Friday, May 17, 2013

Artifact Use Chart

In Dragon #25 Gary Jaquet updated the Artifact Use charts from the first edition Gamma World rules. My photo-copy of the chart looked pretty natty so I went ahead and made a new version (above). When we were playing GW1e a couple years back my whole agenda then was to use the rules as written, just to get a feel for what the authors intended, before making any house-rule changes. That meant using those old artifact use charts that were so fascinating to me as a kid. Of course it doesn't take long before you realize that all you are doing is rolling dice over a certain number for effects and the flow chart is just for looks. So I started using the GW2e rules after a while to see if there were any subtle flavor differences between the two (GW2e rules are just straight dice rolls, but the system is a bit more complex). Not only did the GW2e rules seem oddly "safer" (less catastrophic results), but I found myself missing the visual interaction of the old charts. So when I found this updated version somebody posted on the internet form Dragon #25 I vowed to give it a spin, but we ended up putting the GW campaign on hiatus before I got to try it. I have no idea how well tuned it is, but it is kind of pretty.

Huh, perhaps I should post how to actually use the chart.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Attending Daedalus

Deserted Estuary by Bruce Pennington
By coincidence I came across a used copy of Attending Daedalus by Peter Wright around the time I was finishing reading Solar Labyrinth by Robert Borski. Borski's book had a lot of tantalizing theories about Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun in it (even if I am inclined to only agree with around 60% of them), but seemed to focus only on the puzzles and mysteries of the series without actually discussing Wolfe's literary techniques. Attending Daedalus is definitely a good remedy for that, examining Wolfe's writing style and its effect on the reader throughout his career, with specific emphasis on the Book of the New Sun. Wright's writing tends to be overly-academic and dry (it was an English dissertation after all), but he illuminates the complexity of Wolfe's genius in a way that I may have intuitively grasped, but without an intellectual understanding the process involved.

All in all, my re-reading of Wolfe's Book of the New Sun, along with the various analysis of other authors, has deepened my already reverent appreciation of his works to a level of almost baffled mystification. How can he be so good?