Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Your Mom's Basement: GALACTUS IS COMING!

From the Your Mom's Basement website:

Your Mom's Basement: GALACTUS IS COMING!
YMB's crack investigative team has unearthed the long rumored, but never confirmed, collaboration from 1983 between Marvel's Chairman Emeritus Stan Lee and religious comic tract creator Jack Chick.

Long out of print and now only infrequently stumbled upon in the odd truck stop bathroom (as all good religious witnessing tracts should be) YMB is now able to present to you 'Galactus is Coming!'

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sausages affected by draconian trade laws

Warning: This sausage contains no actual dragon. WTF?

Sausages affected by draconian trade laws
A SPICY sausage known as the Welsh Dragon will have to be renamed after trading standards’ officers warned the manufacturers that they could face prosecution because it does not contain dragon.

R.I.P. Jack Williamson

This is a great loss to science fiction.

Jack Williamson
Jack Williamson has been in the forefront of science fiction since his first published story in 1928. Williamson is the acclaimed author of such trailblazing science fiction as The Humanoids and The Legion of Time. The Oxford English Dictionary credits Williamson with inventing the terms 'genetic engineering' (in Dragon's Island) and 'terraforming' (in Seetee Ship). His seminal novel Darker Than You Think was a landmark speculation on the nature of shape-changing.

Jack Williamson died Friday 10th November at his home in Portales, New Mexico.

Williams was 98 at the time of his death.

No Magic Fantasy and Keeping The Fantastic

This is a thread that I started on RPGnet, and also on the RQ3 mailing list. Because of my buying up some RQ3 stuff, I am interested in giving a try at running a fantasy game again (for the first time in a very long time). Obviously, because of the fact that I don't actually like a lot of the stuff that passes for fantasy literature out there I am looking for a campaign that goes a bit further afield.

These conversations represent my thoughts coming together on the matter. It seems that some can't grasp the concept of fantasy without magic.

And, since I've mentioned it in both discussions, this Wikipedia entry sums up some of what I am interested in within this genre of the fantastic.

No Magic Fantasy and Keeping The Fantastic
I'm going to start this out by saying something that won't come as a big surprise to some: I'm not a big fan of fantasy literature. Sure, I've made my attempts at reading Tolkien, Jordan, and so many others that are out there but most of them have just not sparked my interest. There have been a few fantasy writers that I've liked over the years, but they tend to be sword and sorcery writers like Moorcock, Leiber and Howard. I guess that I just liked their energy a lot better. Because of this disinterest I got out of fantasy gaming round about 87 or, except for a couple of one shots back in college and a rather long run as a player in a D&D 3.0 game a couple of years back. The stuff just doesn't really get me going in a way that makes me want to run or play in a fantasy game for any long period of time.

I'm stating that so that we all have a baseline for the conversation here. This isn't going to be a 'let's talk Chris into liking fantasy literature' discussion.

However, recently (do to my buying up some old RQ3 stuff online...most of which I am still waiting to arrive) I've been eyeing putting together a fantasy game to run. Obviously I want something that will interest me as a gamer and a GM, which means that the heroic fantasy stuff is straight out. What I am interested in is something that has a very strong fantastic element to it, but without being the 'stereotypical' fantasy stuff that I am really not as interested in going into. Obviously, from the title of this thread, I am looking to run something with no magic in it. Period. No spell casters, no clerics with healing magic...none of that. I do want there to be elements of the fantastic in there, however. I want bizarre non-humans who are different from elves and dwarves, and who are more than just the familiar tropes and conventions dressed up in new clothing.

I want a world that is dangerous, strange and more than a little dark around the edges *but* at the same time I want the the heroes (the PCs) to be grand and larger than life. They are heroes who kick ass and take names, but at the same time there are grander threats to them out there in the larger world. But I don't want those threats to be so overwhelming that there is no chance of the PCs being able to achieve victory over these threads. I want mythic and fantastic, but without the usual trappings of magic that populate most fantasy games and books.

Please, comment and let me know what you think.

Edit: Here's an interesting blog post that was mentioned in the RPGnet thread.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Man arrested for strangling woman he met through suicide website

Strange news out there in the real world.

Man arrested for strangling woman he met through suicide website
An unemployed man was arrested Wednesday for strangling a woman he had got acquainted with through a suicide website, police said.

[via Warren Ellis]

Vertigo First Issues for Download

DC Comics is offering some of the Vertigo first issues for free download off of the DC Comics website. If you haven't already, check out these books. All are available in trade format as well.

Dorkland reccomends: DMZ, Doom Patrol, Transmetropolitan and Hellblazer. It wouldn't be worth the efort to reccomend either Sandman or Swamp Thing. Those are just givens.

Vertigo First Issues for Download
Now you can read the full first issues of the many Vertigo series that revolutionized comics! Follow the links below to download a PDF version of the first issue of these classic Vertigo series now collected in graphic novel form. When you visit the Graphic Novels section of VertigoComics.com, any graphic novel titles with a #1 icon (#1) will have a download of the ground-breaking first issue!

Runequest III: Here, There and Everywhere

I've got a new gaming interest: Runequest. However, if you came to this blog entry expecting me to talk about the new Mongoose version of the rules. What I am actually interested in is the classic Runequest designed by Chaosium and published by Avalon Hill -- Runequest 3.

I've been spending the last few months working at tracking down some of the stuff for the game, and now I am in the stage of waiting for things to come in. I am very excited about learning the system. This is the worse part of buying a "new" game, the wait for it to arrive.

I was talking to Ben Monroe about my new interest in RQ3 and he pointed me to this great essay about the game written by Sandy Petersen (Call of Cthulhu and DOOM creator). I think that it brings up some really interesting points about the system.

Sandy Petersen on Runequest
Few RPGs permit playing a non-human with the facility of Runequest even today [1996!]. In fact, the trend is rather away from playing non-humans. 'Tis not necessarily a bad trend, given the rather lame interpretations of these beings that have infested the RPG market. Partly as a result of the difficulty in playing them.

You see, most games render non-humans as variations on humans. Example: 'dwerlfs are like humans, but with -2 from STR and INT' or whatever. RQ nonhumans are completely independent -- you could set up a RQ game with no nonhumans at all, and never make any reference to humans, and character creation and play would be smooth. I think that the psychological aspects of this difference have had an effect on scenario designers, essayists, and gamemasters.

There is another way in which RQ affected Glorantha. By the nature of most of Greg's early stories, plus White Bear & Red Moon, Nomad Gods, etc., Glorantha seemed to be a place where titans battled far above the level of mere mortal fodder.

So, are you a Runequest III fan? I would really like to hear your thoughts and experiences with the system. Share your stories, exploits and adventures. I will be writing more about the system here as the box sets start trickling into my mail slot.

Also, Ben has started a RQ3 discussion list on Yahoo. If you are interested in joining discussions on the game that don't necessarily focus on Glorantha, check out the discussion list.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Classics Corner: The Green Eyes of Bâst, by Sax Rohmer

This is something new that I am going to call Classics Corner. These are stories, novels and other literary works that are important to the horror, fantasy and science fiction genres. Each Classic Corner will feature an opening quote from the particular work, with a link to a way for you to read the complete work. I hope that you enjoy this.

There is so much cool old stuff that you just cannot find from publishers, or on the shelves of bookstores anymore. True, some of it has held up better than others but these things are still the basic blocks upon which the new, the wild and the now have been built.

One thing that is cool about the internet is that these things are not truly lost anymore, but they are out there hiding in the shadowed corners waiting to be found and enjoyed again. From time to time, from here on out, I am going to point you in the direct of some of these lost classics that I am pretty sure that you haven't read before. If you have, that's great. If you haven't, though, you are going to be exposed to some writings that I consider to be interesting, if not seminal.

A lot of this stuff is going to be stories that can be related to your role-playing games.

Classics Corner: The Green Eyes of Bâst, by Sax Rohmer

'Good evening, sir. A bit gusty?'

'Very much so, sergeant,' I replied. 'I think I will step into your hut for a moment and light my pipe if I may.'

'Certainly, sir. Matches are too scarce nowadays to take risks with 'em. But it looks as if the storm had blown over.'

'I'm not sorry,' said I, entering the little hut like a sentry-box which stands at the entrance to this old village high street for accommodation of the officer on point duty at that spot. 'I have a longish walk before me.'

'Yes. Your place is right off the beat, isn't it?' mused my acquaintance, as sheltered from the keen wind I began to load my briar. 'Very inconvenient I've always thought it for a gentleman who gets about as much as you do.'

'That's why I like it,' I explained. 'If I lived anywhere accessible I should never get a moment's peace, you see. At the same time I have to be within an hour's journey of Fleet Street.'

I often stopped for a chat at this point and I was acquainted with most of the men of P. division on whom the duty devolved from time to time. It was a lonely spot at night when the residents in the neighborhood had retired, so that the darkened houses seemed to withdraw yet farther into the gardens separating them from the highroad. A relic of the days when trains and motor-buses were not, dusk restored something of an old-world atmosphere to the village street, disguising the red brick and stucco which in many cases had displaced the half-timbered houses of the past. Yet it was possible in still weather to hear the muted bombilation of the sleepless city and when the wind was in the north to count the hammer-strokes of the great bell of St. Paul's.

Standing in the shelter of the little hut, I listened to the rain dripping from over-reaching branches and to the gurgling of a turgid little stream which flowed along the gutter near my feet whilst now and again swift gusts of the expiring tempest would set tossing the branches of the trees which lined the way.

'It's much cooler to-night,' said the sergeant.

I nodded, being in the act of lighting my pipe. The storm had interrupted a spell of that tropical weather which sometimes in July and August brings the breath of Africa to London, and this coolness resulting from the storm was very welcome. Then:

'Well, good night,' I said, and was about to pursue my way when the telephone bell in the police-hut rang sharply.

'Hullo,' called the sergeant.

I paused, idly curious concerning the message, and:

'The Red House,' continued the sergeant, 'in College Road? Yes, I know it. It's on Bolton's beat, and he is due here now. Very good; I'll tell him.'

Saturday, November 11, 2006

CCP and White Wolf to Merge

Some interesting news via Flames Rising. If this is accurate (I can't find confirmation on either company's websites) it certainly means that the gap between the (probable) number two RPG company and the rest of the "industy" just got much, much bigger.

Not being a MMO person it doesn't mean a lot to me from that angle, but I'm sure it means that we'll see a WoD MMO before too long.

This will certainly be something to watch.

CCP and White Wolf to Merge
CCP hf. and White Wolf Publishing, Inc. today announced that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement to merge. The creators of the single largest persistent online role-playing world and the world's second-largest developer of offline role-playing, strategy and collectable card games will create the industry's largest independent Virtual World developer. CCP is the publisher and developer of EVE Online, the world's largest virtual gaming universe. White Wolf is the creator of some of the world's most recognized role-playing titles including: World of Darkness (Vampire, Werewolf, Mage) and Exalted. The combined company will introduce new online and offline gaming products across the science-fiction, horror, and fantasy genres.

Click on the link for more information.

Oscar Winner Jack Palance Dead at 87

He may not have been a great, but he certainly was good. I'm sure that he's doing push-ups in heaven.

Oscar Winner Jack Palance Dead at 87
For most of his Hollywood career, Jack Palance played memorable tough guys in films such as 'Shane' and 'Sudden Fear,' but it wasn't until he was in his 70s that he won an Oscar for his comedic self-parody in 'City Slickers.'

Palance endeared himself to viewers of the 1992 Academy Awards when he accepted his Oscar for best supporting actor by dropping to the stage and performing one-armed push-ups.