Cover of Dune RPG

Dune Adventures in the Imperium RPG

Mushtamal of Classic Science Fiction What nonsense is this? Both the science fiction books I read during my formative years during my teens are both being released as talkies this year? First of all, there’s Apple TV’s Foundation series – based on Isaac Asimov’s classic novels – which I might review after the end of the first season. Then, Denis Villeneuve’s film Dune Part One, adapted from the first half of Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel Dune. Additionally, Modiphius also published a brand new Dune: Adventures in the Imperium role-playing game (RPG) which I bought using some extra teaching earnings. Ming Fang would have a field day. Arrakis. Dune. Desert planet. Dune is a tabletop RPG where gamemasters (GM) and players roleplay within the universe Herbert made, creating their own epic saga as they play. Players could opt from a list of 20 Archetypes such as Analyst, Courtier, Duellist, Envoy, […]

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The Alien RPG cover

Alien: The Roleplaying Game

“That’s not even funny, don’t joke about stress dice! “ Will “BilliamBabble” Meddis I admire its purity I have been a fan of the Alien cinematic universe ever since I read the movie novelisation when I was 13. A couple of months later, they showed the movie on television. I remember we as a family slept in the living room (like a sleepover) and I was the only one who stayed way after midnight for the film to end. Then next year, I saw Aliens in a cinema in Ipoh. That cemented my love for the stories that can be told in the setting, as well as the grimy, dirty aesthetic of the future. The Alien RPG was released 2 years ago. I had been trying to save enough money to purchase it for over a year. When I had some extra cash, it was out of stock at the […]

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This cover takes guts

Lorn Song of the Bachelor

My friend Zedeck sent me his latest tome. It was a tabletop role-playing adventure inspired by the Bujang Senang myth of the last century from Sarawak. The book is digest-sized but its 48 pages are packed with a plethora of descriptions, creatures, maps and illustrations (wonderfully produced by Nadhir Nor). The prose provides the gamemaster the information needed to referee any such campaigns based on this book. However, Zedeck has crafted a well-balanced text. The information hangs between very evocative and economical. It is dense enough for gamemasters to craft adventures and encounters in a fantasy Bornean riverine campaign. But Gamemasters could also easily inject their own ideas in-between the information given in the text. Here are some photos of the book. What is a wet corpse and why is a catfish there? To find out and forge your own campaign from the book, get it at DriveThruRPG here.

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Creatures of Near Kingdom

Book: Creatures of Near Kingdoms

Wait for the arrival of an envelope. Steal a peek or two a day at your mail slot at work. You will wait a longer than usually needed. When it arrives you are surprised, as if it knows when to spring its existence upon you. It is tightly wrapped in clear plastic. It heaves a sigh of relief as you tear it out of its swaddle. It opens up and reveals its treasure to you. Its treasure are ideas tightly packs in words. It is the CREATURES OF NEAR KINGDOMS book. Clearly, it has evolved into an expert in camouflaging itself in the wild. Its publisher has categorised it as a comic. But it does not look like a comic. Neither does it smell like a novel. To say it tastes like a gaming sourcebook would be unfair to it. When it speaks, it identifies itself. Still its self identification […]

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All the way from the Fresia system

Deep Dive into WEG Lore: Rogue One Ultimate Visual Guide

After receiving it as an early birthday present from Ivan earlier, this month I discovered that DK Publishing’s Rogue One Ultimate Visual Guide (UVG) by Pablo Hidalgo which fills the Star Wars universe as seen in Rogue One with a multitude of world-building details, was also a treasure trove of lore which originated from West End Games. West End Games (WEG) published the Star Wars roleplaying game series of books from 1987 until 1998 or thereabouts after which the licence went to Wizards of the Coast. In that decade or so, the game company had created and populated the Star Wars universe with hundreds (if not thousands) of worldbuilding details enough for gamemasters and players to play in the setting without having to create, for example, the Imperial DMV. Similarly, species, location and technology (and corporations that made these technologies) were named and fleshed out. Which brings us to the […]

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Deep Space Squadron

Cover for Deep Space Squadron

Ebb and Folks commissioned a new cover for an upcoming ebook entitled Deep Space Squadron. Originally I designed the cover artwork to show the single multi-kilometre long capital warship Resolution under attack by smaller corvettes or frigates, but then it was decided to have less clutter. Thus, only the Resolution remains in the final artwork. Remember: Port is red. Starboard is green.

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The Martian

It is also my graduation present from Ain, in lieu of flowers. A book, I thought, would not wilt after a couple of days. I spent the same number of days for flowers to wilt reading the whole book. It was very engaging. Also, the book did not wilt. Yay. The premise is simple, astronaut Mark Watney, a botanist – who looks like the guy who Tom Hanks had to rescue back in World War 2 – gets left behind on Mars in a freak accident while his fellow astronauts had to leave immediately because of a dust storm. What should have been a fatalistic “that’s it no one knows I’m still alive and doesn’t matter not enough food I’m dead anyway good bye everyone” 3- day short story becomes a full length novel for survival that extends for months and years as Watney uses his engineering and botanical skills […]

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I wish there was one book for every Corellian light freighter like this

The Gifts of Star Wars Books

Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopaedia Tsing visited with a gift: The Old Repubic Encyclopaedia, with material from the Star Wars MMO game set 3600 years before the movies and more than 300 years after the Knights of the Old Republic/Dark Lords of the Sith comic series. It’s a great treasure trove of information not just for the game, which I do not play. It also has a ton of stuff I can mine for Star Wars RPG sessions set in the present. New ships! Not much but PCs might come across some of these vessels in deep storage for thousands of years, just ready to be explored or to be used as their vehicles. Just make sure there are unknown dangers aboard after being dormant for millennia. Strangely enough, my current desktop wallpaper is of an XS light freighter berthed in a landing bay. You don’t see the Gree […]

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Book Review: The Cowboys of Cthulhu

[[image:cover-cowboys-of-cthulhu.jpg:A Deadlands adventure right there…:right:0]]  David Bain’s The Cowboys of Cthulhu was the first novelette I bought and read on the Calibre ebook reader. It’s a great mashup of weird western and the Cthulhu mythos. Weird West is a genre of western, where its tales of cowboys and injuns and heading out west is infused with heavy doses of horro and the occult. Other examples of Weird Westerns is the Deadlands RPG and DC Comics’ Jonah Hex. The Cowboys of Cthulhu tells the tale of Gentleman John Brodie the Demon Duelist, Doctor Darius Darke and a host of multi-cultural and strange characters in the guise of a travelling carnival gets embroiled in a hunt for three creatures that kill and eat human brains. However, they discover that they might have bitten off more than they could chew in a box canyon where geometry seems to be non-Eucleidian and darker, more […]

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For The Win Book Review FTW!

[[image:ftw-doctorow.jpg:For The Win:right:0]]I had not read one synopsis nor any reviews of Cory Doctorow’s novel For The Win when I started reading it. I barely knew what it was going to be about. All I knew was that it was a science fiction novel. The novel follows the lives for several young people in various locations in the world, from California to Mumbai to Shenzen to Singapore. Oonline gaming (of the Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing kind) is an important part of their lives in one way or another. However, their lives become intertwined with gold farming, greedy and violent thugs, disapproving parents and an indifferent game company. When I started reading I was waiting for the science fiction part to kick in but it never seemed to. All the technology featured were modern information and computer technology at work. No cyborg technology. No artificial intelligence. Most certainly, no spaceships, aliens and energy […]

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First a Book Review, Then a Painful Yelp

Here is a blog entry in two parts. The first is a review of a book. The second relates a tale that happens the day after the book had been finished. But first, I will complain that my car’s transmission, when engaged, will squeal like a dog but only for a second. Now on with the blog entry. A Collection of Four Tales, Each Attributed to a Season of a Year [[image:seasons01.jpg:Different Seasons by Stephen King:left:0]]Stephen King might write what critics consider the fast food of literature, as documented in the opening paragraph of this essay by Marylaine Block. Why settle for a Big Mac when you can savour cuisine? But Stephen King undeniably serves a very tasty Big Mac. I have experienced two tales told in Different Seasons before, but as movies instead of the written word. I have seen the adaptation of Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption […]

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October Reading list (aka “The Janet Evanovich Month”)

[[image:plum_1cover.gif:One for the Money:center:0]] Books Read A Year in the Merde by Stephen ClarkeOne for the Money by Janet Evanovichnumber9dream by David MitchellTwo for the Dough by Janet EvanovichThree to get Deadly by Janet EvanovichShadow of the Giant by Orson Scott CardFour to Score by Janet Evanovich a Books Bought A bunch of Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich OK, so I usually like to vary my reading and try to even things out (male author, female author). But last month was a little bit different. It started out normally enough with me reading A Year in the Merde. This book is about an Englishman who moves to Paris for work, and the year he spent there, learning the ins and outs of the Parisian way of life. It covers the difficulties in finding an apartment, French girlfriends, and the complications of ordering coffee! It’s hilarious, and sort of reminds […]

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September Reading List

Books Read Kitchen Confidential by Anthony BourdainFruit of the Lemon by Andrea LevyWill Write for Shoes by Cathy YardleyThe Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John LeCarréChasing Shakespeares by Sarah SmithYsabel by Guy Gavriel KayA Spot of Bother by Mark HaddonThe Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood Books Bought Will Write for Shoes by Cathy YardleyA Year in the Merde by Stephen ClarkeThe Breads of France by Bernard Clayton, Jr. September has just flown by and somehow I ended up reading quite a few books. Although a few of them weren’t very large books so maybe I bolstered my numbers by reading smaller novels? 😉 Anyway, I started off by reading Kitchen Confidential, which is written by one of my favorite Food and Television personalities, Anthony Bourdain. This is his first book, the book that launched his TV career, since it contained such truthful and witty descriptions about how food […]

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August Reading List

[[image:notw2.jpg:The Name of the Wind:center:0]] Books Read Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman (started in July)Turtle Moon by Alice HoffmanQueen of Babble by Meg CabotCompany by Max BarryThe Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussDead Souls by Ian RankinDoomsday Book by Connie Willis Books Bought Doomsday Book by Connie WillisKushiel’s Justice by Jacqueline CareyFirst Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde This is the second installment of my Nick Hornby-inspired monthly accounting of books read and books bought. The easy things about the Books Bought list in August was that I ordered them online from the Science Fiction Book Club. Not too much to tell there – except that Kushiel’s Justice and First Among Sequels are both sequels of series that I’ve read with great pleasure, so I’ve been looking forward to getting them. I don’t usually like books with too many sequels. For instance, I greatly enjoyed Dune, but not so much […]

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July 2007 Reading

[[image:books.jpg:Book Image taken from the internet:center:0]] Books Read: The Storyteller by Mario Vargas LlosaSnow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa SeeThe Polysyllabic Spree by Nick HornbyLittle Children by Tom PerrottaThe History of Love by Nicole KraussFragile Things by Neil Gaiman (started by not finished by end of July) Books Bought: The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick HornbyFurious Observations of a Blue-Eyed Ojibway: Funny You Don’t Look Like One Two Three by Drew Hayden Taylor This entry was inspired by one of the books I read in July, The Polysyllabic Spree, in which Nick Hornby writes about the books he bought and the books he read on a monthly basis. Hornby, of course, was writing for a magazine and got paid for his efforts. But because of his witty descriptions not only of the books he bought and read, but also the events occurring in his life at the time of […]

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Wild Ginger

Following Perdido Street Station, I went on to read a smaller book called Wild Ginger by Anchee Min. A completely different genre than my previous read, Wild Ginger is the story of a girl growing up in the 60s and 70s during the Cultural Revolution in the People’s Republic of China. [[image:wg1.jpg:Wild Ginger:center:0]] This story draws on Min’s experiences growing up in China. She was born in 1957 which makes her a contemporary of her novel’s protagonists. In 1969, Wild Ginger starts out as a 14-year-old who has had many confrontations and beatings due to the fact that she has yellow-green eyes. She has foreign (bourgeois) blood and due to her family background she has been labeled the child of enemies of the state. Told from the point of view of Maple, her only friend at school (who shares the bourgeois stigma by being the child of 3 generations of […]

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