Tuesday 21 May 2013

Surfers of the Apocalypse!

I found this jewel of a clip on YouTube.  I think it would make a great intro for a Cyberpunk 2020-rules game.

Potential Adventuring Party?

Surfers of the Apocalypse!

It's an overcast winter morning in Newport Beach, California, 2013.  You and a few buddies are out surfing, as you usually are at this hour, when the aliens invade.  I'm picturing like an apocalyptic survival game, somewhere between Point Break, Independence Day, and Attack the Block.  It's a sandbox so it's up to the players if they try to:

  1. conduct guerilla warfare on the aliens
  2. try to unite what remains of humanity for an all out counter attack
  3. just try to survive
  4. some other option I haven't thought of(as they always do...)

Some potential adventuring locales include:

  • Sea World in San Diego, where the survivors of Camp Pendleton regrouped
  • Survivalist Camp at Big Bear Lake
  • Catalina Island
  • JPL
  • John Wayne Airport
  • Remains of LA(maybe an NPC Zak Smith will be there, looking like Bruce Campbell, leading the resistance with an NPC Christian as a paranormal investigator)

In any case, I'd probably keep it short: 1-3 sessions. Maybe I'll run it on G+ sometime...

Anyway here's one last one to set the tone...

Sunday 19 May 2013

1e Anchorite

Border Princes' Archorite Career is a mystic ascetic hermit who lives in the badlands in a cave or on a rock.  Since Border Princes is a WFRP 2e product, here is a the Anchorite modified for WFRP 1e.

Career: Anchorite
Career Class: Ranger


Advances were pretty simple to calculate. 2e's +5% becomes +1 or +10% and 2e's 10% becomes +2 or +20%.  I also added advances in I and CL due to skills that don't exist in 1e(see Skills section below).

BS: +10%
S: +1
T: +2
I: +10%
AG: +20%
CL: +10%
WP: +20%
W: +2


  • Concealment Rural
  • Fish, Set Trap(instead of 2e Outdoor Survival)
  • Scale Sheer Surface
  • Silent Move Rural
  • Flee!
  • Hardy(instead of 2e Very Resilient)
  • Immunity to Poison

Skills left out:

  • Perception(No comparable skill in 1e, instead gave I: +10%),
  • Rover(No comparable skill in 1e)
  • Stout-Hearted(No comparable skill in 1e, instead gave Cl: +10%)

Trappings: None
Career Entries: None
Career Exits: Badlander, Mystic, Outlaw, Swamp Skimmer, Vagabond

Sunday 12 May 2013

Chandler on Escapism

So, with a Harboiled Detective Game on my mind, I started reading Raymond Chandler's 1950 essay "The Simple Art of Murder".  It's a good essay, and I recommend reading it in full, but I wanted to touch on one topic relevant to any gamer, that of Escapism.

At one point in the essay, Chandler responds to a fellow Crime Author who claims that Detective Fiction is inherently Low Art since it is "literature of escape" rather than "literature of expression":

In her introduction to the first Omnibus of Crime, Dorothy Sayers wrote: "It (the detective story) does not, and by hypothesis never can, attain the loftiest level of literary achievement." And she suggested somewhere else that this is because it is a "literature of escape" and not "a literature of expression." I do not know what the loftiest level of literary achievement is: neither did Aeschylus or Shakespeare; neither does Miss Sayers. Other things being equal, which they never are, a more powerful theme will provoke a more powerful performance. Yet some very dull books have been written about God, and some very fine ones about how to make a living and stay fairly honest. It is always a matter of who writes the stuff, and what he has in him to write it with. As for literature of expression and literature of escape, this is critics’ jargon, a use of abstract words as if they had absolute meanings. Everything written with vitality expresses that vitality; there are no dull subjects, only dull minds. All men who read escape from something else into what lies behind the printed page; the quality of the dream may be argued, but its release has become a functional necessity. All men must escape at times from the deadly rhythm of their private thoughts. It is part of the process of life among thinking beings. It is one of the things that distinguish them from the three-toed sloth; he apparently–one can never be quite sure–is perfectly content hanging upside down on a branch, and not even reading Walter Lippmann. I hold no particular brief for the detective story as the ideal escape. I merely say that all reading for pleasure is escape, whether it be Greek, mathematics, astronomy, Benedetto Croce, or The Diary of the Forgotten Man. To say otherwise is to be an intellectual snob, and a juvenile at the art of living.

Chandler argues that the desire to escape is part of being a "thinking being" and part of the "art of living".  But why is that?  Why should we relate to escapism as being more than just a base desire for entertainment?

Escapism as Redemptive Act

Chandler answers this question implicitly later in the essay when he talks about the thematic role the Hardboiled Hero has to play in the mind of the reader:
In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world. I do not care much about his private life; he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things. He is a relatively poor man, or he would not be a detective at all. He is a common man or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job. He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him. He talks as the man of his age talks, that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness. The story is his adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. He has a range of awareness that startles you, but it belongs to him by right, because it belongs to the world he lives in.

Chandler sees the Detective Story as being in the tradition of the Classical Tragedy.  When reading the story of the Hardboiled Hero we are meant to feel Catharsis, in the Aristotelian sense.  He lives in a dirty world himself, a product of that world, yet a man of honor who is unrelenting in his search for truth.  And ultimately he is successful  though he may pay a steep price for that success.  In this way, the Detective Story is redemptive for the reader, reassuring him that his own strife is not in vain, that he too may flourish despite life's many downs.