Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Blog Watch: The Best Offer, Pyramidal Edifices, Elite Alumni, and Inhuman Fey

Books (File770) There Will Be War, Volumes II, III and IV Now Available — “There seems to be some question about why Castalia is the publisher. It’s simple, really: they made the best offer. My first inclination for the whole series was to have my agent publish the whole series, but she was reluctant to do the bookkeeping and royalty payments to 20+ contributors per book for ten books; she hasn’t the office staff for that nor the computer skills to automate it.”

The Seventies are Unsurpassed! (Twitter) Sudeep Reddy — “The typical male worker in the U.S. earned less in 2014 than in 1973 (adjusted for inflation.)”

Scary Bad Evil (church street energy system) Satanic High Priest, H.R. Giger — “Giger also designed an underground tunnel transportation system for Switzerland in the form of a pentagram, with a large pyramidal edifice at each point, or entrance. It should be noted that he trained as an architect.”

Setting Design (Dyvers) So There was this City Filled with Monsters . . . — “This isn’t some fruitless cultural war waged in the forums, across Twitter, and through online petitions. The stakes for the people of Dyvers actually matter because if they win they aren’t getting Target to stop dividing toys by Boys and Girls they’re getting the whole world to look at them and wish they were them. This is the old style of culture war where one city is attempting to set the tone for the rest of the world by bringing the best, brightest, and most creative together and changing everything that comes next. This is Paris, London, New York. This is the place you dreamed about going to from the first day realized that there was more to the world than just your own little town. This is Dyvers.”

D&D (Frothsof D&D) On-The-Fly Rulings In OD&D — “From a player standpoint, consider this as freedom. Freedom to try whatever you like in combat, whatever you like in a social situation, whatever you like period. This doesn’t mean you will be successful. Indeed, this doesn’t always mean you will even have a chance of success. You know your strengths and weaknesses, but that doesn’t mean you cannot attempt something. Just know that your actions, and especially your failures, can have consequences.”

RPG Design (RpgPundit) A Quick Note on Using Social Skills vs. Actualy Roleplaying It — “Any ‘encouragement’ that makes how well you roleplay the character irrelevant if you roll the wrong die result is not actually encouragement, it’s discouragement. It’s telling you ‘don’t worry about trying to portray the character, just put your points in the right skills’.”

Television (SuperversiveSF) Firefly’s Dark Heart of Gold — “It’s by far the show’s weakest episode though, and an excellent example of how betraying the viewpoint of your story to preach a specific message does no good for either your story or your message. I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out how ‘Out of Gas’ or ‘Objects in Space’ never got nominated. THOSE are absolute masterpieces.”

Books (SuperversiveSF) Legacy Publishing’s Pyrrhic Victory: Indie and Amazon Gain eBook Dominance — “The ratio of legacy to indie dollar sales on eBooks is almost exactly the reverse of the ratio of legacy author earnings to indie author earnings. The best interpretation of these data? Indie authors are massively outselling overpriced legacy eBooks. An eventuality unforeseen by the Big Five has thrown a wrench in their plans. Readers and authors are leaving legacy publishers for indie, reader-centric traditional publishers like Baen, and small publishers like Castalia House.”

Appendix N (Comic Book Brain) Solar Invasion Cover – Frazetta — “In the end many Frazetta paintings seem more reminescent of sculpting, with unfinished areas, than to the craftsmanship of illustrators. This skill of focusing on certain special areas of a painting with intensive embellishing, then leaving other areas slap-dash and smeary with thin oil paint washes also recalls the tight focus and blurry backgrounds of movie cinematography.”

D&D (Farsight Blogger) Book Review – Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons & Dragons — “It boasts an elite class of alumni – Stephen Colbert, Robin Williams, and Junot Diaz all have spoken openly about their experience with the game as teenagers.”

D&D (Don’t Split the Party) Monks in First Edition:How Do They Do That?! — “Everything we know about the druids we have second hand through Greek and Roman sources with a smattering of other reports here and there. All we know is that they were a social class of people that included philosophers, legal scholars, and people that had something to do with religious practice. Druids are first mentioned about 500 B.C., first described about 50 B.C. and vanish from history by, oh, 300 A.D. The only ritual described is something we get from Pliny who heard it from… somebody, we aren’t sure who… and who wrote it as a footnote when describing mistletoe.”

D&D (Old School Wizardry) Dwimmermount with Middle Schoolers – I — “Passing the Red Doors of Dwimmermount’s first level with surprising ease, the party seemed quite interested in interacting with the various statues they found, going so far as to look for levers or ancient inscriptions. Soon, however, the party seemed to fall victim to the same odd, lemming-like spirit that I’ve seen strike many dungeon delvers of their age … despite a few suggestions that it might not be a wise course, they split the party … then spit it again.”

Movies (The Mary Sue) Remember How Creepy Disney’s Peter Pan Really Is Thanks to This Honest Trailer — “What I didn’t realize until much later, however, was that in addition to the racism and sexism in the film, how creepy Peter Pan as a concept is to begin with.”

Heresy (Hill Cantons) A Revised Thief Class for B/X or LL — “I don’t really like the pitifulness of the B/X version of the Thief. There’s just something about that d4 hit die and being not all that much better at things thievish at lower levels than your party mates, that doesn’t line up with the rose-tints of my AD&D memory with its ballsier thieves.”

Books (Cirsova) The Weirwoods, Thomas Burnett Swann — “Though they’re not ‘bad’, Fey are certainly inhuman, particularly in their reasoning and in their passions. Notions of love and gratitude as we understand them are alien. Their behavior cannot be predicted by the standards that one would apply to their fellow man, and that makes them dangerous.”

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5 responses to “Blog Watch: The Best Offer, Pyramidal Edifices, Elite Alumni, and Inhuman Fey

  1. malcolmthecynic October 14, 2015 at 8:22 am

    Anthony from Superversive SF here. Thank you for the link, much appreciated.

  2. BobtheCertifiedIdiot October 15, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    I would quibble slightly with the Druids bit.

    The last official human sacrifice of the Romans was during the second Punic war. By the third Punic war, human sacrifice was illegal in Rome and the Carthaginian practice of human sacrifice was used by Cato as a justification for the erasure of Carthage. There is reason to view the Roman practice of funerary death-matches, and later the circus, as an exception on this ban on human sacrifice.

    The Romans were aggressively syncratic. You can see this in the Odin-Mercury-Hermes, Tyr-Mars-Ares, and Thor-Jove-Zeus stuff. It is reasonable to view this as being a deliberate policy for the purpose of assimilating people to the empire.

    Rome faced a number of religious rebellions, but there are only two religions I am sure they never really managed to co-opt. Well, three if you count Judaism and Christianity separately. Those two probably don’t need much explanation. Druidism may.

    My explanation is that Druidism probably had human sacrifice as a very central practice, the Romans couldn’t co-opt it without legalizing that, and so did not.

    I think the neutral Druid is ahistoric. There is an SJW style argument that D&D Druids have taken the Barbarians the historic Druids incited against the Romans, and painted them as animals. Blah, blah, blah, dehumanizing, othering et cetera. If you have both animal sacrifice and the assumption that animal is a code word for human alien, modern D&D Druids become much closer to historic.

    This leads into my ranting about Rangers. Ninety nine years ago today, Tolkien was in The Somme. It is possible that he had contact with American fighting men, or researched them as a result of his experience. The ranger was a fighting man of the Americas. He inherited the military traditions of both the natives and the settlers, and would range between settlements, fighting their enemies. Aragorn seems to fit this model. If Tolkien’s ideology is a guide, Aragorn’s problem with the Orcs was not motivated by blood. It seems to match what drove the Rangers against the Indians, a matter of conflicting philosophies, or clash of civilizations. Or, dare I say it, alignment. Look at Black’s ‘A Ranger Born’.

    • Cirsova October 16, 2015 at 9:22 am

      Hmmm… The D&D ranger DID always seem more Natty Bumppo than Aragorn…

      • BobtheRegisterredFool October 16, 2015 at 5:17 pm

        Twain held such dislike for Cooper, that I suspect that Cooper got the Ranger wrong.

        1. There is a tendency to build the Indians up as more capable than they were, and magical. Yeah, being trained in a skill is a faster way to learn than figuring it out on your own. Yeah, the more you use a skill, the better you get. The various Indian tribes are far from being the only endemic warfare, light raiding infantry producing societies in history and prehistory. In fact, those are rather common. The Indians no more had a monopoly on good field-craft than some obscure Japanese school has on fighting now. (Someone getting ninja training and becoming an unkillable badass can be a good story.)
        2. Just looking at fur trader, fur trapper, and mountain man archetypes doesn’t give the full picture. Rogers’ Rules for Rangers describe a military force that operated in numbers, and probably wasn’t living off the land.
        3. Texas Rangers. Yeah, cavalry (well, dragoons) rather than light infantry. Yeah, they are now more law enforcement than military. They did have a similar mission.
        4. Compare and contrast the Airborne.

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