Monday, August 3, 2009

Songs for Scenarios - Isis

Songs for Scenarios is hopefully an ongoing series of posts featuring a song & video pregnant with gaming possibilities. For my first entry, I present Bob Dylan's Isis, from his 1975 album Desire. Written with lyricist and stage director Jacques Levy, Isis tells the tale of an adventurer in search of a pyramid full of treasure. Give it a listen - Bob would have made one hell of an evil DM!


I married Isis on the fifth day of May,
But I could not hold on to her very long.
So I cut off my hair and I rode straight away
For the wild unknown country where I could not go wrong.

I came to a high place of darkness and light.
The dividing line ran through the center of town.
I hitched up my pony to a post on the rise,
Went in to a laundry to wash my clothes down.

A man in the corner approached me for a match.
I knew right away he was not ordinary.
He said, "Are you lookin' for somethin' easy to catch?"
I said, "I got no money." He said, "That ain't necessary."

We set out that night for the cold in the North.
I gave him my blanket, he gave me his word.
I said, "Where are we goin'?" He said we'd be back by the fourth.
I said, "That's the best news that I've ever heard."

I was thinkin' about turquoise, I was thinkin' about gold,
I was thinkin' about diamonds and the world's biggest necklace.
As we rode through the canyons, through the devilish cold,
I was thinkin' about Isis, how she thought I was so reckless.

How she told me that one day we would meet up again,
And things would be different the next time we wed,
If I only could hang on and just be her friend.
I still can't remember all the best things she said.

We came to the pyramids all embedded in ice.
He said, "There's a body I'm tryin' to find.
If I carry it out it'll bring a good price."
'Twas then that I knew what he had on his mind.

The wind it was howlin' and the snow was outrageous.
We chopped through the night and we chopped through the dawn.
When he died I was hopin' that it wasn't contagious,
But I made up my mind that I had to go on.

I broke into the tomb, but the casket was empty.
There was no jewels, no nothin', I felt I'd been had.
When I saw that my partner was just bein' friendly,
When I took up his offer I must-a been mad.

I picked up his body and I dragged him inside,
Threw him down in the hole and I put back the cover.
I said a quick prayer and I felt satisfied.
Then I rode back to find Isis just to tell her I love her.

She was there in the meadow where the creek used to rise.
Blinded by sleep and in need of a bed,
I came in from the East with the sun in my eyes.
I cursed her one time then I rode on ahead.

She said, "Where ya been?" I said, "No place special."
She said, "You look different." I said, "Well, I guess."
She said, "You been gone." I said, "That's only natural."
She said, "You gonna stay." I said, "If you want me to, yes."

Isis, oh, Isis, you mystical child.
What drives me to you is what drives me insane.
I still can remember the way that you smiled
On the fifth day of May in the drizzlin' rain.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Breault's +1 Panty Wad

So it seems we desperately need more humor in the old-school scene if that last post was any indication. C'mon guys. Maliszewski? Raggi? JRients? Wheggi? I'm calling you out by name because I know you've got it in you. Make me laugh!!

Now, on the other hand...for a sample of just how intense the heat flying off geek back can get, check out this thread on the Knights & Knave Alehouse. Mike Breault, former editor at TSR during the 2nd Edition days has stepped up to the plate with his burning question - 'What's with all the Zeb Cook hatred?'. Target #1? Gene Weigel. The man who makes a Mind Flayer look like a reasonable conversationalist. The waters warm and getting warmer, so why not jump on in - just remember to bring the flaming oil and NO SPEEDOS!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Old School Sociology

The old school gaming movement wouldn't be, well, a school, without a whole bunch of cliques. Some of whom really don't much care for each other. As with any up-and-coming scene, everyone wants to claim to be the first, or if not that, they want to at least influence the direction things take in the future. I won't name names (I might like to work with some of those people one day) but I can run down the 'salient groups' as I see them...

(1) Grognards. These guys never stopped playing the same game they started with in the 70s. They don't need or like anything that they couldn't pay $200 bucks for on EBay.
Habitat: Often seen blogging about their 30 year old Greyhawk campaign and offering intermittent and esoteric rules advice on Dragonsfoot.
Typical Quote: Why do I need (insert retro-clone here) when I still have Gary's handwritten pre-OD&D notes in my wallet?
Natural Enemy: None. He'd need Viagra to get that worked up, and besides, he just doesn't really understand online communities.

(2) The Boys in the Pub. Not quite as old as the grognards, but with more than a healthy respect for the Great Gone Gygax. Can't afford the investment needed to go-old school, so they managed to whip up their own retro-clone.
Habitat: Often seen posting definitive stylistic manifestos on message forums and selling product on Lulu.
Typical Quote: Go eat a bowl of cocks, 3tard!
Natural Enemy: The heretical, and artistically challenged Trolls Den.

(3) The Troll's Den. Pot-smokin' hippy lawyers with printing presses. Feted the Great Gone Gygax with ghostwritten glory before his untimely demise and their untimely loss of license. Their dreams of a back-engineered AD&D crumble along with their revenue.
Habitat: On the fringes of ENWorld, Dragonsfoot and the Big Purple.
Typical Quote: That's an illegal copyright violation. Why? Because I'm a lawyer, and I said so. Play my game instead. Why? Because I wrote it.
Natural Enemy: The crude and amateurish Boys in the Pub.

(4) The Northern Fringe. Outsider gamers who've jumped on the bandwagon too late to gain acceptance into one of the cliques. Can't support any retro-clone largely because they weren't involved in writing one, and they hate those people anyways.
Habitat: Cranking out 3-staple 12 page booklets on their HP printer at home while extolling their own eccentric virtues on their blog.
Typical Quote: I'll ship it to all 6 of you as soon as I can afford another ream of A4 paper.
Natural Enemy: Another blogger or internet blowhard, often a Boy in the Pub or maybe a Troll, who's chewed him a new ass online.

(5) The Celebrity Blogger. Hipsters who couldn't care less what game they or anyone else plays as long as they dig that retro-cool thing.
Habitat: On their blog, replying to comments on their own or other hip blogs. rarely seen on forums as they just don't have that much chance of personal exposure.
Typical Quote: I like Elmore AND Otus. So there!
Natural Enemy: None. Too self-possessed to think for a minute anyone doesn't like him - well, except for the Grognard that keeps sending email death threats.

(6) The Naive Gamer. Regular Joe-the-Plumber types casually scoping out the old-school scene online.
Habitat: Big gaming forums, asking innocent questions that turn into brutal 50-page flamewars.
Typical Quote: I don't understand these Edition Wars. We all roll dice, right?
Natural Enemy: Hapless prey to all of the above.

(7) The Master Bakers. Ex-employees of Strategy Game Regulations before it went belly up. Personal friends, or enemies, of the Great Gone Gygax.
Habitat: Dragonsfoot, holding court in their own personal Q&A thread.
Typical Quote: My good buddy Gary once said to me....
Natural Enemy: Mortality

(8) The Terrible Twos. Fervent proponents of SGR's 2nd Edition. Consider older editions primitive because they lack a skill system.
Habitat: Dragonsfoot, looking for people to help 'update' {insert retro-clone here} to 2nd edition.
Typical Quote: 'Stop calling Ed Greenwood a pretentious pervert you guys!'
Natural Enemy: The Boys in the Pub, who flame them at will.

P.S. If you can't find yourself in one of these cliques - that's a good thing. It means you're probably doing too much gaming to care.