Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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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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Regime Diabolique

In these confused times, a lot of friends of mine have found a way to relieve part of the pressure by, as they say, “exorcising” the fear of the pandemic by a steady diet of post-apocalyptic fiction – zombie movies, TV series about viruses and the collapse of civilization, novels and comics about crumbling cities and lone survivors.
And it’s all good and fine, if that works for them – it just does not work for me. And I am keeping myself up with old pulp adventures, sword & sorcery and space operas, and classic swashbucklers.

And last night I was checking out what’s new on DriveThruRPGs and I found a massive discount on a game I know and I’ve wanted to play forever.
A complete game for 5 bucks?
A game with musketeers fighting werewolves on its cover?
Come on, are you kidding me?

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And so, tonight we fly

June 1935.

While the second unit for Panthaira, Queen of the Amazons (Amalgamated Productions*) completes the filming of a bit of local color in Lima, Peru, the film director, the producer and the female lead, together with some members of the technical cast, will fly to Manaus, Brazil, for a publicity shot and a bit of location scouting along the Rio Negro.

But things will take an unexpected turn, in The Treasure of Aguirre – episode 1: Flight of the Tin Goose.

(*with a nod and a wink to my friend Andrea Sfiligoi)


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The Friends of Mr Cairo

Joel Cairo is a character in Dash Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, and was portrayed by Peter Lorre in the 1941 movie, John Huston’s debut as a director, featuring Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade.
The movie is, of course, an absolute classic, and a seminal proto-noir, and I’ve watched it a dozen times.

The friends of Mr Cairo in the movie are the unsavoury, obsessed people that hunt for the Falcon, and have no compunction when it comes to killing.

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Back to the Hollow Earth

I mentioned how this whole lockdown thing has not impacted dramatically my lifestyle – I can be worried about my income as projects are fizzing out and it looks like we’ll have a long dry summer and a cold winter, but my day-to-day routine and my general activities are the same as they have been since 2013.

Case in point: roleplaying games.
I have been playing with a regular team since the early ’90s, and when I moved to the countryside, 80 miles from our gaming table, I moved my games online. At the time I was still accessing the web via my coal-powered, copper-cable system, and the games where a chore. Paradoxically, when I finally landed a good, stable, high-volume connection, my old team fizzed out, and I remained player-less.

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Fantasy AGE for free

I mentioned Chris Pramas’ Fantasy AGE roleplaying game in a post a few days back – and now you can get a copy of the Basic Rulebook in PDF for free from the Green Ronin website, as a special offer in these days of quarantine.
The Basic Rulebook is all you need to play one of the best fantasy roleplaying systems I’ve seen in recent times.
Check it out.


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Fantasy AGE – fast and cool

I do not have many opportunities of playing roleplaying games anymore these days – I live in a place in which RPGs are either too modern (because a lot of old people stick to billiards and games of cards, and consider weird any game with a thick rulebook) or too ancient (because younger people play massive online games and consider dice and hex paper quaint).
But I still like reading games, and last night I received a gift card for DriveThruRPG just in time to take advantage of a 40% discount campaign for DM Day.
So I looked into a few things I had on my list.
And I discovered Fantasy AGE.

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