War Games (Marines) 3rd Marine Division challenges junior Marines with war games — “War games at the higher levels tend to be much more complicated, but using the board game Memoir 44’ is simple. The rules aren’t overly complicated so it lends itself to be easy to analyze. We can put together a small party of Marines to play the game and from a single round, we can collect how many times they attack compared to how many times they move. With that I can figure out if they’re overly aggressive or risk-averse.”
Appendix N (Autistic Mercury) Real Fantasy — “This complex of stories, Tolkien’s Legendarium, has clear influences in earlier works with which Tolkien was familiar, in particular the work of Lord Dunsany, and his 1905 book, The Gods of Pegāna, which, similar to the Legendarium, outline a fictional mythology of the world’s creation and the gods who participated in it. In Dusany’s personal mythology, like in Tolkien’s, our universe is the physical manifestation of the music of Skarl, the Drummer, who beats on his drum for all eternity. Dunsany, besides influencing Tolkien, was likewise appreciated by many of the other acknowledged founders of Fantasy, such as Lovecraft, Howard, as well as Jorge Luis Borges and many others.”
The Pulps (Wasteland and Sky) Licensed to Thrill: A Pulp History (Part I: The Beginning) — “Pulps were sold primarily on awe before anything else. The romance of adventure and the terror of action were the selling points to those who wanted their escapism. You read pulps for excitement, for hope, for wonders, for horrors, and for love. You read them to be taken to higher places, and away from your troubles.”
D&D (Emperor’s Notepad) Level Inflation is a disease even clerics can’t cure — “If someone is playing in a Conan or Star Wars setting, it is always assumed that Conan, Darth Vader, or Luke Skywalker should be quite close to the upper tiers, towards the lvl 20 range. Unfortunately, that transforms those iconic characters into walking gods and, therefore, everything else around them has to go through a level inflation upgrade if the original source material is to make any sense at all. So, the soldiers or giant snakes that Conan kills in this or that story, or the villains Luke kills, are not low-level NPCs (which is what they actually were) but suddenly they have to be reinterpreted as level 10+ characters for them to be meaningfully threatening.”
RPGs (The Mixed GM) Interview With Venger Satanis! — “It’s funny what players take seriously (from grave danger to mostly harmless) and what they don’t, how easily they’ll buy-into an element of the setting and what seems too far fetched, in the moment. That just means expectations and assumptions need to be redefined, which happens organically as play proceeds. I’ve never had a player say, ‘Nope, my snake-man sorcerer just does not accept demonic Easter Bunnies from the outer void. I’m out.'”
PulpRev (Barbarian Book Club) Book Review: The Last Ancestor by Alexander Hellene — “The Last Ancestor is a tale that is rooted in a moral and heroic landscape that was part of our childhood, Hellene is about my age. A landscape that was filled with heroic characters instead of the ironic and nihilistic fare that passes for boy’s entertainment nowadays. It’s a tale that belongs on the shelf next to He-Man, Thundercats, and Johnny Quest and fans of fun and adventurous will love this book.”
SWPL (The New York Times) Should Board Gamers Play the Roles of Racists, Slavers and Nazis? — “The ranks of board game designers, however, is changing more slowly. According to one study, 94 percent of the designers for the top 100 ranked games on BoardGameGeek were white men. This perhaps explains the viewpoint many games take. Their designers can more readily identify with the European colonizers, and not the colonized.”
It’s Okay to be Japanese (Quillette) Yukio Mishima: Japan’s Cultural Martyr — “Against the ‘selfish individualism’ of Western culture, Mishima hailed the ‘samurai spirit’ of heroic self-sacrifice and praised the “tragic beauty” of the kamikaze squadrons. In his short film Patriotism (1966), Mishima himself played the role of an army officer who commits suicide rather than disobey an imperial command. To many observers it appeared as if Mishima was willfully taunting Japan by lauding aspects of its past that it was now eager to forget.”
Brand X (Kairos) The Seduction of Brand X — “In the wake of the director’s departure, Disney briefly shelved the project before retooling it as a soft reboot. Filming on Brand X; X starts in May. The reboot stars Idris Elba as John Wayne as Genghis Khan, who must defend Chinese railroad coolies from the predations of a Christian cult led by a vampiric Abe Lincoln. Disney will donate one dollar of every ticket sold to the SPLC.”
Adventure! (Brain Leakage) Big Irons: Westerns, Adventure Paperbacks, and the Man Plot — “Neal Fargo inhabits a changing world. The wild places are becoming civilized, and the real struggles for survival are being replaced with phony copies, meant to entertain softer men than him. But Fargo himself is still a man of action. And he actively seeks out the places where his action will have meaning. To a modern reader in an increasingly sedentary and regulated world, there’s something powerful about that idea.”
That article about “Real Fantasy” is quite mind-blowing. So much information to process. It really makes you weep when you look at the state of modern Fantasy. Hell, I’m not even sure if it’s appropriate anymore to call today’s works “Fantasy”, since they seem to be missing every essence of what makes Fantasy what it is. “Regress Harder” has never been more truthful.
I feel bad for Tolkien. It makes me wonder if maybe it would’ve been better if he never released LoTR. Popular Culture turned it into low-level trash. No wonder he despised his fans and called them fanatics; they really didn’t understand his work.