Showing posts with label Appendix N. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Appendix N. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

New Page: Appendix O and the Purpose of Research

I just published a new Page and you can see the link above. It is my version of the classic "Appendix N."  But mine comes after it and it is more about the occult, witches, vampires, and other horror related topics.

So I am calling it Appendix O.

Just a small portion of my library.

If you are interested in seeing the sites on the web that I found useful or have good witch content then check out my other page Witch Links.

If you want to know what movies I have been influenced by to write witch, vampire, and other horror-related content then check out my October Horror Movie Challange.

And occasionally I do make an Appendix N post. 

Nothing in the citations will tell you how to play a better game of D&D, Ghosts of Albion, NIGHT SHIFT, or any other RPG.

Nor will they allow you rebuild one of my books or classes from just the content they have.  They all however have lead me to a place where those books could be written. 

Current research pile.

Also, this is not scholarly-level research here. I did not come up with a thesis statement, a research question, or anything like that and then carried out a systematic literature review.  This is 100% books that were within my grasp at the time (eg growing up in a small midwest town with a larger than average personal and public libraries), then access to one of the largest open shelve university libraries in the state, and of course then the internet.  These are titles that captured my attention at the time and then left a mark on my RPG writing. 

As with all my Pages here, I'll update this one periodically. In fact looking at the pictures above I see there are a few entries that I missed.

The Purpose of Research

Back when I was getting my Ph.D. in Ed. Psych my advisor was going over my records and my Master's Thesis and asked me why I did not go into Cognitive Psychology, which is what my academic life had been up to that point.  I told him I was (and am) more interested in how people learn.  We talked about my Master's Thesis where I showed that it takes about 550 ms to activate a memory from long-term memory when it had been properly primed by a queue. It was situated in the current Information Processing theories of the time.  My advisor, who was one of the nicest people you could ever meet, looked at me and said "so what?"  I was floored. So what? I spent months working on that theory, and then more weeks writing the software to test it, weeks testing undergrads, weeks of eating nothing but popcorn and pineapple while writing a 180-page thesis.  So what??  And, he was right.  I was in an Ed. Psych program now, not Cog Psych. My research had to mean something. If I could not tell that Fourth Grade teacher at CPS what my research meant to her then why should I do it?

This page came about not because I kept getting asked for it. That is true and a good enough reason, but the real reason is I am constantly going back and re-examining my own work and research.

I love to research for research's sake. But that is not the degree I ended up with. Research is fun, but it needs a goal.  Appendix O started out without a goal in mind.  But that doesn't mean I can't have one now.

Presently I am working on two books for my "Basic-era Games" banner; "The Basic Bestiary" and "The High Witchcraft" books.  I wanted at least one of these to be ready by Halloween.  That's not going to happen.  The Basic Bestiary is moving along well, but not as fast as I would like.  High Witchcraft...that's another matter.

I have been calling High Witchcraft my last book on Witches.  I want that to mean something.  But I think I am setting up too many mental roadblocks for myself. So I am going back to my first assumptions. Back to my first "research questions" as it were.  It might take me a little longer, but I want something really good. Something that is worthy of being called my "last witch book."


Basic Bestiary is moving along fine.  I have a ton of material, I just need to edit it.

The Secret Order is a call back to the witches of Dragon Magazine (but not setting them up the same way, I gotta do my own thing) and to that very strange time between 1981 and 1983 when we freely mixed in both Basic and Advanced D&D concepts.  I am publishing it with my "Basic-Era Compatible" logo as opposed to "Labyrinth Lord" or "Old-School Essentials" (and either of those would be fine) because I do want a lot more freedom to express my witch how I want. 

For the cover art, I am a huge fan of the Pre-Raphaelites. So there was really only one choice for the high Witchcraft book and that was "Astarte Syriaca" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  Astarte was one of the Goddesses I researched the most in those early days of my first witch.  I even made my first version of Larina a worshipper of Astarte, and not the more obvious Hecate.

For the Basic Bestiary I wanted a Pre-Raphaelite, but "The Nightmare" by Henry Fuseli was calling to me. I always loved that painting. 

Back to the books!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

#RPGaDAY 2020: Day 26 Strange

Again a couple ways to go.  

I could comment on these strange days, but I have other social media outlets for that.

I am going to comment on the #RPGaDAY2020 list itself in that these are a lot of strange words.  

Ok, I get it, Dave has been doing this a long time and maybe he is running out of words to use. but knowing and the work he has done in the past I highly doubt he is lacking in ideas. So I'll just put this here as my commentary and that's it.

Ok. Strange. Let's get to the meat of this.

Many of my contemporaries will point to Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tolkien, Moorcock, and Lovecraft as their main sources of inspiration to D&D.  While I share the Tolkien, Moorcock, and Lovecraft influences, I also add Clark Ashton Smith.

But those were not my only sources.

Dr. Strange and Tomb of Dracula

The 1970s were a strange time to be sure.  The 70s Occult Revival fueled my tastes in games in ways I never knew at the time and only saw in retrospect.  Case in point. Dr. Strange comics and Tomb of Dracula.  Both were favorites of mine but when Strange, along with Blade, would battle Dracula? Yeah, THAT was an adventure.  I wanted my games to have these epic world-changing battles that start small but then go on out to the cosmic scale.  Strange didn't just defeat Dracula. He destroyed all vampires.

I was already a huge horror fan at this point and Hammer Horror in particular. So these comics sent me searching more and more strange ideas for my games. I think by 1982 I had read every book of occultism in my local public library.  Creating a witch class was an inevitable conclusion at that point. 

When the Ravenloft module was released it found a no more welcome home than mine.

I have mentioned this in greater detail here.

Strange Stories, Amazing Facts

My copy
My parents were voracious readers. Books filled every corner of my home growing up and every room had at least one bookshelf, some like the living room had three. 

They, like many people of their generation, had a lot of Reader's Digest books. One, in particular, was Strange Stories, Amazing Facts.

This book should not by any stretch of the imagination be considered good literature or even good research. It is however good fun and a fun read. 

While the book is divided up into roughly chronological sections including one on the future, it was the past and the monsters of myth that always grabbed my attention.  Though flipping through it now that section on the end of the world would be fun to use.

For my birthday about 10 years ago my family found a copy and gave it to me.  Complete with original dust jacket (I am book snob and prefer my dust covers intact).

I have been asked in the past to assemble my own "Appendix N".  Maybe I'll do that one day.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Blog Ahead October Challenge 2019

I have not done a Blogfest/Challenge like this in a while.  Sure there was RPGaDAY back in August, but this is a purely Blogging challenge.

Anna over at Herding Cats & Burning Soup is hosting her annual Blog Ahead October Challenge.

The idea is to stack up some pre-written posts and get them ready to go for October.  The goal, of course, is to give me more time to put into future posts.  So am I not worrying about what to post on each day.  The posts will feel less like a driveby and hopefully be more engaging.

At least that is my goal.  I am going to be doing the October Horror Movie Challenge as well and those I like to write as soon as I can while the movie is still fresh in my mind.

Right now I have about 20 posts queued up, ready to go.  I am supposed to add 31 to that (for daily blogging) and end up with 51 posts for October.  Ok.  Let's see if I can make that!

You can see who else is participating and join your self if you like.
SIGN UP-- Blog Ahead October Challenge 2019







I am looking forward to it and hope I see some new readers.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jack Vance

Unless you have not read all your blog roll today you know that Jack Vance has died.
http://www.jackvance.com/

Vance was one of the Godfaters of D&D to be honest.  The "cast and forget" spell system D&D has used since day one is called a "Vancian Spell system".  The Lich Vecna is an anagram of Vance.  Ioun stones and a whole host of other things I am not thinking of too.

To me though the great contribution of Jack Vance to D&D is his Dying Earth series.  There is a feel to those books are are so D&D.  Even more so than say the worlds of Connan or Elric.
If you want another good source of inspiration, try his Lyonesse trilogy.  I remember these from the 80s and thought they had a style and sophistication above and beyond the dross I was reading then.

Indeed we mark the passing of another giant.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Games You Never Get to Play

When people talk about influences on their games and gaming life they typically mention the works of Fritz Leiber or Jack Vance or Tolkein or the other Appendix N names.

Not me.  Well, yes I have read those, but they were not biggest effect on my games.

My Appendix N is full of Hammer Horror and In Search Of... and any more dozens of bad-wrong-fun horror and occult material from the 70s.  It should be no surprise then that I gravitate towards games that let me do that sort of thing, Chill, Call of Cthulhu and of course WitchCraft.

But just as I am a product of 70's and 80's horror, there were other things going on then.  Still lots of "leftover hippie shit" as I used to call it.  Zodiacs, crystals, psychic powers.  All the stuff that gets mixed in with magic and the occult, plus aliens, Atlantis, secret societies, Erich von Däniken and all that.

Basically all the stuff left over when you take out the horror and the magic from the big occult boom of the 70's.

What has this have to do with gaming?

Lots!

There is one game I have always wanted to play but doubt that I ever will.

It's not a game per-se but rather a campaign.

The game is one set in the 70s where all the characters are teens.  They are also, unknown to them until the game starts, the children of the first successful alien-human hybrids.  They look completely human, but each one has unique pyschic powers.  No magic, all psychic.  The drama comes in when the teens discover what they are and the government comes in to take them to a secure facility.

So you can see where this gets it's genesis.  There were a ton of shows in the 70s about kids with powers or people being chased by the government.  I want to put it in the 70s so I can avoid cell phones, gps and the like.  Plus it was the last time teens could hitchhike across the US without people calling the cops.   I'd work in mysteries of Atlantis, crystals with magic powers, strange MIB agents, aliens out to kill them all that great stuff.  Setting it in the 70s also lets me bring in "future tech" like more powerful computers and things we use today.

The list of influences of this game go on and on.  Basically I'd go to Wikipedia's Psuedoscience category and pick and choose.

My game system of choice would be Conspiracy X since I can use most of the mythos intact.  The Unexplained would also work well as would a low powered Mutants & Masterminds game.  Something like Damnation Decade, but with more danger and horror, and none of the alt-history.

I'd love to play it or even write it.  But I doubt I'll have the time.
If I were to write it all out I'd call it "Star Child" sounds very 70s.

What games or campaigns do you really want to play but don't think you will?
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