Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

I Have a Column at Castalia House Now…

My first post at Castalia House went up on Monday:

REVIEW: Fate of the Kinunir by Robert E. Vardeman

While my personal blog here has grown considerably in the past year or so, writing at this new location will give me an opportunity to reach a much larger and more diverse audience. I see that as being good for both the hobby and for me as a writer. At the very least, the exercise will get me out of the echo chamber of my own making. You see, I’ve spent the past ten years struggling to become both comprehensible and relevant to people that have a passion for classic games. So when this last review went out, I wasn’t terribly surprised when I got feedback from a Traveller fan that looked like this:

I had an Imperial Marine with Cutlass-3. I thought it was pretty worthless till I found myself on a world with an exotic atmosphere behind three pirates marching along in space suits. So yeah, more swordplay in Traveller, please! Seriously excellent lampshading there and a nice review.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to write for hard core Traveller fans? It’s tough! But here’s the response I got from a non-gaming science fiction fan:

I’m disappointed that the first paragraphs in Johnson’s review forced me to wonder “What the heck is he talking about?” He needed more editorial direction. However, it’s great to see Vardeman’s working getting some attention.

Ouch! The funny thing about this… I was specifically trying to communicate to an audience that had no familiarity with Traveller. I thought I was bending over backwards to accommodate those people… but I was completely failing to connect, convey, and inform. No, I just sounded like this to them: “bar bar bar bar bar bar bar.” Doh!

Although I have my work cut out for me, this is exactly the sort of thing I was signing up for. While I expect the next few weeks to have its ups and downs as I attempt to acclimate to the new venue, I would of course be pleased if my regular readers from here could follow along with me there. Thanks for your support so far. If this new thing turns out not to be your thing, I understand. But something tells me that a stint as a small fish in a big pond is exactly where I need to be right now as long as I can swing it….

Cheers, tally ho, and all that….

— Jeff

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11 responses to “I Have a Column at Castalia House Now…

  1. Chris Mata June 11, 2014 at 10:45 am

    There is no way in hell the second guy is a sci-fi fan or gamer. What in the hell else would you be talking about? I criticize my fair share but Jesus Christo!

  2. Jason Packer June 11, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Prior to this blog post, I hadn’t taken any note of the place you chose to publish your review. Having done so, I’m not sure it’s safe to assume your audience knows anything about RPGs. The Venn Diagram of “reactionary SFF fans” and “tabletop gamers” isn’t an empty set, but it’s certainly not a guaranteed to be a large one either.

    But, live and learn. Maybe some time spent in discussing the source material is worthwhile in such a review, and maybe simply alluding to it is sufficient. Hard to say for sure.

    • Alex June 11, 2014 at 11:59 am

      Yeah, but it is like a dude is reading Dragonlance and didn’t notice that it says Dungeons & Dragons several times on the cover. It wasn’t like he was going on about Monster Manual Rakshasa in a review of Zelazny’s Lord of Light.

    • jeffro June 11, 2014 at 12:18 pm

      If the readership there has “great appreciation for the golden age of science fiction and fantasy literature”, then I’d expect them to have at least some interest in how that literature impacts the earliest role playing games. We’ll see.

      • Jason Packer June 12, 2014 at 12:26 am

        Seems logical to you and me, Jeff, but I’m not sure it actually plays out in real life. I can’t tell you the number of SFF fans I have known who have either no knowledge of, or active derision for, “D&D” – the catch-all name for all RPGs in their limited, backward lives.

  3. Alex June 11, 2014 at 11:55 am

    “I AM READING GAMING FRANCHISE BOOKS AND KNOW NOTHING ABOUT GAMING EXCEPT THAT THIS REVIEW IS CONFUSING!”

    Congratulations on the extra gig! Great review, too.

  4. Alex June 11, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Lastly: I have no familiarity with Traveler. Your review made perfect sense and makes me regret skipping your posts where you talk about Traveler.

  5. Pingback: Traveller Book Review – I Have a Column at Castalia House Now… | Bravo Zulu

  6. Pingback: Nine Princes In Amber And X2 Castle of Amber – Hooc Ott

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