Sunday, December 10, 2006

Georgia Erases 519 Places Off the Map

So, what happens when the place where you live disappears from the map? This can be an intriguing start to a senario for your modern horror games. What if someone was trying to actively hide a town from the rest of the world? Somewhere, off of the official maps, are places with names like Arkham, Innsmouth, Gotham are out there waiting to be discovered again. But why have they been hidden so thoroughly, and who benefits from their hiding?

Georgia Erases 519 Places Off the Map
Poetry Tulip has vanished. So have Between and Climax. Cloudland and Roosterville are gone, too.

A total of 519 communities have been erased from the newest version of Georgia's official map, victims of too few people and too many letters of type.

Georgia's Department of Transportation, which drew the new map, said that the goal was to make it clearer and less cluttered and that many of the dropped communities were mere 'placeholders,' generally with fewer than 2,500 people. Some are unincorporated and so small they are not even recognized by the Census Bureau.

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.

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
CHAPTER I
I SEE THE EYES


'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.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

OBS Rate Increase Rescindment Request Petition

In case you hadn't heard just yet, DriveThruRPG.com and RPGNow.com have agreed to a merger of their services. These sites are the two leading etailers of PDF products for the role-playing "industry." They say that the merger will mean better prices and a better selection, since consumers will only have to go to one place now. Shortly after that they announced that the companies who sell through their site will have to pay increased fees. I don't think that is going to help cut prices for the consumer.

This petition is for presentation to the new company (OneBookShelf.com) to show that consumers and publishers are not happy with this new arrangement. If it bothers you, you should sign it too. I was the first signer.

OBS Rate Increase Rescindment Request Petition
We respectfully request that the owners of OneBookShelf (OBS), which was formed by the merger of RPGNow.com and DriveThruRPG (DTRPG), rescind the planned rate increase for publishers fees due to take effect on December 1st, 2006. We submit that this rate increase will be potentially detrimental to both OBS vendors and consumers.


Dorkland wholeheartedly endorses the PDF site operated by Steve Jackson Games: e23. Since Atlas Games has aready stopped selling through RPGNow to move to e23, hopefully other pubishers will follow to show their support for diversity in the marketplace.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dungeons & Dragons trial

Never good publicity for a hobby, but I wonder why his mental illness isn't in the headline instead of something attention grabbing like "Dungeons & Dragons."

Detroit gamer was acting out a fantasy when he killed co-worker with a sword
An avid Dungeons & Dragons player 'became his fantasy' when he slashed his co-worker to death with a homemade sword in October 2004, his attorney said Wednesday.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Charlie Stross' Diary: Let's put the future behind us

Here's some interesting thoughts on the state of SF from British (since I'm not sure what part of the UK he is from) SF author Charles Stross. If you haven't read his story "The Atrocity Archive" yet you should start now. In the meantime, check this out from the blog on his website.

After coming across a link to this post on Warren Ellis' website I thought that it was something that was worth sharing. I know that a couple of people who read my blog will find it interesting. There are some interesting links in the actual text as well in it's original form on his website.

Let's put the future behind us
There's always a bloody force five hurricane making landfall in the little teacup of a genre that I inhabit. Last year it was the Mundane SF manifesto (short form: they don't believe in having sex standing up because it might lead to dancing using classic science fictional tropes because they might lead to fantasy). This year it's the back to basics thing. When will they learn?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch, who is old and distinguished enough to know better, wrote a critical essay for a book (titled 'Star Wars on Trial') in which she attempted to make the case for the defense, and which was republished in Asimov's SF magazine. She lit a match (thus: 'First, the promised answer: to what extent is current sf writing influenced by Star Wars? The answer is simple: Not enough'), then tossed it in a pool of petrol (and so: 'In order to make my case for that answer, however, I must address #3: Star Wars and the battle for SF readers and shelf space. There is no battle for shelf space because of #6: to what extent does SW define how the general public sees SF or, as I like to call it, the definition of SF') before generously carpet-bombing the area with the reductionist napalm of genre categorization (which sticks to everything like a label, and burns, baby, it burns!).

To try and paraphrase (or parody) her argument: SF is of declining interest (and has declining market share) to the general public because it's not true to its pulpy roots. So let's all go write media tie-in novels, because they attract readers, and if we attract lots of readers, we'll reinvigorate the ghetto. In other words, the past forty-odd year long project of trying to inject some quality into the stuff our dreams are made of is not merely a failure, but counter-productive.

All of this would be messy enough, but she managed to phrase it in such a way that it got right up various noses (That's Paul McAuley and Ian McDonald, in case you don't know them in drag), not to mention the sinuses of large numbers of other hoity-toity folks who think that what they're doing might possibly have some literary merit to it. (Like me.)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Monty Python star Jones has cancer

Good luck and godspeed in your healing. The man has given more than enough laughter to deserve a speedy recovery.

Monty Python star Jones has cancer
Monty Python star Terry Jones has bowel cancer, although doctors believe they have caught it at an early stage, a newspaper has reported.

Jones, who directed the cult comedy troupe's three films, 'Life of Brian', 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' and 'The Meaning of Life', is in a private London hospital after being diagnosed, the Daily Mirror said Saturday.

His agent Jodi Shield told the newspaper: 'He is having a routine exploratory operation in the next few days.

'His surgeon is fairly confident -- they think they've got it early enough.

'He's in great spirits. We're having to make him stop working.'

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Stuart Immonen


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Originally uploaded by stuartimmonen.
It appears that comic artist Stuart Immonen (artist on Warren Ellis' Nextwave among others) has been doing a webcomic that also appears on flicker (as well as his website).

The comic can be found on his site here: http://www.immonen.ca/comics/?p=17

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Robert Anton Wilson Needs Our Help

It may sound like a cliche but reading Robert Anton Wilson changed my life. It wasn't just Illuminatus that did it though. Really, for all that it is, it is still "just" a novel. No, what really changed things for me was reading his book Cosmic Trigger. It is an incredible account of a man's journey of self-discovery and, of course, magic. Changing your life, or changing your world, isn't something that happens lightly.

I really don't know what I can do (as just one person) but I plan to help as much as I can, and I hope that each and every person who reads this post will take it upon themself to do the same thing. At this point I don't know how much help can be given other than to make things as comfortable and painless as possible at this point. Really, is there any less that we can try to do?

I hope not.

Robert Anton Wilson needs our help
I'm not exaggerating one bit when I say Robert Anton Wilson is one of my heroes. His writing has had a profound influence on the way I view life, more so than any other writer. If I had not read his books, there would definitely be no Boing Boing.

My friend Douglas Rushkoff feels the same way about him, and I'm reposting his blog entry because Robert Anton Wilson needs our help now.

UPDATE: Note from Robert's friend, Denis Berry: Sadly, we have to report that wizard-author-intelligence increase agent is in trouble with his life, home and his finances. Robert is dying at his home from post polio syndrome. He has enough money for next months rent and after that, will be unable to pay. He cannot walk, has a hard time talking and swallowing, is extremely frail and needs full time care that is being provided by several friends-fans-volunteers and family. We appeal to you to help financially for the next few months to let him die at his home in peace.

200610021323 Douglas Rushkoff: I hope people I've inspired with my work would band together to help me out in my later years if I needed it. Which is at least part of the reason why I'm sending what I can to support cosmic thinking patriarch Robert Anton Wilson, whose infirmity and depleted finances have put him in the precarious position of not being able to meet next month's rent.

In case the name doesn't immediately ring a bell, Bob is the guy who wrote Cosmic Trigger -- still the best narrative on how to enter and navigate the psycho-spiritual realm, and co-wrote the Illuminatus Trilogy, an epic work that pushes beyond conspiracy theory into conspiracy practice. Robert Anton Wilson will one day be remembered alongside such literary philosophers as Aldous Huxley and James Joyce.

But right now, Bob is a human being in a rather painful fleshsuit, who needs our help. I refuse for the history books to say he died alone and destitute, for I want future generations to know we appreciated Robert Anton Wilson while he was alive.

Let me add, on a personal note, that Bob is the only one of my heroes who I was not disappointed to actually meet in person. He was of tremendous support to me along my road, and I'm honored to have the opportunity to be of some support on his.

Note from Robert's friend, Denis Berry: Robert's writing has enlightened-educated many and if you can please commit to help pay a portion of his expenses until his passing which sadly won't be that long. Monthly contributions of $50.00 or more will be greatly appreciated. All monies will go directly to Robert and can be sent to his PayPal address olgaceline@gmail.com. You can also send a check to RAW c/o Futique Trust, P.O. Box 3561, Santa Cruz, Ca 95063.


More information can be found here.

And here is The Reverand Ivan Stang's appeal:
Pope Bob (Robert Anton Wilson) loaned us SubGeniuses a LOT!

Most of what he loaned us were ideas. We took those ideas and ran with them. We did all KINDS of things using his ideas. We started every manner of experiment, inspired by his experiments. Many of those experiments PAID OFF.

I have said many times to interviewers that were it not for Robert Anton Wilson (and the late great Robert Shea, who co-wrote Illuminatus), there would be no Church of the SubGenius.

Although Pope Bob was tough enough to beat childhood polio in his youth, now that he is old, it has returned to harass him. He busted his ass his whole life, writing, lecturing, and selling books -- and if you think those jobs are EASY, try it yourself. He shared part of his mighty brain with the world, supported his family, and even survived the loss of a child and his wife without GIVING UP. But nothing lasts forever, and now it's down to the wire.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Olbermann's special commentary on Clinton vs Fox


Ok, so it's one of my ocassional rants about politics. They're probably going to happen more frequently as we enter into a new political season (I know, we entered it a while ago). I just don't have one side to my interests though. If you are pro-Bush or the Republicans, you might prefer to just skip this one.

Object off Alaska coast may be WWII sub

Imagine the post-modern dungeon crawl, or probably more properly the modern dungeon crawl. Deep under water is a submarine, lost since the days of WWII. Somewhere within that submarine is a secret, a secret so dark and dangerous that it could not be destroyed but only contained. Now, you've been approached and asked to mount an expedition to recover an object from the newly found submarine.

What do you do?

Object off Alaska coast may be WWII sub
Underwater sonar images of a black shape against a background of grainy monochrome are safely stored on two computer hard drives at Bruce Abele's home in Newton, Mass.

Blurred by odd shadows and striations, the silhouettes are the biggest clues in more than 60 years to the fate of his father's World War II submarine, the USS Grunion, which sank nearly 5,000 miles west of Massachusetts, near the obscure islands at the tip of Alaska's Aleutian chain.


[via Jon Nichols]

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Child killer literally a marked man

Probably not dorky but I thought that this might be something that could get some form or another of use out of people. Sometimes the punishment gives a more fitting punishment.

Child killer literally a marked man
Convicted child killer Anthony Stockelman's face and head were unmarked at his trial last year. But now he's turned up at Wabash Correctional Facility with a tattoo on the forehead reading 'Katie's revenge.'

Katie is Katie Collman of Crothersville, the little girl he confessed to raping and killing last year. The Department of Corrections is not saying who applied the tattoo, which is against prison regulations, or why. They say they are still investigating.

Katie's dad, John Neace, has his own theory. Wednesday he said, 'If I had to guess I'd say it's a statement from the inmates.'

Katie's father says he heard about the tattoo from friends and has no idea if Katie's distant cousin, who is also serving time at Wabash, played any role.

Potty Mouths on Star Trek



Probably not work safe but its only a few seconds.