Saturday, January 4, 2020

Other People's Stuff

Ugh...just spent two plus hours on the phone with Mac and Microsoft support trying to get my MS Word issues resolved...the new operating system didn't support my old Office products which rendered me incapable of opening ANY of my documents...things like, you know, the books and such I'm working on? F***...

But I won't regale you with any (more) tales of woe for THAT stuff...suffice is to say it was resolved (with cash expenditures) and now I can once again access what I've been working on the last couple days: Cry Dark Future.

[more on this in a later post]

Instead, allow me to pour some of my Christmas cheer into your stocking. My family was kind enough to gift me this year with something I really wanted, but really didn't other words, the kind of thing I call "the perfect Christmas gift" or PCG. PCG's are great when you can find them; I pride myself on usually being able to find them (for others), but my family ain't as adept. Here are things that don't rate as PCGs:

  • Things you think I want, but don't (a replica lightsaber one year, for example)
  • Things you think I need (if I needed it, I probably would have bought it...unless it's really expensive, in which case you probably shouldn't be giving it to me as a gift!)

And having to come up with "gift ideas" for people kind of defeats the whole exercise really; do you wrap up the groceries on your shopping list? It's like they don't have a whole lot of imagination when it comes to this stuff; though to be fair, the whole "on-line shopping" thing has kind of destroyed the lost art of mall browsing.

[and just so you know, holiday shopping is the ONLY type of shopping I actually enjoy]

But this year they DID come through with a PCG for me, something I certainly wasn't expecting: the Game of Thrones-themed RISK board game. Ha! I probably haven't written much (or enough) about my love for this classic board game...I've held onto my own copy since the 80s (itself, I believe a Christmas gift...I honestly can't remember), and played the hell out of it, back in the day. But this GOT-box is may be the most beautiful board game I've ever owned. And while I have some gripes about the updates to the system (they're not bad; my designer mind simply has half a dozen ideas for making them better) the maps, pieces, and gameplay are all excellent.

[though've we've so far only had the chance to play one game, it was fun to watch House Lannister (played by me) stomp the hell out of the Seven Kingdoms]

One of Two Map Boards
But...and here comes the real point of this post...I had another, stronger reason for salivating over the game. In working on building a new D&D campaign, I have been considering how best to map out a world, and I was strongly considering borrowing/stealing Martin's geography for my own...or at least for a starting point. And the two large territory maps of Westeross and Essos that came with the Risk game looked to be the perfect tools for just such an exercise.

[previously I had been strongly considering the Evergreen Playground map from Kroll as a possible framework. Heck, I'm still considering it. First saw this one on the wall at my favorite BBQ joint up in Ballinger, Gabriel's Fire]

However, a funny thing happened on my way towards plagiarism...I encountered the migration and demographics blog of Kentuckian conservative Lyman Stone, In a State of Migration. It's not bad reading: Stone appears to be an intelligent, thoughtful human being, his research seems solid, and his writing is excellent, if a bit dry at times. However, he's also a big nerd (as if "migration expert" didn't already suggest that) and his writing sometimes veers into the realms of fantasy world-building, whether based on historic medieval economies and movement, fantasy novelists like George Martin, or the demographics of Star Wars. Here are some of the articles I've really been digging into:

Westeros is Poorly Designed
Why is Planetos So Poor?
Notes on Medieval Population Geography

Rather than bastardize the hell out of Stone's work, I'll simply point folks at his blog and tell you that there's a lot of good food for thought in there regarding demographics, migration, and population density. The links from the links can give you e-surfing material for days (at least, it did with me). For folks who'd rather work on their campaigns than watch playoff football, I'd suggest checking it out.

For my part, I'll say I'm now far LESS inclined to use Martin's world as any particular sort of setting. Still, the Risk game is nice to have.
: )

In related links (yes, I'm being lazy...three hours on the phone today, did I mention?!)...have you seen this cartographers guild site? I must be incredibly stupid, because it appears to have been up and running since 2006 and I'm only now stumbling across it. Even at the risk of tarnishing my (already iffy) reputation, I figured I'd go ahead and mention it for others who might have missed it. Also, I now have a link to it on the blog, so that I can peruse the work of many deeply talented peoples. Maybe at halftime.

All right, that's it. For now.

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