Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2016

CW Listicle Notes

Turns out I've got rather a lot to say about a rather short piece. Specifically, the Car Wars vignette in Pyramid #89. It's all in general pursuit of world-building, but there's probably as much world-building going on in this one as all of my previous vignettes put together. Four out of the five locations make glancing reference to notable aspects of the world of the new Car Wars, so there are some significant bits of history and culture to tease out there. The fifth...well, that was mostly just me amusing myself.

There's also a certain amount of--pardon the expression--reality in there. In figuring out where to put the various arenas, I looked at a lot of maps, lists of roadside attractions, locations of current sports venues, and other such materials. Each place has a definite location in the real world, sometimes to the point of using existing buildings. Here's where everything came from:

Big Swede Arena: Parking garage at the Emeryville Ikea. We went there a fe…

Final HT Roll

I just got news earlier today that an old friend and fellow gamer died unexpectedly last night. He had been, so far as I know, in reasonably good health and was only perhaps a year older than me (which is grown-up, but not old enough that dying is an expected short-term outcome), so we're all rather in shock.

I'll be talking to friends about this more, but since this is my gaming blog, I'll talk about him in a gaming context. Al (I'll call him Al here; you didn't know him) had a tendency to get into...predicaments. Well, he was one of several people who did that, but with him, it was usually unintentional. In one of our early fantasy campaigns, he took a memorable hit to the head with an axe, taking absurd amounts of damage but surviving. In our long-running space mercenaries game, his character took another memorable hit to the head. With an antitank rocket. I think he survived that one as well. Good armor, that.

But for me, at least, the most memorable gaming was…

DFT2 Notes

...yeah, I got nothin' for this.

OK, maybe a little. GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Treasures 2: Epic Treasures is the result of my suggesting, around the time I was finishing up DFT1, that if we're going to have #1 in a series, it's just polite to have #2 in the pipeline as well. The Powers That Be agreed, and here we are.

I think the "Making It Epic" section in the introduction, discussing approaches to take to big treasures, may be the most important and reusable part of the book. Big treasures should go beyond mere bonuses (though, certainly, there are a few things which are all about the mere bonuses in there a page or two on). The GM has to consider scope in different ways, several of which I suggest, and each item in the book has a power in some way related to those criteria.

For example, the Marvelous Crab is about freedom of movement and, to some extent, freedom from resource management. It's not a fantasy tank. And despite calls from multiple playtesters to…

Knowledge Is Power Notes

So, yeah, I found the imperial Chinese civil service interesting enough to write a substantial article about it. This is very much about a social technology: the cultivation and staffing of a bureaucracy capable of administering a major empire. For China, this involved several prerequisite and accompanying technologies: a well-developed body of philosophy to serve as the basis for exams, a population wealthy enough to support a population of scholars providing the necessary human resources, reasonably inexpensive writing media, and a physical infrastructure of dedicated testing facilities. 

I wrote a couple of paragraphs which I ultimately cut, partly for space (I went rather longer than projected on this one) and partly because I didn't think they quite fit. But for anyone interested, here they are:

Senior Scholars

Persistence in the face of repeated failure in the exams posed certain problems for administrators. The nominal age of retirement from the civil service was 70, but t…