Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Brancalonia at the University of Edimburgh

Brancalonia, the “spaghetti fantasy” roleplaying game has been a runaway success on Kickstarter – which means the writers and illustrators are hard at work on these hot summer days to get everything ready.
But meanwhile, back when the Kickstarter was still running full tilt, the History & Game Lab at Edinburgh University took an interest in us.

As a result, you can listen to an interview on the subject of games, history, the interplay of the real world and fantasy, and a lot of other things, on this podcast.

Brancalonia art by Lorenzo Nuti

My voice is horrible, I am quite obviously clueless, but hey, you might find something interesting in my ramblings.


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Fear of finishing, part 2

And let’s admit it, it is fitting that a post about the endless reworking / rewriting / tweaking / revising we do to our work in order to push the finish line as far as possible should have a second part.
I mean, the first was not quite finished, right?

Well, here is where I talk about academia, roleplaying games, and “the funny incidents that happen when you try and make your living as a writer” (remember? this was the topic of the comic book I was told to start posting instead of these useless words I am putting on my blog and nobody reads anyway).

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Small pleasures

A number of years ago, I wrote a scenario for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game, that was published in a collection by Chaosium, called Strange Aeons II. The scenario was called Cursed be the City (a title I pilfered from Henry Kuttner), and pitted a bunch of Neanderthal player characters against an ancient curse. And Tsatthogua.
Because everything’s better with Tsatthogua.

Two days ago I was informed my old adventure was discussed briefly on Reddit.

One sometimes wonders, what of all my work after I’m gone?
Well, something will be remembered.


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Paris by Night

Sometimes we get the hint.
Like, as a belated – but much appreciated and welcome – gift for my birthday, I just received a bundle of sourcebooks for All for One: Regine Diabolique, the roleplaying game of musketeers fighting the Gothic horrors that haunt a not-exactly-historical 1636 Paris.
And yes, I got it.

I mentioned the Ubiquity-powered All for One in a previous post (I am sure WordPress will put a link to it down below). I like the Ubiquity system, and I like the setting, with its swashbuckling heroes facing unspeakable horrors to defend the honor of the King.

What I just got will allow me to set up a proper game, one of these nights, for the delight and amusement (hopefully) of my players.

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Enough Dark Elves to last you a lifetime

The fine folks at Humble Bundle are offering a huge bundle of Forgotten Realms novels, most of which seem to focus on the Underdark and its denizens, the Drow or Dark Elves. As usual part of the proceeds go for a charity.

One buck will net you six titles, and if you go all in and spend 15 bucks, you’ll get 23 books. There’s a whole slew of R.A. Salvatore novels featuring Drow swordmaster Drizzt, plus a few titles from other authors and series.
I admit I am not a fan of R.A. Salvatore, but admittedly I read his books a lifetime ago, and in translation. This is a good opportunity to re-evaluate the bestselling Salvatore. And other books seem promising.

As I mentioned, part of what you pay will go to a charity, in this case Extra Life, that is setting up children hospitals.

And as we are at it, there is also another bundle you might be interested in – up to 26 Warhammer 40.000 ebooks, with the same deal. In this case, the charities supported are two, CLIP and the Every Library Institute.


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Italian Low Fantasy – Kickstarting Brancalonia

The page for the Brancalonia Kickstarter is live, and the project was financed in about one hour. Color me impressed – and grateful to the fans.
There is still twenty days to go, and so the project might become huge.
But what’s this Brancalonia thing?

Brancalonia is a game setting for the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, a psaeudo-historical fantasy that taps the rich catalog of stories, folklore and ideas from the Italian middle ages.
Based on the same concept of the highly successful Italian fantasy anthologies Zappa & Spada (something we could translate as Spade & Sorcery), Brancalonia is a low fantasy setting, in which the players portray members of the Medieval lower classes, trying to eke a living in a world filled with dangers, both mundane and supernatural.

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Elves and revolution

Never liked the guys myself.
Elves, I mean.
Certainly the responsibility rests mostly with Tolkien, but really it was playing D&D that fuelled my antipathy for the elves. Maybe it’s because we never met a poor elf, a down-on-their-luck elf, a working stiff elf. No, the guys were always clean-cut and haughty, with their magic bonuses, their blade-dancing, their artifacts of power and what else. Later, Shadowrun nailed the whole thing, by portraying elves as an elite, and other metahumans – especially orcs and trolls – as discriminated minorities.

Now, I tend to take the accusation of an “inherent racism” in fantasy with a grain of salt, but there’s no doubt that when you write that there’s a whole species that is evil by birth alone… genetically or culturally, you’re off on a dangerous path.
Stuff like “Zingarans are all full of boast and pride” can go from a cliché to a generalization to a racist slur pretty easily. And do not even start me on Zamorean women, or the people of Kithai.

Now, in recent years, we’ve seen a lot of good stuff coming in the field of fantasy, both fiction and roleplaying games, and such issues are, if not happily archived, at least being tackled with intelligence by good authors.. Sometimes the effect can be a little blunt, but the fact that an issue is being addressed is always a plus.
Which, in a rather circuitous fashion, brings us to Spire: The City Must Fall.

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