Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dying (Earth) Characters

You might be thinking to yourself "What can I expect to find here in the future and why the f**k should I even read this pile of drek?" My answer would be "I dunno, you have a sick need for self punishment?"

Another answer might be that I am going to write as often as I can, perhaps even every day (yeah, that is a rather grand thought!) and what you might find here are a great many things. I plan on doing reviews of books and films, games, miniatures and a host of other things. Also, you might see me muse on the campaign I am running at the moment, and I am gearing up for a big one. It is going to be a kind of Dying Earth + Conan/Solomon Kane world with a bit of Lovecraft added. I am also thinking of a new mechanic whereby the Wizard can cast spells of a higher level than they are allowed traditionally by instituting a spell failure percentage. The greater disparity between their highest level allowable spell and the spell they are trying to cast will incur a 5-10% deduction from their percentage chance to successfully cast a spell. Also, if they completely nail the spell (roll a 1-5%) on the attempt then the spell will have added bonuses in its effects.

More about that when I figure it out.

So far for the summer campaign I have a Druid, a Wizard, a Paladin, a Halfling Thief and (perhaps) a Barbarian. A nice mix to be sure, but the best part is that I told each player that they had to play a character class that they had not played before. I think that this will be a nice way to mix it up. Another added bonus is that I am using a spell list for wizards that is not in the PHB, they are all spells that have a more Dying Earth (Jack Vance) flavor to them.

It should be interesting...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wizard Needs Food...Badly!

yeah, I am changing the blog again. Apocalypse Trousers, while a cool idea, was just not broad enough an idea for me to write over much. So, this is the new blog, same address, different and broader focus.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Appendix Gamma --- Riddley Walker by Russel Hoban

By far, Riddley Walker is the most unique Post Apocalyptic Novel I think I have ever read. It was published in 1980, but Hoban started writing it in 1974 after a trip to Canterbury Cathedral. He won the John W. Campbell Award in 1982 which tells you that, although this is quality writing, it has been rather slow to gain popularity. Since its first publication it has also been a Play (Hoban wrote the script for this in 1986) and also a Puppet Show (Trouble Puppets of Austin TX) and Hoban helped them with their show as well. You can catch a few scenes from the play on youtube, but not much, and the DVD remains rare and elusive. So, you are just gonna have to read it, Mutie!

I admit, with a certain amount of shame, that this work remained unknown to yours truely until two years ago when my pal Travis sent me a copy for Yule. It sat on my test for a month before I picked it, sometimes I am stupid! I regret not having been exposed to this book sooner. Its fantastic and without spoilers I will tell you why.

The narrative is in the form of diary entries by the title character, Riddley Walker, himself and takes place in Southern England two thousand years in the future, after a nuclear war. The technology level of this society is as it was in Iron Age England, but they do not mine the metal...they dig up the old buried technology and re-purpose or smelt it for the metal. This is not the best thing about Riddley's world. In this future the government and religion have merged and are controlled by teams of puppeteers who use Punch and Judy puppets as both gospel and propaganda. I sounds strange, but you have to read it for the full effect. Riddley Walker presents his diary in the dialect of the time which takes a bit to get used to. The reader is forced to slow down and take it all in...and think about what they are reading. For some idea of the linguistics of the thing, Riddley Walker was an obvious influence on Beyond Thunderdome. The dialect that the children speak is a simplified version of it and some mythic characters from the book are human characters in Thunderdome. The most obvious of these is Auntie Entity, who in the book is the personification of Death. There is a rhyme that says of her "Stoan boans and iron tits and teef be twean her legs". Also, those of you familiar with Thunderdome also notice that the saviour that the kids are waiting for is named...Capt. Walker.

Hoban includes future iterations of children's rhymes, full blown mythic narratives and a whole lot of other goodies.

If you read one book this year, make it Riddley Walker! It has appeal that reaches beyond the Post Apoc, into religion, technology, linguistics, folklore and a host of other things. Treat yourself to this one.

I treat you now to the Wood of Stoan...

Good Morning....Ladies of the Wastelands IV

G'Morning Mutants,

Here is a little something to wake you up this fine Wasteland Wednesday...

Say hellow to Sally.
Sally is an Libra and her ideal Sunday afternoon is sleeping in late and raiding the countryside in her tricked out Gyro Copter.

Turn Ons
Mysterious Men who wander the wastes, V8 Interceptor, 101 Fun Things to do with Electrical Tape.

Turn Offs
Walking away from the Gasoline

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Ladies of the Wastes (got to be a better name for this!) III

                                            Better treat her well...She'll shoot ya and loot ya!

Her name is E and she likes long leisurely walks in the cindery wastes, finding long lost caches of un-irradiated Capris Sun and fighing waist deep in the skeletons of the old world for the last bottle of water.

Damnation Alley

Greetings Mutants,

Your pal Jeffrey here to tell you what to read, again. Today's tastey treat is the classic novel, Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny. Yeah, you could watch the film, but as always, the book is better.

We meet Hell Tanner, Felon, Murderer, Rapist and Anti-Hero. No, he is not an easy guy to fact he is down right rotten. but in this situation, rotten is just what they need. Boston has been hit by a plague and the Nation of California wants to send help in the form of an Antiserum. The only thing that stands between Boston and the cure is (you guessed it!) 2000 or so miles of irradiated, Giant Scorpion infested Wasteland called "Damnation Alley". Even the weather is ruined in the Post Apocalyptic world. Follow the exploits of Tanner as he drives the Alley in a quest for a full pardon from the nation of California.

This book bears little resemblance to the film of the same name, staring Jan Michael Vincent and George Pepard. Yeah, those of you who have read the book and seen the film know what I mean. The movie version of Damnation Alley is cheesy and very late 1970s. Rather than souped up cars it even features the vehicle from the television show Arc II...but NO monkey!

That vehicle looks like this...

Behold, the Landmaster. An actual vehicle. Now it is in the hands of a private owner and has been refurbished. I know, not in the book but it would still be very cool to own this thing. I would drive it to work, in my very own Damnation Alley, that involves Lawyers, business men and academics.

Back to the film. As I said, the film bears very little resemblence to the book other than it is a Post Apoc, cross country buddy film romp. The main characters in the film are Air Force officers who were once charged with the operation of a missle silo. They find this vehicle in AF storage and decide to go out east looking for civilization. The encounter radioactive mutant scorpions, flesh eating roaches, itinerant dancers and children (Still NO Monkey!) and Las Vegas on the way.

I know, my review of the book is too brief and of the film not complimentary enough to be helpful. My problem is that I hate spoilers. If you want to know how the book and movie compare the only way you can really do that is by reading and watching...and you should. If you are a fan of the End as I am both of these things are very much worth the time. The book, well, its Zelazny for crying out loud...and its a really well written classic. Read it!

As far as the film, sure, its cheesy, but it is a lot of fun to watch. Even if you only watch the first part of it. There is a 15 minute section at the beginning where they show the atomic war and what happens when they launch the missiles...for those of you who are around my age and lived though the cold war its the stuff of our childhood nightmares...get some popcorn and watch it!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013