, because the goal was to get rich while not fighting everything...

And by AD&D, clerics (who originally couldn't cast spells at first level) actually got bonus spells for wisdom.  With the right luck (or the ability generation rules provided in the Dungeon Master's Guide), a first level cleric could cast three spells per day, which means three healings in the course of an adventure.  All it takes is a 14 wisdom, a feat not difficult to achieve when rolling 4d6, picking the highest three, and arranging to taste.  And this option was absolutely endorsed by the (old-school) manuals.  Indeed, it was Method #1!

Anyway, constant death caps level, which is at odds with all those high-level monsters, spells, and modules.  Sorry, everything wasn't meant to end in a total party kill... 

AD&D marks a perceptible shift, doubtless honed from years of prior experience in multiple campaigns, from a mere wargame to a role-playing system where characters and story mattered greatly.  And not coincidentally, it came at a time when the hobby was expanding beyond its wargaming demographic.  These were fantasy buffs who wanted to create meaningful characters and participate in epic tales.  Why read The Hobbit when you could actually be that hobbit scaling Mount Doom?  Our hobby makes it all possible!

A few month ago, we said there's nothing new under the sun.  Well, this applies to adventures and characters as well.  Yes, there was (and continues to be) a grand tradition of lethal dungeon crawls.  But almost from the beginning, old-school allowed for complex storylines and abiding characters.  And by the late 70s, almost heroic efforts were made to increase survivability in the name of the narrative.  The lethal dungeon crawl was merely one of two old-school traditions - and the game, happily, allowed us to choose our own way...      

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Second Editions: How Soon Is Too Soon?

Well, we're back to blogging, folks!  The break was much needed, and we appreciate everyone's patience as we recharged our batteries.  And as we're working on a semi-major project that really breaks our mold, we have to ask ourselves... 

How soon is too soon to publish a Second Edition of a role-playing title?

No, we aren't doing this yet.  Hell, yours truly has just gotten back to doing anything game related at all, much less tackling a major do-over.  But as we (maybe) begin breaking established molds all over the place, we can't help but reflect a bit.  We've been doing this for four years.  It's been a learning curve.  But with time comes experience.  And with practice comes improvement.  And not just in the design department... 

So when does it make sense to re-consolidate an existing set of rules into a better, more coherent package and apply lessons learned?  Or improve its production?        

Is a Second Edition seen as a giant middle finger to the people who've already shelled out for the previous version?  Or a cynical ploy to get the buyer's money twice?  Now I'm not implying anyone is doing this.  My question is somewhat rhetorical because I could actually see the need for a fifth Edition D&D after the badly contrived 4th....

Much as I could see the need for a 2nd Edition AD&D, or pretty much any edition of my beloved Tunnels & Trolls.  Time makes rules better, and experience (and revenue) makes it easier to improve the physical (read: production) value of a given product.

So, for a little historical perspective...

OD&D to AD&D - five years (from the initial boxed release to publication of the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide, which made AD&D a complete system)

AD&D to 2nd Edition AD&D - ten years (calculating from 1979 to 1989)

2nd Edition to 3rd - eleven years (from 1989 to 2000)

Initially, you see a retooling of the original into a more coherent package.  And when you really think about it, AD&D was really was just a cleaned-up (and better organized) version of the booklets and their supplements.  Indeed, there was actually a three-year overlap...

After that, each new edition was given ample time to marinate at the tables of a thousand enthusiastic gamers.  Except for grumpy old holdouts like myself, obviously!

So when is the time "right" for a new edition?  I suspect it's when the game would really benefit from a little reconsolidation.  And I've seen it pulled off nicely across many different systems, so I guess I know.  But the mind wanders after a long break.  Especially when thinking about the future of your favorite projects.  Well, this blog has a future for sure, even if only as a monthly post.  And we'll try to make it worth your time to drop in and visit...    

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

We're Taking a Break...

We're pooped.  And our blog is taking a break.  We'll still be online, mostly to admire the efforts of others.  And we've still got a few surprises up our sleeves, so look out!  You're awesome, all of you.  But we're tired... 

See you here in a month or so.  Time to recharge our spell points and whatnot!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Weather Tables From a Real Meteorologist (and a Simpler Alternative He Also Uses)...

Ok, so the stormy specter of weather arises from time to time in all of our games, and the more immersive the setting, the more likely we are to incorporate it.  Like the passage of time, weather is one of those things we all seem to agree matters but don't always get around to doing.  Well as it happens, yours truly is a retired meteorologist and happy to tackle it, so let's start by setting a few ground rules.  Just to make the whole thing easier.  If you're one of those daring souls who imagines a flat earth (well, as long as we're doing the whole magic thing), I suppose scientific accuracy doesn't really apply and, to be honest, it shouldn't have to...


But if you're a stickler or, like most of us (I'm guessing), then your world is spherical.  This stuff matters, but I'm guessing no one wants MET 101 and more importantly, I'm not much interested in rehashing it.  So here's a link if that's your thing.  No, I'll just get to the good parts and explain what probably should be happening; and this is the case even if you follow my link...


Oh, and let's make another little assumption.  Let's assume the campaign is set in the mid latitudes of our hypothetical sphere.  Good.  Now things get easier.  Basically, most weather most of the year is the result of migratory pressure systems.  Lows with their attendant frontal systems and highs with their characteristic stability.  As the low approaches, expect southerly winds with increasing (and lowering) clouds and precipitation (rain in late spring or summer and snow in winter and/or early spring).  Eventually, the front passes, the winds shift, and it gets both cooler and probably drier depending on the air masses involved.  Often, the winds pick up and become stronger with very cold air.  Rinse, lather, and repeat as necessary...

Or for greater simplicity, just consult the following weather table:

Clear/partly cloudy
Partly/mostly cloudy
Clear/partly cloudy

*Precipitation (rain/snow) varies by season

Now, here's a cool trick: Roll 1d10 to establish the starting day, assign the applicable weather (adjusted for season) and follow the progression down the chart, returning to the top and continuing.  There, (most) weather made easy!  It might be the only weather table you'll ever need...

The above assumes a retreating high pressure system replaced by an approaching low and frontal system to trigger clouds and precipitation.  Of course, the latter is seasonal except in the south, where applicable.  There's not a lot of snow in Florida for a reason.  Ditto for your world's equivalent (the bona fide tropics work differently).  And as a caveat, during the summer months, the jet stream moves north and a semi-permanent subtropical high dominates more of the mid-latitudes, producing a stabler pattern which makes the above less pronounced.  You know, summer for most of us.


Now, if you didn't follow the link (shame on you), just know that air flows clockwise around a high, counterclockwise around a low, and reversed in the southern hemisphere!  Lows suck.  All of their air spirals inward (surface convergence) and up, so you get instability, clouds, and precipitation.  Highs blow, meaning air sinks and spreads out (surface divergence).  Cold air masses are always more dense and the winds stronger.  Seriously, highs blow.  But there are exceptions to this.  And pressure changes across these systems.  Sometimes quickly, sometimes not so much.  This is referred to as the pressure gradient.  The stronger the gradient, the higher the winds - and with more intense the weather; well, in most cases...

But sometimes, the gradient is non-existent, especially under a high, and the winds are calm.  Here, moist conditions in the fall or winter can result in fog that only dissipates when the winds pick up or things heat enough to break the inversion (don't ask).  Just compare to your own experience.  


Good question.  What about it?  First off, let's assume a 1 in 1d6 chance of a severe weather event on days when precipitation is called for.  If something bad is indicated, just assign a seasonal hazard.  Thunderstorms can spawn hail, high winds, and tornadoes, while winter is prone to blizzards and ice storms, etc.  Pick what you like and make 'em hate you...   


Now, the equator and subtropics are a little different.  Here, you see a steady pattern (no fronts) influenced mainly by terrain effects and/or migratory cyclones.  Typically, afternoon thunderstorms and morning to midday stability with lots of humidity.  Tropical storms and hurricanes are pretty much a bogey you can throw in to stir things up.  And you can add whatever rules you want (or have handy) for environmental exposure and the like. 

And once again, here's an easy little chart to break it down:

Late night/early morning
Clear/partly cloudy
Clear/partly cloudy
Partly cloudy
Early afternoon
Partly cloudy
Early evening/overnight
Partly/mostly cloudy

*Light/steady winds (any direction); variable/strong with thunder

As indicated above, wind direction varies but is usually light outside of thunderstorms.  Often, terrain helps channel air, causing winds to flow along natural features, whether valleys or any adjacent mountains, etc.


Of course, weather magic is doubtless an element, and this defies all of the above.  You don't need anything here to know that a storm out of clear skies or snow in the summer (or tropics) are signs of something amiss.  You piss of the local shaman at your peril, so don't do that.  Really. 

There, that's not too much, and we offer it mainly as a quick-reference guide for GMs and as a guard against "daily weather tables" that might produce unrealistic progressions.  Of course, such charts are great for establishing starting weather, after which the first table applies.  But for time-strapped (or ingenious, because despite being a meteorologist, I do it this way), you can simply begin your campaign at the "real world" time of year and at a similar latitude.  Then just follow the actual pattern.  This saves a lot of time and let's your players worry about the weather in two worlds!  All fantasy mirrors real life, so give 'em hell if you've got it, and go where the wild winds blow... 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

"It" Movie Review (We All Float)...

So here's something that doesn't happen every day - a movie review!  You see, every now and again there's a movie event.  Something big based on something bigger that gets a lot of hype in geek circles and either delights or disappoints when it finally comes out.  And this summer, in a season full of lackluster disappointments (my opinion), there's something which, thankfully, succeeds and (interestingly enough) is also a perfect fit for late summer going into early autumn - Stephen King's classic novel IT!

Now, in the name of full disclosure, I'm a rather huge Stephen King fan.  But that's not the big reveal.  We publish fantasy RPGs, so I imagine people think I do fantasy like the Cookie Monster tackles an Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate chip.  Not so much.  And that's the big reveal.  Aside from a few notables (well, a respectable amount), I don't read an awful lot of fantasy anymore.  Tolkien?  Moorcock?  I love 'em all.  Blood of Pangea is heartfelt.  And I thoroughly enjoyed Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn by Tad Williams (get it)...

But when it comes to fantasy, I prefer mine as gaming.  To me, that's where it makes sense and feels right.  Guess I'm a crappy geek.  Book-wise (and despite the fact that my all-time favorite is Kingdoms of the Wall, a sci-fi masterpiece by Robert Silverberg), I prefer literary horror after King, Straub, and (the great) T.E.D. Klein.  This is modern fantasy with all the pretensions of John Updike.  Stories about real people facing off against the innumerable monsters in their lives - only some of them supernatural!

And King has always been about people.  Plausibly real and relatable.  There's nothing like our own world with all its intrigues, and his movie adaptations didn't start getting good until the Hollywood types finally figured that out.  Yeah, King loves his monsters.  And he certainly created a compelling mythology.  But his stories were always about people...

Enter IT.  The 2017 Muschetti IT and not the (inferior) 1990 miniseries.

SPOILER ALERT:  The town of Derry, Maine sees a sudden rash of disappearances, and a handful of kids discover the culprit's a monster.  Read the book or see the film.

Disclaimer:  This is a movie adaptation, so it doesn't perfectly follow the original book, which begins with adult characters in the 80s being summoned back to Derry and recalling their childhoods in the 50s - and the evil they temporarily defeated.  The movie focuses on the childhood end of things, with a planned sequel for the adult reckoning.  That said, a few scenes are missing or changed.  Most notably, a giant bird and the animated Paul Bunyan statue.  But movies flow differently, so I mostly forgive them...        

We all float down here...

OK, first things first.  The movie is well cast and acted.  The banter between the kids is a bit frantic at times, but I imagine my own adolescent ramblings were at least as much, if not worse.  And the decision to shift this portion of the story to the 80s was a truly inspired move by the producers.  Some have made unflattering comparisons to Stranger Things.  But I think the choice had more to do with giving contemporary audiences a sense of nostalgia they could relate too.  Remember, the kids come back 27 years later to finish things, and that works out to being roughly in the present day for moviegoers.

At any rate, there's enough 80s pop culture going around that even youngsters can relate to its imagined yesterday and, really, those days weren't all that different (and the movie would doubtless lose some of its magic if the kids were face down and transfixed by their cell phones all the time anyway).  So younger audiences get both a feeling of familiarity plus a glimpse into a lost, but relatable, past.  All in all, a sound choice.  Now, I straddled two decades (I turned 13 in 1980), so it really hit the sweet spot for this reviewer!

And the cinematography?  Well, it certainly delivers.  Its perspective and timing is eerily effective, and the famous scene with Georgie in the rain works perfectly.  I don't like violence against children.  Not one bit.  And I'm not a huge fan of suffering or splatter flicks that glorify it, so this was a little hard to watch on the face of it.  But it's part of the story, after all.  This scene, to me, was the most important indicator (and an early one at that) as to how well the film would perform.  A clown in a sewer drain is pretty ridiculous imagery, so you have to get into the head of a little boy and create something both seductive and menacing  (I've always thought that the two overlap).  And it works because Pennywise is depicted as just human enough in dark shadows, and because Muschetti wisely retained King's original dialogue.  Let's just say I was both pleased and disturbed. 

What the @#$% is this?  The 1990 
miniseries was a floater of a different kind...

Now, something that stands out is how kid-centric the film manages to be.  Adults exist, obviously, and we see glimpses of them all.  But this is mostly a story about kids at a time in their lives when they stop being appendages of their parents and start forging their own identities and relationships.  And sometimes, the adults become the villains by proxy and, in the case of Beverly's character, actual villains of the worst sort.  We see glimpses of who they are through the effect they've had on their children, and this helps keep the emphasis squarely where it belongs.  It's an approach that only occasionally falls flat.

But what about the film's titular villain?  Pennywise the Clown is played with fiendish enthusiasm by Bill Skarsgard and is both closely human and horrifically, well, off.  The depiction works.  One thing I didn't like about the 1990 miniseries (aside from pretty much everything) was how common Pennywise appeared.  He (she/it) just looked like a clown with bad oral hygiene.  And the garb was too similar to what you might see at the circus today.  But Muschetti's version achieves something positively baroque; an outfit from another century that's creepy and profane in the way early black and white pictures are creepy and profane.  It's the grotesque imagery of 1865's advertising.   

And, of course, CGI helps.  Pennywise is portrayed as the cosmic entity "he" truly is (read the book, people), deadlights and all (really, read that book).  And there's something vaguely spider-like in its movements, which also plays into the story, albeit in the inevitable sequel.  This isn't Freddy Krueger or some other lame (and generalized) thing of earthly evil (I like literary horror and not the swill served up in most horror films).  And because the original book began in the so-called present, with a grown-up Loser's Club returning to Derry to end things for good, we know the sequel isn't destined to be some cheap extrapolation of a superior original.  This, alone, gives me high hopes... 

Now, a word about scares.  A few have complained about the lack of them.  I find this absurd because the scenes where each character individually encounters Pennywise are pretty frightening and, in the case of Bill Denbrough, atmospheric and spooky.  But it's doubly absurd because scares are cheap thrills.  Scares are bullshit.  Going to war was scary.  So what?  I can't stand the vapid "jump-scare" crap (some of which was advertised in the trailers) being served up these days.  No, this is a story about people.  Young people facing off against evil and ultimately winning.  And the intended effect is more that of a knight entering a dragon's cave.  Scary, sure, but also rather heroic.

The film has its flaws.  Bill Denbrough's stuttering is shown, but never referenced.  Same with the spoken device used to counter it.  Likewise, Richie's penchant for silly voices is shown in dialogue, but the "beep, beep" reference (used only once in the movie) is likewise never explained and would doubtless fall flat with the uninitiated.  Hurried editing, perhaps?  Maybe an extended DVD release can fix this, and maybe that's the plan.

At a little over two hours, IT never drags.  The film does what it needs to, although I found myself wishing for just a little more.  Movies aren't books.  They can't achieve the third person deep King is known for, leaving the audience to rely on their eyes and the dialogue to get the point across.  And this one pulls it off where the miniseries failed.

And so Stephen King gets what he deserves.  A movie franchise (of sorts) and an adaptation that actually works.  And no John-Boy as Bill Denbrough either.  Yep, that's a bonus!