Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A Week In Books

It does not rain but it pours.
It has been an interesting and thoughtful week, in that three beautiful sets of books arrived at Grubb Street. But I don't think my reaction is the same as most other people, but I highly recommend all of them. Here's the picture of the haul:

In the middle is the Prince Valiant Storytelling game, and beneath it the adventure book. Both are beautiful books, illustrated with Hal Foster art that takes me back to the comic section of the Sunday Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The game itself is simple and sweet, and the Episode Book has contributions from an all-star squadron of creative talent (yours truly among the gang).

Yet, these books are bitter-sweet for me. First off, Stewart Wieck, who was putting them together in the first place, passed on (his brother Steve, finished the work). Then, the day after the books arrived, I learned of the passing of Greg Stafford, the original designer of this game, White Bear and Red Moon, and Pendragon, and creator of the fantasy world Glorantha.  I don't have any great Stafford stories - we chatted at the occasional convention but our paths did not cross that much. Still, one more of the original gangsters of gaming has passed on, and we are all lessened for it.

Soon afterwards Cthulhu Invictus (on the right, with coins and a decal) showed up at my door, a Kickstarter from Golden Goblin Press. And on first blush the book is SO textually dense. I remember picking the Chaosium Invictus back in the day and noting the wide margins and large leading (something Chaosium is not alone of doing - check out some TSR products of the age). This version is heavily packed, the script-like font running nearly to the edge of the page. Golden Goblin does some of the best material in this new golden age of Lovecraftian gaming, and I am slowly making my way through it.

And with it comes a sense of both opportunity and obligation. My gang has talked off and on about doing some adventures set in the Roman Empire, and this may just push me over. But that becomes one more thing to work on. If I get around to it I will post.

And on the right, the big powerhouses are two different editions of Art & Arcana, which showed up Saturday morning. Several months ago the authors came over to the house, where they took some pictures of the original art I have on the wall, and and listened politely as I blathered on about told stories of the old TSR.

I haven't dug in too deeply, but the final project is absolutely beautiful.Old guard gamers will remember the Art of Dragon books - this is SOOOO much better. Larger, heavier, glossier, meatier, amazing. Here's the visual history of Dungeons & Dragons. The deluxe edition is boxed, has some separate art (suitable for framing) and a photostat of the original Tomb of Horrors when it was an adventure run at GenCon 1975. I did not know this existed. It looks it it was originally typed on mimeograph paper, but I can't be sure.

And it feels like going through a old high school yearbook, and each picture reminds me of something else that happened in those bygone days. I've leafed through it, and said "Ah, that reminds me of a story ..." and there is a lot of me and the other greats of the Bronze Age of TSR, plus great stuff from the giants that came before us and the brilliant creators who came after.

So. Sadness, Opportunity, Nostalgia. Not what I normally get in the mail.

Check out all three.

More later,