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Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Blog Watch: M3, Obsessive Body Covering, Punches in the Face, Dead Scouts, and Appendix E

Appendix N (Castalia House) RETROSPECTIVE: Creep, Shadow! by Abraham Merritt — “While it would be possible to borrow elements of this book in order to embellish the happenings around, say, the Chapel of Evil Chaos from the classic module B2, the events and characters presented here are beyond the scope of the typical D&D session. As a scenario for something like GURPS Horror, however, this is almost perfect.”

AD&D (Don’t Split The Party)  Are Only Swords Smart? And, if Not, What does this Mean? Part II — “So it looks like the low average hit points of magic-users (and to a lesser extent, clerics) makes them vulnerable to losing personality contests with intelligent items as they take damage.”

Appendix N (The Escapist)  Recommended Reading — “Most fantasy writers are influenced by Tolkien – either they are embracing him (like Robert Jordan), deconstructing him (like George R.R. Martin), or rejecting him (like Michael Moorcock). But Poul Anderson was a contemporary of J.R.R. Tolkien, and much of his best fantasy was published around the same time. This makes Anderson one of the few fantasy writers who were not influenced by Tolkien at all. Anderson was inspired by the same legendary sources as Tolkien, so his tales are replete with elves, wizards, and magic swords, but they are set in mythic Europe rather than Middle Earth. Christianity and paganism are explicit rather than implicit, and the medieval setting is far more authentic.”

Adventure Design (Dungeon of Signs) M3 Twilight Calling – Review — “Each of the realms is fairly interesting, and claim to be drawn from Medieval, likely alchemical, allegory. That’s a pretty great idea for a setting. It also is basically the plot of Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountain, but who am I to complain if TSR’s mid 80’s writers went beyond Tolkien for once looking for inspiration.”

Writing (The Paris Review) Barry Hannah, The Art of Fiction No. 184 — “Third-person singular, past tense, is most natural and inevitable, I guess. But you’d best beware the monotone in it and the temptations toward false wisdom, cleverness. First person is where you can be more interesting as a fool, and I find this often leads to the more delightful expedition. You don’t have to be much but a stumbling fool. The wisdom there is more precious than in the sage overview, which in many writers makes me nearly puke. I’m also wary of the glibness that third person invites.”

Get Off My Lawn (Save Versus Wands) The Good, the Bad and the Clothed — “Let’s assume that obsessive body covering is more ‘realistic’ (it isn’t but let’s assume it is). Does that mean that the pictorial representations must track that precisely? Well, the history of, say, science fiction and fantasy paperback book covers say No. Those of us who read such stuff have all had the experience of reading a novel or story where the cover doesn’t quite match up with what’s described.”

OSR (Semper Initiativus Unam) Two Copper Pieces on OSR History — “But the most important events were the publication of BFRPG and OSRIC, because they changed things fundamentally. Once BFRPG and AA#1 Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom were in print, there were now rules and adventures resembling those of the late 1970s and early 1980s, with no apologies, no parody elements, no conversion to 3e or a ‘modernized’ system. RPG products that were old school as a badge of pride.”

Rants (Taki’s Magazine) Never Trust Anyone Who Hasn’t Been Punched in the Face —  “Modern ‘civilized’ males don’t get in fistfights. They don’t play violent sports. They play video games and, at best, watch TV sports. Modern males are physical and emotional weaklings. The ideal male isn’t John Wayne or James Bond or Jimmy Stewart anymore. It’s some crying tit that goes to a therapist, a sort of agreeable lesbian with a dick who calls the police (whom he hates in theory) when there is trouble. The ideal modern male is the British shrimp who handed his pants over to the looter in south London.”

The Narrowing of Fantasy (Castalia House) REVIEW: A Short History of Fantasy — “Also of note are the sections about the cultural arguments and controversies that swirl around the genre. The authors claim in the intro that they are only interested in outlining these critiques, but they end up spending a fair amount of white space discussing, for example, the alleged racism in Lewis’ The Horse and the Boy and the alleged sexism regarding Susie Pevensie’s exclusion from paradise in The Last Battle. Some of these were new to me, and quite amusing (colonialism in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe??)”

Science Fiction (The Black Gate) Vintage Treasures: The Voyage of the Space Beagle by A. E. van Vogt — “Truth to tell, you need a mild tolerance for pulp fiction to fully enjoy it these days. But if you don’t have that, you have no soul, and we can’t be friends.”

Nerd Life ( The Death of Adulthood in American Culture: Nerd Culture Edition — “I would argue that reinterpreting the media you grew up with for a more general, adult audience is nothing new: George Lucas and Steven Spielberg found great success with this formula with Indiana Jones and Star Wars, which were inspired by the pulpy sci-fi serials they grew up with. This is taking nostalgia and reshaping it for a new audience. The fundamental difference with then and now is that then it was thematic—now it is branded. The idea of branding may not make all the difference, but it is a crucial point, especially where nerd culture is concerned.”

Science Fiction (The Black Gate) Beautiful Women, Alien Landscapes, and Santa Claus: An Ed Emshwiller Gallery — “Ed Emshwiller was one of the greatest cover artists our genre has ever known. He painted hundreds of covers for many SF digests and paperbacks, primarily Galaxy, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and the Ace Double line, starting in 1951 and continuing through the late 70s. His covers were filled with beautifully detailed alien settings, sultry and mysterious women, strange technology, and eye-catching fashions — frequently all at once….”

History (Alexander Solzhenitsyn) A World Split Apart — “A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course, there are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life.”

Traveller (Twilight of the GM) First In and the Last Ones Standing — “In retrospect a Scout is: someone with no better prospects taking a desperate gamble he will fit in and perhaps prosper, a very fit individual who has a good chance of living, and people assigned by the draft. So the agency tasked with exploration, communications, and alien contact is full of misfits, malcontents and a sizable minority of well adjusted leaders and teachers trying to impart some knowledge on the new people and hoping they’ll live long enough to be some use.”

Appendix N (Grognardia) Appendix N 2.0 — “I have always felt that Anderson’s influence was overlooked, in part becaue Moorcock’s reformulation of his Law vs. Chaos scheme is more widely known among gamers. Likewise, I grow ever more convinced that H. Rider Haggard and other Victorian adventure writers were a seminal and unacknowledged influence on D&D.”

Appendix N (Patrick Rothfuss) Thirty years of D&D — “But I’m not here to sing the praises of 5th edition. I’m here because of what shows up in the back of this 5th edition player’s handbook. Appendix E: Inspirational Reading….”

Raison D’être (The Escapist) Publisher’s Note: The State of Gaming — “Not everyone who plays games is a gamer. A gamer is a game enthusiast, a person whose primary hobby or avocation is the enjoyment of games. The ‘enjoyment of games’ is a deeper pursuit than merely playing them. It encompasses dedication towards their mastery; understanding of their history; commentary on the design; insight as to their relationships into the web of source material from which they are derived.”



2 responses to “Blog Watch: M3, Obsessive Body Covering, Punches in the Face, Dead Scouts, and Appendix E

  1. Alex October 1, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Man, got my week’s reading cut out for me. Y’know, I’m really glad that the Escapist was one of the few sites that didn’t completely crap all over themselves over this last month, given that they were the only non-tabletop gaming site I’d ever checked out.

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