East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Supernatural, Space, Gothic and more

You know that story about the guy that manages to kick a nasty (and expensive!) habit, only to relapse and fall even deeper into his old ways?
There have been books written on this story, and films made. Some very good, some pretty sucky.

For me, it all started with the Numenera 2 Bundle of Holding I mentioned a few weeks back. You know me – a great game, a ton of handbooks, and I help a charity… I can’t resist this sort of offer.

And Numenera is an excellent game, and with a system I liked a lot – even though I should not, because it’s very modern and freeform, and I am old and grew up with Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest and the Basic Roleplaying System.
But really, the Cypher System that is at the core of the Numenera RPG ticked all the right boxes with me. So much so that I thought… hey, there’s a generic, universal implementation of this game. Why don’t I give it a look?

Short sad story: the hardback Cypher System handbook, second edition, goes for about 100 bucks, if you can still find a copy. That’s brutal.

But then, Black Friday came…

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November after-dinner project: worldbuilding and roleplaying

Breaking a finger was not a good idea.
Right now the finger’s doing well (thanks for asking), the doctor likes what he sees in the X-ray shots, and I’ve made froends with the X-ray technician, so everything’s for the best.
BUT, writing is a drag.

Right now I have a full right hand and two fingers and a thumb on the left – but I must go carefully, because i don’t want to hit or press the broken finger. So, I’m writing slow – or at least slower than my standard.

This would not a problem were it not that I am to deliver a full RPG campaign by the end of December, a full fantasy novel by the end of January, and more or less between those two, a 20-pages piece of geographical/historical worldbuilding for another RPG.

Three very exciting projects – I’m having a blast, writing them… well, sort of a slow-mo blast.

And because I am doing all of these things… why not get something else on the cooker, just to make sure I won’t have a moment for myself?

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Roleplaying and sign language

A very quick heads-up about Inspirisles, a fantasy roleplaying game based on Arthurian legends and Celtic mythology and aimed at a very wide spectrum of players – meaning, small kids can play it too, and have fun with it.
The game is also interesting in the fact that it teaches sign language, which is used as a game tool in-system.
The game was financed via a Kickstarter, and is currently available as a Pay What You Want on DriveThruRPG, with a suggested price of 0.00 – that is, unless you want to drop a few bucks for the creators, you can have it for free.

You might want to check it out.

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Seven pages of knavery: Cruel & Unusual RPG

I play mostly through the web these days, but I am still on the lookout for strange and new games that strike my fancy. I am not particularly hot for the so-called Old School Revival, that to me too often feels like people talking about how they would play, if they actually sat down to play, but are in fact too busy discussing the Byzantine minutiae of a pretty wooden gaming system that was developed before they were born. People that take themselves too damn seriously for my tastes, and that often flaunt unlikely degrees in Political Sciences or Modern Letters, usually applied to Fantasy Fiction (with a paper on P.K. Dick, or H.P. Lovecraft) or the Social Dynamics of the Gaming Ecosystem.
So, I often roam DriveThruRPG looking for something different – and if I maybe will never play it, well, at least it’s new.

A good example is Cruel & Unusual, a small, fiendishly clever game published by Sinister Beard Games and designed by Oli Jeffery; the game caught my eye thanks to a beautiful cover by artist Lenka Simeckova, and turned out to be something I will certainly, sooner or later, spring on my unsuspecting players. Possibly in a public place, when public places will become available again in the future.

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Back to the Tablelands for the holidays

This morning, after a somewhat surreal misadventure with the local bus service – about which I’ll post, maybe, another day – I went and dug out my one-volume Italian edition of Troy Denning’s Prism Pentad – the five novels set in the old AD&D setting known as Dark Sun. The thing is like a dictionary, a small-print, bullet-proof hardback that weights two kilograms, and that will make reading in bed a health hazard.

The reason I decided to go back to Dark Sun is somehow connected with a future writing project (remember what I told you? Announce you’ll write your own things, and new gigs pop up like that) , but as I am doing research and taking notes, I thought I might one day set up a game, to have a little fun with my friends.

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Sword-wielding cats

Some split the world into cat people and dog people, and if such oversimplification are worth anything, then I am a cat person – I’ve spent most of my life surrounded by cats, and find the little killing machines both fascinating and charming. Nothing against dogs, of course, but cats are better, in my opinion.

And cats have a long tradition with fantasy and science fiction writers – authors as different as H.P. Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber and Robert A. Heinlein were cat-lovers, and cats have been featured in a number of stories.
Off the top of my head, I tend to remember Greebo, the cat in Terry Pratchett’s Lancre stories, but also Jones, the cat on board of the Nostromo, in the movie Alien. And of course we all know where the Gray Mouser comes from…

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Radio Karavansara # 4: Aeon Trinity

In about 24 hours I will start a new roleplaying campaign, playing online a game of Trinity – the science fiction RPG originally published in 1997 by White Wolf as Aeon. The game was just re-issued with a new engine as part of the Trinity Continuum by Onyx Path, but we’ll be playing the old ruleset and universe.

And as I have always done with Trinity, I’ve been sketching the campaign while listen to some music – and so I decided to prepare a sort of soundtrack, and put it up on Mixcloud.
Will my players (and my readers) appreciate it?
I do not know.
In case you are interested, it’s here…

And now, off to draw some pre-rolled characters.