This week I read:
The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison
A welcome return to the world of The Goblin Emperor, though not really connected to the prior book. I read it in one sitting, which I don’t often do any more, but Katherine Addison just writes an engaging story which keeps me turning pages.
It may sound a small detail, but I appreciate how well thought-out the elven and goblin languages are. Honorifics, personal names, place names, and other pieces of terminology actually feel like they belong to a consistent language, rather than just being the result of smashing a keyboard.
Delta Green: Agent’s Handbook from Arc Dream Publishing
I’m really looking forward to running Delta Green, so I’m digesting all the material I can. The Agent’s Handbook, which is the player-facing rulebook, is pretty well organised and concise, not too wordy. And yet it also did a good job I think of portraying the sort of stories that Delta Green is supposed to run, with guidance on topics like how to misappropriate funds from your employer, or how to dispose of a body. Mechanically, it’s similar to Call of Cthulhu, but narratively it’s a very different beast.
This week I ran Rule of Man Commemorative, though the players didn’t figure out any of the spy stuff and managed to solve all their problems with a single high-speed grav-bike: escaping pursuers, jumping canyons, and flinging armed teenagers through windows are all in a day’s work.
I’ll wrap up the psion-drug storyline in the next two sessions, and then it’s onto the one-shot of…
Tomb Robbers of the Crystal Frontier
I picked up the module this week, read the PDF and the book should be arriving in the near future. It sounds fun, I think this was the right choice. The western feel to the area around the dungeon is different, but interesting. I decided to play into that with the characters I rolled up, giving them all cowboy-themed names (using the Fantasy Name Generators site). I also generated some simple character portraits with DALL-E, just to make choosing a character a bit more fun than looking at a bunch of numbers:
- Oakley is an Illusionist
- Nancy is a Cleric
- Janser is a really ugly Halfling (I rolled 4 CHA with 4d6 drop lowest!)
- Edwin is a Bard
- David is a Fighter (I’m not sure what’s going on with his hat, I might regenerate him)
- Dania is a Dwarf
- Dane is a Magic-User
- Crimes Johnson is a Thief
- Bess is a Fighter
- Alloralla is an Elf
All characters are level 1. I’ve rolled spells for the spellcasters, but we’ll roll up equipment after everyone chooses their character.
I wanted a good variety of classes, so nobody feels like they’re missing out on their favourite fantasy tropes, and so the group can try out a variety of mechanics. We’re also getting three new players who’ve never played an RPG before: I usually run a fairly human-centric game, but I made sure to include the classic non-human races since in this case I don’t want to be the grumpy old GM who tells the newbies they can’t an elf or whatever.
I’ve been watching The Boys this week. I quite enjoyed season 1, not very far into season 2 yet but I’m liking where it’s going. I think there’s a lot of potential in the corrupt-superheroes genre: Invincible was good too (looking forward to season 2 of that), and of course there’s also Watchmen.
I remember there was some controversy when season 3 came out, over the depiction of Homelander, the American-themed Superman-parody. People thought the show was getting too political. But, wow, this show hasn’t exactly been subtle about its politics. Almost all of the superheroes are callous and cruel, abusing their powers for their own personal gain, the villain is a huge pharmaceutical corporation, and everything’s covered up by appealing to American exceptionalism.
It’s hard to see how someone could have watched season 1 and not realised that Homelander and his ilk are parodies of all the worst parts of modern US corporate capitalism.