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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

nerd apocalypse 2


NERD APOCALYPSE 2 of 2
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Note:
"And my most excellent survivalist & post-apocalyptic novel, "Glasses, Pulleys and the End of Bread" which James hasn't reviewed yet, probably because he's still dazzled by its goodness :)" :
http://solsysbooks.blogspot.com/
This book is from Ave, one of  my few European readers.  I've reviewed this before but it was only half done ( it is now completed other than a middle chapter revision from what I understand ).  This novel is huge.  English is his second language but you can barely tell.  Don't expect perfect American structure and flow, but really his English is better than mine or yours for the most part.  I bring it up to limit the comments about the writing style.  Read it for the story.  I was impressed and look forward to finishing it.
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When I was a wee lad of about thirteen or fourteen, not too long after I watched Star Wars in the theatres about four times and recorded that movie on an audio cassette player at the drive-in window speaker to listen to it another twenty times or so, until the cassettes wore down, Mom ( bless her heart who even though she was a bit of a grumpy gus having to deal with me every day still instilled a love of reading in me-perhaps self preservation?-and fed it voraciously which is a trend I’ve only denied a few times myself due to fierce budgetary constraints ) bought me the first boxed set of Dungeon & Dragons, the pioneer role playing game.  I didn’t even have a clue how you were supposed to play it, it was so novel, and it took one of moms friends from work husbands, a geek which was also a novelty, to explain it was a game you talked out between players and referees.  My dad was always competitive and animated during confrontations, a skill well suited to his sports playing and being a cop, but I was completely opposite and hated and avoided both people in general and confrontations in particular ( being a reclusive clown helping in that regard ).  This was before the general public had been widely introduced to the concept of extroverts and introverts.  Anyway, I took to non-competitive role playing games like a fish to water or a liberal to Hilary. 

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The late 70’s and early 80’s were the time of role playing games, killed later by computers and computer users who were also game players and who combined the two.  Not killed as in role playing itself but killed as a medium.  No longer were thick books compiled or consulted, no longer were referees asked to create worlds and oversee them.  The computers did all the scut work and you just paid the cover price and enjoyed your solitary romp through a fantasy world, only interacting with other players online.  Gone were groups gathering and socializing, to a large degree.  Gone were paper books of rules, other than as computer program manuals.  I didn’t particularly miss it, burning out on fantasy books and games, then starting to get laid so gathering with the boys for game night lost all importance, but in thinking about revising my habit as a source of future entertainment I started to research what was still available in non-digital form.  To my chagrin, my old favorite games were hideously expensive, each manual twenty to thirty dollars ( and you needed more than one manual per game, such as Players, Game Masters, Monsters ), far more expensive than a lot of great reference books you need for rebuilding civilization after the collapse.  No way was I going to shell out that kind of scratch.

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There used to be a LOT of the games out there.  Not just D&D but its competition like Tunnels & Trolls, and various other genres like Twilight2000 which was post nuclear war in a military unit or Traveller which was science fiction.  There was espionage and post-apocalypse with mutants.  I’m sure I had a western, but can’t remember clearly.  Most disappeared with the advent of computers but a few popular ones were bought out by specialty companies and kept in print for old schoolers such as myself ( at boutique printer prices, even though now with Print-On-Demand most of the cost is profit for them ).  But one original company still seems to be around at reasonable prices, Steve Jackson Games ( back in the day, popular for a nuclear war card playing game, if memory serves ).  They have a reasonably priced book ( $10-$15, new, less used ) called GURPS ( available through Amazon ).  Which is a universal role playing game using standard six sided dice ( a headache back then were finding and buying, although not using, bizarre dice like twenty sided ).  You can make the world of your choice, fantasy or space opera or super hero’s or post-apocalypse mutants or zombies or whatever, while only buying one set of game rules ( all games back then were proprietary and fiercely independent.  You went from fantasy to space, you learned a whole new set of rules.  D&D was monster and magic heavy, while Traveller was high tech heavy with planets having different tech levels [ the Druid Dude would have been proud ] and the only thing approaching magic was psionics, which I never used as I wanted Star Wars, not Lord Of The Rings, by that time.  Yes, Darth Vader was disturbed by the Imperial officers lack of faith and used psi to choke his ass, but that was one dude in the universe, not a common skill a group of traveling blue collar types would possess ). 

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Most folks refuse to be proud of being a nerd or geek, or avoid any activity that might get one classified as such, but you should still consider the allure of role playing games.  You use your brain in a fun and creative way and for hours  the real world disappears.  You can relax your competitive nature and just enjoy the company of friends.  It is escapism.  But mentally challenging escapism, not mindless entertainment paid heavily for.  TV turns off your brain, games stimulate it.  Something to consider.

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17 comments:

  1. Ah yes, a walk through memory lane. Ironically I had my two feet in three worlds in school. I played sports so was a "Jock" on one hand, but I was also a "Nerd" playing D&D, mostly as a DM. Played some others. Jutland was the RP board game of the First WW navel battle and another I don't remember. Just recently I played Settlers of Catan with my wife, son and his wife. You don't need to ask who won :) The third world I had my two feet in, was what we called the "Jells" for jelly brained, because these were the pot heads and other drugs that got used. I knew many of them, did a little weed, but many of my friends did Acid, Mescaline and other hard drugs. That group didn't last past when they could drop out at 16 and that's what they did. I stayed in school and while the drug use and even the sports went to the wayside, I'm still a nerd. I've spent the last 20 years in I.T. and one of my best friends at the time who was my main Nerd buddy has his PhD in Laser Physics and is a professor at a University in Virginia.

    Little did the jocks who usually made fun of the nerd, know that the Nerds would be the rich successful ones, while they come home from work and pine for the "Glory Days." Just saying. It's funny. Back then the dream of a college scholarship to play ball somewhere was the main focus of that group, and truthfully heavily on my mind, while the Nerds, wanted a music scholarship or just a good grades scholarship. I did college fro a whole year, (no scholarship) but don't even have that many credits at the one school. I said screw it and went into the Army.

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    1. You only need to suppress your nerdness just enough to get laid. The wife/girlfriend usually likes it if you don't geek out too much. A touch of it is endearing.

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  2. I never left the game hobby community, even now with child, spouse, job, and house building I get together with some buddies on skype a half dozen times a year and do a session of a D&D campaign that has been running for over a decade. I also GM for my spouse and child at their request. There are plenty of free game systems out there on the internet - you just have to print them out. In fact the Gurps system you mention (one of my personal favorites) has a 'lite' version available for free download, a great thing to show a new prospective player - all the basic rules in just a couple of pages.
    For those with specific religious concerns there are even some very 'christian' (and some very pagan and satanic) games that have been developed and any game can be slanted that way by the referee/gm/storyteller.
    Computer aids are out there for character creation for many of the more popular games as well - but they tend to not be very frugal or for the more frugal unofficial computer aids they will have bugs that can cause a non-standard character to break the rules in one way or another, so you may be better off learning how to do things manually after a little while...
    Dice, pencil, paper, imagination - that's all anyone needs for hours and even days on end of entertainment.
    The biggest problem is finding people to 'game' with, Computer and Online RPGs are taking up most of the younger generation - after all, they don't need to write anything, do any math, or use much imagination, so it is as easy as plunking down $100 and they are good to go. What they are missing is the flexibility and interactions as well as the skills needed above.
    I know one GM who ran a game based in the world of an online game, and it was fairly popular for the dozen sessions or so it ran.
    RPGs can be run anyplace and anytime- I have played RPGs while driving across the country, while waiting in a restaurant (keep voices and scenes of violence or oddity to a minimum), while watching a high school sporting event, at a public swimming pool, while hiking a national park, while at a picnic, while harvesting wood. Any time you mind doesn't have to be occupied with full attention on something else and you can talk you can find a way to play some of the RPG.

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    1. My problem even way back was the insistence of all to focus purely on D&D, as I was burning out on fantasy from too much fiction reading of well written but still clones of Tolkien AND role playing. Even when I bought all the expensive Traveller books few had an interest in playing, let alone learning.

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    2. Yep, the system wars are alive and well. In any larger city that has a surviving RPG community there will always be those who say 'my favorite system or no system!' If they ever move to BFE they will quickly find that it can be necessary to be willing to learn what ever system people want to use- the primary hurdle of course is buying the books you need to learn the system- Which more and more systems are overcoming by offering free online or cheap 'intro' or 'lite' systems (*GURPS was a leader in the field for this as well) There are also lots of websites and torrents with .pdf rips of the game books or selections thereof so there is no financial reason to refuse to learn a new system enough to play with new friends.
      Here is GURPS lite direct from publisher for those of your readers who are interested:
      http://www.warehouse23.com/products/SJG31-0004
      Free Download. No one has to know you got it ;-)

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    3. Just got my paper copy of GURPS in the mail yesterday. Simple, yet very detailed. I approve. I can see where the company would make lots of money on its suppliments. On a related note, wow! The mail is delivery quick right now. I wonder if far less folks are mail ordering or x-mas shipping.

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    4. According to some of the economy watch news sites I follow, shipping nation wide and globally is down month over month and year over year right now. Down quite a bit too.

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    5. I knew about the Baltic dry index, but Q-Tips not sending stale cookies thru the mail? I understand even cheaper mail ordering will suffer, but family sent gifts?

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  3. I go with a crossword puzzle in a major city news paper, a game of Tetras or Space Invaders on my 25 year old Hand Held GameBoy, (Uses AA batteries that I recharge in my out door sun lights) And my favorite brain builder, a Simon hand held memory light game. Hear that Simon is now back out for Christmas and is selling like crazy.
    Perhaps people are wanting to revive their brain cells after watching too much TV and hearing Obama telling them what a great guy he is, and how he loves all of us unless your not muslimisisblack and how great the economy is because of his great leadership while playing golf and charging the taxpayers 4 to 7 million per 18 holes.
    But I digress. Great Hair Dr James, Hope it grew back after you had to shave it with that lice problem after your under ground home boon-doogle.

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    1. Treasonous mutterings in regards to the hair!

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  4. There are now many, many RPG books from the glorious days that can be downloaded as PDF a bit everywhere now (not exactly abandonware , but you get the drift).

    My recommendation to start with RPG is the Star Wars in the D6 system (with normal dices), from West End Games.
    - the system is very easy to understand
    - everybody knows the Star Wars universe

    This summer I introduced some pupils of mine to paper/table roleplaying games with Star Wars and they were much delighted.

    The key to successful roleplaying games is using commonly known universes, like Lovecraft for instance (the RPG is Call of Chtulhu), and not some obscure universe for specialists.

    Cyberpunk on the other hand was a very clear concept in the late 80's-mid 90's but became very outdated in a couple of years only. It's because the real world had become Cyberpunk !

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    1. I would argue that cyberpunk was more violent than our lame and tame "G" rated Twitter universe.

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  5. Off topic but here is a good article by Martin Armstrong regarding Turkey shooting down the Russian Plane over in Syria.

    http://www.armstrongeconomics.com/archives/39792


    Idaho Homesteader

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    1. My first reaction is that he is REALLLLLLY reaching on this one. I could be wrong, and I haven't had any coffee yet this morning.

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    2. Jim Sinclair has the same train of thought......

      http://www.jsmineset.com/2015/11/24/a-rotten-turkey-for-thanksgiving/


      Idaho Homesteader

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  6. Turkey is in dire economic hurt, like Greece. Turkey is cooperating with Muzzie Caliphate to transport young-male-invaders to Germany. Turkey is a full NATO member with F-16's and US tech support to keep them flying. War is a very reasonable destraction from political/economic failure, if losing power (losing head?) is a possibility.

    pdxr13

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    1. Even China is in dire economic straights. Turkey has the Kurdish "terrorist" deal to distract and disorientate the population. No need to poke the Bear into full scale war.

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