Category Archives: Fluff/Inspiration

Short Cthulian Bit: The Spiraling Worm

If you follow me over social media (and you can find out how to at the little bio at the end of this post) you might have read my gushing praise for The Spiraling Worm a Cthulhu Mythos collection of short stories, interconnected by a common set of characters, some stories flowing from one to the next flawlessly. All the stories put together almost seem like a novel set in a Delta Green like universe.

I discovered the book while watching episode 193 of Game Geeks, the Agents of Oblivion review (A very good book BTW, Michael posted about it here and here) which referred me to their previous review of The Spiraling Worm book, episode 58 from way back in 2008. This book has been out for a while, how did I miss it?

I have read a lot of Cthulhu Mythos books, collections of HP Lovecraft’s works and those he inspired. The results can be hit or miss. I usually enjoy them but many collections are a mixed bag of gems and turds. So far my favorite Cthulhu Mythos anthology was Shadows over Baker Street, containing the wonderful (and available for free here) A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman. The Spiraling Worm just became my favorite anthology.

While reading it I had to go back and reread some of Lovecraft stories I had not read in a long time, The Shadow Out of Time and At the Mountains of Madness. Stories in the book weave the mythology of the Mythos in, what seems to me, fresh and modern ways. These days more and more I find myself passing along books I read so other might enjoy them, partly due to my desire of sharing a good book, and partly due to not having space to keep books I will probably never read again; this is not the case here! This book is going up on the shelf and I may need to get a new one to lend to friends. It is that good…

Kudos to David Conyers and John Sunseri for such wonderful stories and making me into a fan. If you’ve read it, you know how good it is, if you haven’t, read it, you won’t be sorry. Now to get The Eye of Infinity

Turn! Turn! Turn! To Everything There is a Season

Recent events have me thinking about time; time keeping in games, the effects on pacing and the meaning for players. As I turn a year older soon and I prepare to return to my long running fantasy campaign I’ve been revising the campaign calendar and thinking about how to make the passage of time relevant to players.

Just to provide some context let me share how I’ve dealt with this in the past. When I began playing RPGs there was very little consideration for time, beyond knowing what season it was, and sometimes not even that. Traveling to the dungeon took X amount of days, a sea travels so many weeks, so on and so forth. If players asked about days of the week I believe I simply used real world days for ease of reference.

Soon after I began developing my home brewed campaign, I began to thinker with calendars. This was back before I had a computer, so I did most of my planning by hand, I might have been inspired by an article in Dragon Magazine, no idea which issue, dealing with just this subject. Eventually I began to use spread sheets and a calendar creation tool in the Irony Games website (apparently now defunct!) to create a calendar for my game.

Continue reading Turn! Turn! Turn! To Everything There is a Season

A Trek to the Stars but no Star Trek

ultimateA while ago I have mused about the issues you have with SF campaigns in general and campaigns focusing on space exploration in particular. I have thrown some ideas around and watched several SF movies and episodes from various SF TV series for inspiration.

It was during one episode of the classic Star Trek series when I had an idea. Why not use the premise of the series but get rid of basically everything else. One thing that always kept me from running a Star Trek game was the canon which always felt like a corset instead of inspiration. While I love the premise of a starship and its crew travelling through space, responding to emergencies, dealing with first contact situations and sometimes even fighting enemies, I don’t really want to have to cope with all the “baggage” that comes with it.

Of course I can tell my players that I will ignore some of the canon and stay clear of any metaplot, but then why bother use the Star Trek universe at all? I also like to have a bit more science in my science fiction than Star Trek has. I also prefer my games a bit more grim and gritty. Even though I like to watch Star Trek, I still cringe whenever crew extras are thrown through the bridge set because there are no seat belts.

So what I am currently planning is to get back at writing a SF campaign setting that takes the Star Trek premise BUT is not set into the Star Trek universe. Another SF setting I find highly inspirational is the Mass Effect universe. While I found it a bit hard to run non-military campaigns in that universe, I still love a lot about it.

When it comes to what system to use I am still torn between Stars without Number and MiniSix. SWN would probably provide me with more material to rely on, but also makes some assumptions about the setting. MiniSix is more rules-light than SWN and probably needs me to put some more work into setting-specific stuff.

If I come up with anything concrete (which is not guaranteed) I’ll post it here on the blog. But at the moment I am basically throwing some ideas around and hope for some feedback by my readers.