Monday, 26 May 2014

On Writing

It has been over two weeks since I last posted anything. It's not that I haven't been writing, I try to write half an hour a day. It's not that I am running out of ideas already, I haven't even started going into the culture of the city, the guilds or any of the other locations around the city. The problem is that I have been writing loads of half completed blogs, but lack the motivation to finish them. Such is the life of an aspiring writer I guess. I suppose I just need to buckle down and finish something. Of course, writing this post is complete procrastination and unhelpful to you or I, so I must add something something interesting.

I have been reading Elminster's Forgotten Realms recently, despite my dislike of the realms in general (note: not Ed Greenwood, I loved his Geanavue book for example). It
was a really cheap buy at my FLGS and I thought perhaps it might contain some interesting and deep cultural information that might inspire me to add the same to the city. It does contain that information, but I can't shake the overwhelming feeling that the cultures of the Forgotten Realms are modern, with renaissance and medieval trappings. The Purple Dragons for example, appear to operate as a modern police force, with high efficiency and incorruptability. This really rubs me the wrong way for some reason. I won't bash on the book any more, because despite it's failings, I would love for more books of this type to be written. I imagine the fantastic Year 1000, but set in Faerun, Harn, or the Scarred Lands.

That modern / renaissance pastiche that is Elminster's Forgotten Realms reminded me not to make the same mistake. I must not let modern ideas, philosophies and behaviours infect my writing too much. Of course, I am a product of my time and can never presume to write from a true historical perspecive, nor do I want to (my world is fantasy after all, with a mixture of historical and fantasy periods), but I think that if I keep this in mind, I can avoid falling into the trap of a fantastical fa├žade over a modern society.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Isle of the Unknown part II

My first random forays into the Isle of the Unknown were successful, but I tend to agree with the detractors of the book that the 'animals' presented are pretty unusable. That said, I do not run gonzo campaigns so the particular style of wierdness as presented in Isle of the Unknon was never really going to work for me. Still, the reason I picked it up (apart from the brilliant production values) was for inspiration on how to add a little of that weirdness to my setting so let's see how I go with my second random selection.
Hex 0910 – A statue of wood-hued tone depicts a man holding a hammer and a needle, bending over an empty table. Any damaged mundane item placed upon the table will cause the statue to animate and repair the item as swiftly as could an expert craftsman of the most consummate skill. - Isle of the Unknown p. 40
I am not going to parapharase or modify that one bit. It can slot into pretty much any place in any setting. That said, I will place it somewhere appropriate in the city; the day palace.
Nanny to the Tollard children, Old Granny Feggins has served three generations of Tollards. Nowadays she can barely potter around the family rooms but she still insists on mending all the family clothes. Somehow she gets it all done despite spending hours each day on her 'walks about the place' as she calls them. If someone were to follow her on these walks they would follow her into a seemingly abandoned building. Up five flights of stairs to a light and airy attic filled with strange objects. She walks to the statue and pulls the day's mending and darning from within her skirts. After placing the items on the table, she settles into a convenient rocking chair to wait.
Hex 2112 – A man sized monster looks like a slightly elongated raspberry with vaguely lizard-like head, tail, and four legs, all raspberry-like in color and texture.
Ouch! I honestly can't deal with this in a way that draws any inspiration from it. I don't think I can take it seriously and I am pretty sure that players won't.

I feel inclined to keep going, but I think the last entry illustrates one point that the book's detractors are making. Most of the other monster entries are just as useless for my setting, and indeed, my campaigns. That said, three out of four randomly picked entries led me within seconds to a cool use for my setting and I still consider Isle of the Unknown to be one of the most interesting rpg books I have read recently.

You can buy Isle of the Unknown from LotFP