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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Books, books, books

I have been reading several things lately, with reading mostly winning the time conflict with gaming prep and computer gaming:

 The new D&D PHB of course, which I am mostly liking so far. I wish they had gone with less subtle page numbering and larger type in the index, but at least they toned down the background texture this time around. Aging eyes and all that. I mostly like the art, aside from the giant-headed, tiny-footed mutant halflings. The remix of the rules is interesting and nowhere too deeply annoying so far, though I'm sure I'd fiddle with it a bit if I were to run it much. I've knocked together a sorcerer and a rogue so far in running through character generation to drive rules reading. Of the Hasbro/Wizards D&D versions, its the one I'd most likely want to run at this point. I'm happy playing Pathfinder when somebody else runs it, and also enjoy the Labyrinth Lord games I've played in on Roll20. I'm still a big fan of dragging out my tattered LBBs and ancillary stuff and riffing with impromptu variants.

 Just finished 1636: The Devil's Opera, yet another in the Eric Flint 1632 series. Good enough. If you like the series you'll like it, but it isn't the place to start.

  The Science of Discworld: reading more of the Pratchett interludes than the science bits, but both are pretty good.

 Still slowly reabsorbing EPT, as I grind out more dungeon contents and start to think about where to plunk the thing down on the map and what sort of cursory scenario to wrap the dungeon crawl in.

 Getting close to the end of Black Halo, Sam Sykes second of the Aeon's Gate series. I'd read the first, Tome of the Undergates, a couple years ago and rather enjoyed it. Black Halo gets a bit repetitive of some of the themes, but overall is a fun take on the D&D adventurers as misfit outsiders that society barely tolerates, and a bickering, dysfunctional party of PCs. It strikes me as more of a DCC than D&D setting, with characters afflicted by various curses and personality issues, nasty side effects for overtaxed wizards, and a world that leans towards the swords and sorcery end of the spectrum.

 The other night my daughter and I watched an Italian/Polish (TV?) movie about the siege of Vienna in 1683, which got me thinking to re-read Tim Powers's Drawing of the Dark a historical fantasy about the first siege in 1529. The book holds up well, at least for the first 40 pages or so, as much as I read tonight. It might make a good setting for Lamentations of the Flame Princess or Honor + Intrigue in its more fantastical guise, or maybe Savage Worlds/Solomon Kane.

 My copy of Honor + Intrigue turned back up yesterday in a bit of housecleaning, so I've been paging through it again. It's really quite a nice swashbuckling rules set based on the rules engine from Barbarians of Lemuria. Some friends and I have been batting back and forth the idea of running a game, not sure whose campaign idea will win out, probably whoever actually implements a starter scenario first.

 Lastly, over the weekend I was reading a rather dry history book with some serious possibilities as source material for use in either of those last two games or anything with a strong historical element from late medieval through at least the pike and shot period, A History of Greek Fire and Gunpowder, by J.R. Partington. Mine is an old, used, deaccessioned library copy, but you can buy the paperback reprint on Amazon and it is worth it if you want authentic pyrotechnic recipes and delivery devices for your alchemists, or details of historical manuscripts and period books on the topic. It's also been scanned by Google if you just want a taste of it.

 And while I haven't read more than the beginning of the G.R.R. Martin's first Song of Ice and Fire book, some years ago, I have been binge watching the Game of Thrones series in a few bouts of several episodes at a time, and plowed through another three episodes in season three about a week and a half ago. Good stuff.

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