Updated the recently read

Updated the recently read column, on the right hand side of the Blog. Yeah, yeah, I know, I should take the time to really redesign my somewhat creaky design. At least a new Iteration if not a complete paradigm shift.

I’ve been reading, as you can see,
Little, Big
, by John Crowley. I have heard about the novel for years and years, its considered a seminal work in the fantasy genre. Not fantasy as in the “phat” tolkien-clone fantasy (Goodkind, Eddings, etal), but more along the lines of Emma Bull, Tim Powers, and Charles De Lint. I’m about 5/8 done with the book. My impressions so far? Well…I wish I had a “skeleton key” to the book, since I think I am missing a lot of allusions and tropes…and I consider myself a fairly well-read person. (I submit that I do well in the spot-the-reference in Silverlock, for instance). The book is allegorical, subtle and understated, pastoral might even be a good word for it. But I do like what I have read so far.

“The pen is mightier than

“The pen is mightier than the sword. But lost Carthage has borne the brunt of both.”

Not sure where this came from, just thought of this looking at a new pen at work. It’s true, though, Carthage gets a bad rap, and I am willing to believe its partially bad PR and propaganda on the part of their Roman nemesis.

Grand Ellipse? Came across the

Grand Ellipse?

Came across the original reference on Turn of a Friendly Die, but the actual GURPS game
is here.

Sometimes great minds think alike? Ever since I read Paula Volsky’s novel, I’ve thought about doing a game using this idea as a template. I even imagined the possibility of doing it at Ambercon–but I’d need multiple GMs to handle something like it. (It would be shades of Its a Mad Mad Mad Amber, which I ran with Felicia Olson and Karen Francis Groves two years ago at ACUS).

The way I would handle it would be to have shadowlame characters (relatively speaking), preferably recruited from and around Amber and the Golden Circle. The prize for completing what would be a cross-golden circle race would be the choice of a cash prize or a request from King Random (an audience would be granted in any event). I’d encourage the players to come up with, nay, require them to have the reason they want to take up this challenge as part of PC background. I would have a chance to showcase my Golden Circle in a new and interesting way.

Of course I’d need too much helping running the thing, and I already have plans, assuming I return to ACUS, to do a sequel to Ad Amber Per Astra, and I have another idea. The prologue and fore-story to that second game…stay tuned to this Blog.

Retronyms This is a relatively


This is a relatively new word that I have come across. It refers to the respecification of old terms in the light of new technology. Analog watch, for example is a retronym. Acoustic guitar, and even two-parent family (sadly enough).

Ones that I’ve thought about, just now, would include real-time, and snail mail (although that is not quite there yet as reaching critical mass in replacing “mail”. But I am sure that as email becomes ubiquitous on cell phones and the like, it will be.

Old Browser Blues The problem

Old Browser Blues

The problem with surfing the internet, and blogging here at work is that the hardware and software are rather antiquidated and not up to the task. The machines are running Windows NT, and the version of IE on this computer is 4.0.

Yes, old 4.0 I keep getting script errors everywhere, and pages which are designed to be rendered in the newer browsers often do not do well…Arref’s page looks horrible, and Ginger’s page was even worse…I wanted to make a comment on the whole Grand Ellipse thing…but the stupid page is cut off and I can’t. I can see, from looking at the source code, that there are comments there, but the page cuts off at Arref’s first comment.

Of course, I can’t exactly tell work to upgrade their web browsers so I can surf the internet, now can I?

Arrefand also Ginger seem

Arrefand also Ginger seem to be discussing today what films inspire their Amber experiences. Films as models for games.

I thought about this a bit at lunch in regard to Strange Bedfellows and the only thing I can come up with off of the top of my head is not quite a film, but rather a TV series, and I have to thank, grudgingly, TGFKAB for the idea.

I think Strange Bedfellows has parallels with…Doctor Who. Mixes of genres, diverse and varied locations, including outside the normal universe, there has even been an episode of time travel in SB. The Omphalos perhaps are my version of the Daleks…implacable, dangerous adversaries bent on conquest and destruction on a grand scale, plus croploads of other protagonists and antagonists. Even though Jim invented him, maybe I’ve been influenced in my plans and plots for Baralis by the Doctor’s mortal enemy, the Master.

Amber as Gallifrey. Hmmm. It does make me think of “Tangents” which was a supplement for the defunct game Alternity. It was something like GURPS Time Travel except it dealt exclusively with interworld travel, mainly focusing on technological methods and motifs. There was a reference, interestingly enough, to Amberites, under a disguised name, of course. I wonder how you could handle a Gallifrey like world gaining not only time travel ability but inter-shadow travel, and used that in an forward and aggressive manner. Hmmm.



Perhaps its a topic I should submit to Ginger’s WISH. I’ve gotten to thinking about it lately, because for the first time in years,
I am without a pet or companion. When I lived in the house of TGFKAB, she had a dog and a cat. Back home, with only a few short breaks, I’ve had pets continuously, notably two beloved cats, one of which recently and tragically had to be put to sleep.

Yes, it makes me sad. I miss having a pet around, period, but my lease forbids it. I’m not sure I can even have something like a goldfish, but even that would be an improvement. I guess its just loneliness, as well as that void which an animal companion can fill.

This brings me to an actual RPG topic! Companions/pets for role playing characters. Too often, they are point batteries, used to gain additional powers for the character. Munchkins are notorious for this.

On the other hand, if actualized and envisioned, some companions not only become an integral part of their character’s concepts, but take on the aspects of a character in their own right. I submit, as a player, my character Hadrian, whose companion Dora has proven, in con games and in Strange Bedfellows (Hadrian is one of the NPC cousins) that she is a person of her own mind, and Hadrian would not be the same without her. The very original concept of Hadrian, back in the mists of time (a topic for another time) did not have Dora, but every iteration of him since has included and developed the Wyvernet. Her original concept was a variation on the Jhereg from the Steven Brust Vlad Taltos novels, but, especially in SimAmber’s game, I developed the Wyvernets into a unique species.

As far as players in my games, very few have any sort of companions whatsoever. The most notable are Brieanne, who of course as Julian’s daughter not only has a horse of her own, but two hellhounds. The hellhounds have personality, though, and I fondly recall a scene where they ran amok through the castle like overexuberant children, causing chaos in their wake. They are not just for protective purposes. The other is good Arref, and Bhangbadea’s companion, Bishop. The species that Bishop (who outwardly looks much like a cat) is was developed in Arref’s universe, and the significance of such has only touched on Strange Bedfellows. Briefly, the felinoid species is/was a race of dimensional travellers who have lost some of that wanderlust, and perhaps some of the ability as well.

Bishop has independent plans, goals, and ideas, and both the player and I feel comfortable in writing “for” Bishop and that helps to keep him from being a simple deposit of points and powers. If you can’t tell already, I dislike companions which really have zero role playing potential whatsoever. Personality for Pets!

As far as my own current RPG characters, I only have two really active characters at the moment. Marcus, from Bridgette’s Age of Retribution does not have a pet or companion. However, there was made mention of ‘shadowcats’ appearing on Kolvir following the recent Patternfall War, and it was mentioned in discussion between a few player characters that such a creature might suit my sorcerer’s temperment pretty well as a companion. Marcus does have a “cat-person” sort of personality.

Cadmus, on the other hand, in Deb’s Rites of Passage, I see much more as a “dog person” although he hasn’t had time to have a pet, either. He’s much more physically active and capable than Marcus (even if he is a spell-slinger, too), and him running around with a hound in a park is definitely something I could envision.

I tried to see the

I tried to see the Leonid meteor shower last night.

I woke up at 2 am local time, went outside and looked up in the sky. The very bright, very full moon, very much overhead washed out the stars (and thus the meteors) like a searchlight. I did manage to see one bright one near the eastern horizon, and a few more. After that, given that the moon was not cooperating, I went back to bed.