21 January 2018

The 'Piano Man' of Erich Zann

The title of this article says it all: 'Someone Realized An HP Lovecraft Poem Maps Perfectly to Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”'.

The poem in question is 'Nemesis'. And it's classic Lovecraft.

I think that the first version of the song is especially good.

Thanks internet!

11 January 2018

Update on 'Into the Borderlands'

As I mentioned several months ago here, Goodman Games is publishing a version of the classic Basic Dungeons and Dragons modules B1 (“In Search of the Unknown”) and B2 (“The Keep on the Borderlands”), with 5e D&D stats included, as well as some new optional material. I have a deep fondness for those modules, as they were the first ones I ever used decades ago when learning how to play RPGs. And even after all of these years, B2 remains (in my judgement) a solid—and, with a creative DM and good players, a very entertaining—mini-campaign setting.

Here is an update on the main features of the product, entitled Into the Borderlands:
The current layout weighs in at 368 pages. We still need to add a few things and anticipate it will close out at around 380 pages. Wow, that’s a big book! The hardcover includes the following:
  • Restored scans of two complete printings of the original B1: In Search of the Unknown. Specifically, the second and sixth printings, one featuring the original monochrome cover and the other featuring the later color cover by Darlene.
  • Three complete monster and treasure assortments for stocking the dungeons of In Search of the Unknown (which are “un-stocked” in the original 1E edition).
  • Restored scans of two complete printings of the original B2: The Keep on the Borderlands. Specifically the second and fourth printings. These are distinguished the change in monster stats between the two printings (Dexterity scores were included in early printings). The later printing also features six interior illustrations that were not present in earlier printings.
  • A complete, “pure” 5E conversion of In Search of the Unknown, including tables for stocking it with creatures.
  • A separate chapter with a few new encounters for the Caverns of Quasqueton, all inspired by references in the original work.
  • A complete, “pure” 5E conversion of The Keep on the Borderlands.
  • A separate chapter with a few new encounters for The Keep on the Borderlands, all inspired by references in the original work.
  • Appendices with 5E stats for newly introduced monsters, hirelings and followers, and magic items.
  • A chapter of introductions and testimonials.
Um, okay. I'm still looking forward to this… But 380 pages?!? That seems ridiculous.

Specifically, including scans of 2 printings for both modules strikes me as excessive. Personally, I'd prefer a straight-up 5e conversion, with some optional supplementary material, as I already own multiple copies of the originals. Nonetheless, I can understand including one scan of B1 and B2 within the product. Two scans, though, just seems excessive, especially given how minor the changes are between the printings.

Despite this gripe, though, the only real question for me is whether to get the print version or just the PDF…

[Above are a couple of illustrations from B2 by the amazing Erol Otus: a colour view of the keep (from the back cover of the module) and the dangerous Hermit.]

10 January 2018

DiTerlizzi on Trampier

I’ve mentioned in the past at this blog my deep and abiding fondness for the art of David Trampier (1954-2014). 

Well today I discovered that the artist Tony DiTerlizzi has a lovely tribute to ‘DAT’ here. (DiTerlizzi is best known to RPGers for his work on the wonderful AD&D Planescape setting. Apparently he also is known for some children’s stories and stuff.)

[Trampier's Fire Giant from the original G3 module]

[DiTerlizzi's middle-school version]

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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).