Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review: The New Death and Others

The New Death and Others is a collection of short stories and poems written by James Hutchings of the Teleleli blog and also from the Age of Fable.

The book opens straight to the contents, before jumping right in with the short story 'The God of the Poor', which, though very short, is one of my favourite stories in the book, reminding of the works of Lord Dunsany, and giving me that same sense of wonder that Dunsany's works give me.

After this story, the book goes on with a fairly good pace, containing some very atmospheric stories, such as 'Todd', to ones filled with bad puns and jokes, though, as I am a real fan of puns, I find them quite hilarious. The most humorous story is, in my opinion 'Everlasting Fire', which I actually did laugh out loud when I read it, which is incredibly rare for me.

Others contain very original material, such as 'The Scholar and the Moon', which contains such inspirational work as a city where the temperament of the people change with every full moon, and where the rooftops are not quite connected to the ground floors of the city.

I can definitely see myself stealing such ideas for use in my games, as well as a few others culled from the various stories and poems.

The poems are fairly good, with 'Under the Pyramids', based on the H.P. Lovecraft story of the same name, and 'Charon', based on the story by Lord Dunsany, standing out from the lot, being quite well written, as well as very atmospheric.

The titular story,' The New Death', though amusing, I would not say is the best story in the collection, although the title I find incredibly inspiring, and may think of something to throw at players based on it....

The presentation of the book is fairly good, with all the hyper-links (I think that's what they're called) working very well. The layout on the pdf is good, with the stories and poems seperated from each other by a nice little divider. There are a few minor problems with the layout, such as the title of a story being right at the bottom of the page, and a few stanzas of the poems being broken up by the pages. These, however, are fairly minor problems, and do not really detract from the work as a whole.

I would definitely recommend buying this book if you either:
1. are looking for a some decent fantasy stories and poems, both humorous and otherwise, or are
2. looking for some inspirational work for gaming materials, or
3. if you are a fan of fantasy and horror works, especially the works of H.P. Lovecraft.

For its small price of $1 USD, this book is a steal, and I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Deities and the Underworld

This post will probably be fairly short, but the topic has been on my mind recently. So, first of all: Deities.

Now, deities in a game should be more than just a bunch of Roman, Greek and Norse gods that have been put straight into the setting, and no more of the cliches, such as the barbaric god of war, and the nice goddess of healing who requires that none of her followers take another life.

Let's look at the Greek god of healing, Apollo. So, he was the god of the sun and of healing. All good so far, a bit disjointed, maybe, but it is all fine. But, despite being the god of healing, he was not a nice god, as such. My older brother, who is a fanatic of Greek and Latin texts, once sent me a Greek poem (I believe), where the poet first praised Apollo for his might, and then talked about how much he feared him, as Apollo actually meant 'the destroyer' in Greek, related to such words as apocalypse. The Greeks saw him as such because, if he had the power to restore life, then he clearly had the power to take it away as well.

Another example of a more fleshed out deity is the Akkadian goddess Ishtar, the goddess of war and sex. At first, these two domains seem quite unrelated, yet they are: To the Akkadians, it was related in the creation of life through sex, and the violent and quick end through battle. Sort of related. So try to spice up the deities in whatever game you happen to be playing like that.

Now, underworld. I am just going to use the Akkadian underworld as an example for how much better underworlds can be, far more than just another fire-and-brimstone hell, and flowers-and-happiness heaven place.

I would put up a passage from the Epic of Gilgamesh, where Enkidu has a dream and sees the underworld, but I cannot be bothered finding the book, so I shall just give a brief description:

The Akkadians called their underworld the House of Darkness, and, indeed, it was always shrouded in shadow, where the souls of the dead lived, their rank amongst the dead being determined by how many sons they had, with the man with seven sons sitting amongst the demi-gods.

The souls only ate clay and dust, and always thirsted for water, but their is only one well in the centre of the underworld, and they could only ever get small amounts. The ruler of the underworld was the goddess Erishkigal, or something similar, who was constantly mourning the loss of her son, pulling out her hair, tearing her clothes, and raking her flesh with her nails. As she did this, her scribe (whose name escapes me at the moment) was reading out the name of every mortal, where and when they would be born, and how and when they would die.

That is what I call a very thematic underworld (from a game point of view. If that's the afterlife you believed in, I think you would get very depressed). Try to use these to spice up a game a bit more, as it just makes it a whole lot more interesting!

Monday, July 25, 2011


Just a quick update: finally managing to get some gaming in with WFRP 2nd edition. I'm not gming, and (for the first time in any WFRP game I've played) I'm a rat catcher. With trophies from all my kills stuck on my rat catcher pole. Fear Gaston the Man-Slayer (and his aliases, the Black Raven, Georges Guynemere, and Count Louis de Ath. See what I did there?)

So, all good for now!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book of Vile Randomness

Hey, just a quick note that Ian from Magician's Manse is creating a free book of random tables if you are interested. I have already submitted my old d100 chart of character backgrounds.

Spread the word! Submit tables!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Books of Sorcery

Right now I'm listening to some Social Distortion while going through my old rpg stuff and filing it away in my new binder.

While doing this, I came across a small table of b/x 1st level spells organised into six books of sorcery. I picked the idea up from some blog or other a while ago, and decided to make the tables.

So, for the tables: When a new magic-user is created, roll 1d6 to find out which common sorcery book they start out with:

1d6 Result
1. The Adventures of Hurgh
2. The Tome of Common Sorcery
3. Encyclopedia of Easy Magic
4. Compendium of Wondrous Wizardry
5. Rhialto's Easy Instructions on Magic, Volume I
6. Collected Works of Thersin, Volume II

The books themselves:
The Adventures of Hurgh
1. Charm Person
2. Ventruiloquism
3. Sleep
4. Light
5. Magic Missile

Tome of Common Sorcery
1. Magic Missile
2. Sleep
3. Protection from Evil

Encyclopedia of Easy Magic
1. Read Magic
2. Detect Magic

Compendium of Wondrous Wizardry
1. Light
2. Hold Portal
3. Read Languages

Rhialto's Easy Instructions on Magic, Volume I
1. Charm Person
2. Read Magic
3. Ventriloquism
4. Floating Disc

Collected Works of Thersin, Volume II
1. Magic Missile
2. Protection from Evil
3. Shield
4. Hold Portal
5. Read Magic
6. Web (Note: level 2 spell)

If you're wondering how I did these, I just rolled 1d6 to see how many spells they had, and then just rolled d12s to find what spells they had.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Well, as the title of this post suggests, I'm feeling sort of, well, 'blah' about roleplaying right now, which stems from the fact that I haven't bought anything new, and I haven't gamed for about a year now (and no, I don't mean from the start of this year,I mean for 365 days of not gaming, possibly a bit longer), so I;m not really sure how the blog's going to work.

If I get a cool idea, or get something from rolling on random tables, I'll post it on here. Otherwise, this blog is probably going to be a bit out, although I will continue reading, and commenting on, other blogs.

So, hopefully this blog will still chug along, though even slower than it is right now.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sorry and Quick Update

So, sorry I have not posted in a while, as I've been busy moving, having brothers over for Christmas, going down to Melbourne, etc.

Anyway, just a quick update that now I'm more settled in, I should be able to post on this sad little blog more than before.

Well, I shall hopefully be sticking to this : )