Cordelia’s Honor, by Lois McMaster Bujold

Ok, so I was planning to post a piece today on game-system flavors, but then I just kept writing and writing.  It turns out that that piece is going to be a bit longer than I’d anticipated.  Instead, I’ll give you an easy one: Cordelia’s Honor, by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Ostensibly the first set of stories in the long Vorkosigan series, I came to this book only after I’d already read a number of the other stories.  I feel that I benefited from the prior experience, and would recommend that you start elsewhere as well.  Not because the stories in Cordelia’s Honor are in any way bad, but because some parts of them are harder to engage with when you don’t already know and like some of the characters.  I feel like I had a deeper understanding and appreciation for the characters that I met because it wasn’t the first time that I’d met them, even though the events that I read about were obviously happening long before anything else that I already knew about.

My quick opinion before I get deeper into talking about the book?  Read it.  In fact, read all the Vorkosigan books.  They are very hard to put down once you start, but at least they come in manageable, more or less bite-sized chunks.

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The Brief Hiatus Continues

I’ve been lax in my duties to this blog.  My apologies.  I should have explained further with my post last week: I’m in Portland, Oregon, and on Monday I spent all day running my Call of Cthulhu game for a number of fellow Reedies.  Today I’ll be co-teaching a stage combat class, and Saturday will see a second run of the same scenario from Monday.

I’m afraid that all means that I won’t have new material for you this week apart from this apology.  On the plus side, I finally cast my eyes upon RimWorld, a fascinating base-building simulation with an AI-managed event-engine that I’m itching to get my hands on and tell you about (yes, I want to tell you about the event engine, follow that link and read about it).  I’m also moving ever closer to having a complete version of my Call of Cthulhu scenario, though I’m not yet certain whether my most recent alterations are progress or regression.  Either way, I’ll be back here to bother you about cool stories, games, and story games next week.

A Glance at Shadowrun’s 5th Edition

I’m busy getting ready to run the seventh iteration of my Call of Cthulhu scenario, Temple in the Sands, and I probably won’t have anything for you this Wednesday due to traveling.  But last weekend I had the chance to play a game of Shadowrun again, something I don’t often have an opportunity to do.  I had a good time, but I think I realized why it was that I play it so infrequently; Shadowrun looks like a chore and a half to run when compared with all the other RPGs that I play.

Shadowrun reminds me a bit of a glamorous ass.  You know what I’m talking about: one of those people with so much style, and with so many good stories told about them, that you forget just how frustrating they can be in person.  If you spend enough time hanging around them the aggravation (mostly) disappears into the background noise, but there’s a lot of settling in and acclimatizing that you have to do first.  And every so often (usually right in the middle of something that is pretty cool) you get a reminder of why you thought the person was an ass in the first place.  But because it’s so glamorous, because it’s practically oozing cool, I keep wanting to come back to it like the sucker I am.  I can explain, I swear. Continue reading

Dominions 3’s Manual Seduces, Conquers All

I sure did say a lot of mean things about Dominions 3 when I wrote about it last time.  I finished on a positive note, to be sure, but if you didn’t read that last bit it might have looked like very mild hate mail rather than an admission of my affections.  I won’t take those comments back (I still think they’re true, confirmed through further play), but I do have a few other thoughts to add.  First of all, giving me a copy of this game for Christmas is both wonderful and somewhat mean.  Secondly, I’m (not so) secretly in love with the game’s manual.  Third… well, my third thought is that the game is far more captivating than I had realized that it would be from my time as a spectator.

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The Forever Engine, by Frank Chadwick

I hear you like adventures.  How about books that come complete with steam, airships, weird science, and doomsday devices?  Frank Chadwick’s new book The Forever Engine delivers action and adventure with all of those things, and good characters too.  Even better, the story follows an active style very similar to what I’ve come to expect from John Ringo, but without the moments that make you want to yell “Oh John Ringo, no!”  The main characters are competent, sometimes preposterously so, but they generally feel like whole people in a way that happens less often in action/adventure stories.  Already sold?  Go read the book!  If you’re not quite convinced, try reading a little more…

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Dungeon-Starter: The Duke’s Men

Happy New Year!

Here’s an abbreviated dungeon-starter for Dungeon World, building somewhat on the material that I came up with for The Duke’s Men.  Agenda, Goals, and Dungeon Moves are at the top as per usual.  This is mostly focused on cultists and such, as the game itself was, but the basic storyline offered in my previous post could easily be altered to deal with any number of different kinds of threats.

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