Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Back in my Day...

Five Swords, Attribution below.

One can not run across this much awesome and not post it.
[Five Swordsmen of the Kickass coloring by John-Paul Bove of Five Swords by Jake]

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bookworming: The Te of Piglet

The Te of Piglet, Benjamin Hoff, **
Hard to read for all the wrong reasons, The Te of Piglet is a smattering of Taoist philosophy interspersed with the characters from Winnie the Pooh. Unfortunately, the two do not mix properly, the interjections often behave not as transitions but as non-sequitur. I made it through the book because the philosophy is quite interesting, but I suspect there are some better, clearer books on the subject to be found elsewhere.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Brief Comment on Dungeons & Dragons 5

I currently do not have any plans to pick up the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons that is being released starting next month. There are two reasons for this:

  1. I am not currently a part of a regular gaming group.
  2. Core set of books cost $150.
I did look over the preview Wizards of the Coast put out, and it looks to have serious potential. Hard to really judge without a monster stat block or three, but it appears to have dispensed with some of the complexity and scaling issues that plagued the recent versions. If either of those two conditions were not the case, I might be interested to see if the set would be worthy of succeeding my old D&D Rules Cyclopedia (available again in PDF) as my  preferred edition of D&D.

Over the past decade or so, the internet has supported a great deal of competition with versions of games reformulating the older, simpler versions of D&D itself as well as Pathfinder taking over the popular v3 D&D niche on the high end. Not to mention Savage Worlds, a very low cost of entry generic system,  or Fate and Apocalypse World type games with their more storytelling style. All of these are available in PDF for very low costs, and even if you prefer the real books, there is a great deal of play to be had for far less than $150. I suspect I am not alone, and Wizards is taking a pretty big risk re-launching their flagship at such a premium price.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bookworming: Red Storm Rising

Red Storm Rising, Tom Clancy, ***
Back in the late 80s when this book came out, it was deemed a chillingly plausible scenario of how World War III might play out with the conventional weaponry of the era. Times have changed, I have grown up (a little), and now it's easy to see the Cold War bigotry, the fetishization of technology, and, as one might expect of military fiction of that day, its complete failure of the Bechdel test. Co-author Larry Bond, uncredited on the jacket, was best known at the time for his Harpoon naval warfare game. As such, the action is largely in the air and at sea. It is often called a techno-thriller for a reason: this is not a novel about people, it's a narrative look at the tools of war and the strategies used to employ them. The characters are mere names who's personal stories go from non-existent to wholly subservient to the grand sweep of the war, and pretty much nowhere else. Know what you are getting into with this book: it's military strategy fiction, all the way down.

With all that said... I love it. For better than 25 years it has remained one of my favorite "beach book" reads. It's a summer blockbuster of a novel, shot throughout with tension punctuated with action scenes. I am giving it three stars here because it will absolutely not be for everyone. For fans of speculative military fiction or grand strategy however, it's an easy one to recommend.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Quote of the Moment

"If I were to give up Sarcasm, that would leave interpretive dance as my only means of communication."
—Bill Murry via Twitter