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Showing posts from September, 2012

Life After the Zombie Apocalypse

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My last blog post dealt with the decidedly uncheerful post-apocalyptic novel The Road. It's a difficult book to read. I couldn't imagine ever wanting to play an RPG in such a setting. Heck after posting that marked the longest gap between posts I've had on this blog so it must have drained my will to post...

Aside from a few brief Aftermath and Gamma World games I've not done much gaming in the post-apocalyptic genre. Probably a bit too depressing for my tastes. I like intact societies, not remnants of civilization sulking in ruined cities. With that in mind, one "sub-genre" I have given some thought to gaming in is the "Zombie Apocalypse" genre. The basic premise is pretty simple. The dead rise in the form of zombies. Usually they bite people and the people bitten become zombies. I'm far from an expert in the genre but you can find examples it pretty easily - The Walking Dead comic book and television series comes to mind most easily.

Quite a …

Fiction Review: "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy

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“She was gone and the coldness of it was her final gift.”
It is possible that I've experienced a more depressing novel than The Road but I tend to doubt it. The key word here is experienced. The Road is not really a book you read, it is one which you experience.
Just describing the setting itself is depressing. Some ten years ago something really bad happened. We don't quite know what it is. We know there was a lot of fire and a lot of heat. We know that all the power is gone. And the Earth's biosphere has pretty much failed. All the trees and grass are dead. They are still there but they're dead. Doesn't appear that any animals have survived. The beach is littered with the bones of dead fish. The book mentions some migratory birds last seen a few years ago. There seems to be an awful lot of earthquakes in the course of the book. Everything is covered by ash and dust. It's getting colder.
We don't know if the initial disaster killed a lot of people or not. I g…

Schedule Disruption of Doom!!!!

I'd originally hoped to be updating this blog on a 3-4 times per week basis. During the summer that was definitely doable but as we've entered the fall with back to school it's clear that I lack time for that.

It's not really that bad a thing though. I've got a challenging job but not one that has 16 hour days or backbreaking labor. The kids are back to school which is a good thing. In really good news my wife, after two years of unemployment and underemployment is back to teaching full-time - and at a better salary than her previous full-time job.

That's all pretty awesome. Hobbies have had to be shoved a bit to the backburner as we adjust to our new schedule. Gamings been on a little bit of a hiatus (hopefully kick it back off in two weeks) and I've been throttling the blog to 2-3 updates per week which seems a bit more manageable.

Fiction Review: "The Man Who Folded Himself" by David Gerrold

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If you have sex with yourself is that masturbation? Just to clarify, we're not talking about yourself by yourself but rather with you from another timeline.

I imagine that's a question few books outside of David Gerrold's The Man Who Folded Himself have had to consider.

I just reread this book on my Kindle. I first encountered it in the early 1990s, buying a copy of it from the UConn co-op as part of my early experience with "good" science fiction. I'd of course heard of David Gerrold as the author of the classic Star Trek episode The Trouble with Tribbles and I'd followed his monthly column in Starlog magazine in the 1980s as he introduced Star Trek: The Next Generation. Rereading a book about time travel twenty years after you read it for the first time, especially a time travel book where the protagonist meets future and past versions of himself, is a rather odd feeling.

The Man Who Folded Himself is a brief book - pulling out my old paperback copy whi…

RPG Review: Star Trek The Role Playing Game (FASA/1983)

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It really isn't my fault that I'm a Trekkie. When I was a preschooler in the suburbs of Syracuse back in the early 1970s my mother would put WPIX Star Trek reruns (all the way from NYC, there was cable tv awfully early in that area) on for me while she made dinner every weeknight at 6 PM. I liked the funny guy with the pointy ears.

My uncle and godfather was the family Trekkie. He took me to see Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979. Truth be told my 8-year old self found it a bit boring. However in 1982 I absolutely loved Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. That was a movie an 10-year old (almost 11 that summer) could appreciate it. Though seeing ear-worms on a giant drive-in movie screen was incredibly gross.

By that time I had my first official D&D group. We used to meet in the Howard Whittemore Library in Naugatuck, CT. One winter I was hanging outside the library waiting for for my parents to pick me up after our game was complete when I ran into the GM of another gamin…

Thoughts on Historical Gaming

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I love history. Living in Massachusetts I enjoy taking opportunity of many of the historical sites available to visit - U.S.S. Constitution, Plimouth Plantation and Mayflower II, Boston's Freedom Trail, Old Sturbridge Village, etc. My family has paid multiple visits to Virginia's Colonial Williamsburg. My Kindle and physical library are full of history books and works of historical fiction.

With that in mind I'm surprised to see how little "historical gaming" I've done. It's not that I've done none - one of my more successful recent campaigns, and one I might go back to, was a 1920s Call of Cthulhu game. But aside from that most of my historical gaming has been more of dabbling than full-fledged campaigns.

I think for me at least a lot of this comes from the desire to "get everything right". On the surface that's a good desire but taken too far it can be crippling. I'm unlikely to run into players shouting at me "Omigod I can&#…

RPG Review: Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game (1987)

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Born in 1971, Star Wars cast a wide shadow on the culture of my youth. There's a joke on the internet along the lines you can tell you grew up in the 70s and 80s in that by the time of Return of the Jedi you thought Princess Leia or Han Solo were hot...

We had our action figures. Our bed sheets. Our narrated storybooks (on vinyl!)  I remember anxiously awaiting the release of the Star Wars Holiday Special in 1979 (note - even at the age of eight I managed to be disappointed).  After Empire Strikes Back there were massive debates as to whether Darth Vader was telling Luke the truth regarding being Luke's father.

After 1983 it kind of fizzled out. There were some odd Ewok tv-movies and the Droids and Ewoks television shows but neither lasted very long. The Marvel Star Wars comic book lasted until 1986.

In 1987 West End Games placed advertisements in Dragon magazine announcing their Star Wars RPG. I was an excited fan - I'd experimented with adapting Star Wars to AD&D wi…