Specifically, the world’s billionaires — the richest 2,000 people on the planet — saw their wealth increase by a staggering $762 billion in just one year. That’s an average of $381 million apiece. If those billionaires had simply been content with staying at their 2016 wealth, and had given their one-year gains to the world’s poorest people instead, then extreme poverty would have been eradicated. Hell, they could have eradicated extreme poverty, at least in theory, by giving up just one seventh of their annual gains.

No one, NO ONE, needs to be this wealthy. Take their money, at gunpoint if need be.

Oxfam’s excellent inequality report

I was playing in a game where Amit Moshe (City of Mists) was running us through a noir based supernatural game. As our characters were running around, using our powers to chase down a cult, and playing a generally narrative based game, Amit said…

http://gnomestew.com/game-mastering/gming-advice/directing-the-camera/

I stumbled upon Allen Varney’s 1990 review of 4th edition Champions from Dragon magazine. It’s a hoot to read if you’re a fan (of HERO or of Mr. Varney).

Those last 15 seconds passed, and then the packing boxes opened, the gamers’ wallets opened, and across the table passed the first of over 400 copies of the long-awaited Fourth Edition of CHAMPIONS, The Super Roleplaying Game. It was big, shiny, and beautiful, the hit of the convention. And every time anyone saw Rob Bell, he was grinning like a father who gives away his daughter at a blessed wedding.

This bit at the end is great, proof that gamers have been grousing about all the money they spend on their hobby pretty much since day one.

FYI, adjusted for inflation, Varney is talking about $63 in today’s money.

One cannot lightly recommend a game that costs 32 dollars. Sure, it’s a 352-page hardcover. But really, that’s almost the price of two 128-page Chaosium supplements, almost twice as much as the 192-page 2nd-Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide, over half as much as a big imported box from Games Workshop … well, then again, maybe $32 isn’t so far out of line. Boy, this industry sure has gotten pricey.

http://www.allenvarney.com/rev_01.html

“I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama.” — J.R.R. Tolkien (emphasis added)

No one is going to stop me from reading this as an invitation to roleplay in Middle-Earth. Thanks, Professor!

On Sunday I spent an hour and a half gaming online for fifteen minutes.

For various reasons — COUGH MadJay Brown COUGH — we could not use Skype and turned to Appear.in. While simple to use, it was only really working for two of us. The GM, unfortunately, kept sliding out of sync; we’d get his video 5–10 seconds before his audio, and then eventually his audio went from robot voice to totally dead, and we just called it.

The gaming gods really don’t want me to play this month.

I listened to Howard Shore’s excellent soundtrack for the LOTR films while I read The Silmarillion. I’m usually reading on the train and so need to drown out the ambient noise. Given how long it took me to read the book, I’ve probably ended up listening to Shore’s score twenty or thirty times.

Every time, when Emiliana Torrini’s rendition of “Gollum’s Song” comes on, I have to stop reading and just listen. It may be one of my favorite pieces of film music.

Billy Boyd’s performance in “The Steward of Gondor” is a close second, though.

https://www.youtube.com/attribution_link?a=wwH-skWGlrI&u=/watch?v%3DzkXbzffVl44%26feature%3Dshare

I finished reading The Silmarillion last night. For the first time! And it only took me about three months!

Why so long? Because I don’t have a lot of free time to read, and because I approached it thusly:

1. Read the Wikipedia entry for the section (e.g., Ainulindalë) or sub-section (e.g., Húrin’s kids) I was about to read.

2. Read a chapter.

3. Listen to the Silmarillion Seminar episode about that chapter.

4. Re-read the chapter.

5. Repeat steps 2–4 until a new major sub-/section, then GOTO step 1.

I have tried many times over the course of my life to read it and failed every time. Whether it’s my fault or the text’s, I’m not going to venture. But I did finally realize that just sitting down to read it wasn’t working for me. So, I went into English major mode and approached it like a subject of study instead of light reading.

Now I feel like I understand the text, have a better appreciation for Tolkien as a writer and creator, and finally understand why people care about elves. I also feel like I’m in a good position to re-read The Silmarillion in years to come and actually gain greater insights each time.

I also look forward to re-reading The Hobbit and LOTR and finally understanding all of the references. I plan to adopt the same approach. I want to earn my Tolkien merit badge!

I want to mention that it was Jeff La Sala’s “Silmarillion Primer” series on TOR.com that got me started on this project.

https://www.tor.com/2017/09/20/welcome-to-the-silmarillion-primer-an-introduction/

Unfortunately, he’s producing installments too slowly for a reasonable read-along.

That’s what sent me on a journey that led to Corey Olsen, the Tolkien Professor. I cannot recommend his seminar podcast enough. Olsen — an actual professor of medieval lit — has an incredibly deep knowledge of Tolkien, and his insights (and those of the seminar participants) are fantastic. I would not have made it through the text without him.

Next up, I’m going to take a bit of a break and read Carpenter’s biography of Tolkien, and then it’s on to LOTR — which is also the next selection for The Tabletop Roleplayer’s Book Club community here on G+. Following along with them seems like an ​added incentive.

Silmarillion Seminar

I have extremely mixed feelings about prestige gaming accessories like this — I feel like any commentary on my part might go south really fast — though I will say that the craftsmanship on Wyrmwood’s stuff looks crazy impressive.

That said, I have to wonder if the totemic power of having this thing at the table and the ritual aspects of using for each divination roll are alone worth the cost.

(N.B. – I am not considering buying any of their stuff. But I will blame Daniel Swensen for making me browse their site.)

https://wyrmwoodgaming.com/products/red-oak-dice-tower/