2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 940 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 16 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Plans That I Make

So yeah here I am again. A quick note – I’m going to try to do something different things here next month. I am going to try to add a new page here to air out some of my thoughts on gaming and games. Thinking up a unique way to do this which won’t take up a lot of time and hopefully lead to something more than reviews – Like the internet does not have enough of those!

This does mean the front page will continue to be a slow trickle of other stuff. I have a few more Secret Singularity posts in the pipeline, thanks to the tablet, but there is some desire to due some other stuff as well. I want to keep it both loose AND fun. And part of the fun is to keep it going and not fall off completely. In other words, watch this space!

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The Secret Singularity – On The Verge

Often when I want to write about some pop culture/art object that I enjoy, I find it difficult to separate the experience from the thing. While I think it is a fool’s errand to try, I find myself trying to do it again. The deepness of the connection to certain items is hard to ignore. We all want for our favorite things to also be culturally vital

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The truth of the matter is a vast majority of things are actually only significant to a subset of people. The first impulse when confronted with the “totem” of another “tribe” seems to be one of dismissal if not recognition. Personally harboring so many interests, I have to set some aside to pick them up later. The advantage in being obsessive on one particular thing, like Star Wars for example , is that a majority of your ever-shrinking leisure time is consumed by that one thing, the only thing that really speaks to you. I want to say that I envy that person’s dedication but I’ll be honest. Without variety, I don’t think I could be excited in anything. Contrast invigorates me.

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The personal affirmation element found in pop culture/art objects is severely underestimated. Most people are drawn to items which overtly express their personal values. The confusion between an actor and a role or author and a character are good examples of this association. It seems to be that no matter how much we are told that media does not drive behavior, we look to the book and record collections of famous and infamous people to be indicators of identity. Personality is ephemeral yet objects are not is a hard thing to parse. To be truthful this common confusion is discomforting to me. I think while our choices in entertainment or art do say things about us, we are the final arbiters. We are more that what we own and less than what we dream.

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Though it is only in our actions that we exist in this world, the way that our imagination threads through our daily lives is striking. Often it is the one thing which keeps alive if not always safe or successful. There is a resonance in our choices, the ways we wile our time and the characters we chose to fixate upon does indicate something. I am just not sure that a majority of people are very good at valuation.

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January Blog Note

Second Post of 2014. No excuses – I am simply awash in periodic distraction and depression. We should all be used to it by now.

A few words on The Secret Singularity. I am not sure how many of them there will be but it is the start of something new. I’ve been thinking about an essay about imagination, facts and reality and Buried Image is what came out. I want it to be loose and associative but not too obscure. I see it as part biography of influences and conversation starter. I am not an authority on anything. I have thoughts. I am not talking completely out of my hat, either. Don’t be shy, let’s talk some ideas.

I having a bit of a creative crisis these days. With the consumer market of creative arts bloated like a tick, I am considering the why bother of it all. I feel like a lot of baseline stuff has shifted. If I was simply writing for me, what would that look like? I am not sure what that would look like let alone if it would be a good thing. The audience confusion of the blog seems to have infected the rest of my writing. So much so that retreated back from attempts at fiction. It is as much about a cynicism about narrative as it is the search for markets. I got no luck with markets. As usual, posthumous discovery seems like the best thing to go for in these over-saturated days.

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The Secret Singularity – Buried Image

Facts 360 B.C. -A.D.2012 is a personal time marker for me. It is a reminder of when things really started to change in the world. Perhaps only when I noticed it but thankfully I do not have to believe in that difference. It felt that way so hence it is truth.

Truth , be it upper case or lower, is considered a transitive property these days. I would be remiss to say that I have been known to make this mistake, to believe the light of my ego is the only illumination. Through the dim powers of recollection, I connect this idea of transitive reality to R.D. Laing‘s The Politics of Experience. Forgive me if my recollection is blurred. I read this in high school so I make no claim of authority. Besides in a bit about the rubber-ization of reality, too much research is besides the point. Laing’s postulation of how the interior world of the schizophrenic as having an internal consistency is probably my first contact with surrealism.

The idea of dreams being the computer code of the brain makes this claim very hard to substantiate. I have memories of watching a bewildering documentary of Dali that was created by the man himself throws this idea of initial contact into question. And further more does it matter?

In the 21st century, Psychology is deemed psychic pest control, a means to root out buried evils, only inches away from fortune telling, which oddly has a better rep. To my thinking, the greatest value of this science is proof of the interior thought, the buried image. Instead of careful regard, this psycho-geography is feared and ridiculed. Somehow if we do not look in its direction, we will be protected.

Ignoring something has a limited usefulness. When thinking of surrealism, or its ancestor dadaism, focus is not the first thing that comes to mind. It is about the panic of the traffic jam or detention in a foreign country, where none of the words sound like your language yet decide your fate. Movement through this interior space is about understanding the shape of the imagination. Without understanding, facts and imagination become one and the same, an expression of control, a road to ruin.

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More Two Imagine

Okay here’s the last set. Sorry for the wait. Hopefully it was worth it for all of us.

The Land of Nod

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While considering what to say about The Land of Nod, I thought of how much being a game writer has to be like being a singer/songwriter. There are clear expectations about what you do and yet, somehow, you have to make it new. The Land of Nod locates the elements of fantasy and pushes them ever so slightly in new directions. The levels of imagination, professionalism, and good humor that radiate from this work is really all that any major roleplaying game need offer.

I will admit to a sense of the particular when it comes to Fantasy. I am always grateful when gaming material stays on the side of setting rather than metaplot, teasing out possibilities instead of novelizations. As I’ve been puttering about with my own material this has been very helpful for covering things that needed covered and improving on what I was developing. The ideas and locations presented are easily popped from their frame and can be plugged in. Solid useful material on site and in magazine (print/pdf) format.

The Savage Afterworld

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I must admit I am in a kind of awe of the community surrounding Gamma World and by extension Mutant Future. I have fond memories of GW 2nd edition. there was just something about its technicolor apocalypse which resonated with me and my friends tween-age heads. We thoroughly enjoyed it. But it is nothing compared to the levels of invention and depth that GW/MF players bring to it these days. It is very cool how this retro flavor has aged so well.

And as I surfed around and marveled at the next level gonzo of the post apocalyptic OSR, my exploration of it always winds up back at The Savage Afterworld. This site is not out to do anything more than keep this vibe alive. Creatures, encounters, news bits, and, not to mention a Thundarr the Barbarian expansion for MF. Great solid fun read.

A Field Guide to Doomsday

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I am not a big miniatures guy. That being said the Field Guide to Doomsday is amazing! The work that goes into this bestiary makes me come back just to see the latest creation.

Tightly focused in a way that my mind can not manage, it is clearly devised to keep the creature deprived GM stocked with unique denizens for their illuminated Post-Apocalyptic
wastelands. I could keep chaining adjectives together or you could just see for yourself!

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I guess all this apocalypse talk is getting me in the mood! But seriously in these stressful times, I have found a bit of solace in these websites, these monuments to the Imagination. I find a lot of joy in seeing that people still find the time to dream of something greater.

A phrase that all ways makes me roll my eyes is “thinking outside of the box”. It may have meant something the first dozen times but now to me it often sounds like an empty platitude.
To place yourself outside of your own tiny circumstances is not simply to escape but to transcend. And by trying to see anew, there is always hope for a future.

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More One Can Imagine?

Here’s the first of two RPG site roundups I’m going to post.To see the site in question, just click the associated banner.

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Elf Maids and Octopi

From lost planet science fantasy based on the art of vintage Prog rock covers to the possibilities of Mesopotamian D&D, the setting material at Elf Maids and Octopi is incredibly distinct material that impresses on me how much of a blank canvas a RPG can be.

The density of this almost dayglo material is filtered through that old school RPG totem, the chart, to suggest the sense of shiny invention that can be found in what is sandbox play A freeflowing free association in genre conventions which, I am pretty sure, would be a nitro for any gaming engine.The opposite of safe and obvious.

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Dyson’s Dodecahedron

A crisp stylized presentation which places that gaming artifact, the map, front and center. Not to say that the explorations of character class and magic do not suggest opportunities for unique play but these renderings of dungeons and town really inspire the ideas of far off worlds rendered with the right mix of grit and clarity.

I am not surprised that many fantasy cartographers are developing their maps in this direction. It delivers its information with such aesthetic aplumb, you don’t just look at its spaces so much as escape into them.

Swords & Stitchery

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Swords and Stichery must be the only swords & sorcery & sewing site there is. Though I have never seen anything about sewing machines, I really enjoy the relaxed muted tone of the site. A curiosity shop of RPG delights where an examination of a Edgar Rice Burroughs novel can be right beside setting notes which enfold genre photos to create a peculiar alternate reality.

Uncluttered and adorned with texts and graphics that evoke the 70s textures that created Dungeons and Dragons,I have found myself dawdling over the material more and more. This isn’t retro,its authentic. Something about how it’s stitched together makes it feel like whole cloth.

Metal Earth
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In some ways Metal Earth does what you can expect to find at RPG site. A little bit of homebrewed rules, a touch of variant class work, some light theory and some maps. But just because it offers what you expect doesn’t mean there are not some surprises.

The maps and drawings have a nice rough “underground” edge to them which gives them such a distinct character. And then there is The Ruinlands setting notes which are seriously fantastic. The post apocalypse landscape presented there is like Gerry Pantner was Jack Kirby raised on Heavy Metal magazine and Saturday morning cartoons. Wild wild stuff that goes for it. ‘Not enough of that going on these days?’ I guess I was wrong!


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Okay there is the first set of RPG site recommendations. I did not know there was going to be more than one of these. Like all my encounters with RPG material these days, it just spun out of control. Unlike the RPG game sites that inspired me to do this, like the movie blogs that drew into this, I am nowhere as prolific. They are so many people out there that kick ass and takes names daily that I figured I’d press myself to get something out today and tomorrow. Okay more like today and Sunday. No matter though I just want give a shout to all these amazing bloggers out there.

One of the biggest blocks I have about blogging is never knowing who this is directed towards.
Should I act like we all know what all these terms mean?Usually this is why I stay away from them the best I can. So let this post be an open invitation to talk about OSR and this upsurge in amazing RPG material. There is an opportunity for talk so why not?

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