Cirsova Publishing Announces Fully Illustrated 70th Anniversary Edition of Leigh Brackett’s Stark Trilogy

Little Rock, AR, 4/1/2019— Cirsova Publishing has teamed up with StarTwo to create an all-new, fully illustrated 70th Anniversary Edition of Leigh Brackett’s original Eric John Stark Trilogy. Cirsova Publishing aims to bring the action, adventure and romance of Leigh Brackett to a new generation of readers.

First published in the Summer of 1949, Queen of the Martian Catacombs introduced the world to Eric John Stark, the black mercenary swordsman. Stark’s adventures continued on Venus in 1949’s The Enchantress of Venus, and the swordsman returned to the Red Planet in 1951’s Black Amazon of Mars. While Brackett would revisit the character in 1970s with the Skaith trilogy, the original novellas are significant as one of the last iconic Sword & Planet cycles of the pulp era.

These stories will be presented like never before, featuring all new original artwork, including new covers paying homage to Allen Anderson’s originals for Planet Stories and 33 interior illustrations. Each has been checked and corrected against the original texts as they appeared in Planet Stories magazine and will feature introductions by Nathan Housley, aka the Pulp Archivist, Jeffro Johnson, the author of the critically acclaimed Appendix N: The Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons, and culture commentator, critic, and pulp enthusiast Liana Kerzner.

The 70th Anniversary Illustrated Stark will be released as individual volumes, in a softcover omnibus, and in a coffee-table hardcover art edition.

  • Queen of the Martian Catacombs + Illustrated Stark (Hardcover) – 4/30/2019
  • The Enchantress of Venus – 5/31/2019
  • Black Amazon of Mars – 6/28/2019
  • The Complete Illustrated Stark (Paperback) – 7/31/2019

Our end-goal is to put these classic works of science fiction back in the hands of readers, young and old.

Little Rock, Arkansas based Cirsova Publishing was founded in 2015. Its flagship publication Cirsova Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine was a 2017 Hugo Award finalist for Best Semi-Pro Zine.

For More Information, visit https://cirsova.wordpress.com/Illustrated-Stark

StarTwo: http://www.startwo.net/

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Liana K, Characters, Their Stats and Female RPG Characters

There are a lot of good and interesting points in this, including some justification for base stat differences between male and female characters in RPGs.  For those without time to watch the video, the major point she brings up is that the female character, despite having a completely different non-martial background from the male character, has all sorts of inexplicable combat skills and physicality without any justification beyond delivering a 1-for-1 play experience.  That and the female character might even be lactating throughout the game…

In VG RPGs that let you customize the default protagonist, I tend to go for a 3:1 ratio of playing female to male characters, in part because physical stats are easier to grind up than social stats.  DCC , however, is the first time in tabletop I’ve played ‘a little girl’ (or even a female PC at all), and that was entirely the luck of the roll (random gender, random alignment, 3d6 straight down). So I play to that character’s strengths, which mostly entail her being small and inconspicuous. Would it make sense for me to play a large ripped muscle-bound fighty man with those 7s, 8s and 9s in all of my stats? Absolutely not!

In tabletop RPGs, I think characters emerge from their stats much moreso than with VG RPGs. With VG RPGs, the stats often don’t reflect (or aren’t reflected in) the physical appearance of the characters, so you CAN end up with lithe bruisers and ripped frail mages. In a lot of games with default protagonists without fixed race and gender, phenomena like Liana described can sort of jar you out of your suspension of disbelief, but games are expected to deliver the same sort of experience regardless of your ‘cosmetic’ character choices even when those choices should NOT be cosmetic. Despite being an incredibly unfun mess of a game, I think the first Killzone actually pulled this off to an extent (big ripped muscle dude carried giant chain guns, while lithe assassin girl carried scoped pistols, etc.), but that wasn’t a game with a default protagonist.

Something that would be interesting to see would be an attempt to make characters in a game better reflect their stats. Ironically, one of the few games I’ve played that really attempted to do this (and in a way that gamified fitness no less!) was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. CJ could get fat and pudgy if he ate junk food, didn’t work out and only drove places, and it would translate into reduced stamina; conversely, if he got into shape, his physical stats would improve along with his character model. Perhaps rather than having a character look like whatever regardless of starting stats, those starting stats would be determinant of possible appearance and characteristics. You wouldn’t be locked in, of course, but it would be the difference between playing a small thiefy street urchin and a weak out of shape dude. Or hell, a tough broad and a square-jawed man.

The thing is, what might be average for one person could be exceptional for another. Let’s throw out some random, but average stats:
Str  9
Dex 11
Con 8
Per 12

Reasonably strong, reasonably fast, reasonably likable, maybe can’t quite take a hit as hard as some people. Kind of ‘meh’, right? Now apply them to a 5-foot nothing girl who weighs just over 100 lbs.

Saori-Ishioka
This character just got a bit more interesting, right?

Your ‘average’ stats for one character could just amount to ‘some guy’ or a Saori Ishioka (Japan’s #7 ranked strawweight woman fighter) depending on the human frame you’re applying them to.  Of course there’s no reason why you couldn’t have a female character with 18s in Strength and Con; just keep in mind that it would make sense for her to look more like She-Hulk than your typical professional woman fighter.  Even in the world of professional boxing, 18 STR and CON would be more along the lines of a Klitschko than a Mayweather.  Weight Class is a very real thing, which is why fighting uses pound-for-pound ranking.  So remember, you can play a character with so-so stats that could easily be a pound for pound champ, and in the end I think that’s more interesting and has more possibilities that playing a maxed out monster.

Anyway, have a good Thanksgiving weekend.

MYFAROG Review Vid & Brief #Gamergate Thought

I feel like a cad for not having followed through with some of my plans for creating playing materials for MYFAROG.  Sure, I’ve been sick a lot lately and depressed, but I can really only blame my laziness.  I WILL make them eventually, but I can’t really say for sure when I’ll get around to it.  I’ve been suffering DMs fatigue and prepping sessions and creating materials (especially those I may not be using in my game in the near future) just hasn’t been high on my list of things to do.

But, as I mentioned awhile back, other folks are starting to take up the torch for MYFAROG, and as the community grows, there’ll be more material out there for folks to game with for this system.

In other news, I was going to write up something about that trainwreck of a stream* that Liana K was in last week, but can’t really think of anything to say but “Wow, that was a trainwreck!”  I still stand by the movement and its goals, but goddamn there are some dumb folks on both sides*.  If you’re going to interview someone, interview them, don’t get half a dozen other people on your stream into the discussion, because at best, it’ll be a mess, at worst, it’ll be an inquisition.  I like Liana and value her voice way more than anybody else on that stream.   Also, wow, a lot of fundamental misunderstanding of US politics and politics in general out there; while overall the movement is anti-progressive, there’s a ton of left-wing GG folks who feel the need to prove their liberal bona fides by shitting on conservatives at any chance.  Oh, well.

I’m probably going to have to cave eventually and put my stuff up on OBS, because there really isn’t anywhere else I’ll get the same visibility.  It’s a damn shame and I’ll hate myself for it.

And yes, Ralph Retort is basically the Gamergate version of Wonkette (which is about the worst thing I think I could say about anyone).

*:I don’t tend to listen to many GG streams, but was curious when I saw Liana’s angry rant response.

**: Best idiot quote from this stream: “Have a nice day not being relevant, Liana K. That’s my only response. And that’s without even knowing completely what happened. I don’t honestly need to know.”  Reminds me of the Tommy Smothers, “I’m an American, I don’t have to see something to know it’s stupid,” bit.