OpenQuest — a neat rules engine

I have always been fan of the old Basic Roleplaying rules engine (BRP) used in Runequest and Drakar och Demoner. Some time ago, someone told me that there is a streamlined OGL version of it, called OpenQuest, available here >>>

I have taken a look at it. Verdict: quite nice though of course old-school. Adaptable to most fantasy contexts.

Saga Okeanos och Atlantis’ undergång

Det fallna Atlantis är av stor betydelse i Saga Okeanos. Vad slog egentligen sönder forntidsriket? En ordmålning av undergången, hämtad ur romanen Hon av H Rider Haggard:

Kôr har fallit! Aldrig mer ska de mäktiga festa i hennes salar, aldrig mer ska hon styra världen eller hennes flottor segla ut för att handla med världen. Kôr har fallit — hennes storverk och alla Kôrs städer och hamnarna hon byggt och kanalerna hon grävt tillhör nu vargen och ugglan och den vilda svanen och barbaren som ska komma. […] Det praktfulla Kôr finns ej mer; därför tillber inga i templen och palatsen står tomma; hennes furstar och kaptener och handelsmän och hennes sköna kvinnor har utplånats från jordens yta.

Facing the future as an author (2)

Wikipedia writes:

The popularity of The Hobbit had led George Allen & Unwin, the publishers, to request a sequel. Tolkien warned them that he wrote quite slowly, and responded with several stories he had already developed. Having rejected his contemporary drafts for The Silmarillion, putting on hold Roverandom, and accepting Farmer Giles of Ham, Allen & Unwin thought more stories about hobbits would be popular. So at the age of 45, Tolkien began writing the story that would become The Lord of the Rings.

This paragraph is cheerful reading for a gray-haired chap like me. My spirit remains youthful and adventurous. Time may feel a bit short after the 50th birthday, but there are still opportunities to get good things done: at 49 I went to Afghanistan to work, at 50 I learned French, at 52 I published two novels in Swedish.

The years behind are full of powerful experiences:
– the white splendor of Agra
– the leopards of the Garwhal hills
– the ruins of Masada in the desert sunrise
– the dangers of Kabul
– the barren immensity of the Hindukush mountains seen from the air
– Cassini-Huygens’s photos from distant Titan
– the end of the Cold War broadcast live from Berlin and Moscow more than twenty years ago
– the b/w reports from the moon landings more than 40 years ago.

And more is yet to come — to use JRR Tolkien’s words:

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

Skyscapes and cloudcraft

My first experience with the Japanese anime tradition was in 1980 or 1981 when Space Firebird, was shown for a few weeks on a second-rate cinema in my hometown of Gothenburg*. For me at that time, animated movies had more or less equaled Disney so this was a gateway into a different aesthetics. I loved it, but I had no idea how to get hold of more. (Those that remember my space-faring fantasy RPG articles in the Sinkadus magazine around 1990, may be amused to know that the liralên space creatures were inspired by the eponymous firebird.)

In the 1990s, the web made its appearance and I started to learn about the vastness of anime. My brother-in-law served as a guide and soon I had found my way to the Studio Ghibli cosmos. Its films later appeared in the shelves of Swedish VHS and DVD stores — somehow the producers realized there was a lucrative market in the west. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds and Laputa: Castle in the Sky were breathtaking in their beauty: the cloudscapes, the huge flying craft and the never-never-lands with diesel-retro technology. Eminent science fantasy.

The fairy-tale stories of Hayao Miyazaki are lovely. I would not be able to write one, however. My stories belong to a different tradition. But the visual aesthetics are irresistible. The ice juggernauts and the cloudships of the Iskriget alternate history certainly have their roots in Ghibli’s films. I wrote the following paragraph in the (not yet finished) sequel to Iskriget as if it was a scene in such a movie:

This time, the big hatch opened and I entered a cluttered room as wide as the cloudship. My first impression was vast banks of instruments around broad windows and beyond these: blue sky and clusters of white clouds above the Lowland’s endless checkerboard of farms and fields, blond and green with crops. In the center of the room, captain Singh lounged in a comfortable pilot’s chair surrounded by levers and complex metal devices. Three cloudmen manned similar stations around him. Parkas, knitted caps and gloves protected their bodies from the numbing high-altitude chill.

*A brief explanation for younger people: In the days before the VHS and DVD technology, Swedish cinemas had a broader repertoire than today. In the major cities there were often one or two run-down cinemas that showed a mixed fare of B-movies and old classics, each movie running for a week or two. I have no idea how the managers made their selections, but occasionally an unexpected gem would appear in their programs, like Space Firebird.

“High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I have trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
— Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.