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ajaxtalbot
So, after several years away, I return.

Other social media is nice, but fluffy--ephemeral. I can't look at my posts and get a sense of where my brain has been and what, if anything, it's achieved. So it's back to LJ I come, hanging my head.

Hopefully I'll be able to talk out game design issues and things of that ilk.

You have been warned.

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I pitched this to Johnny& in 2009--and you can see how much work I've put into it.

After I get Edison Force written, this looks like it might be my next title.
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Okay, it's not really much, but I have an outline of the game and what I need to research and write. That's at least a step.

And for the record, Edison, a life in invention is a dreary biography, complete though it may be.
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Ouch.

The massive re-write of Monsertown Vice is done. Took it from 8,500 words to 13,200, added three "monsterous" monsters, a few more NPCs, expanded the character creation section, and re-arranged the world section.

Now I need to draw up some maps and floorplans.
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Oh joy.

I ran my follow-up to Funkadelic Frankenstein twice this summer, and the games went reasonably well (I thought). Putting the Monsters into positions of responsibly made for some good gaming (and I really did try not to go all police procedural on the players.)

The adventure write-up had a short section in from telling about Monsters, Monstertown Miami, and the 13th Precinct, and it came to about 8,500 words. Then came the great sales analysis, and I decided that I needed to seriously expand if I wanted this to work.

Currently I'm up to just under 12,000 words with a goal of 13,500. I think I know what I need to add, but I'm just so sensitive about duplicating things from the core book or from FFotMSoM or from Cops and Robbers. Oh well, it's a challenge (and an excuse to not be writing on Edison Force which is my real assignment. Have I mentioned that I'm a lazy bum? :-)

Go team Ajax!
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Thrones, Dominations by Dorothy L. Sayers and Jill Paton Walsh

Sayers is the dean of English mystery writing. If you have not read a Lord Peter Wimsey novel, you are not a mystery fan. (And for gamers, they are wonderful introductions to England between the wars.) Although she died in 1953, there were no new Lord Peter mysteries after the onset of WW2. She did, though, leave an unfinished novel which the Sayers estate agreed to have finished by Walsh.

Was it successful? Not as much as ardent Sayers fans hoped it would be. It was readable and interesting, but it was clunky. Impediments were admitted to this meeting of true minds.

If you read Sayers and want to read more, give it a shot. If you've not read any Lord Peter, you'd do better to start with Nine Tailors of Murder Must Advertise.


A Presumption of Death by Dorothy L. Sayers and Jill Paton Walsh

A much better effort, perhaps because the Sayers source material was a series of "family letters" of the Wimseys during WW2. In this story, Lady Peter finds herself having to deal with a corpse found in the middle of the village street after an air raid drill.

Lady Peter? Yes, in Strong Poison Lord Peter met the mystery writer Harriet Vane who became his wife in the last Sayers alone novel, Busman's Honeymoon. Don't ask me to explain the intricacies of English noble titles, though, just accept that the wife of the younger son of a duke becomes Lady Peter, not lady Harriet. Okay.

This story is tied up in evacuees, German spies, and a black market in pigs. Much more readable, and much better written.

Recommended.
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Vampire City by Paul Feval.
Once upon a time there was an author named Bram Stoker... but before him there were several notable Vampire novels in English, and a few in other languages. Vampire City was originally written in French and was published around 1870. And while Stoker and Feval used the same source materials from which to built their vampires, they ended up with very different creatures.

There is half the fun of VC, noting the differences between the two authors. The other half is the fun he takes at parodying the style of Anne Radcliffe, author of gothic classics like The Mysteries of Udolfo and also the heroine of this narrative.

She (Feval always capitalizes and italicizes for Radcliffe) learns how a vampire, M. Goetzi, has intruded himself into the projected marriage of two of her childhood friends and sets out to rescue them and then to take revenge by pursuing Goetzi to the Vampire City and doing away with him. It starts a little slow but picks up the pace towards the end of the adventure.

If you can remember that this is a 19th century novel (which have their own style and foibles) and take the story on its own merits, it is not a bad read, for the different take on vampires if for nothing else. In his way Feval created a much more sinister creature than Stoker did, and it makes for a good example story on how to mess with people's preconcieved notions of what the vampire is and can do.

Recommended, with that caveat.


Jane Boleyn by Julia Fox.
If you ask "Who?" and I say "Ane Boleyn's sister-in-law" and you have no idea what I'm talking about. You can skip this book. But, if you recognize Lady Rochfort, and know a little about her story already and want to know more, especially as she was born to a less important family but made a place for herself in Henry VIII's court, then read on.

The book starts with the death of Prince Henry, Henry's son by Catherine of Aragon, and follows Jane through her childhood, her entry into the court, her auspicious marriage, the turmoil resulting from the condemnation and execution of both Anne Boleyn and the queen's beother, Jane's husband, George, and ends with her reinstatement into the court just in time to become chief lady-in-waiting to Catherine Howard, wife number five, beheaded for treason.

If you have read David Starkey's Six Wives you have the style of this book already, although not so liberally laced with dates as Starkey's works are. A pleasant read by an author sympathetic to (but not blindly so) Jane. After being vilified for centuries, it was nice to see a sympathetic treatment.

For historians, read. For colour of the Henrician court, read. Others may not entirely appreciate it.
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Yes, I am reading. Recent titles:

Land under England. Joseph O'Neill.
This is a 1935 novel about a fantastic world under northern England where our hero finds a remnant population of Romans living. But our Romans are no longer what we (or what he) expects. They have subordinated themselves to the demands of the State to the point of surrendering their own wills. Not a particularly winning style of writing, but I'd read worse.
Not a glowing recommendation--unless you like these sorts of stories.

Seahenge. Francis Pryor.
Britain AD. Francis Pryor.
The first of these I expected to be about the wooden ceremonial structure discovered in 1998 in Norfolk, England, and eventually it got to that. First, though, Pryor introduces us to the period Seahenge was constructed by looking at the history of ceremonial structures in Britain, and at the development of the archeology that was dealing with them. And in that way it was a fascinating look at our prehistory.
Recommended.

The second--well, you know where someone has a pet theory and beats you over the head with it again and again and again? That's this book. The theory is that there is nothing in the archeology that supports a Saxon invasion of England in the 5th-6th centuries. Okay, I'll buy that--now stop repeating yourself. Oy! He did present a different (for me) version of the withdrawal of Roman forces from Britain, though, and that was worth the price of the book right there. Then we were back to "There is no evidence of an invasion". Yes, we got that. The changes in culture that one finds are simply a local population picking up new styles. Okay I can buy that too. Anyone who sees the amount of American pop-culture infesting the world would have to agree that it's possible. Then, though, Pryor tries to address the change from a Latin/Celtic speaking populace to an Old English speaking one, and that's where his analogies got twisted. He made comparisons to the triumph of Spanish and Portuguese in South America, but hey, there was an invading force there, and the native cultures were decimated by diseases. Your other readers might not know that, but this one does.
Lukewarm recommendation.
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I can't believe it. I have room to breathe again because all the big conventions are done, and the ones that are left are either already taken care of or I can wing my way through. And Archon I'm really looking forward to because my favorite players are up for another round of Spellslinger (or more aptly Journeyman Necromancers Club.) I have ideas about what to throw at them this time, but what exactly I use is yet to be determined.

I've also been thinking about what my suite of games should be for next year. The list currently includes:

1) Flat Earth Expeditions (Everything you know is a lie, and you're out to expose the conspiracy)
2) Bloodbath and Beyond (A Monstertown Vice scenario with a serial killer or two)
3) We'll Always Have Happilyeverafter (A real noirish HEA game)
4) Punch, Where's the Baby? (Another HEA game, with an obvious tag)
5) The Lost Way (A Hobomancer adventure)
6) The Prince in Waiting (Not a Pytheas Club adventure, but one starring the Russian opposition)

And some conventions get special games. I'm going to try to run Papaw Pawpaw as a M-Force on Campus game at Conglomeration, and a Regency romance game for Origins (tentatively titled The Runaway Rogue). Oh, and more Spellslinger.

Mwahahahahaha!
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I'm in that period of dread that comes before a big convention. I wonder what I'll forget this time? :-)
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