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My Ten Most Recent Roleplaying Games 513th Age

10 May, 2021


Inspired by Aaron de Orive's 2020 First Ten RPGs, a brief account of the roleplaying games I have played most recently, beginning with the most recent and working backwards. Number Five: Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet’s 13th Age fantasy roleplaying game.

13thAge is D&D-like in many respects, particularly in the use of character levels. Nevertheless, it has some interesting innovations. For example, while elements of the background are predetermined, a lot of the world-building is intended to be a group efforted, fleshed out as a side effect of character design. Rather than acquiring the entire suite of new abilities at once, as soon as the character advances from one level to the next, advancement is incremental. As well, it rejects specific skills in favour of broad backgrounds, which provide bonuses to circumstances related to the backgrounds. Finally, combat is sped up through the use of an escalation die, which adds a bonus to player character to hit rolls equal to the number of rounds that have passed since the first round.

We played this a couple of time. My characters were, if I recall correctly, a backwoods ranger with no concept of communities larger than a handful of people, and a Tiefling sorcerer who wanted very much for nobody to discover he was actually a reformed demon who commandeered a mortal body when the original owner discovered why one should not dabble in that in which one should not dabble. Wait, no: I played a half-orc fighter/accountant who did body guard work to get exposure for his accounting services.

It’s a perfectly functional little system, although we have not been back to it in a while. New horizons always beckon!

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Books Received, May 1 to May 7

8 May, 2021


A War Without Casualties The Republic of San Magnolia has long been under attack from the neighboring Giadian Empire’s army of unmanned drones known as the Legion. After years of painstaking research, the Republic finally developed autonomous drones of their own, turning the one-sided struggle into a war without casualties-or at least, that’s what the government claims. In truth, there is no such thing as a bloodless war. Beyond the fortified walls protecting the eighty-five Republic territories lies the nonexistent” Eighty-Sixth Sector. The young men and women of this forsaken land are branded the Eighty-Six and, stripped of their humanity, pilot the unmanned” weapons into battle… 

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My Ten Most Recent Roleplaying Games 4: Mage

3 May, 2021


Inspired by Aaron de Orive’s 2020 First Ten RPGs, a brief account of the roleplaying games I have played most recently, beginning with the most recent and working backwards. Number four: White Wolf1s Mage:

the Ascension was the third game in White Wolf’s long running World of Darkness series. Of all the World of Darkness RPGs, it is the one whose cover is most purple. 

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Books Received, April 24 — April 30

1 May, 2021


From one of the most exciting voices in contemporary Chinese literature, an uncanny and playful novel that blurs the line between human and beast …

In the fictional Chinese city of Yong’an, an amateur cryptozoologist is commissioned to uncover the stories of its fabled beasts. These creatures live alongside humans in near-inconspicuousness — save their greenish skin, serrated earlobes, and strange birthmarks. 

Aided by her elusive former professor and his enigmatic assistant, our narrator sets off to document each beast, and is slowly drawn deeper into a mystery that threatens her very sense of self.

Part detective story, part metaphysical enquiry, Strange Beasts of China engages existential questions of identity, humanity, love and morality with whimsy and stylistic verve. ** 

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April 2021 in Review

30 Apr, 2021


April 2021

21 works reviewed. 10 by women (48%), 10 by men (48%), 1 by a non-binary author (5%), and 8 works by POC (38%)

Year to Date

85 works reviewed. 47.5 by women (56%), 35.5 by men (42%), 1 by a non-binary author (1%), 1 by an author whose gender is unknown (1%) and 35 works by POC (41%)

Grand Total to Date

1833 works reviewed. 1030 by women (56%), 765 by men (42%), 22 by
non-binary authors (1%), 16 by gender unknown (1%), 514.75 by POC (28%)

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Books Received, April 17 — April 23

24 Apr, 2021

1 comment

Who will take up the mantle and slay the evil in the Frozen North, saving all from death and destruction? Not Kell Kressia, he’s done his part… 

Kell Kressia is a legend, a celebrity, a hero. Aged just seventeen he set out on an epic quest with a band of wizened fighters to slay the Ice Lich and save the world, but only he returned victorious. The Lich was dead, the ice receded and the Five Kingdoms were safe. 

Ten years have passed Kell lives a quiet farmer’s life, while stories about his heroism are told in every tavern across the length and breadth of the land. But now a new terror has arisen in the north. Beyond the frozen circle, north of the Frostrunner clans, something has taken up residence in the Lich’s abandoned castle. And the ice is beginning to creep south once more. 

For the second time, Kell is called upon to take up his famous sword, Slayer, and battle the forces of darkness. But he has a terrible secret that nobody knows. He’s not a hero — he was just lucky. Everyone puts their faith in Kell the Legend, but he’s a coward who has no intention of risking his life for anyone… **

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Seven years ago today

22 Apr, 2021


Having decided it would be a lark to review worthy books reprinted after being out of print, I posted to my Livejournal the first Rediscovery review. Various events transpired, and what was supposed to be a hobby turned into an occupation. Once James Nicoll Reviews came along some months later, that review was the first review on this site. 

What review was that? I am so happy you asked.

The Steerswoman (Steerswoman, book 1) by Rosemary Kirstein

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Books Received, April 10 — April 16

17 Apr, 2021


In When the Goddess Wakes , the final book of the Ring-Sworn trilogy, Howard Andrew Jones returns to the five realms of the Dendressi to conclude his heroic, adventure-filled epic fantasy trilogy. 

The Naor hordes have been driven from the walls, but the Dendressi forces are scattered and fragmented, and their gravest threat lies before them. For their queen has slain the ruling council and fled with the magical artifacts known as the hearthstones, and she is only a few days from turning them to her mad ends. 

The Altenerai corps has suffered grievous casualties, and Elenai’s hearthstone and her source of sorcerous power has been shattered. She and her friends have no choice but to join with the most unlikely of allies. 

Their goal: to find the queen’s hiding place and somehow stop her before she wakes the goddess who will destroy them all… 

Praised for his ability to write modern epic fantasy that engrosses and entertains, Howard Andrews Jones delivers a finale to his trilogy that reveals the dark secrets and resolves the mysteries and conflicts introduced in the first two books of this series.

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