The Alexandrian

IN THE SHADOW OF THE SPIRE

Session 4B: Research and Developments

In which an innocent elf finds herself in the company of ruffians, a multitude of musty tomes are methodically mused upon, and our hearty heroes ennumerate the enigmas which confront them…

As I write this, In the Shadow of the Spire has been running for more than one hundred sessions. The complete campaign journal for this enormous saga, although not currently complete, has just crossed the 500,000 word mark.

Half a million words obviously represents a tremendous amount of labor on my part. So why do it? What’s the function of the campaign journal? Why take the extra effort to create it?

Primarily, it’s because I’ve found that a well-executed campaign journal improves the quality of the game. It can also help sustain the campaign: Having a detailed journal makes it substantially easier for a campaign that’s been placed on sabbatical to come “back from the dead” because players can rapidly get back up to speed on what’s happening by reviewing the journal. For similar reasons, the campaign journal can also make it easier to integrate new players into a long-running campaign.

So, what are the necessary functions of the campaign journal?

First, it’s a record of events. It’s the official canon of the campaign which can be consulted when memories become dim. It, therefore, needs to accurately record a totality of significant events that occur at the gaming table.

This poses a couple of interesting challenges: First, it can often be unclear whether or not something will become important to the campaign until several sessions later. (For example, I don’t find it unusual for a random NPC created off-the-cuff in one session to suddenly be one of the most important characters in the entire campaign ten sessions later.) So you need to adopt a fairly permissive attitude about what does and doesn’t merit inclusion.

As the GM, you also need to watch out for favoring the “true account” when mysteries are present in the campaign. For example, if the PCs are trying to figure out which noble scion is secretly a werewolf it can be a little too easy to only include that clues that point at the true culprit (because you know that those are the only things that are actually “important”) while leaving out all the red herrings the PCs are pursuing.

I find I’m particularly liable to do this when including various theories posited by the players: If the players posit a theory that’s true, I’m partial to including that in the journal because they’ve “figured it out” (even if they haven’t actually confirmed that theory yet). So I make a conscious effort to include a wide sampling of the various theories they posit during a session. (The material in the “Research and Development” section of the journal this week is an example of this. In this case, recording all of their unanswered questions also served as a helpful reference for the players.)

Second, it’s a piece of fiction. I believe that reading a campaign journal is a form of entertainment, albeit one which can often only be enjoyed idiosyncratically.

On a few occasions I’ve had players suggest that I should take a campaign journal and publish it as a short story or novel. I take that as a compliment, but it wouldn’t actually work: The journal’s role in faithfully capturing the events that happened at the table preclude its functioning as a proper piece of narrative fiction. But I do attempt to relate those events with effective prose, vivid descriptions, and dramatic moments.

I don’t think that you necessarily need to have played in a campaign in order to enjoy a well-written journal of that campaign. But I think that reading (and enjoying) a campaign journal is a very different experience than reading a novel. In fact, I think it has a lot more in common with reading a piece of non-fiction. I’d suggest that a good campaign journal in many ways blends the skills of a newspaper reporter with those of a fiction writer.

Third, the journal is a memento of the moment. Like yearbooks and diaries and photographs, one can revisit the journals from bygone campaigns and relive the memories of time well spent. When I read through the campaign journal for In the Shadow of the Spire, for example, I have a very different experience from virtually everyone reading this because I am not just recalling the experience of the characters but also the experience of the game table.

Capturing those memories of the table itself in the journal can be somewhat difficult to balance with the desire to create an immersive piece of fiction. In some cases, it’s impossible. (I maintain a small file of memorable, out-of-character quotes, for example, in a separate document.) In other cases, I try to find ways to capture in the fiction a reminder of what was happening beyond it.

For example, in the journal for the first part of Session 4, you may have been wondering why I included things like:

(Ranthir, with his keen vision, quickly found the book he was looking for.)

And:

(Ranthir narrowly avoided dropping a priceless and delicate volume of ancient poetry… thus averting potential disaster.)

These a rather poor reflection of something that was truly hilarious in the actual session: As described in the journal, Ranthir remained behind at a library while the other players went off to watch Helmut Itlestein’s political rally. When the rally devolved into a riot, I began calling for various group skill checks: Spot checks to notice what Helmut was up to. Reflex saves to stay on their feet in the midst of the mob. And so forth.

Since I was calling for “everyone” to make the check, Ranthir’s player started making the same checks… and then he or I would interpret how the check was relevant to his research back at the library. And since, of course, the checks were radically inappropriate for the sort of activities you’d normally engage in while in a library, there were two layers of humorous contrast at play: The sharp cuts from the riot back to a quiet library and the implication that Ranthir was facing jeopardy to life and limb from musty tomes.

OTHER JOURNALS

Of course, some people will only be interested in a subset of these three goals.

There are also journals written by players. These serve similar functions (keeping notes, etc.), but the difference in perspective often results in a completely different sort of document. Such journals can also serve as extended acts of roleplaying, allowing players a unique avenue for exploring the thoughts and opinions of their character in depth.

Ptolus - In the Shadow of the Spire

IN THE SHADOW OF THE SPIRE

SESSION 4B: RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENTS

April 7th, 2007
The 18th Day of Amseyl in the 790th Year of the Seyrunian Dynasty

TEE AT THE COCK PIT

Instead of retiring, however, Tee took advantage of the evening hours in order to track down the Cock Pit. She was successful, discovering that the Cock Pit was, in fact, an illegal gambling house run by someone named Naosh (presumably the same Naosh that Toridan Cran had made the 100 gp payment to). It also turned out that, while Naosh ran the Cock Pit, the place was actually controlled by someone named Aggah-Shan.

Tee decided to try going to the Cock Pit by herself (suspecting, perhaps, that the less than subtle methods of some of her compatriots might be less than effective in an underground gambling den). She easily found the place she’d been told to go – a nondescript and unmarked warehouse – and knocked on the door. After a cursory inspection by three guards (“Whaddya want?” “I’m here to gamble.” “Go right in.”) Tee entered a surprisingly lavish gambling hall. Guards were posted conspicuously at several locations, including the main hallway that led out of the area.

Tee asked some questions, tried to flirt unsuccessfully with one of the guards (“Elves not your thing, huh? Your loss.”) in order to see what was further down the hall, and then cashed in 20 gold pieces to play the copper ante tables. Over the next hour she gambled with a fair amount of success (ending up on the night) and continued asking questions, trying to find out whatever she could about Naosh and Aggah-Shan.

She wasn’t very successful. In fact, her questioning brought unwanted attention: A guard dropped a heavy hand on her shoulder and said, “Naosh wants to see you. Now.” Read more »

Go to Part 1

Red Carpet - Banksy

We’ve reached the end of the road: The dice have been rolled. The mechanics have determined success or failure.

Now the GM needs to describe that outcome. (They need to complete the fiction-mechanics cycle by bringing the result back into the fiction.)

If the result is a success, this usually means answering two key questions:

  • How does the intention succeed?
  • Are there any complications (i.e., unintended side effects)?

If the result is a failure, the questions are:

  • How does the action fail?
  • What are the consequences of failure?

The process we talked about in Fictional Cleromancy sort of naturally elides into this: As you’re thinking about graduated results, you’re thinking about what the potential outcomes of the action can be. You can usually just carry these thoughts forward through the mechanical resolution.

The actual narration of what’s happening in the game world is, of course, more art than science. But when it comes to describing outcome, there are a few general principles that you can keep in mind.

INTERNAL vs. EXTERNAL FACTORS

First, consider the question of why the outcome happened. What were the determining factors?

Bear in mind that both internal and external factors can influence the outcome of a skill check. (The distinction here is between failing to crack the safe because you’re simply not skilled enough and failing to crack the safe because your lockpick was defective and snapped off.) A lot of GMs default exclusively to the former (the character made a skill check; the check was a failure; therefore it was the character’s fault), but it’s arguably more effective to remember that the randomness of the dice models the entire situation, not just variance in the character’s ability: Sometimes you fail a Steath check because a guard comes around the corner at exactly the wrong time. You fail a Jump check because the ground is unexpectedly slippery. And so forth.

Another way of thinking about this is that, in any given skill check, there are myriad factors that determine its ultimate success and failure. Some of these factors – generally the ones we care about the most – are known. (For example, in D&D we’re always interested in whether a character’s armor will protect them from an attack, so their AC is always factored into the attack roll.) A lot of factors, however, aren’t important enough or consistent enough for us to want to specifically track them, so we use a random number generator to account for all the different factors that could impact the success or failure of any given action (and then trust to the GM to adjudicate the result accordingly).

For example, let’s say that the PC goes to a library and makes a Research test in order to find a particular piece of information. The test fails. The GM decides that it’s because the library doesn’t own a copy of the book that would contain the information.

Some people struggle with this because, if the book wasn’t present in the library, then the PC shouldn’t have had any chance at success on their Research test. This is a fundamental misunderstanding, however: Nobody at the table knows that the book isn’t there until the fictional cleromancy of the random number generator (combined with the GM’s ruling of what that outcome means) gives them that information. The library’s ownership of the necessary book is just one of a multitude of different external factors that could result in failure. (Other external factors might include whether the books has been checked out; if the book has been shelved incorrectly; has the book been damaged; does the book exist at all; and so forth.) The point is that we don’t care about any of these external factors enough to track it or model it mechanically, and so they all get abstractly bundled into the random number generator.

And, because all of these factors are bundled into the random number generator, it’s the GM’s responsibility to creatively unbundle them as they describe the outcomes of action resolution.

But what if we DO care about whether or not the specific book we want is available in this specific library? Well, in that case the GM would specifically determine that – through a listing of all the books in the library; or a list of all the places where that book exists; or maybe through a random percentile check – and then, like the armor bonus to AC, directly factor it into the success or failure of the Research test. (For example, if the GM knows that only one copy of the book survives anywhere in the world and they know that copy isn’t in this library, the Research test would automatically fail.) But when you make an external factor like this explicit, it’s no longer part of the abstract factors being modeled by the random die roll.

(It should be fairly obvious, of course, that no matter how many factors you make explicit there will always be factors you haven’t accounted for when you’re making a skill check. If there weren’t, in fact, you wouldn’t be making the skill check: You’d simply be defaulting to yes or saying no. Saying that the outcome of the action is random is inherently saying that there are factors that may or may not affect the outcome.)

FACTORS INFLUENCING OUTCOME

The ways in which characters can succeed or fail are as varied and limitless as the panoply of actions they can attempt in the first place. With that being said, there are some general principles you can keep in mind when describing outcomes.

SKILL: The most obvious of potential factors. Sometimes you have the best game of your life and sometimes you screw up and fall on your face. A lot of things can impact success or failure, but sometimes you succeed because you’re just that good (or fail because you’re just not good enough).

KNOWLEDGE: Is the character familiar with this particular model of safe? Do they recognize the patterns in a game of chess? Sometimes having just the right piece of information makes the difference between success and failure.

POWER: Sometimes people succeed because they just put more power into the attempt, or fail because they didn’t. A guard raises his sword to parry the barbarian’s blow, but her mighty thews sweep it aside and crush the guard’s skull.

FINESSE: And sometimes actions succeed because of the precision with which they are performed.

ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS: Slippery floors. Frigid weather. Jammed locks. Floors that buckle under foot. Piles of fetid garbage that get in the way of your swinging sword.

TIME REQUIRED: How much time does it take to complete the action? High margins of success might indicate that the action took less time for the character to perform. A failure might result from something taking too long.

LUCK: Sometimes the biggest reason a character succeeds is because they’ve gotten lucky. The giant’s sword was going to take their head off, but it deflected off a falling piece of rubble. They were about slide off a cliff to certain doom, but they grabbed a piece of scrub brush and miraculously its roots held.

THE TARGET: Whether the target is an object or a person actively opposing the character, they can obviously have an impact on the success or failure of an action. These are the locks that are devilishly difficult or the gullible guard who easily falls for your lie.

BYSTANDERS: In addition to the character directly targeted by an action, it’s possibly for other characters to either interfere or assist in the attempt (whether wittingly or unwittingly).

TOOLS: You’re only as good as your tools. Lockpicks break, elven blades slide through seams in armor, inferior IC makes a system vulnerable, and luck charms crafted by your beloved can give the edge in a mystic duel.

These obviously don’t represent the totality of factors that can affect outcome, but hopefully they’ll provide a little inspiration.

(Way back in 1999 I wrote Dice of Destiny for Pyramid Magazine which mechanized this process by assigning qualities similar to these factors to individual dice in a dice pool system. If you find yourself struggling to diversify your outcome descriptions, you might want to check it out.)

MAKING FAILURE INTERESTING

Something else to remember is that the gatekeeper of mechanical resolution is that failure should be interesting, meaningful, or both. In other words, it should have consequences.

This can be one advantage of using external factors in explaining failure: If the character’s research at the library reveals that the book they need only exists in one place, for example, their next action will be to figure out how to get access to it.

What this means, in practice, is that failure generally should NOT cause a return to the status quo. This doesn’t necessarily mean failing forward, but it’s usually best if the outcome of an action – regardless of success or failure – should in some way change the situation. FATE refers to this as “blaming the circumstances”, and the advantage is that the new situation creates new options (which prevent the situation from stagnating or becoming a dead end).

(All of this also applies to success, but as I’ve mentioned previously this generally takes care of itself: Success implies that the character is one step closer to achieving their goals.  A stated intention can almost always be summarized as “I want to change the current situation” and, therefore, the success of that intention automatically carries with it a change in the current situation.)

KEEP IT PITHY

Vivid descriptions are great, but try to get the ball back to your players ASAP.

A necessary corollary of making the outcome of an action interesting by giving it consequences it that you will have created a situation which (ideally) demands a fresh response from the PCs. Once you’ve established that new context, give the player’s the opportunity to make that response.

PLAYER DESCRIPTION

Instead of narrating the outcome themselves, a GM can instead prompt a player to provide the description. (Often this is the player attempting the action, although it can also be outsourced to other players at the table.)

For example, the GM might say, “You’re spotted as you try to sneak onto the mansion’s grounds. Who spots you?” Or, “You make a loud noise as you climb in through the roof. What’s the noise and how are you responsible?”

(Providing specific improvisation prompts like this – instead of simply asking a generic, “How do you fail?” – is generally more effective because it focuses the player’s response. You’re less likely to get a blank look if you ask a player to finish painting a picture instead of just handing them an empty canvass.)

Using the technique in this form grants the player a limited degree of narrative control. As such, it tends to work great in storytelling games (where it becomes part of a wider tapestry of methods for sharing narrative control). When used in a roleplaying game, on the other hand, I’ve generally found it problematic: It doesn’t really give the players any narrative autonomy (since they can only take narrative control when the GM gives it to them), but periodically forces them into a potentially disruptive and undesired authorial stance.

(In other words, if you want players to have that kind of narrative control, you’re probably better off playing a game that’s designed to do that.)

But that’s not the be-all or end-all of the technique. Instead of having the player get into an authorial stance and describe how the external world affects their character’s intention, you can instead have the mechanical result serve as an improv seed that informs how they play out the scene.

This can be particularly useful for social scenes: Instead of playing out an entire seduction attempt and then rolling to see if it succeeds, for example, you can make a Seduction attempt and then roleplay the scene based on the mechanical result.

This, however, begins to transition us into a discussion of fortune positioning, which is what we’ll covering in the next installment of the Art of Rulings.

Go to Part 10

Orange Juice with Juicy BitsSo, as most of you know, I’ve been working as the line developer on Modiphius Entertainment’s Infinity roleplaying game. Although I live in the middle of America, Modiphius is based out of London. I’ve had to make a lot of adjustments to my time zones, my culture, and even my writing style. (You may have noticed a few UK spellings of words back-creeping onto the Alexandrian.) But if you’re going to do an honourable (ah, there it is) job of it, that’s just what you have to do.

But I’ve also been working with other American freelancers, and I’ve noticed that some of them struggle with the British-isms more than others. Everybody knows you say “flat” instead of “apartment” and you use “lift” instead of “elevator”, but there are more esoteric examples, too. For example, if you’ve ever been to the UK you may have noticed that many of the orange juice containers there are labeled as containing “Juicy Bits”. Most Americans assume that this is just another cultural synonym and buy the orange juice thinking that it’s going to contain what we call “pulp”.

This, however, is just a common misunderstanding.

The “juicy bits” in this case actually refers to the pornographic pictures or text which are sold with the orange juice. This is kind of a weird tradition in England, but it dates back to the 19th century when Queen Victoria signed a law outlawing the sale of pornographic material. However, there was a loophole in the law which allowed the pornography to be given away for free. As a result, the street pornographers would essentially “disguise” themselves as orange sellers: You would buy an orange and they would wrap it for you with “free” pornographic content.

(It’s possible they got the idea from the French, who would wrap croissants with poetry. See Cyrano de Bergerac for a depiction of this practice.)

Eventually the laws were changed, of course, but by that point the whole orange-and-pornography thing had become traditional. This included wrapping glass bottles of orange juice with pornographic labels: As you drank the juice away, the pornographic images would slowly be revealed. A “moral outrage” in the mid-20th century caused the orange juice companies to temporarily eliminate the “juicy bits” OJ containers, but there was a backlash and so they reached a new compromise: They print the “juicy bits” inside the container.

Most people don’t bother of course, but next time you finish off a “juicy bits” container of OJ in the UK, cut it open and enjoy!

(One last thing: A few years ago there was a bit of a scandal because one of the OJ manufacturers thought they could get away without actually printing the “juicy bits” inside. It was never clear if it was a manufacturing mistake or if they were just trying to save money on the assumption that nobody really looked any more. In any case, there was a big kerfluffle about it. So if you cut open your container and there isn’t a “juicy bit” in there, make sure you call the company: They’ll have to provide with a free replacement.)

Batman vs. Superman - Dawn of Justice

Two and a half years ago, I concluded that Man of Steel was a thoroughly mediocre film. It was so thoroughly mediocre, in fact, that I wasn’t planning to see Batman vs. Superman in the theater. But yesterday a friend’s birthday celebration included a viewing of the film, and so I ended up seeing it after all. My conclusion?

This film is significantly less mediocre than Man of Steel.

I’m still not going to recommend that anyone see it in the movie theater, but I will say it’s probably worth checking out after it hits the rental market. (And if the purported Director’s Cut actually materializes, I’ll even go so far as to watch the movie again to see if that will correct any of the film’s flaws.)

The biggest difference is that the core storytelling elements of Batman vs. Superman (unlike its predecessor) are not fundamentally broken through a combination of incoherence and inconsistency: The first half of this movie is not about Pa Kent being portrayed as a pillar of virtue while teaching Clark to never become Superman; nor does its second half feature numerous scenes of Superman being completely indifferent to civilian casualties before breaking an “I Don’t Kill” rule that the film never bothers establishing because four people are being threatened.

But while Batman vs. Superman doesn’t share Man of Steel‘s big, macro-scale problems, it shares a similar plethora of bone-achingly stupid errors of execution. What drags the film down (and prevents me from calling it a truly good movie) are the plot holes, thematic inconsistencies, and a simple lack of care and craft. There are some truly amazing and wonderful moments in the film, but the whole enterprise has been weighted down with stupidity and shoved off the end of a pier.

SPOILERS AHEAD

I am not going to attempt to catalog every stupid thing that the movie does. This will instead just be a sampling of the nearly constant, low-level failures of basic scriptwriting and film-craft that Batman vs. Superman suffers from.

Let’s start at the beginning: Superman is framed for killing a bunch of terrorists by a mercenary team who shoots the terrorists with a bunch of bullets… Since when did Superman use a gun? If you saw Superman somewhere and then found a bunch of bullet-riddled corpses, what possible leap of logic would make you say, “Superman must have done that!” (What’s even weirder is that the mercenaries use very special bullets that can be tracked back to Lex Luthor. The bullets don’t actually have any special properties that make them better for shooting a bunch of terrorists and there is absolutely no reason why you wouldn’t just use normal bullets. But, sure, use the bullets that can be traced straight back to you. Why not?)

Adding to this oddity is the fact that all of this happens directly in front of Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Lois Lane. But for some reason she… never writes the story? Nobody cares what an actual eyewitness has to say?

(There’s also a bit in this sequence where Jimmy Olsen is a CIA agent who is pretending to be her camera man and gets himself shot in the head. Lois also never reports that the CIA nearly got her killed. Snyder then continues the trend of pointlessly killing supporting cast members from his source material by having Lex Luthor send Mercy Graves to die in a bomb explosion for absolutely no reason whatsoever.)

Lois’ entire arc for the rest of the film, however, is investigating what really happened at the terrorist compound. She does, in fact, figure out that Lex Luthor is behind all of it. Bizarrely, however, this has absolutely no impact on the film because she never tells Superman (or anyone else) about this despite having multiple opportunities to do so. (Amy Adam’s Lois Lane — like Cavill’s Superman, Affleck’s Batman, Gadot’s Wonder Woman, Irons’ Alfred, Fishburne’s Perry White, and… well, basically every single actor and character in the movie — deserves so much better than what Snyder is apparently capable of giving them.)

There is, in fact, a lot of, “Just freakin’ SAY IT you idiot!” problems to be found here, as if the movie had been penned by the writers room for a mediocre sitcom. Lois, for example, realizes that somebody knows that she can be used as bait for Superman and, in fact, has been doing exactly that… but then just completely fails to tell Superman that, either. Later, Superman refuses to simply say to Batman, “Hey! Lex Luthor is playing us!” opting instead to say, “Just listen to me!” over and over and over again while walking slowly towards him triggering a series of pressure plate traps. (Although why you would build pressure plates to target somebody who can fly is a little mind-boggling in its own right.)

Speaking of the fight with Batman, the entire basis of Batman’s anger with Superman is a result of Superman’s seemingly callous disregard for incidental damage and civilian casualties during the battle at the end of the Man of Steel. If that’s going to be the ethical backbone of the film, however, you can’t have Batman’s big solo action scene in the middle of the film feature… tons of incidental civilian casualties. (Or, if you do, there should be some self-reflection or at least authorial reflection upon it. This film, on the other hand, just doesn’t seem to realize what it’s done.)

On a similar note: Batman, having forged the Spear of Kryptonite Destiny to fight Superman, leaves it in Gotham after realizing that Superman is actually just a guy trying to do the right thing. (Which, I may note, is realized in a moment that is absolutely fantastic.) Seeing Doomsday, he realizes that he needs the Spear. So he decides to go back to Gotham, get the Spear real quick, and then come back to where Doomsday is. Ha, ha! Just kidding! He decides to lead Doomsday into the city to where the Spear is.

Speaking of that Spear: After Batman chooses not to kill Superman, he throws it aside. Lois Lane picks it up and decides she wants to get rid of it so that no one can use it against Superman again. So she walks over to a stairwell twenty feet away (which is flooded for some reason) and… throws it in. “Ha, ha!” she thinks to herself. “No one will ever find it in this shallow pool!”

Five minutes later, completely ignorant of Doomsday or the fact that the Spear would now be useful, Lois suddenly gets an, “Oh shit!” look on her face and goes back to retrieve the Spear. (I can only conclude that she suddenly realized that what she did with it was really stupid.)

Most of this litany is dwelling on basic logic problems in the storytelling. That’s largely because they’re easy to explicate. There’s also a lot of pretty basic problems with things like editing and pacing. One clear-cut example happens just before the confrontation between Superman and Batman: We’ve just had a big face-off between Superman and Lex Luthor. Luthor reveals that he has kidnapped Martha Kent and, unless Superman kills Batman, he’ll have her killed. Superman has acquiesced. We cut to Luthor’s henchman placing a timer next to Martha telling her when she’ll be killed. We cut to Superman telling Lois that he has to go convince Batman to help him… or kill him. Superman flies up into the sky. We cut to…

… Wonder Woman checking her e-mail? Yup. And then we get a 4 minute scene in which she literally clicks on a series of e-mail attachments, each showing a video of one of the future members of the Justice League. These videos are pretty cool, but they’re completely irrelevant. Whoever said, “We should interrupt this rising tension here to lay some pipe for our cinematic universe.” should be taken outside and shot.

(This sequence also creates a weird continuity glitch where Wonder Woman walks into her hotel, checks her e-mail, and then five minutes later is boarding a commercial airline flight.)

Finally, let me mention the really bizarre dream sequences that stud the Bruce Wayne story. As far as I can tell, these seem to exist primarily to generate footage that could be included in the trailers. (It’s possible that the most self-indulgent of them is an actual “vision from the future”, but even as such the narrative role it plays in this film is dwarfed by the amount of film time it chews up.)

With all of that being said, there are also a number of things that the film does very well. The opening of the film (showing the end of Man of Steel from a different angle) is really clever. The first Batman action sequence shows us a version of Batman that is scary, effective, and utterly unique. Heck, the first appearance of Wonder Woman in all her glory is almost worth watching the movie for all by itself. (I’m listening to Zimmer’s exceptional Wonder Woman theme as I’m writing this.) In fact, the best compliment I can pay the film is that it made me much more interested in seeing Wonder Woman. And Warner Brothers needs to greenlight a Ben Affleck directed solo Batman movie ASAP.

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