What’s the Solution, Lew?

Interesting bit from Stelios today on the OSR and Lew Pulsipher’s latest EN World article. Feel free to pretend like my comments are today’s Cirosova blog post!

The Word of Stelios

To those who don’t know: Lewis Pulsipher has been around in RPGs for a long time.

If you open up the AD&D Fiend Folio, you’ll see his name credited to monsters like the Elemental Princes of Evil and the Poltergeist. He contributed articles to Dragon magazine back in the 1980s (one of my favorites being “Be Aware and Take Care” from issue #79). And I’ve kept up with his blog over the years. Interesting stuff. He brings with him years of insights when it comes to the hobby and game design.

Then I read his recent post on EN World: Consequences and Reward in RPGs, and wasn’t sure what to think.

It reiterated and summarized much of what he has said on his blog:

  • Role Playing Games these days just aren’t like what they used to be.
  • Back in the day, consequences mattered in RPGs. Now only rewards…

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Pellucidar Game Notes

I’ve had some great feedback on the weapon system I’m using for the Pellucidar game I’ll be running friday.

It’s still going to be a fairly light system, but I’ve done the following:

  • made a mini-monster manual with 5 pages worth of stuff from B/X and Isle of Dread.
  • Come up with a random terrain table. It may come out with total garbage, but rather than try to draw a map ahead of time, I’ll have the world be completely emergent. Eventually, towns and Nazi bases will show up via random rolls. Or they won’t and either the party will have to keep looking or I’ll have to drop one somewhere once they meet some friendly humans.
  • Come up with encounter tables for the terrain types. These aren’t super detailed, because I’m not going with the full X1 encounter tables, but I wanted to include everything in my micro monster manual and make each type of terrain be somewhat distinct in terms of what might show up there.

Army Men Figures

So, I was kind of hoping that I’d be able to grab a cheap bag of army men or something to use as minis in my Pellucidar game. Except I am kind of weird and autistic and was confronted with a strange problem – I found that all of the army men I looked at were extremely disappointing.

The dollar store bags all have a soft and moldy look to them and look like they’ve been sand-blasted. In addition to having giant seams and injection marks, they did not have any real subtle details to them. Unfortunately, other bags at other places had similar problems. Even the super expensive $10 army men sets were kinda weak on the detail.

I swear that I remember that the army men I had as a kid in the 80s and early 90s were much higher mold and sculpt quality, some of them roughly on par with Reaper Bones. I wish that I still had those old ones because there isn’t exactly a lot of competition on the toy shelves for quality army men.

You can still get them, but you have to order them online, and they aren’t cheap! I can’t tell you which sets I had as a kid; I can only go by which sculpts I recognize, and I had a LOT of army men as a kid. But here’s a comparison of the sort of stuff I had that you can get still get online vs what you can find today in stores.

army men 1

Think I had a decent share of both the Americans and Germans from this; never had the Japanese or Brits; I’d’ve remembered the pipers. Also, wow, that’s a lot of bazookas! I remember having way more grenadiers.

army men 2

Probably comes out to about 1/3 the quality at 1/4 the price. So, a bargain, I guess? What you can’t tell from this pic is that the plastic literally looks like it’s covered in a film of mold.

You can’t really tell from the pictures, so I didn’t include it, but the Toys R Us True Heroes line was still really seamy.

If we end up running my game for more than a session or two, I might actually invest in some figures, but if it’s between shelling out $20 for a bucket of half-way decent soldiers or a buck for really lousy ones, we can just use whatever minis we already have.

Also, I must have looked like some kind of freak standing there with an armful of resin triceratops trying to decide whether I should buy them now or wait.

“If I can buy a herd of triceratops for $4, but then I’ll want to force a scripted triceratops encounter. But I don’t want to buy all of these dinosaurs today. And I don’t want to buy just one of each, because what if they’re fighting more than one of something? Aaah! Someone’s coming!” ::dumps armload of dinosaurs and runs away::

New Interviews & WWII D&D

In case you missed it, I was recently interviewed by Stoic Writer.

Also, today a really great interview with Cirsova contributor Michael Tierney went up at Castalia House. Some great insight into the comic business, plus Michael has a 4 volume art history Edgar Rice Burroughs that will be going live for order this week.

I’m not ready to share it quite yet, but I’m working on fleshing out my WWII B/X system. If I’m lucky, I’ll get to test it out this friday. If not, maybe two weeks from friday.

I don’t really have a concrete scenario in mind, yet, so I hope my players will just be stoked by the prospect of firing off a few rounds from an M1 Garand at a Stegasaurus before they get trampled to death.

Submissions: Just a Reminder

We’ll begin accepting Submissions on June 1st.

We are looking for Sword & Planet, Raygun Romance, and Heroic Fantasy. While we buy and publish other types of SFF, those are what we generally make our priority.

Please have your manuscripts formatted properly (double spaced, page numbers, your name and address on the 1st page, etc.). The less we have to muck with fixing wonky formatting in your manuscript, the better disposed to it we’ll be. The same goes for weird and wonky sentence structure. Lots of short sentence fragments may seem dramatic and pulpy in your head when you write them, but they often read poorly. Same with overly long and cumbersome sentences; the less of these we have to detangle, the better a chance your manuscript stands. Read your sentence out loud without taking a breath in the middle; if you’re feeling dizzy by the end of it, consider tightening it up.

We’re only looking at acquiring about 90K words of content. We’ve already blocked off a slot for Adrian Cole’s novella and have a couple other things slotted in by prior arrangement, so competition for space may be fierce. Your best bet is sending in something in the 5k word range.

Please no multiple submissions; if we think that you have the knack to write the sort of story we’re looking for but your submission was not quite what we were looking for, we may solicit you to submit a different story, but please don’t make us play Sophie’s Choice with your stories.

If we experience a radical windfall in sales revenue, we might up the amount of content we acquire, but we’ll probably stick with just two issues.

Don’t send stories about elves

Details are available under our submissions guidelines page.