Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Blog Watch: Dune’s Jews, Can-Do Optimism, Sesquipedalian Style, and Civilization’s Suicide Pact

Traveller (Tales to Astound!) TRAVELLER: Out of the Box – How the Text of LBBs 1-3 Teaches How to Make Awesome Part I — “I’m not saying that one could not do this with other games, or that other games did not encourage this. I am saying that this philosophy was sewn into almost every aspect of LBBs, from the subsector and world generation system, to the animal creation system. I’m saying this was valuable and worth considering closely. I’m saying all this because it is my thesis that this point of view was lost in later materials published in line with GDW’s House Setting.”

OSR (die hart) A quick peek at White Star! — “In contrast to Stars Without Number (SWN) by Kevin Crawford there is no exhaustive system for building your sci-fi sandbox. That means you need to come up with your planets, alien cultures and societies yourself. Also, there are no random tables or other generators for different encounters (starship encounters, hooks for adventures or similar). So while White Box is a sandbox it isn’t the swiss army knife of old school space opera. If you’re looking for a more ‘complete’ toolkit, SWN is the way to go. However, White Box stays in the spirit of its parent WhiteBox: Matt Finch’s rules-lite game is also quite bare-bones but still sufficient. There just isn’t much support when it comes to adventure/sandbox-building.”

Science Fiction (Jewish Review of Books) Jews of Dune —  “Only one religious group from our own time has defied this garbling of dogma and practice. In Chapterhouse: Dune, the sixth book in the series and the last Herbert wrote before his death in 1986, the Jews show up. And, unlike other faiths, the Judaism of the far future has changed not a whit. ‘It is probable that a rabbi from ancient times,’ explains a Bene Gesserit leader to her disciple, ‘would not find himself out of place behind the Sabbath menorah of a Jewish household in your age.’ Against a backdrop of transformed humanity, mutated space navigators, and shapeshifting ‘face dancers,’ Herbert’s Jews are as they have always been.”

Appendix N (The Federalist) ‘The Martian’ Was Our World Just 50 Years Ago — “‘The Martian’ is superficially about space travel, but it is really about time travel. The plot may focus on characters leaving Earth to explore the red planet, but the strange world the movie depicts is really our own world just over 50 years ago. The can-do, optimistic liberalism it depicts is utterly alien to today’s sobby, whiny, excuse-laden version.”

History (National Catholic Register) A Saint’s Bones Recovered, An Anti-Catholic Plot Remembered — “The hysteria continued for several years and spread throughout the country, resulting in numerous executions of Catholics and priests. The last to be swept up in the madness was St. Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, the ancestor and namesake of the fantasy writer Lord Dunsany.”

Appendix N (Flavorwire) The Horror Genre Is Older Than You Think: A New History, From Homer to Lovecraft — “Lovecraft intentionally used a sesquipedalian style of writing with antiquated spellings, to invoke a tone of seriousness and verisimilitude. His work was influenced heavily by Dunsany’s ancient gods and Machen’s tales of elder evils. In turn, his writings have been acknowledged as influences by a number of major science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers of the late 20th century and have been extensively parodied and copied in many media, including dozens of films.”

Appendix N (L. Jagi Lamplighter) Superversive Blog: Life, Carbon, and the Tao — Part Two! — “Epic fantasy, a century ago, began with cautionary tales, dealing with the negative parts of the Tao. The grandfathers of the genre were authors like Lord Dunsany, E. R. Eddison, and Robert E. Howard, whose heroes were often ambivalent and never spotless; there are no Sir Galahads in their work. But they were never mistaken about their villains. Conan’s morals were pretty loose, but the wicked kings and sorcerers that he slew generally needed slaying. This has sometimes been called ‘Grey vs. Black’ morality. The feeling – it is no more than that – is that the White Hats, if there are any, are too clean to beat the Black Hats in a straight fight. You need to bring in a specialist, a Conan, or four Lords of Witchland, or Seven Samurai, who are on the ragged edge of the Tao themselves, and have often been in trouble, and are experts at getting out of it. The ‘rules of engagement’ for a Conan are very simple: No holds barred, and Crom favours the strongest.”

Traveller (Tales to Astound!) TRAVELLER: Out of the Box – Interlude: How People Played Traveller in 1977 — “There are also implied setting details that are much more evocative and primed for adventure than what the Third Imperium became.”

Comics (Star Wars) Vader Down Sketchbook, Part 2 — “I want to show the grandeur of the Star Wars universe without losing the human touch, which I learned through the years is what makes the film series so great: the characterization, the human side…not the machines that impressed so much as a kid.”

D&D (Rumors of War) October: 3surgence Update — “Yesterday I started hacking 3surgence from the rules I collected from the 3e SRD. I have some ideas about how I want to organize the book, and what all’s going into it when it’s done.”

Combat as War (John C. Wright) A Time for Peace, a Time for War — “Civilization is not a suicide pact, nor is sportsmanship is way to throw a game to a team that cheats, nor is the normal courtesy of apology meant to be a weapon in the hand of an enemy. The benefits of such rules extend to to others who abide by them, and no further. One apologizes to a gentleman whom one has wronged. One does not apologize to a mad dog, one clubs it to death with a shovel.”

D&D (Tales to Astound!) Thoughts on OSR and DIY and Dumping the Dwarves and Elves — “Ever since the 1970s, people have typically failed to distinguish between A) the D&D game and B) the sample playing pieces included with the game. Just about every D&D product is full of monsters from the standard lists, magic items from the standard lists, spells from the standard lists, and etc. I think that shows a reticence to really unleash the imagination.”

Comics (Dr. Xaos Comics Blog) But they’ll be valuable — “You were supposed to cut them out, landing you a square of cheap-ass newsprint with recycled art, backed by whatever was on the reverse, which was not always ad space but sometimes part of the actual story. Which is a way to make you cry because about age 10, I ruined about 30 classic comics by cutting these little boogers out.”

Seventies Culture (Vampirella) The Models — “Heidi Saha is a rather ‘contentious’ Vampirella model – by today’s standards, anyway. Perhaps the early 1970s were more innocent times. At 14 years of age she is undoubtedly the youngest Vampirella model to wear the costume in public. There would certainly be some raised eyebrows if a girl of her tender years wore such a skimpy outfit in public today!”

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