Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Blog Watch: Ray Fencing, Turkish Delight, Distant Lands, and Loud Mouth Working Class Folks

Science Fiction (Cirsova) More Maza! — “At ray fencing, the Princess[Maza] was the equal of any trained soldier in her army, but her opponent, she found, was the most skillful she had ever encountered.  His tactics, however, were purely defensive except as he tried to destroy her projector.  Evidently his orders had been to bring her in alive.  He would feint, swinging his ray as if he meant to strike her down, but never in direct line with her body.  Noticing this, she resolved to stake everything on one long chance.  Accordingly, she held her projector away from her – a tempting bait.  He swung for the lure, leaving his guard open for but an instant.  But in that instant her red ray struck him full in the chest, and he was no more.”

The Inklings (AtlasObscur) C.S. Lewis’ Greatest Fiction: Convincing American Kids That They Would Like Turkish Delight — “England’s wartime sugar rationing probably figured into that choice. The reason the Pevensie children were staying in an old house with a portal to Narnia in its wardrobe was that it was World War II, and kids were being relocated due to bombing risks. Candy, too, was a casualty of the war. During WWII, and well into the postwar period, sugar was strictly rationed in England; in 1950, when Lewis published the first Narnia book, the allowance was half a pound of candy and chocolate per person per month. It’s no wonder that, when the White Queen asked him what he liked best, Edmund’s answer was a confection that is almost entirely sugar.”

Appendix N (Dark Heritage) Appendix E — “Gamers today—and even just simply science fiction and fantasy genre fans, whether or not they’re gamers—have to specifically be told to look for these books, and many of them never are and consequently never look.  Sure, the Appendix E can count as them being told, I suppose, assuming that they look at it.  But the Appendix E is full of a bunch of fluff compared to the Appendix N (which even than, I think, certainly had its share of fluff).  And today’s crybaby generation reads stuff like the Conan stories and finds themselves ‘triggered.’  It’s a sad state of affairs.”

Science Fiction (SFRevu) How Shit Became Shinola: Definition and Redefinition of Space Opera — “Perfectly intelligent but ignorant people are writing revisionist history, inventing an elaborate age of space opera based on wholesale redefinitions of the term made up in the sixties and seventies to justify literary political agendas. To say it flatly, before the mid-1970s, no one in the history of science fiction ever consciously and intentionally set out to write something called space opera (except Jack Vance, who accepted the assignment from Berkley Books in the late 1960s to write a novel to fit the title, Space Opera — at the same time Philip K. Dick got the assignment to write a book called The Zap Gun. These were editorial jokes to be shared with the fans).”

Traveller (Tales to Astound) TRAVELLER : Book 4 Mercenary – The Implicit Setting Made Explicit — “Yet these exotic, uncivilized, distant  lands are the analogue to where the PCs are supposed to adventure. These are the analogues for the setting of play for Classic Traveller. My question is this: How much of this feel of the distant, the exotic, the strange and the uncivilized made it into the Official Traveller Universe by the time all was said and done? How much of it made it into the Spinward Marches–full of MegaCorporations and Xboat networks that carried news with ease? Did this frontier setting ever feel like a frontier? Did it ever seem like it was all that different than sectors located toward the Imperial core? My impression of the material was that all the answers to those questions was no.”

D&D (Dungeon Fantastic) Review: City System (Waterdeep) — “If I had to run another city-based game, I’d be strongly tempted to bust out City System and go with Waterdeep and its blown-up maps. Having done both – full-out detail, and just rule-roll-describe – it would be nice to get the benefits of the full-out detailed city again. This is an excellent supplement for that.”

Star Trek ( Forgotten Trek: Designing the Reliant for Star Trek II — “‘We were mailing everything over to him and getting him to approve it and mail it back to us,’ she told Star Trek: The Magazine, ‘so we did our first sketch of the ship and mailed them off to him.’ Bennett was supposed to sign for approval at the bottom of the sheet. ‘When he got it in the mail he took it out of the package upside down, I guess, and wrote out on the bottom, ‘Yes, this looks very good, proceed.’ So when we got it back we realized he’d approved it upside down.’ Rather than bother Bennett again, the three decided to make it work that way — and it did. Jennings and Lee added what Minor dubbed a ‘roll bar’ to support the dropped nacelles. Phaser banks were put in this supporting structure.”

Science Fiction (Cirsova) Short Reviews – Beer-Trust Busters, A.R. Stuart — “Space wasn’t just a place where soldiers fought alien wars, it was where you earned your living. Whether in a bawdy farce like this or in a more serious potboiler like The Martian Circe, sci-fi writers spent a lot of time looking at what the space-age joe-average would be dealing with on a day to day basis, how he’d kick back and relax, not to mention the sort of recreational substance abuse that would go on. Being so advanced a civilization as to have space ships isn’t going to make us magically ‘better’ or ‘enlightened’ in the way we see depicted in settings like Star Trek. No, we’re still going to have our loud-mouthed working class folks who bitch loudly about taxes, bureaucrats and government overreach and will do whatever they can to undermine systems that oppress human leisure. God bless ‘em!”

Appendix N (Howard Andrew Jones) Conan Re-Read: “The People of the Black Circle” — “The magic was so inventive, and so NOT standard role-playing magic. I think too many of us now have grown up playing those games where spells behave a certain way. There’s no telling what’s going to happen with magic in one of these tales because it’s beyond our ken. It’s subtle and horrific. Never flashy, but usually fear inducing.”

Rpg Design (Roles, Rules, and Rolls) Interesting Buffs Are Visible Buffs — “One thing you’ll notice about all these is that their presence in the material world starts sparking off ideas for creative uses, advantages and disadvantages, just like the Force Shield beyond giving an armor bonus can also be used to stop a door or carry a load. If something only affects the rules level, there is only one use for it.”

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