Lacking Natural Simplicity

Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.

Mini Six: Rebel Breakout, part 1

I ran the “Rebel Breakout” adventure from Star Wars: the Roleplaying Game using Mini Six from AntiPaladin Games. Mini Six is a very simple RPG derived from OpenD6 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), the OGL version of the D6 roleplaying game engine that descended from the original Star Wars: the Roleplaying Game from West End Games.

Attending

  • T.K.B. — GM.

  • T.A. — Haven Zul, a human smuggler.

  • M.A. — Milagro, a human/cyborg.

  • E.A. — J'Lee, a bounty hunter.

Actual Play

J'Lee established herself early on as a cool competent bounty hunter — even when she failed whatever she was attempting, something cool happened.

There were a lot of broken steam and water pipes and severed power lines dropping into multiple flooded areas expanding toward the characters.

They finished up through Encounter 6: Firefight, ending the session with electrified water chasing them down the side corridor at A.

Multics Emacs programmed by secretaries

RMS relates how programming Multics Emacs was so convenient that secretaries started to learn to use it:

… The language that you build your extensions on shouldn't be thought of as a programming language in afterthought; it should be designed as a programming language. In fact, we discovered that the best programming language for that purpose was Lisp.

It was Bernie Greenberg, who discovered that it was (5). He wrote a version of Emacs in Multics MacLisp, and he wrote his commands in MacLisp in a straightforward fashion. The editor itself was written entirely in Lisp. Multics Emacs proved to be a great success — programming new editing commands was so convenient that even the secretaries in his office started learning how to use it. They used a manual someone had written which showed how to extend Emacs, but didn't say it was a programming. So the secretaries, who believed they couldn't do programming, weren't scared off. They read the manual, discovered they could do useful things and they learned to program.

So Bernie saw that an application — a program that does something useful for you — which has Lisp inside it and which you could extend by rewriting the Lisp programs, is actually a very good way for people to learn programming. It gives them a chance to write small programs that are useful for them, which in most arenas you can't possibly do. They can get encouragement for their own practical use — at the stage where it's the hardest — where they don't believe they can program, until they get to the point where they are programmers.

Recent Reading: Meljean Brook

  • From the series The Iron Seas:

    • The Iron Duke, by Meljean Brook; copyright 2010 by Melissa Kahn; ISBN 978-0-425-23667-3.

    • Heart of Steel, by Meljean Brook; copyright 2011 by Melissa Kahn; ISB 978-0-425-24330-5.

      From the front cover: «“Meljean Brook has brilliantly defined he new genre of steampunk romance.” — Jayne Ann Krentz, New York Times bestselling author».

    These are very good. The back covers list them as “paranormal romance” 1, but I suspect that they form exemplars for a new genre.

    Her setting is interestingly and greatly altered history.

    Stories by Meljean Brook appear in (at least) the following anthologies: Hot Spell, Wild Thing, First Blood, Must Love Hellhounds, Burning Up, and Angels of Darkness.

1

The local library I frequent most often has a separate section for paranormal romance now, though these were shelved in general fiction.

Ken Hite at Origins on Steampunk via Lewis Pulsipher

Lewis Pulsipher said in his post Origins 2012 — “Diminished”:

I asked if Hite was familiar enough with Steampunk to say what the story is in that (to me) obscure genre. He pointed out that it’s now more an aesthetic than a genre, the goggles and leather and glass and so forth (and corsets for women?). Yet he then made an erudite comparison, saying that just as fairy stories helped Victorians reconcile with what was a pretty ugly past (and where the real fairy stories were “don’t go out on the moor at night or they’ll eat you”), steampunk helps people reconcile with technology. Modern technology is a “black box” to most people, but most people can understand that hot steam expands and can move things, and feel comfortable with the steam engines and “clockwork” of Steampunk. Steampunk helps people come to terms with technology. A remarkable answer.

RuneQuest Versions

I can never remember the publication dates of the various versions of RuneQuest, so here's a list:

  • RuneQuest (1978), Chaosium. AKA RuneQuest I, RQI, RQ1. Was set in the world of Glorantha.

  • RuneQuest, second edition (1980), Chaosium. AKA RuneQuest II, RQII, RQ2. Was set in the world of Glorantha.

  • RuneQuest, third edition (1984), Avalon Hill. AKA RuneQuest III, RQ3. Used Fantasy Europe as the example setting, but also had a lot of Glorantha publications.

    Originally published as a box set, it was republished as a paperback book in the US in the early 1990s during the brief but productive RuneQuest Renaissance ushered in by the new RuneQuest editor at Avalon Hill, Ken Rolston.

  • RuneQuest: Adventures in Glorantha, (never published commercially), Avalon Hill. AKA RQIV and RQ:AiG on the Internet.

  • RuneQuest (2006), Mongoose Publishing. AKA MRQ on the Internet.

    This was published as an setting-independent fantasy system (under the OGL), but Mongoose also had a license to publish material about the “Second Age” of the world of Glorantha and published a lot of Glorantha specific books.

  • RuneQuest, second edition (2010), Mongoose Publishing. AKA MRQ2 on the Internet. (Mongoose called this “RuneQuest II”, and books for this edition usually have a RQII logo on their cover.)

  • RuneQuest, sixth edition (announced 16 July 2011), The Design Mechanism.

I'll not go into the related histories of the related Basic Roleplaying games from Chaosium, nor the completely different system HeroQuest which also used the setting of Glorantha.

For more RuneQuest history see Pete Maranci's The History of RuneQuest, and Pete's RuneQuest & Roleplaying! for more on RuneQuest in general.

Mongoose released a new RPG, Legend, using the mechanics from their RuneQuest, second edition, under the OGL.

Glorantha Gaming Bonanza: Moon Design Publications and Mongoose Publishing

I spent some of my tax return this year on picking up some Glorantha and RuneQuest RPG supplements, and a bunch of them came today.

  • Moon Design Publications

    • Pavis: Gateway to Adventure, by Greg Stafford and Jeff Richards.

      As a fan of the Gloranthan Classics 1 I thought Moon Design Publications was a natural for the Glorantha license, and I've been happy with all their new HeroQuest books. I've been looking forward to their take on Pavis.

      This is a big book, 416 pages. I like the art, some of which I recognize from earlier products, but there is lots of new art too. I like the layout and typography, generally speaking. Lots of neat looking stuff.

  • Mongoose Publishing

    • Glorantha

      • Glorantha: The Second Age, the MRQ2 2 core rulebook for Glorantha.

      • Cults of Glorantha

      • Pavis Rises

      • Races of Glorantha, Volume 1

      • The Abiding Book

    • Elric (MRQ2)

      • Elric of Melnibone, the MRQ2 core rulebook for Elric.

      • Cults of the Young Kingdoms

    • RuneQuest II

      • Arms and Equipment

      • Empires

      • Vikings

1

The Glorantha Classics series republished a bunch of the Glorantha material from the original Chaosium RuneQuest run, and was a nice alternative to picking up the rather expensive original versions. The Glorantha Classics are mostly out of print again, but they are available in PDF form from DrivethruStuff.

2

Mongoose marked the books for the second edition of their RuneQuest as “RQII”, but I've seen that abbreviation used online for Chaosium's second edition of RuneQuest, from 1980, which is often referred to online as “RQ2”. I usually refer to Mongoose's second edition as “MRQ2” to mark it unambiguously.