Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Watching Again: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Here is my first reflection on these movies, which were highly influential on the development of Treasure Hunter Adventures


Watching Again—Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Here are my thoughts for the film that comes first in chronological order.

  • What if the engraving of the mountain on the gong in Club Obi-Wan was a treasure map in its own right? That could be a fun challenge, making a copy of the engraving (or even stealing the gong outright!).

  • Lao Che makes a good recurring villain, one who is not crucial to this adventure, but who is powerful and could seek revenge against Indy.

  • Given the tendency in the 1980s to add young kids to aging TV series, one might first balk at having Short Round as Indy's sidekick for this adventure. I disagree, for two reasons. One I will explain later. The other is seeing these two actors reunited during the recent Academy Awards, and recognizing the respect that they have for each other.

  • I'm not sure that I could handle the Willie Scott character for a whole campaign, but she makes a fun foil for Indy on this adventure.

  • The bit about using the life raft to jump out of the airplane may seem silly, but it's just the kind of thing that, if the players wanted to try it, then the GM should let them. I can imagine Strength checks to hang on during the fall, and then Boating to steer it, first down the mountainside and then through the river rapids.

  • It is an interesting plot element, to have the heroes crash land due to previous conflicts, when the locals interpret it as divine providence.

  • Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory.”

  • I recognize the risk of portraying different ethnic groups as villains and running into negative stereotypes, which is an issue in this film. The dinner scene is evidence of this.

  • The dinner scene does provide an example of a character's previous actions catching up with him, as Indy is called out about his “misunderstanding” in Madagascar.

  • The “black sleep of Kali” is one of those plot devices that can be fun if used once, but should not be overdone. Players don't like having the GM take over their characters.

  • That brings us to the point where the heroes' decisions raise the emotional stakes in the scenario. Once they decide to free the children, this is about much more than finding fortune and glory through treasure hunting.

  • And then we move into a great sequence of set-piece combat scenes. From the fight on the conveyor belt, to the mine cart chase, to the confrontation on the bridge, the story moves from one exciting and dramatic moment to another.

  • I can picture the Chase rules being used during the minecart scene, with the opposing parties finding themselves in better or worse situations.

  • The bridge scene, then, seems like one of those times when the players' decisions have put their characters into an untenable situation, but one of them devises a strategy for turning the tables. Kudos to the GM for allowing the tactic to work, if the rolls confirm it.

  • Short Round's fight with the Maharaja pays its dividends when the ruler—having himself been saved from the Black Sleep—brings Captain Blumburrt brings his soldiers to snipe at the Thuggee archers.

  • The conclusion, given that we don't see Shortie or Willie in Raiders, leaves me wondering whatever happened to those characters. In an RPG, of course, they could pop up once again in future adventures.

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