Some of the artwork featured in the link. “Fifty years ago, science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin released A Wizard of Earthsea, the first installment of a well-lauded and influential fantasy series. Sadly, Le Guin passed away in January, but later this year, one of her final projects will be released. One that, after years of frustrations, has been a long time coming: a collected edition of her Earthsea works from Saga Press, The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition, featuring nearly 60 illustrations by fantasy artist Charles Vess.
There have been some special editions of A Wizard of Earthsea before, like the stunning Folio Society edition that came out a couple of years ago. But this edition will be the first time that Le Guin’s sprawling epic, heretofore known collectively as the Earthsea Cycle, will be collected in one place. The Books of Earthsea contains all five novels, as well as Tales From Earthsea, a collection of short stories set in the world, and Earthsea Revisioned: A Lecture at Oxford University. It’ll be a massive tome, weighing in at just over a thousand pages.
Le Guin was particularly concerned that the book’s central characters were depicted accurately as people of color. “Up until that time [when the book was first published], every fantasy epic ever was full of the blond-haired, blue-eyed male heroes.” Le Guin’s father was a noted anthropologist, and as a young child, she had traveled around the world with him. “She knew about the world out there, and she wanted to put that in her book.”

Monti says that she told him that her “collaboration with Charles was ‘magic’,” and that he essentially made the decision to leave them alone to work on their own to depict the world that she had for so long not seen depicted. “One of the things I’ve learned in illustration is, the better the writing you work with, the better your art will be,” Vess explains. “It will pull things out of you that you never thought you had.”

Though Le Guin will unfortunately never see the final version of the book, she did see the final illustrations before she died in January. “And now,” she wrote in the introduction to the book, “with this first fully illustrated complete Earthsea, I can let Charles Vess’s art speak for itself.”

The Books of Earthsea will hit stores on October 23rd, 2018.”

Chicago Gameday 48 was this past weekend and it was damn good! Best one for me in a while. Between meals with dear friends, I played two games.

Josh Rasey ran the generic version of FFG’s “narrative dice” engine for me, Willow Palecek, Jason Ambrose, Linnea, and Nikitas. It was a pretty straight-forward “wake up in a body bag and shoot your way to the scientists who messed with your memory” cyberpunk scenario, and I had a blast. Josh had a great mystery behind the whole thing that was fun to slowly uncover, and all the players got into the beer-n-pretzels spirit of the game (and I mean that has the highest compliment).

I was surprised how much I enjoyed the Genesys system. I had signed up mostly to play a game with Josh, as I never seem to game with him at Gameday. Cyberpunk is not really my jam, and FFG’s custom dice always seemed like a scam to me. By the end of the game, I was half ready to head out to the store and buy the core book and some FFG dice.

Assembling the dice pools and then interpreting the results reminded me a bit of Cortex, and the basic building blocks of the PCs felt like d20 Modern — a winning combination for me. I also love the idea that positive and negative factors on a roll manifest as literal dice instead of modifiers to track and calculate. And passing Boost and whatever the bad dice are called to other PCs and NPCs was a great way to roll (literally) the results of one pool into another.

The only downside I saw was that the GM still had to roll dice as well. I feel like there has to be a way to keep all die rolls player-facing and just use Good/Bad dice to reflect whatever the GM is doing.

I also really loved the idea of Strain as both a type of damage and a resource that could be spent to take action. It reminded me a lot of END in Champions and I am a big fan of END in Champions.

So, yeah, I’m not going to buy any Edge of the Empire books anytime soon, but I would totally play Genesys again.

The Sword, The Crown, and The Unspeakable Power

In the afternoon slot, Todd Nicholas ran SCUP (as it is called) for me, Willow, Shari Corey, and Tim Jensen. For those not familiar, this is a PbtA game focused on GoT-style intrigue that Todd Kickstarted recently.

We played a beast-controlling court sorcerer (me), a Dothraki warrior-princess (Willow), an emperor’s right-hand (Tim), and the Empress herself (Shari) in a Thundarr-like setting. The Emperor is getting old and weak, so, hey, it’s time to start jockeying for who gets to usurp him.

I had a great time and can say that the game totally delivers on what it claims on the tin. All of the sex, violence, and skullduggery felt just like an arc of GoT. The basic moves are very similar to what’s in ApWo, but then everything else builds on that foundation to drive towards heavy throne-on-throne action.

If you backed this, then look forward to good times; if you didn’t, then may the gods have mercy on your soul.

As you can tell, I had a great Gameday, probably the best that I’ve had in a few years. Not running anything and just showing up to play may have had something to do with this, and wonderful games with wonderful people certainly helped.

The only downside was that there was a non-Gameday table of Napoleonic wargamers wedged in the middle of our play space and merciful Zeus but were they a big bag of dicks. Old, loud, white dudes with no respect for personal space or personal volume. Out in the store, one of them even effectively started making fun of a guy for buying a copy of Mouse Guard. These hoary, crusted grognards were ridiculously privileged and ridiculously out of touch.

(Aside: there have been wargamers in our midst before — BattleTech and other, newer games — and I can tell you that they are oblivious dickheads 80% of the time. [The other 20% of the time they are the local all-women wargamer group, who are ridiculously courteous and helpful.] These guys were just particularly bad.)

Anyway, time to start thinking about the next Gameday…

#ChicagoGameday #ChicagoGameday48

Does FFG include PDFs with their print RPG purchases? Or do they make you pay for each format separately?