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Jeff's Gameblog
Thursday, 29 April 2004
Saucy Jack
My brain is starting to work over the Jack The Ripper CoC scenario idea again. I'm now suspecting that maybe I should do it as a mini-campaign, maybe a three-parter. (Run at one convetion? Over three years? I dunno.) Anyway, this blog is as good a place as any to store the booklist I am working on. Hopefully my friendly local library can get me at least some of these texts.

The Complete History of Jack the Ripper
Philip Sugden
Carroll & Graf. 1994. 532 pages.
ISBN 0-7867-0124-2. photographs. index., bib.

Did Aleister Crowley Know the Identity of Jack the Ripper?
Pangenetor Lodge Publications, 1993.
Frater Achad Osher 583

East End 1888
Fishman, William J.
London: Duckworth. 1988.
343pp. Illustrated, Bibliography, Index. [Victorian London]
ISBN: 0715621742

Alias Jack the Ripper: Beyond the Usual Whitechapel Suspects
R. Michael Gordon
McFarland Publishers, 2001. ISBN 0-7864-0898-7
363pp., photo, maps, chronology, bib, index.

The Jack the Ripper A to Z
Begg, Paul, Martin Fido & Keith Skinner,
Headline, dist. by Trafalgar Square. Sept. 1991. 523p. photogs. index.
ISBN 0-7472-3676-3. pap.

I also need to find out what Colin Wilson has written about the case.

I'll also need some good maps. Props would be wonderful as well.

Another thing I need to do is work up some operating parameters for designing the scenario. What am I trying to accomplish? What don't I want to do?

(Total aside: I find it weird sometimes that Victoria London, with Sherlock Holmes and the Golden Dawn and Saucy Jack is the exact same period as the Old West.)

Posted by jrients at 4:53 PM CDT

I'm on hold with a librarian as I type this. Seems the Golden Dawn history by Howe isn't in from the University yet. I am hoping she can help me track down a copy of Duncan Anderson's The Falklands War 1982 and Greg Bear's Songs of Earth and Power. Bear's novel has been recommended to me as a spot-on representation of the kind of thing that can happen in a well-crafted Lords of Creation campaign.

Getting back to going to the library is good for the soul, even if all the books I'm checking out are intended solely to inform my gaming. Any reading is probably good reading after all.

Posted by jrients at 10:11 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, 29 April 2004 10:54 AM CDT

This morning I finished reading Lee Kennett's The First Air War, 1914-1918. Here's one of my favorite passages:

If aerial combat was admittedly an affair of great complexity, still there were rules to the game, and if a pilot learned them and applied them, then he should have victory within his grasp-- this was the reassuring message of the tactical manuals and the flight school lectures. Then came the reality of combat. One must wonder how well the precepts were applied in one air battle a German captain described after the war. It came toward the end and it was fought in appalling conditions. There were perhaps 100 planes contending in limited airspace, flying at less than 3,000 feet under a ceiling of thick cloud; antiaircraft fire, particularly threatening at that altitude, was constantly arching up from below. On the ground the German and British armies were locked in combat. The pilots caught occasional glimpses of the battlefield with its drifting clouds of gas and the bright streaks made by flamethrowers. Above, the airplanes twisted and climbed and plunged "like wild things." The captain continued: "In the rain and mist the danger of midair collision was added to all the other hazards. Other planes would suddenly appear like phantoms. An adversary would emerge as a shadow for a fraction of a second, then vanish into the black clouds. There was something uncanny, sinister, about this flying in rain and storm, cloud and mist." The pilots, German and British alike, were "half-dead, exhausted and worn to tatters by the inhuman strain and the nerve-shattering tumult." It was eery and unearthly, like some "frantic witch's sabbath in the air." Such was the recollection of Captain Hermann Goering.

I enjoyed the book immensely and am desirous of continuing to learn more about WWI flying aces and the period in general. Kennett recommends as good reads the memoirs of airman Cecil Lewis, entitled Sagittarius Rising and Red Knight of Germany, a fictionalized account of the Red Baron written by a fellow named Floyd Gibbons. I have Richthofen's autobiography, but Kennet warns that the arrogance of the man grates on some readers.

I'd also like to read a short overview of the political events leading to the war and maybe another text otulining the war itself.

Posted by jrients at 9:08 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, 29 April 2004 10:13 AM CDT

Last night Pat lent me a copy of Israel Regardie's The Golden Dawn. I had read this book years ago and wasn't expecting to find much substantive information on Enochian chess. Surpise! Nestled towards the back of the book I found about a dozen pages dedicated mostly to the magical aspect, but with some substantive information on the game play, including a short treatise penned by MacGregor Mathers! Regardie confirmed two of the starting arrays as presented by my primary source, Zalewski. Mathers also confirmed the unorthodox queen movement. This material prompted a rewrite of several passages in my article. I'm going to the library today to see if Ellic Howe and his Magicians of the Golden Dawn contain any additional surprises.

Posted by jrients at 8:54 AM CDT
Wednesday, 28 April 2004
So close I can taste it.
The Enochian chess page is almost done. The coding and main body of the text are finished. I've even tested the page and it looks okay. I only have two tasks left: get my historical references in order and figure out how to turn this thing into a zip file for submission.

Posted by jrients at 10:19 AM CDT
Tuesday, 27 April 2004

Argh! I just realized I need two more Enochian Chess graphics to illustrate a stupid special case involving pawns. And I'll have to renumber the figures in the text as well! Grrr.

Posted by jrients at 4:52 PM CDT

Not a whole lot to blog about today. I'm not feeling well and what efforts I am expending are going towards the Enochian chess article. The combination of mild illness, HTML coding, chess variants, and the occult is really doing weird things to my brain. I'm starting to regret the decision to code and write the text in parallel but I'm in for well more than a penny at this point.

Posted by jrients at 3:50 PM CDT
Monday, 26 April 2004

I fired off my Pen & Paper entry for Excursion into the Bizarre. I'm putting off the review for a bit, as at the moment I am hot and heavy into coding/writing my Enochian chess essay.

Posted by jrients at 8:56 PM CDT

Today I wrote a letter to Mike Carr, creator of the game Dawn Patrol. The earliest edition of Dawn Patrol was a 25-copy run back in 1968 (back then the game was called Fight in the Skies) and I'm curious to know how much has been added in later editions. Particularly, I'm curious about the age of the role-playing rules section. As written, the rpg rules are a relic of the bygone transitional era in which rpgs still looked a lot like traditional boardgames run at a 1:1 scale. As I've mentioned previously in this blog, Dawn Patrol is a roleplaying game in the same way that BattleTech or Car Wars can be called roleplaying games. You can track the adventures of individual pilots/mechwarriors/drivers from session to session, but past that their isn't much to work with.

Still, these games aren't that different from the original version of Dungeons & Dragons. Keep in mind that in the little beige books giving a name to your character was optional. The baseline assumption was what Dave Arneson has referred to as "doppleganger" play. The players pretend that they themselves are operating in the gaming milieu. Hence Richard Snider's paladin is named Snider, Tom Keogh's character was Keoghtom, and the spell Sustarre's Flaming Chariot was named after Dennis Sustarre. From this point of view, Dawn Patrol actually goes farther than original D&D into the realm of what we now consider roleplaying.

What's my point? With all due respect to Mssrs. Gygax and Arneson, it looks like maybe, just maybe, they did not publish the first roleplaying game. If the roleplaying rules in Dawn Patrol appeared in Fight in the Skies, then maybe Mike Carr beat D&D to the punch.

But let's not make a mountain out of a molehill here. I'm not a D&D hater by any means. The '81 Basic/Expert D&D rules is still my favorite roleplaying game and I'm certain I've logged more hours hacking orcs in dungeons than any other roleplaying activity. EGG and Dave Arneson are still aces in my book. Heck, when I sat down and ran D&D 3E I set the campaign in the World of Greyhawk, more specifically in Blackmoor. Keep on the Borderlands is still one of my all-time favorite modules and the 1st edition DMG is still my fave hardbound RPG book.

But in the interest of an accurate historical perspective on the hobby, I'd like to know which came first: Mike's chicken or Gary's egg. Hopefully, Mr. Carr will get my letter and solve this little mystery for me.

Posted by jrients at 2:51 PM CDT

Last night I attempted to create my first Game Courier preset, for Erez Schatz's nifty contest entry, Oblong Chess 44. I'm not sure whether I successfully created a preset or not, so I'm dying to hear back from the editors. If I got it right, it shouldn't be too hard to whip up a preset for my own contest entry.

I finally got my hands on a replacement copy of Excursion into the Bizarre, the first indie game I ever owned. I'm definitely going to do a Pen & Paper entry EitB. I'd also like to review it for Rpg.net, but I've been telling myself for years that I'm finally going to do a review for this product or that product. Before I've never had the confidence to sit down and crank out a review for submission. I think I might be able to pull it off now. I feel like I'm finally an rpg.net regular and blogging daily has made me less self-conscious about the idiosyncracies of my writing style. And unlike many products I've wanted to review in the past, no one has covered this material.

Posted by jrients at 10:07 AM CDT

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