Monday, December 31, 2012

Clashing Kings

It was  mistake to bring George R.R. Martin's Clash of Kings to Mexico with me. To enthralling to put down (his writing technique of multiple narratives keeps you page turning, even when one story arc begins to bore you) I've spent all my free moments reading, rather than writing, as I'd initially planned. Not that I've had much "free" time mind you (there's still been a lot of eating and drinking and celebrating and relatives and church-going and dancing and fiestas and whatnot), but fast as I read, it still takes me awhile to get through a thousand page book. And I have gotten through it (a bit before breakfast, while the house was sleeping)...which means I'll have nothing to read on the plane ride home.

[and I probably won't be writing much, either. The problem with flying with a nearly-two-year old is he's close enough to you, and knowledgeable enough, to hit the keys on your laptop...and really enjoys hitting that big, round power button. Besides which, the wife would appreciate a little help entertaining the child; pulling out a fat novel to read once they've both fallen asleep isn't too tough, but pulling out one's laptop and sheaf of notes is a whole 'nother deal]

And today's our last full day in sunny Orizaba. Tomorrow is New Year's Day and we'll be spending it getting to the D.F. to fly back to Seattle, perhaps with a meal or two along the way. Still, it's possible I might get a few pages done tonight after everyone's asleep...heck, I can sleep on planes, no problem...but as I'll be back at the day job come Wednesday I want to have at least some semblance of restfulness.

Or not, I guess...I'll probably be spending most of the time listening to the sports talk radio about the upcoming Seahawks play-off game while checking email. Ah, yes..our cushy 21st century lifestyle.

You know, it's one thing to fantasize or read about or role-play in a medieval-type world of kings and peasants and all that jazz, but the "simple life" sure sounds a lot harder than anything I'd like to experience. Even in Mexico (which still hasn't climbed into the "first world" tier) people have smart phones and iPods and DVDs and big screens and (spotty) internet access...all the comforts of our post-modern world, plus fresh produce and excellent platillos.

Then again, it may be I'm just a bit bummed by the depth and breadth of Mr. Martin's fantasy world. It's a very cool setting, richly textured, and mired in all sorts of drama, intrigue, and adventure, not to mention a fairly classy handling of the supernatural ("fantasy") elements. It's difficult to imagine ever coming up with a coherent "pseudo-medieval" fantasy setting...for fiction or role-playing...that wouldn't end up looking like a poor version of Martin. Or worse, a pastiche-y knock-off. At least if you're interested in, say, D&D with courts and lords (Companion-level stuff) and not just dungeon delving.

That's the thing that irks me, I guess. I could draw a lot of inspiration from Martin's books for use in a high level (or "non-traditional") D&D campaign, but it would all feel, well, like I was ripping off the master. Or doing something half-assed in comparison. A bit like trying to create a dungeon environment that didn't feel like, in some way, a rip-off of a Tolkien setting...whether we're talking the goblin caves or the Mines of Moria or the Misty Mountain or Shelob's lair or the Nazgul's tower or Morgoth's dungeon (from The Silmarilion), etc. So many great static environments plumbed by "adventurers" in the Tolkien books, it's hard not to draw at least somewhat from them (as much fantasy does) when designing adventure sites.

Anyhoo, I suppose I'm being silly...just because I can't think of anything better, doesn't mean someone else can't.  More on this later, perhaps...I've got more eating to do.

Happy New Year, folks!
: )

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