Karavansara

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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More worldbuilding, and beyond

It’s now ten days that I’m working on my 30 Days of Worldbuilding Challenge on Patreon, and it looks like the world is conspiring to make me spend more money and more time on books and software.
Which is good. Sorta.
I mean, it’s almost a sign I finally managed to surf the flow of the Tao.
Or something.

First there was the Maps Bonanza bundle on Humble Bundle, and I ended up getting a ton of mapping software – and I formulated the new year’s proposition (in November, because I like to get ahead with the work) of learning to use the Campaign Cartographer 3+ software and start producing my own gaming and fiction maps.
Who knows, might even turn into a collateral source of income…

Then a second Humble Bundle came up, about game-design – and it is quite interesting, but as it is chiefly focused on video games, I spent only one buck, and got the minimum offer of three game-design books that look like all I will need for quite a while.

… and considering I had already splurged for a massive Numenera RPG bundle, and for a selection of Eastern philosophy ebooks by Shambhala, it seemed to me this month the Bundle had more than earned its keep.
And really, buying these bundles is a way for me to keep true to another of my new year’s propositions, from 2020 – if I find myself with enough money in my pockets, I will spend some for charities. And Humble Bundle is a good way for doing so while at the same time getting a load of books.

But this month, I decided, enough.

But then Bundle of Holding popped up in my mailbox with – you guessed it, a selection of stuff for worldbuilding, specifically aimed at games.
And the basic tier was about 8 bucks, and included a 15 bucks book I’ve had on my wishlist for two years. And so I went and got that too. So now I have more stuff to read.

The excuse I used with myself to gift me yet another bundle of books is that I’ve passed the 15.000 words mark on my current novel – while at the same time hitting 5000 words on the RPG campaign I have hereon my desk (I’m slacking on this one) and 15.000 words again on my Worldbuilding Challenge.
Not bad, considering I’ve wasted over a month because I was typing with one hand short of a pair.

And here’s the fun thing: the daily chapter of my 30 Days challenge is what helped me get back in gear with my serious work. Not only I am slowly recovering as much functionality as I can for my left hand, but I’ve also connected back with the fun of writing.
Which is good, because writing is what’s paying the bills.

And I have more things to come – I’d love to give the podcasting thing another spin, for instance, and create something different than Paura & Delirio, which I am co-hosting and is a great source of fun and learning.
I’d love to do something on writing, or fantasy, or both.
But there are a lot of things to take into account, most important of all I’d hate to do one of those “Who’s this Nyarlathotep chap anyway” things that seem to be popular with the nerdz these days.
I’d like to invent something unique, and different.
Right now I’ve a copybook, in which I am jotting down ideas.

So, things are rather good.
Now I’ve only to keep going.

(and incidentally, I’ve put links in this post to both Humble Bundle and Bundle of Holding. I’m not making a single cent out of this, but maybe some one of you guys is interested)


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More options for February

I am going on with my plan to spend February (also) learning a new skill – because I think it’s fun, and because should it work, I could start collecting new skills, one month after the other. After all, that was what I always was about ever since I was a kid: my mother used to tell me to spend my summer vacations “doing something useful”, and I learned conjuring (the stage magic kind), tarot-reading, playing the flute and some french, some Spanish, some Japanese.
I guess she was hoping I’d find small jobs or stuff like that, like she would do when s he was a teenager – but she was a teenager in the ’50s, I was a teenager in the ’80s: the whole part time jobs ecology had changed, and all I was able to find was a contract job as a scarecrow…
But I always loved learning new stuff.

So, I made a list a few days back (WordPress will probably link the post below), I got some feedback, and it looks like knitting, harmonica-playing and juggling are the three top contenders. Of the three, my brother is averse to the harmonica (“it will feel like we’re in some kind of prison”), and juggling is better done in the open, so knitting is really looking like my choice – or at least, that was the state of affairs until Humble Bundle launched their latest book bundle, that is huge and is called Start Something New.

And I was not kidding about the bundle being huge. Drop one buck, and you’ll get seven volumes – cookbooks, a knitting encyclopedia (aha!) a book about redesigning your life, a Texas Hold’em guidebook…

But you can go up to over 20 bucks, and land a staggering collection of 61 books, each one covering a different skill.

And so yes, I put down a few bucks – knowing the money will go to a charity – and now I’ve increased my options. Texas Hold’em looks interesting, but I could also devote the four weeks of February to Feng Shui or book-binding, or some kind of creative, artistic craft.

But no matter what, I have now one week to decide – and then I’ll have a week to get all the necessary equipment to start my adventure in February.

Ideas, suggestions, odds and ends are welcome – just use the comments.


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Pirates for Christmas (and books for cheap and charity)

Just a quick heads up, while dinner is being prepared, and I read a wonderful book called Why we love pirates, by Rebecca Simon, PhD – which is a story of piracy on the high seas, and matters related. The perfect Christmas read.

And in case you are interested, you can get this book – and a ton of other fun titles you’d probably missed (including a great book about anime, one about recycling old tech and one about… hamburgers), in the latest Humble Bundle.
Little more than ten bucks will keep you in quirky reads for months, and part of the proceeds go for a charity.
It’s Christmas, after all.

Arrr… I mean, happy holidays.


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Find yourself something to do for the Autumn

I usually point out here on my blog what I think are interesting offers from Humble Bundle – still one of my go-to services to keep my to-read list stocked. The deal is the usual – you get a pack of themed books for real cheap, and you help a charity. Everybody wins.

The latest book selection from Humble Bundle is so quirky and weird I was sure I’d find something interesting – and indeed, the eight volumes you get for 83 euro-cents are already on my hard disk.

This month’s theme is crafts for the autumn.

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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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What makes us human (hint: it has to do with books)

On my Italian blog I have just posted a rather lugubrious post about the fact that, considering I was walking in Asti’s market square one week ago, and that Asti was a city in which a number of COVID-19 cases have been reported, I am currently counting the days, and feeling a shiver every time I cough or I sneeze.
Did I catch it?
Am I infected?
Will I die?

The virus has a 14-days incubation period, so I am currently halfway through, and counting.

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