Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Blog Watch: The Power of War Games, Cheating GM’s, Radioactive Ruins, and Ascending Celebrity

Star Wars (RetroZap) Padmé Didn’t Die of a Broken Heart, Part Two — “Do you really think a little electricity is enough to bring Darth Vader down? Does he really look that fragile? He may be an egghead at the end, but Anakin was TOUGH. A few seconds of Force lightning just isn’t enough to bring the Chosen One down. But, the death of Darth Vader makes much more sense when we understand that the life force he was given was suddenly severed by the death of Darth Sidious.”

OSR (Cirsova) Dungeon Crawl Cowards — “I don’t know what it is about DCC that encourages everyone to behave as though they’re in some sort of survival horror. What is more interesting was this phenomenon was not emergent in the exact same setting when we were using Lamentations of the Flame Princess; there, we would throw ourselves into the frenzy, die in a blaze of glory and have a new character rolled up in time to meet the party just around the corner.”

Gaming History (The New Yorker) The Tangled Cultural Roots of D&D — “This brief scene suggests that for Gygax, war games offered not just a dreamy retreat from the real world, but a prism through which to examine it. It is a perspective that seems increasingly prescient as the line between the virtual and the actual continues to blur.”

Hipster Rpgs (Rpg Stack Exchange) How to ask nicely in Dungeon World — “The GM cheats in Dungeon World when they speak without following their Agenda, Principles, and Moves. There is no GM move called ‘make an arbitrary decision.’ There’s also no GM move called ‘have a freeform social interaction.’ If the GM is following the rules, this kind of stall should not happen.”

From the Comments (Black Gate) Vintage Treasures: John the Balladeer by Manly Wade Wellman — “Unfortunately I always found the Silver John stories better in concept than in execution. Not that the stories were ever bad– they’re evocative and entertaining. But try as I might, I never found them truly engrossing, and I never thought to myself hey, I feel like re-reading some Silver John.”

OSR (RpgPundit) The Radioactive Ruins of the Storygame Movement Sure Burn Pretty From Up Here — “On the other hand, while you have a lot of ‘celebrity designers’ in the OSR, the OSR isn’t about the game designer. Its about the GM. OSR games are not ‘coherent’ little models of micro-game pseudo-genius that must not be altered in the least by the grubby little hands of a mere GM. On the contrary, they are almost always toolkits for the GM, who knows his party and what he wants, to create his campaign his way.”

OSR (Reviews from R’lyeh) Space Swords & Wizardry — “The problem is that without these additional Classes, White Star cannot quite do the types of Science Fiction that it is clearly inspired by, which is a shame because there is a great deal to like about the RPG. In addition, it would have been nice if the house rules had included options for skill use and some rules and guidance for creating planets and solar systems rather than just leaving it up to the Referee.”

Appendix N (Castalia House) Primary Research — “L. Sprague de Camp is important for bringing sword and sorcery fiction from the pulp and digest magazine format to the mass market paperback in the 1960s. Swords and Sorcery (1963), The Spell of Seven (1965), The Fantastic Swordsmen (1967), and Warlocks and Warriors (1970) are very important to the genre. De Camp had good instincts on material.”

Comics (Dr Xaos Comics Madness) Striking twice, some day — “That’s a pretty good idea! But there’s one lurking and dangerous concept in there: its reliance on the Golden/Silver/Bronze/Iron model in a big and not good way. ’cause that model is just ass. There weren’t any such things, especially not in a graded downswing from Cheerful Idealism and Patriotism into Bitter and Tragic and then into Dark and Mature and Gritty. I’m calling this mythology out; it’s bullshit. It was confabulated by journalists and hucksters in the mid-80s to hype specific titles (‘Zap! Pow! Comics finally grow up’), and it relies on cherry-picking titles, plain and simple.”

Traveller (Tales to Astound!) TRAVELLER: Out of the Box – Interlude: How People Played Traveller in 1977 — “Classic Traveller is iconic. It was the first really successful science fiction role-playing game, preceded by Metamorphosis: Alpha and Space Quest and a number of other largely forgotten games. What made Traveller different was that there was actually a minimum of background provided in the rules – most of the other games has assumed a great deal about the background setting for a game.”

High Gygaxian is Back! (Dungeon Fantastic) Fun Stonehell 2 typo — “Referees and players looking for complex details on overarching plots and other story elements will not find them here – but that doesn’t mean they can be introduced!”

Appendix N (The Arts Mechanical) Appendix “N” Looked At Again — “The fossilization of SF/F is happening because people aren’t tied to the roots of SF. Because they aren’t steeped in the culture and know where things come from, all these new authors can do is play with the same old tropes in the same old ways.”

Appendix N (S. T. Joshi’s Blog) The World Fantasy Award — “If anyone feels that Lovecraft’s perennially ascending celebrity, reputation, and influence will suffer the slightest diminution as a result of this silly kerfuffle, they are very much mistaken.”

Appendix N (Arts Mechanical) You know You Are In A War When the Other Side Lobs Artillery Fire At You — “For all that ‘s bad about the 1970’s you could put together an Appendix N from stuff in your library or from the public library. The stuff out there in paperback was that diverse. The problem is that by and large that’s gone, the victim of changed tax laws, push marketing, chain stores and aggressive tie in publishing. What’s replaced it is a bland pile of grey mush and the stuff that gets run though editorial boards that are graduates of the Ivy Covered Snob Factories all of which are indoctrinated in a culture that is at odds with what people actually want.”

Appendix N (Howard Andrew Jones) The Coming of Conan Re-Read: “Rogues in the House” — “Stepping back you can see how it’s a strange beast inspired from multiple sources — weird death traps out of Fu Manchu stories, a system of mirrors set to emulate a modern mastermind’s hidden cameras, and an ape servant who’s rebelled against his master. If someone had come and babbled the various story elements to me I would have rolled my eyes. Yet it works very well, in part because once it starts rolling it just never lets up.”

Comics (Comic Book Resources) Year of the Artist, Day 363: Joe Kubert, Part 3 – Tarzan #220 — “As we’ve seen, Kubert can be very simplistic – Tarzan’s blade is a basic triangle – but that ‘simplicity’ lends his art a smoothness and motion that makes his action scenes work really well, while his wonderful inking add heft to the characters, as with the lion’s thick mane and Tarzan’s rugged back. It’s a wonderful combination of the two poles.”

Those People (Monster Hunter Nation) The 2015 Still Not a Real Writer Book Tour Recap — “Now, a smart person would say, whoops, my bad. But not a Puppy Kicker. They have that whole narrative about how anybody who disagrees with TRUFAN is irreparably damaging their career, so of course he doubled down. Oh no. He was there at 7:05! And he saw my 40! And that was still horrible garbage failure of suck, because that bookstore ROUTINELY gets 500(!) people at a book signing…”

That’s No Princess (Entertainment Weekly) She’s not called ‘Princess’ Leia anymore … — “There are heroes, and monsters, a castle, and magic and machines that defy belief. There’s even a princess, although … nobody in the galaxy calls Leia that anymore.”

Star Wars (SuperversiveSF) Books that Informed Star Wars — “If you hope to create a beloved cultural touchstone some day–or even produce minimally competent fiction–you need to start reading everything you can get your hands on.”

5 responses to “Blog Watch: The Power of War Games, Cheating GM’s, Radioactive Ruins, and Ascending Celebrity

  1. Cirsova December 4, 2015 at 9:21 am

    So, Maza of the Moon has light-saber fights. Lasers not having been invented yet by 30 years, Kline has a hard time describing them, but I can’t call the moon aliens “fencing” with deadly red and green rays coming from flashlight-like devices anything BUT light-saber fights.

  2. Brian Niemeier December 4, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Thanks for the link! For all of the links. These’ll keep me busy all day.

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