August 2nd, 2018

RPGaDay in August - August 2nd: What Do You Look For in an RPG?

We continue on with #RPGaDay in August.



Day 2 - What do you look for in an RPG?

Aside from the fact that my tastes in RPGs have changed over the decades, I still look for a game world that I can sink my teeth into, that has enough detail for me to work with but not so much that I feel stifled in the game world. I'm not a fan of sandbox game worlds these days, since I don't want to work too much at the background material. I also look for a game set of mechanics that aren't too complex/complicated for me to handle and which has relatively easy-to-learn game rules. (That said, this never supercedes a game world that I'm excited to run games with, though the ruleset does factor in still. Finally, I look for a game world/game mechanics roleplaying game that has the two sets of variables fitting together nicely.

All that said, there are other factors that I take into account, some perhaps subconsciously. I don't mind a game system that has a character generation system that is somewhat complicated if it's entertaining in and of itself. And I draw the line at game systems that need more than two types of different dice. Just. Not. Necessary.

Books Read in July, 2018

As is my standard usage of my blog space at or near the beginning of the month, I present the listing of my July, 2018 reads.

Books Read in July, 2018

Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers (r)

Torg: The Character Collection by The Storm Guild (RPG) (r)

Sacré Bleu by Christopher Moore

I Know a Secret by Tess Gerritsen

The Gaunt Man Returns by John Terra (RPG) r)

Infiniverse Game Campaign Update Volume II by Greg Farshtey (RPG) (r)

Infiniverse Game Campaign Update Volume III by John Terra (RPG) (r)

War’s End by John Terra (RPG) (r)

Full Moon Draw and Other Tales by Greg Farshtey, Nigel Findley, James Long, Lou Prosperi and Stewart Wieck (RPG) (r)

Central Valley Gate by Gregory W. Detweiler and Bill Smith (RPG) (r)

When Axioms Collide by Shane Lacy Hensley (RPG) (r)

No Quarter Given by Brian Sean Perry (RPG) (r)

The Female Man by Joanna Russ (r)

I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing: Star Wars and the Triumph of Geek Culture by A.D. Jameson

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan

June, 2018 Locus

July/August, 2018 Reader’s Digest

After the Crown by K.B. Wagers

Time Salvager by Wesley Chu

And those were my reads in the month of July. July turned out to be a pretty good month of reading for me, and I still managed to get in a chunk of reading of the old Torg: The Possibility Wars RPG materials as well. I also managed to get in one non-fiction book as well, that I rather enjoyed. A good month of reads with some entertaining and pleasantly surprising books.

The books I enjoyed the most were:

Sacré Bleu by Christopher Moore - Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d'Art is, unlike some of the author's other novels, heavy on the blue and the art, somewhat light on the comedy. The book is set during the art scene of 19th Century Paris, a fascinating time for the art world, and every artist of this era makes an appearance in the novel. The author did a lot of impressive research for this book. The novel begins at the end of Vincent Van Gogh’s troubled life, an apparent suicide. However, somehow Vincent gets himself to his doctor before his death for treatment, where he raves about the colour blue. Lucien Lessard (a fictional character), a baker and aspiring painter, and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (a real artist, fictionalized) become detectives who decide to solve the mystery of Van Gogh’s death, because it is odd that he tried to save himself right after trying to off himself, no matter how crazy he’d become. I'm not going to spoil the plot of the novel here, but will say there is a very nicely played supernatural element and the book makes art into magic, the magic of the colour blue. Regardless of anything else, this book is a solid piece of fiction that was a joy to read. Highly recommended.

The Female Man by Joanna Russ - Heralded as one of the quintessential feminist SF novels of all-time, which will automatically reduce the reach of this book, it is one that I would make mandatory reading if I taught SF literature in high school - and my students would likely hate me for this! The Female Man is not an easy book by any means; its structure is complex and obfuscated on purpose, and its subject matter is uncomfortable and necessary. But this book is one of the best reasons that the field of SF literature exists in the first place. The book is singularly concerned with subjects articulated by feminism, but I think it should be required reading for everyone of either gender. The anger just radiates off the pages of this book at times, and it's definitely a amazing visceral book of raw nerves and flayed skin. The SFnal elements are more than allegorical, and the author spent a lot of energy creating her woman-only utopia of Whileaway. The result is fascinating in its own right, and not entirely as one-sided as a feminist polemic would imply. This is an extremely powerful book with exceptional social relevance today. Go read this book, asap, if you haven't already! :)

After the Crown by K.B. Wagers - The second book in the Indranan Wars series, this novel continues the story of the former gunrunner turned Empress of Indrana, and continues to surprise and impress me with the author's story telling ability and political intrigue on a level that many established authors don't have. In the first book, Behind the Throne, Hail comes back to her homeland to become the leader of her people after being away for 20 years as a gunrunner. In After the Crown, a war with a rival civilization, and people that want to oust her as leader creates a much more adventure filled story as we get to meet a lot of Hail's old gunrunner friends. The terrific political intrigue from the first book is present, but the number of characters is basically doubled and there is a lot more action to this part of the story. While I was worried that this book might be a bit less polished than the first novel, as many middle of trilogy novels are, this is a solid second book in the Indranan War series, and am enjoying the India-based culture and the decision-making by the main character. Very much recommended!

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan - This is a fascinating book about five generations of witches living in England, that combines fantasy with history in a rather unique way. While each woman's story is fairly similar, the underlying themes of feminism and the mother-daughter relationship are wonderful. I found it interesting that, no matter the era, the women all knew that while men appeared to be in control, it's really the women who hold the power. I found some parts of this book were a bit slow, but overall I loved the novel, especially the lasst section of the book (which I am not going to spoil here!). Recommended.

Overall, I managed to read 8 novels, 9 RPGs and RPG products, 2 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in July. This brings the year total in 2018 to a set of numbers that look like this: 51 books, 33 RPGs and RPG products, 14 magazines, 0 comics, and 2 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. :)