Monday, March 3, 2014

Of Dice And Men

Some folks might be wondering, "hey...when JB moves to Paraguay, what sort of books and gaming equipment does he take along for the ride?"

Truthfully, not much. The plan was to to be down here a couple months (from mid-January to mid-March), then return to the USA for the birth of our child before making the more serious move in May intended to last for twelve months. This initial two month "trial period" was to supposed to give us a chance to settle in and see the things we'd really be missing, so as to better prepare when we come back in early June.

For me...a guy who's personal office space is practically over-flowing with books and games...I had to make some serious editing of what was important and what wasn't. I figured I probably wouldn't be doing much gaming down here, if any (so far, that's proven pretty accurate), but I hoped to at least do some reading and writing, and that would necessitate some source books.

Here are the games I packed (alphabetically):

Five Ancient Kingdoms (print copy, including never know!)
Hillfolk (Robin D. Laws)
Kingdom of Nothing (Jeff Himmelman)
Polaris (Ben Lehman)
Western City (Jorg Dunne)
With Great Power (Michael S. Miller)

While it's not actually a full game, I also brought my copy of WH40K's supplement Codex: Space Wolves (3rd edition), mainly because I was thinking of creating a game that riffs on the Space Wolves' "fluff." Haven't quite gotten to that, yet!

Other than 5AK, there are probably a lot of titles here that are unfamiliar to my usual readers (since I've kind of made a name in the "old school D&D" biz and these are anything but!). I'll probably do a write-up of each over the next few days, just to explain why I brought them and what value each holds for me. None of them were brought for "nostalgia" fact, other than 5AK, I've never played ANY of these games. They all hold interest for me as a designer.

[okay, okay, I have used the Space Wolves codex before, but mainly for house guests interested in using my few Space Wolf models...when I travel with minis, the only thing I pack is my Khorne Worldeaters]

As far as books go (non-gaming), I managed to sneak a handful into the suitcase as well. Besides the children's books we brought for Diego, my reading material includes the following:

  • 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (SciFi novel given to me by Steve-O...haven't yet cracked this open).
  • Alien Legion Omnibus #2 (a trade paperback...i.e. "graphic novel"...of the comic book series. I was intending to use this as research inspiration for a game idea also, but I got bored after the first couple chapters and haven't finished it).
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (this is a book I was reading to Diego back in Seattle)
  • Of Dice and Men by David M. Ewalt (mom gave this to me before I left...finished it a few days ago)
  • Win Forever by Pete Carroll (was reading it, but am taking a hiatus from football at the moment)

And that's it. I've got the internet (now) and a few things downloaded to my computer (mainly RPGs) but I really haven't had much time for reading. Heck, I haven't even had a chance to watch the last week's Downton Abbey, and you should know by now that the watching of quality television is a priority in my family (being one of the few things my wife and I both fully enjoy).

[ooo-ooo...quick sidenote: the second season of Vikings just started up on the History Channel, and damn am I sorry to be missing it! Yes, it is available for download on iTunes for a hefty sum, but I hope to catch-up via On Demand when I'm back in Seattle in two weeks. But, boy o boy is it hard to wait! I've decided that the series was definitely my favorite of last year, and quite possibly in the running for favorite television series of all time. You can read my thoughts on the show in this prior blog post]

But even with so little time, I did manage to knock out David Ewalt's book in a couple-three days. Of Dice and Men is an easy read, and an interesting one for any gamer interested in the underpinnings of D&D and its corporate history. It doesn't bother me that Mr. Ewalt plays a different edition (3.5) than myself, and even though he covered a lot of ground that was old news for me, it was fun to read about his personal journey of discovery (and rediscovery). It helped remind me of things I know but sometimes forget: like how we're all kind of in this hobby together and we should bitch-slap each other too much. Even Mike Mearls.
; )

The Underappreciated D12
It was especially nice to see into the heads and gaming minds of those oldest of old schoolers with whom he had a chance to game (Frank Mentzer and Ernie Gygax); the anecdotes he relates about them and others (including the contrasting styles of Arneson and Gary) just gave me a lot of food for thought and a deeper appreciation of the different ways one can approach the game of D& any edition. Heck, even hearing about Ewalt's own gamer group's different style of play (call it the New York Groove) was interesting. Hopefully I'll have some more to say about that stuff later.

I still need to get a copy of Jon Peterson's Playing at the World (it's been recommended to me by more than a couple people), but Ewalt's book wasn't half bad. I'm glad I made space in my luggage for it. I'm sure glad my mom had a chance to read it (she's the one who gave it to me)...she said she finally has an understanding of this whole D&D hobby thing of mine.

Sheesh, only took you  32 years!
: )

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