Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bizarre Books by Ashe & Lake

This is not some lost list of role playing tomes. Rather, it is a compilation of of awkward titles of published books. Most of the titles listed are publications from Great Britain, the edition which I have just read, the first U.S. publication, is from 2006. Bizarre, comical, intriguing or just plan wrong, Ashe and Lake have included book titles that will capture the interest of anyone brave enough to investigate their compendium.

How does this fit into a blog which is usually about Weird Fantasy Role Playing Games? Let me start with The Planet of the Knob Heads by Stanton Coblentz which appears to have been printed in the old pulp Science Fiction in 1939. The internet has a hand full of references to what was potentially Mr. Coblentz's masterpiece, but there is no archival existence of this piece that I could find. I did, however, find six results for Coblentz on the Internet Archive. Three of these documents are publications of Amazing Stories, there we are sure to find some fodder for any Weird Science RpG we're working on.

Some of the book titles listed could easily be fictional titles from Weird Science lit;
  • The Skeleton Edition of the Book of Comprehension No. 1, The Preparation X.13: The Rose Color Reference for Technical, Kindergarten and Nature Teachers
  • To Lake Tanganyika in a Bath Chair by  Annie Boyle Hore
  • In Dwarf Land and Cannibal Country by Albert Bushnell Lloyd
  • Was Oderic of Pordenone Ever in Tibet? by Berthold Laufer
  • The Trapping and Destruction of Executive Armoured Cars by John A. Minnery 
There is 215 pages of this stuff. As the following examples from the first two letters of the alphabet will illustrate, possibly the most useful info for an rpg is the list of authors' names.
  • Istvan Apathy
  • Gaspar Griswold Bacon
  • Ludwig Von Baldass
  • Jean Baptiste Banal
  • Otto Banga
  • Rudyard Kipling Bent
  • Juana Bignozzi
  • Rene Palapart de Bigot
  • Bishop Boguphalus II
  • Nancy Hess Omaha Boy
  • Melt Brink
I'll consider that the names of the city council members for my latest Encounter Critical  burg, Nuevo Brussels. I also consider this further proof that wacky ideas and inspiration can come from anywhere. Inspiration doesn't have to be limited to High Lit. or the latest episode of Teen Titans Go!

Lastly, enjoy this phasic tune which I'm sure Hank and Jim listened to during the composition and play testing of Encounter Critical.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lin Carter's Year's Best Fantasy Stories Vol. 1

I am a sucker for these old Lin Carter anthologies. They contain the best of, at least, three generations of Fantasy Fiction. The first two volumes both contain tales by Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith. Both volumes have new or rare material from Fritz Leiber, L. Sprague de Camp, Jack Vance and Carter. The tales which I often enjoy most are from the young writers of the time. Vol. 1 of The Year's Best Fantasy Stories features newcomers Pat McIntosh and Charles R Saunders. There is also a piece of lost history of Middle Earth as told by Marrion Zimmer Bradley, The Sword of Dyrnwyn by Lloyd Alexander and a posthumous work by Hans Bok. Every sentence is classic, enduring fantasy enjoyment and most of these folks are listed as inspirational reading in Appendix N of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Master's Guide.

2014 was a quest of personal accomplishment for me which I have completed with success. I am now free of the literal and proverbial text books, free to read any smut, pulp or trash that I may like. And free to wonder the wastelands of fantasy role playing enthusiasts, a journey I hope to renew and share the travels of the polyhedral dice bag.