Work

Another week.

My manager asked me to think about what I want from my career, and after a few days of thought I came up with the answer “ultimately, to not have one.” Work is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself: it has to be interesting (since it takes up a lot of time), and has to provide enough income and time off that I can live a comfortable life and enjoy my hobbies, but ideally I will retire early and then be able to do whatever I want 24/7. I don’t dream of labour.

Books

This week I read:

  • The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny

    I enjoyed this. Another of the SF Masterworks collection, which I have yet to be disappointed by, it’s the first five books (the Corwin cycle), and there’s an upcoming book with the following five (the Merlin cycle).

    The central theme of order vs chaos is definitely one of those classic “old fantasy” ideas which has fallen out of favour, but is nice when done well because of its simplicity. It’s got a straightforward surface meaning (order is good, chaos is bad) which easily becomes more nuanced (but total order is bad, some chaos is needed to provide variety) as the author wants. It’s just good vs evil, with the curveball that is free will requiring evil, by another name. Would I want every story to be order vs chaos, good vs evil? No, but it is a nice structure to have on occasion.

Roleplaying Games

This week I tried out Forbidden Lands. I ran the beginning of Winter’s Daughter, a Dolmenwood adventure written for Old School Essentials. The next session is in two weeks time.

There was the usual amount of rule-misunderstanding and book-consulting that any first session with a new system has. First impressions are alright, though two things stood out to me:

  • The encumbrance system is quite punishing. A character can carry two units of weight per point in strength, and characters tend to have 3 or 4 strength. A regular-sized item (which most are) weighs one unit. So a typical character can carry 6 to 8 items.

    In contrast, Whitehack, which I’ve been playing for a while, allows you to carry ten regular items, and a further five if you have a backpack, so 15 in total: over twice that of Forbidden Lands! This makes beasts of burden much more important, and means you won’t be taking much with you when you head somewhere a pack animal can’t follow.

  • It feels really weird that making camp takes a full quarter of the day, which is just as much time as it takes to hike 10 to 20 kilometres (depending on terrain). And it means that to be fully rested and secure, a group can only hike for one quarter of the day: the other three quarters will be taken up by making camp; then everyone but one character sleeping and that one character keeping watch; then that one character sleeping while everyone else does whatever it is they want to do.

    I think making camp just shouldn’t take that long, and probably shouldn’t need a roll either.

Furthermore, since I was converting OSE material to FL, I had to think about prices when the characters went shopping. Fortunately, for almost everything, the OSE price is just ten times the FL price, so conversion was simple. Except for animals and vehicles, which are far cheaper in the FL rules, being more like a third of the price of the equivalent OSE animals (after resolving the 10x factor). I need to look into the rules more closely to see if there’s some difference I haven’t spotted. Maybe animals are just cheap in the FL setting.

Next session we’ll get into some dungeoncrawling and combat, so we’ll be exercising some very different mechanics. I’m interested to see what that side of the game feels like.

Overall, it was ok. Too early to judge how it would fare in campaign play.