Monday, 31 January 2011

The D1



Is a one-sided die possible? I've been thinking a lot about games lately. Maybe too much. Physically a D1 is possible - it would be a ball. I'm thinking more of the outcome.

We've most of us used the D6 I'd guess, and presumably the D3 too, and many of us could easily have used the D10 as part of the D100, and the D20. Plenty again have probably used the D4, D8 and D12, maybe others.

We've also most likely used a D2, in the sense of a choice between two options. There's even a cool D2 system - once linked to at Risus Monkey I think - for which the authors recommend rolling beans.

We recognise the differences, and some aspects have been discussed here at the Expanse, in this post. But all of those dice are more alike than different beside the D1.

Has anyone used a D1 system? I'm not talking about diceless systems either, at least I don't think I am. I mean a system using a random number that is always one.

Does one outcome mean no choice, or full choice? Would this be pure storytelling? If so, how would the course of events be decided? What mechanisms could be used?

What kind of game could this lead to?

Triffles (2) - A power failure

I'd like to have each Triffle linking to the one before. Assuming a transmission pylon went down in the last, there may well be a power cut somewhere. There was one here yesterday evening too, luckily in conjunction with none of the other three elements...



an imminent and                                             
inflexible deadline                                            

\               

a power failure

/             \

        a door found open           an essential item missing /
   inexplicably                          person absent



For a wargaming context the location could be a bunker or even a vehicle. In a fantasy setting the power failure might be a loss of magical power for some reason, or could just be a gust extinguishing all lamps. It needs no saying this one is well-suited to horror.

Having written this, I realise the exact same set-up is an essential element in the plot of a very famous film from around 20 years ago. Can you guess which?

Sunday, 30 January 2011

All ways for now

At last the list of portals is fully up to date, with the outstanding suggestions all now in place. I almost can't believe I got through it.

That was an interdimensional adventure and a half - to anyone needing their mind expanded I recommend a click or two.

There are still a handful of entries needing clarification: if anyone is up on their doors, be my guest and set me on the right path. Dare I open another kind of gate, the floodgate, and invite more?

At any rate, thanks again to everyone who has contributed so far, many with more than one suggestion, some with far more...




Apologies also to Jedediah for spelling her name wrong for the past couple of weeks...
_

Triffles (1) - A makeshift bridge

A series for possible inspiration I'll try to keep coming regularly, even daily if I can.

These are simple, hopefully useful ideas sniffed out - 'truffles' - but with three elements to them - Triffles - for use in in any kind of fiction, whether wargaming, roleplaying or writing. Today's for example could be inspiration for a terrain piece in wargaming, a geomorph in roleplaying or a scene in a story, and might work well in a mystery of sorts.

I've given options to better fit it to either fantasy or a sci-fi / modern setting. It builds on recent or reactivated subjects at the Expanse, in this case portals, the choppa and food.



a felled tree / transmission pylon,
lying across a barrier

|

a makeshift bridge

/             \

loosed arrows/bolts /             gathered fungus /
   spent rounds                      salvaged cable



Here the uncertainty relates to the type of barrier, whether a watercourse, a fence or a wall - or something stranger - and the order of events. Is anyone still around?

Wargaming Workshop has a photo up now of something a little more advanced. If you want to model that pylon, try this post at Nesbet Miniatures.

Good to go?

A few recent posts gathered together for the creative types, i.e. all of you.

Greg Christopher at the Statecraft blog tell us about a revision he has lined up for one of his games, along the lines of a recent post here at the Expanse on ruleset size.

Tim at Gothridge Manor has tough talk on cutting words in a manuscript in the first of a two-part series, and Greg is among the commenters, giving the benefit of experience. And if you have an agent or are looking for one, there is an overview at Demitria Lunetta on the process of editing for this particular person.

With your beauty in the bag, you might benefit from this post at blue collar space on getting copies shifted. Particular generosity in their sharing this. If you're thinking of touring blogs as part of the process, there's advice at The Other Side of the Story.

Almost last of all, should you be out of print, or worried about it, Fabled Lands might be a place to start learning the art of the comeback. They've been there.

But before all of that, are you sure you want to publish? This view of the Truly Weird future that is Riskail could either leave you with second thoughts or erase all doubt.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Porky models - Ork (7) - Choppa 1

After all the weighty subjects of the past few days, down to earth with an Ork arm.

Part of the answer to the puzzle first. Here are the specific pieces I used. 




The axe has had the blade removed and the forearm has been separated from the hand. The pointed metal plates are the 'teef' from the boss pole. How will they be used? The actual Ork toof for the base of the axe haft was also taken from the pole. Don't get too attached to that - why not? The spiked pauldron will help make the new axe head.

Here's how they went together.



Friday, 28 January 2011

Play write

We have a lot to learn from each other. This time roleplaying and writing come together, but wargaming isn't too far behind.

Thanks to Juliette Wade at TalkToYoUniverse I got to read this post at The Character Therapist on developing characters in fiction. I left this comment at Juliette's on how roleplaying games might be able to do the same. Turns out Jaleh D also wrote a post at Ex Libris Draconis on the same subject, and she's looking for more ideas for plot hooks. My suggestions are already there. If you have any, we'll all be the richer for the sharing.

So how is this connected to wargaming? You must know my answer to that by now. It's all about using your imagination, and seeing the miniatures as just that, miniature versions of the individuals they represent. You could start with the latest post at A Gentlemen's Ones. If the Inquisition has space for the individual there's hope for all.

Update: Big Jim at Galaxy in Flames has just put up a link to a past post in which he updates the strategy and mission cards from the second edition of Warhammer 40,000. Lots of ideas for anyone thinking about narrative in the course of a conflict.

Theatre of dreams

I just heard a track from the last Dream Theater album and gaming was the first thing that came to mind. Christian at Destination Unknown recently posted on how playing again as an adult might be an attempt to recapture fleeting memories. I'd imagine he had the OSR most in mind, but it's a part of modern 40K too for example. Dream Theater have also been going 25 years. Are we doing it right? Listen and give it some thought.

There's also a portal theme going on to match the theme here of late.

Ravelling yarns (2) - Find your kind

Today a strange story, the second in the 'ravelling yarns' series. The first is here.

It won't be to everyone's taste, but if you've not disliked the recent posts,
you might not dislike this.
It's tongue in cheek as ever, and based on lessons being learnt at the feet of the great ideasmiths in the blogrolls on the left-hand side.

I'll avoid infodumps, despite agreeing with Kim Stanley Robinson, quoted today at Strange Horizons.

The inspiration came especially from the discussion still running at Ecumenical Monday, Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker and a chance listening to Johnny Cash's cover of Redemption Day and Arcade Fire's Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains). I strongly recommend you listen to both of these before reading, and best of all in this order.

*      *      *      *      *      *

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

From little acorns grow

I'd guess most of you have heard the recent news on amino acids and asteroids. It may be harder to trust NASA than it once was, but panspermia is a humbling idea. This and the talk of nature, aliens and souls makes me think of Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon. If it's new to you, you can read it here.

The preface could be enough to suck you in. The writing is old world elegant, with a simplicity and directness that makes guessing its age difficult.

Here's a little.

PROTOSTARS!

No difference and every difference this time. I'm aiming to satisfy most of the pulp wargamers and still keep the promise to Harald, to recommend a blog which is pure roleplaying and storytelling.


It's ix.


What's the blog all about? All I can say with a certainty is the parts are wondrous, but the whole is something else. I can give you links, but you need to feel your way in.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Talk Tuesday

After the runaway success of Ecumenical Monday, thanks in large part to Dethron linking to the post from his blog, today becomes Talk Tuesday, for one week at least.

Ecumenical is still going and recently too there's been all kinds of discussion deeper inside the Expanse than the latest post; I want to give a summary of where, so the good ideas, recommendations and musings of the commenters don't go to waste and questions new and old get answered.

So here's a list of older posts with discussion ongoing or comments just added - in order of activity, most to least.


It's all yours.

Life, but not as we know it (1)




Following on from the mention of Discworld in the last post but one, and all the talk of the scope of fiction, here's the first of a series on especially unusual fictional lifeforms.

This one's from Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett, possibly one of the first places you'd expect to find something out of the ordinary (except maybe The BFG..?). I'm a latecomer to Pratchett, and for many years was a bit closed-minded about the Discworld series. Now I realise what I've been losing, with the earlier books at least. It's good, unexpectedly old-fashioned fun, unpretentious. Pratchett's one of us. What I like most is the way we're given idea after deep idea seemingly only as a catalyst for the jokes.

Monday, 24 January 2011

PROTOSTARS!

A new PROTOSTAR!, a gaming blog of such quality it deserves 113 followers rather than 13. I'm not superstitious, but we do need to get it off that number.

The attractions then, and they are many.

Terrain-building - an excellent tower, designed for sci-fi, but close to Orthanc in design, and part of a larger outpost, as well as a stunning Gothic cathedral tower, a Tyranid reclamation pool, sci-fi containers and a superb modular hill. Pages of inspiration, advice and pretty pictures, and downloadable plans too.

Red planet - getting a good red planet tabletop, a technique also suitable for many a battlemat, and basing miniatures in the style.

Painting - a superb and thorough Tervigon tutorial, but with much for all, especially painters of Tyranids, pulp aliens and monsters, and stranger creatures in general.

Miniatures - classic 40K space marines and their wargear as well as classic Epic-scale models including titans - a Warlord, a brace of Warhounds and a Reaver (mentioned here before) - and examples from two topical space marine chapters: the rejuvenated Dark Angels and the Ultramarines of movie fame.

And if you want to know more about the blogger, here's a post with a surprising but satisfying blend - ninjas, D&D, Blood Bowl and LARPing.

The moreish Confessions of a 40K addict. You might develop a habit.

Don't forget the previous PROTOSTARS!

.

Ecumenical Monday

Interesting departure today, getting away from everything from the God-Emperor of Dune to small gods, every kind of religion in fiction in fact. With a slight humanist angle possibly detected in the last post - and presumably secular humanism, unlikely if so - I thought you might appreciate a couple of links on religion informing fiction.

A couple of days ago I mentioned the zen of modelling re the latest Ork in the series, and we're all aware of the Christian influence on fantasy set in Middle-earth and Narnia, but how many of us know anything about Jewish fantasy or Islamic SF? Didn't think so. Then that seems like a reasonable place to start. Time for a revelation or two perhaps?

Thanks to Bibliophile Stalker for the second link, and possibly the first indirectly.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The scope of fiction

Something weirder than normal today, and absolutely enormous. To understand it best you probably need to have been following the posts here over the past few days. Because of this I recommend you at least skim these three before reading any further.

  • Sensor range, on reconciling ghosts with hard sci-fi etc. and the soul with deep physics, plus what remains when measurable life signs end and a possible nature of information
  • All ways?, a list of fictional portals which has grown massively, and is still growing - with no end in sight - thanks to the good readers of this blog
  • Sizing up dimensions, an attempt to define 'dimension' in fiction

You might also want to look at the last card in yesterday's post. It gets to the point.

Done all that? Well, the bad news is no cartographer with experience of hyperdimensional manifolds came forward, so I had to make a start on the mapping myself. So here's my attempt at sketching the scope of fiction. It's only a sketch mind, a starting point for discussion, so be kind. The point is to show where the human imagination can and does roam, whether in cinema, comics, literature, gaming or any other sphere, including dreams, even in pseudo- and semi-pseudoscience. Everything.

Here's what I came up with.




Fundamental laws of a fictional universe (4)

It's been a while since I made up any fictional universe cards, so here are four more, inspired by the amazing response to the list of portals, and the concepts involved, especially time travel and dimensions.

For anyone who missed the earlier instalments (two cards here, two more here and one here), the point is to allow the big events of fiction into your games, to break down the barriers in how we define game types and to identify recurring tropes as the first step to moving beyond them, possibly by making them so familiar we've had all we can take.

To these three I'm adding a fourth, also inspired by talk of other worlds: recognition of us in the game, and of the scope of fiction. The final card in this batch deals with this.

The idea is they work with any game type, but especially with wargames and roleplaying games. I know they're not balanced and the effects can vary dramatically from system to system. The unevenness is part of the fun - think of them like badly-made dice. The definitions are in the first instalment. I'm claiming no copyright on this batch either.

You can have fun guessing the source of the quotes in the titles too.





Saturday, 22 January 2011

Porky models - Ork (6) - Choppa 1 & Shoota 2 (components)

I've started work on the next Ork in the sequence. For newcomers, the thinking behind the series is introduced here and here and the first completed build is here.

As with the first, I'll show the components I'm going to use for the arms as a visual puzzle. The question: how might these pieces be cut up and various parts combined to produce a big, shooty shoota and a slightly unusual, more clubby choppa?




As a clue, I'll remind you I want to start playing up the idea that Ork physiology has no real trouble accepting primitive 'bioniks', and I want more of a sense of their alien nature to come through in their equipment; it's too recognisably human. This explains why there are more elements being used than might be expected. One is the arm left over from the last Ork build, and this build will leave two. I'll also mention there's nothing here not on the Ork boyz sprues, though I will of course be adding plenty of greenstuff.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Shadowing

If you've been following the recent discussions on quogwinkles, portals and dimensions, and especially if you're a fan of the 40K game world, you might well like Just_Me's most recent post on minor aliens at Bell of Lost Souls, this time the Umbra.

By another coincidence there's currently a follow-up post on alien physiology at the top of Science In My Fiction, written by Juliette Wade of TalktoYoUniverse.

Barking Alien also posted recently on the difference between an alien and a monster. This was a discussion I enjoyed very much, even if we do disagree a little; perhaps more so for it. I'll be pondering the ideas at any rate, and you can make up your own minds.
_

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Sizing up dimensions

Short post, big subject.

First of all, thanks to everyone who's contributed so far to yesterday's list of portals. It's an ongoing project so keep those suggestions coming. That list is the spark for this.

And here it is then, that big subject. What exactly is a dimension?

In the fictional sense I mean. I used the term in the introduction to the list and a reply to Jebediah, but I gave no serious thought to what I meant. We know what a dimension is in the everyday sense, and by extension in physics, but that's not really what we mean when it comes to cinema, comics, literature and gaming. It's the tip of the iceberg.

The Codex Project...

Attention all Warhammer 40,000 fans!

You almost certainly have an interest in this.

If you don't have time to read the whole text, just go straight to the fourth paragraph, the one beginning: "So we have created..." That's the reasoning and intent in a shell casing. 

Big Jim at Galaxy in Flames will put up more on the project later this week.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

All ways..?

A belated supplement for the post on portals. That post was set off by the domain-level project running at Hill Cantons and this one by The Angry Lurker mentioning Stargate. It's another list to inspire or help with research, as with the fictional mines and seventies films.

I've decided to include any method of instant or greatly accelerated travel through any or all of space, time, dimensions or universes. A major issue is classification of course. Alphabetical order is no real use, but we know there's little difference between high technology and magic, or science fiction and fantasy. So I've grouped them by general feel, but could it be better? And what else should be here?


PROTOSTARS!




Today's blog I think deserves more readers is Super Galactic Dreadnought.

Why? The first reason is ships - spaceships to be exact - and we may all feel a bond, whatever our fiction. Super Galactic Dreadnought has a lot to say about them, whether it's spaceship design and designers, model scale, ship naming or spaceship gaming.

Wargamers more interested in terra firma - or even extraterra firma - might like the recent branching out into Ogre by one of the Steve Jacksons, with its robotic tanks. The introduction is here, and the first part and second parts of the model review here and here. SGD also has a clear liking for Hordes of the Things, which gets played monthly.

Roleplayers of all settings might like the recent world and system building post and its links to some powerful tools. (A tabletop world is built here.) Fantasy roleplayers in particular may be surprised to hear that ckutalik of Hill Cantons fame dropped by a week or so ago - in physical form no less! - to play a game of starship combat. And he liked it.

So strap yourself in, power up the turbos and go engage. Super Galactic Dreadnought. It's super. It's galactic. There's nought to dread, except missing out.

Don't forget the previous PROTOSTARS!, also well worth a look.

.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Story arc

Last month I suggested looking into legend, myth and history when creating scenarios in wargaming, roleplaying and writing. Here's an example, a great story arc that almost comes full circle. It looks fantasy but is just as easily sci-fi, or horror. Do you recognise it?

In a war-wracked land an illiterate shepherdess is brought up in a deeply religious home. She has visions at the age of 12; saints tell her she will lead the armies of the occupied nation, drive the invader from the realm and bring the rightful king to coronation. She is shown how to achieve this and takes a vow of chastity.

At the age of 16 the time has come. A relative drives her to a friendly garrison where she asks to be taken before the heir. She is turned away. Almost a year later she returns, to prophesy an imminent military defeat. News comes that the battle is lost; the shepherdess is escorted on the long journey to the royal candidate.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Spirits in a material world

Does Shawn Gately at Blue Table Painting read this blog?

I got the feeling we're kindred spirits in a gaming sense during the recent road trip vid, but his latest (embedded lower down this page) is far closer. It was actually posted two days ago, but manages to cover what the Expanse covered yesterday. I guess grate minds do think alike. He does say at the begining he can travel through time...

If you want his thoughts, the really good stuff starts at 8:55. It's brief.

If you like the gravity idea he mentions, you also might like what Science In My Fiction had to say about the subject yesterday. It's not too heavy and has interesting implications for interstellar travel, in fiction first of course.

For the song in the title, another video. If you're a fan of music, watch to the end for an interview. For more fun, guess Mr Copeland's accent. The cosmos gets a mention too.


Sunday, 16 January 2011

Sensor range




Anyone who's never visited Riskail should take a good look, for descriptions of a Truly Weird World. Sci-fi fans could try these recent posts on a transhuman type and various planets, while fantasy fans might find more in a new take on wizards or a dozen cults. The blog always inspires me. I am going somewhere with this, somewhere in the clouds.

In the last day or so I've visited Ghost Hunting Theories for the first time, and read this post at The Digital Cuttlefish. Things started happening in my mind.

How can we reconcile ghosts with hard sci-fi, or even high fantasy? How does the soul fit into deep physics? What remains of us in the world when measurable life signs end?

I will now speculate on these ideas, but in the far-out spirit of Riskail, as if getting ready to write something of that calibre. Sit tight.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Repelling boarders

I've been pondering control of spaces. In wargaming and roleplaying we could well be encouraged to invade, occupy and steal, and how we rationalise this is a big subject. Big Lee at his Miniature Adventures has a real life example, which is what set me off.

The problem has reared its head at the Expanse too. One follower showed surprising contempt for everyone else by manipulating a mechanism for his or her own ends. I don't like the idea of diversity suffering for limited personal gain, as I suggested here a while back on the subject of tournaments. With no means of contact, I've blocked the person, but will happily review the decision. If any Blogger blogger has a need to do this, they can click the green 'Followers' icon on the dashboard, then the given avatar, then select the option under the name. I feel unhappy for having done it, but better than I did before.

All of this reminded me of two movies featuring similar situations, one of which you probably know and the other quite possibly not. It's a common problem, but in both help comes from an unlikely quarter, from aliens, possibly those quogwinkles again.


Friday, 14 January 2011

Hanging back

I've finally caught up with the blogs in the rolls and my head is swimming with ideas. I feel just a little like this poor woman, but since none of the bloggers is "an unspeakable horror from hell" (probably), it's more "Fantastic!" and "Weird!" than "Horrifying!" She at least doesn't need to worry about her figure now.

I'll get back to you on more than a few of the ideas - count on that - but for now there's work to be done. A while back I put up a post aimed at tieing up loose ends in our reaches of the blogosphere, and the time has come to do it again. On my recent jumps I've found a fair few bloggers calling for backup.

Here we go.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

PROTOSTARS!

Today the hot blog is Fire Broadside!, which also has a pulp exclamation mark. These exclamation marks could be big again.

Where to start with this one? I've got it listed in the fuller spectrum blogroll, meaning it spans game types or approaches. In this case it's a bridge between what we call roleplaying and what we call wargaming, but also takes in board games.

And it does all of this stunningly well. Visit the blog and look at the list of games recently played at the bottom of the right-hand column. How many of us can match that? More to the point, how many of us have shared thoughts on even half that number?

Matching the eloquence on display would be a challenge even if we had. See the last post but one, Earth Reborn - Buzzsaw Wielding Zombies!, for a taste of this. The eloquence is on display too in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay session write-ups, the atmosphere-rich Investigations in Stromdorf for example.

The blog also has a love of space and space exploration, and posts with this theme pop up every now and again, like yesterday's wonderful The Pale Blue Dot.

As if that were not enough, the site is a pleasure to browse - clean, well arranged and with a strong, attractive design.

Want to know more? For a review of 2010 and plans for 2011 there's this post.

That's Fire Broadside!

If you haven't read the first in this series yet, check out Blighty Waaagh Boys.
.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

PROTOSTARS!




Here we are then, the first top blog I believe has too few followers.

I've gone with the series title PROTOSTARS! because it's very pulp, but also because if the blogrolls are home to stars of hobbyspace, those with less followers can be thought of as protostars. It's not to patronise - the point is not that the blogs are young or new, just that I think they deserve more readers - but if you feel it's patronising, it can change.

They got lucky really, because they could have been Porky's Golden Truffles. I thought about it. Then again, a protostar becomes a star when it gets T Tauri wind, so if they're getting wind from Porky, perhaps luck's the wrong word...

The capital letters are to just grab maximum attention, plus they're pulp. Everyone knows exclamation marks are pulp too.

Enough theory. Today I want to thrust Blighty Waaagh Boys into the light of the assembled constellations. You are the assembled constellations.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Thanks

This weekend I was lucky enough to receive wonderful gifts by email. I've thanked the senders and I'm very grateful for their generosity. The same goes for the responses to this weekend's posts, which were far more, and more positive, than I could have hoped.

But I'm grateful for much more too and I want to say a bigger thanks, to everyone in this corner of the blogosphere for the sharing and the mutual encouragement and support. I visit a lot of blogs and I'm constantly amazed by the wealth of ideas and big-hearted giving in posts and comments. Being a part of this is always a pleasure, often stimulating and at times even electrifying. It's sometimes too much to take in.

Porky's Expanse! is a fairly new kid on the block, but has somehow managed to pick up 59 intrepid fellow explorers, as well an array of good people giving welcome feedback and ever greater numbers just reading quietly. To all of you too I am very grateful.

I've decided I want to give a little something back in a more direct way. Whenever I have a mind too clouded with thoughts to find anything of value to say, I'll turn attention to the blogs that deserve far more of the limelight. There are so many with so much to offer. Hopefully more will find them and gain from the knowing. We'll all be the richer for that.

In the meantime, I encourage everyone reading this to travel as widely as they can through 'hobbyspace', to visit new blogs they've not read before, and to get involved and give feedback. Those listed in the left column are my particular recommendations, based on what I've had the privilege to visit so far. Be bold, and I think you'll like what you find!

Thanks again.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Porky models - Ork (5) - Ork 1

Here at last, the complete model, with all of the parts combined into one. A list of the parts first, with the links to the making.


Pics next, and quite a few.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Porky models - Ork (4) - Head 1

Finally getting back to this guy. If you have no idea who it is, you can find the mission here, thoughts on Orks and conversion here, and every part using the 'modelling' tag.

The head has been ready for some time, but the original picture I took was so poor I'd been waiting to photograph it again with the finished model. I'm posting the head here alone to keep to a separate post for each element, in case anyone does one day want to find it again for reference. The rest of the pictures of the finished model I'll post as soon as I finish the write-up on how I got the various effects, hopefully this weekend.

With the head I had a chance to play up two of my favourite Ork elements - 'teef' and fungus. Teef function as currency, and Ork mouths and faces are very much defined by them. I love the ways the sculptors have played with them over the years and this is an homage. As for the fungus, it's always been in the background as food and drink, and since the late '90s and Gorkamorka the Orks have grown from it. Ork spores drift, Orks and their ecosystem grow in cool places and worlds are infested. I like the idea of fungus sprouting on an Ork as moles might on us, and a bare head is a good space.

The first of the two pics then.


Friday, 7 January 2011

Size matters / class war



How big should a ruleset be? At Warhammer 39,999 we have a poll to respond to with our choice of most important stat, but for me it's better to ask which stat is least important. As I see it, the 40K ruleset is bloated and often nonsensical.

When GW reworked Epic in the late '90s they simplified enough that I no longer recognised the game and walked away. Now I recognise that what they did was genius, or a step towards it. Today at the Statecraft blog Greg Christopher reports finding an elegant solution that gives more warfare with less. This is surely the point.

Heavens re-opened

A little more looking has turned up a few new movies for the list of '70s flicks that speak volumes about the hobby. Thanks to imaginarywars for the reminder of space1970 - I've added The Ultimate Warrior already. These posters at Coming Attractions of the Past! also gave me a prod, so I've added the four later movies in the original Apes series too. 

Here are trailers for two of the newest additions to the list. The mutants in the metro of Beneath the Planet of the Apes, and the sea and sorcery of Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Watching them now, the ideas seem brighter than they did all those years ago.




Thursday, 6 January 2011

Fundamental laws of a fictional universe (3)

Linked with the ongoing and perhaps endless discussion of breaking the mould, if you're a 40K player - and especially a 40K roleplayer - you might be interested in what JB at B/X BLACKRAZOR has to say on Stars Without Number.

On the subject of settings, but fantasy, and for D&D in particular, I direct you to some thoughts on essences at the stimulating Gorgonmilk. Have a good look around the blog while you're there - it's a breeding ground for the less than usual.

As for the fundamental laws of fiction, here's another card for the deck. The first two are here, and the next here. The latest is to get some interaction going among the cards themselves. There's no copyright on this either for the same reason as before.


Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Open doors

To access the new realm in the domain-level game being run at Hill Cantons you'll need to pass through a portal. Yes, one of those portals. Not sure how I feel about that, or rather how that feels.

If a portal offers instant passage to another location - possibly another world or even dimension in the polycosmos - what can we assume about it? We know we can pass through, but what about our clothing and equipment? Does it need to be in contact, and if so, with what exactly? Because those quivers and scabbards - or magazines and firearms - might not be touching skin. Do we take with us more than the air we carry in our lungs? Grubs in food of course, and a buzzing fly maybe, but a flagstone? Or floor?

In the House


The upstart House of Paincakes has opened up links with the Expanse. That is to say I'm in, but there's persuading to be done the decision was a good one. What comes of it is anyone's guess. For my part I've agreed to supply glimpses of life's deeper mysteries.

The network is growing fast and has some real talent so go explore by all means, but beware - as the logo suggests, it's a bumpy ride and not for the easily offended.

Fundamental laws of a fictional universe (2)

There's a bold venture on the cards at Ostensible Cat and I'm behind it all the way. It's clear Johnathan wants not just a new game, but a new kind of game, one breaking new ground. It must be possible. For an existing game that doesn't necessarily fit the mould, see Harald's review of Itras by at The Book of Days. Synapse looks very promising too.

How would this affect those fundamental laws of a fictional universe? Well, I'm not sure they'd be so easy to lose. They're extensions of our nature after all, our expectations of a story and our willingness to pay with time and money, whether it's a story in cinema, literature or gaming. To change those expectations and that willingness we have to change ourselves. A noble mission, and not such a strange one at this time of year.

Here then are two more cards for the growing deck. The aim is manifold: first to allow the big events of fiction into your games; second to break down the barriers in how we define game types; third to identify recurring tropes as the first step to moving beyond them.


Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Status report (1)

Some order from chaos, a snapshot of the mood in the Expanse as it is at the moment.

A little bit of several recent posts in this: Bond and his antics of course, as well as the 1970s, but also monsters (this one comes good), exploitation of space and exploitation of women, and even an annual celebration, albeit later in the year. Plus laser battles.

Can't go far wrong with all of that, surely...



To expand on another past post and its sequel, Damien G. Walter has a link to further discussion of truth and beauty in sci-fi, while Slight Foxing has a view on Tron: Legacy.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Seventies heavens

This one's for joe especially. Yesterday's post was a lot to take in, and he reminded me I need to keep it simpler for readers less familiar with the world of gaming. He and others might like a primer in key influences and mental atmosphere.

Building on yesterday's use of cinema and taking the bold cyclopeatron and his 10 greatest works of fantasy fiction as encouragement, I venture into something more joe's bag - the 1970s - vital to understanding what makes many of us tick.

My criteria won't be overall impact, but apparent popularity and importance to the hobby, especially in this particular corner of the internet, especially to me, and I won't be annotating like cyclopeatron because I'm nowhere near clued-up enough. If you want my take on the influence of the '70s on the alien from Alien, that's still waiting for the brave.

Here we go then. Watch these to understand us better. All of the links will take you to IMDb, which ought to have a trailer for most. I recommend Wikipedia too for more on context. Remember, as always, some will not be for the sensitive or easily scared.