Ten Links in the Chain: Food for Thought (25-JAN-2013)

Yes, you read the title of this post correctly. This is the first news roundup since right before New Year’s Eve 2012. I actually started putting it together before January 1st, but got a wee bit distracted. This is what happens when you go on vacation for a few weeks and then have to pay the piper when you get back! Crazy, isn’t it?

Photo courtesy Lauren Nelson/Creative Commons

Photo courtesy Lauren Nelson/Creative Commons

Anyway, I thought we’d start off with a boatload of links to get us all thinking about gaming… Art, science, weapons, maps, computer games… There’s a smorgasbord of reading!

1. “I don’t know art, but I know what I like…”

Whether you like your art dark and historically accurate, like these pictures from 1930s London from Dave Walker @ The Library Time Machine. The deep blues and shadows are amazing. Plus, I might need to create a new tavern called The Blue Dog.

Or if you’re a big Magic: the Gathering fan, you might appreciate these gorgeous images from Magic cards posted by Ed Grabianowski @ io9. Quite a variety to pick from with bigger images when you click on them. Incredible that these artists fit so much on so small a space…

If it’s movies you like for inspiration, check out these minimalist movie posters at the Minimal Movie Posters Tumblr archive. In a conversation on Google+, Matt Greenfelder mentioned that there was a collection of a few minimalist RPG covers over at RPG.net. Very cool stuff. Now if I only had some artistic talent. 🙂

And lastly we have a collection of some fantastic art over at DeviantART surrounding the Mayan Apocalypse. Sure, I know it was so last year, but does cool art ever really get old? Even if it did, we’re still here to appreciate it!

2. Maps of a Different Color…

Now we can turn our attention to maps. As we all know, a good map can not only inspire, but inform also. What do these maps tell you?

The first is an illustrated map of Pangaea (the supercontinent) from artist Richard Morden that is beautiful and would feel right at home on my wall. (I actually ordered a copy!) This post from George Dvorsky @ io9 includes all sorts of cool details including a bit of background from a geophysicist.

For the next, who doesn’t like Star Wars? 🙂 This set of maps was created by artist Andrew DeGaff and tell the story of the original trilogy of Star Wars films as well as The Goonies. I don’t know how he came up with this idea, but each is extremely detailed and gorgeous to behold! (Thanks Joey Paur @ Geek Tyrant!)

And third, we have F**k Yeah Cartography… Again, this isn’t really a gaming-related site, but dang there’s a lot to look at. This Tumblr manages to include geospatial data, Disneyland maps, art, antique maps, and lord knows what else all in one place. Amazing to browse, but be sure to look at the clock every once in a while. 🙂

3. “Dear Mom and Dad, I play D&D…”

Thankfully this wasn’t a situation I found myself in when I started playing D&D in 1982, but I am sure there were more than a few conversations between my parents and grandparents trying to figure out if it was as bad as everybody said at the time. I count my lucky stars that they saw past the propaganda to the core of the game that encouraged reading, math, creativity, and social skills!

Unfortunately not everyone’s folks responded as positively to the news that their kids were playing D&D. Tara Newman @ Monkey in the Cage
offers her experience in this area
as evidence and provides some practical advice in how to break the news to your parents if you haven’t already. Great article for “kids” of any age.

4. Deep Thoughts…

Over the years, I’ve used my gaming to explore many philosophical issues. Good and evil. The random nature of the universe. But Runeslinger @ Casting Shadows pondered a question a while back about whether the player “informs” the character. Many, including myself, think that all the characters we play reflect some fragment of our own psychology or personality. Not everyone agrees. But it offers a fascinating debate. 🙂

L @ Geek’s Dream World also offered some deep thoughts recently about tastefully handling exotic cultures in our games. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so we should do our research and our best not to do so.

Terminator-2-judgement-day5. “Phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range.” “Hey, just what you see, pal!”

Yes, we’re talking about weapons now… And Stephen Chenault @ The Troll Dens suggests one that doesn’t get much love these days: the Tomahawk! No, it doesn’t fire plasma bolts. But I bet it’ll get your attention when you see it flying at your head!

6. She Blinded Me With Science!

I’ve been a space, science, and tech geek for as long as I can remember, so I find most of my inspiration in nature and the discoveries we continue to make day after day…

There have been many amazing stories from Mars and beyond of late… Whether it’s evidence of water in a giant crater on the Red Planet (Space.com), a distant probe discovering a river on Saturn’s moon Titan (The Space Reporter), a collection of amazing space images (Universe Today), or a cool eBook and iPad app released from NASA with some beautiful pictures of the Earth (Open Culture), there’s plenty to explore!

If you’d rather keep your sights down here on our own planet, perhaps the tardigrade (Water Bear) (Author Renee Silvana) or Brazilian Treehopper (io9) are up your alley? Either of these would make spectacular monsters in a fantasy world or one in a galaxy far, far away…

Geologically, this video of a sinkhole swallowing a car is terrifying (Geekosystem). Can you imagine what a PC would do if a hole suddenly appeared beneath them in a battle? Panic!

If you’re pondering a world without trees, paper may be scarce but definitely possible according to this article on Treeless Paper @ Kaufman Mercantile. Perhaps it’s time to save a few trees and go with something unique for your next pulp fiction masterpiece. 🙂

And lastly there are some amazing people planning for the apocalypse and building some fantastic places in the process. The plans alone are fantastic enough to appear in plenty of worlds – fantasy or futuristic! (ArchDaily)

7. A bit of history…


And if science doesn’t turn your wheel, perhaps you’d rather learn about who’s turned a few wheels in the past? 

Apparently many folks fascinated with the Mayan Apocalypse headed down to Guatemala (Reuters) to the place they filmed parts of Star Wars when Luke and company head off to destroy the first Death Star… I’m not saying it’s really historically interesting, but I was happy to see that it’s still there!

Have you ever tried to reason with a volcano? Apparently a Japanese gentleman did at a site called the “Pompeii of Japan” near Mount Haruna (Geekosystem). As you might expect, it seems he didn’t do much good. Important safety tip… Perhaps call first?

And taking the cake in the Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull competition, apparently they found some deformed skulls in a 1,000 year old cemetery in Mexico that look pretty alien to me (io9). Though I hope that Indy stays retired and avoids any more ancient space travelers, I’d be very curious why anyone would think that adjusting the head like that made them look more attractive… Maybe if you’re Fox Mulder?

8. A touch of inspiration…

We all need a little inspiration from time to time and I’m thankful the Internet is such a wild and crazy place that I can find some. 🙂

Creating an alien planet? Beth Revis (io9) has three tips for you… Get specific, weird, and take the 1 foot view as well as the 100 mile view… And she provides plenty of examples.

If you prefer looking at pictures to brainstorming, you might like Pinterest – a social media outlet that focuses on multiple tiled images. Andrew @ Geek Native recently posted a list of 10 Pinterest accounts that might offer some cool ideas – including Fred Hicks, Stan Shinn, Tracy Hurley, Daniel Solis, Nights of the Crusades, and yours truly!

The Dungeon Inspiration blog on Tumblr also offers a ton of great images – art, photography, artifacts, architecture, and much more.

9. We will be Tormented again!

numenera-landscapeI don’t know about you, but Planescape: Torment was one of those games on the computer that sucked up DAYS of my time for a while. And now Brian Fargo is readying the game’s spiritual successor! Though it may not use the D&D rules any longer, it appears it will be using Numenera (Forbes)… Alec Meer @ Rock, Paper, Shotgun has a great interview with Fargo to answer a few questions.

Honestly I’m already planning to lose more than a few hours to this one. 🙂

10. And Now, the News…

Though I attempt to link back to every article I talk about, I’m sure I’ve missed a few over the last couple of years. But apparently some other game journalists aren’t even that thorough according to Ben Kuchera @ The Penny Arcade Report. Inventing news items that don’t exist is only part of the problem.

10(+1). Does playing RPGs help writers?

Like many gamers, I’ve pondered (and even attempted) to translate some of my RPG adventures onto the written page as fiction – and failed so far. But many other writers have been much more successful. Karen Woodward at her blog came up with a great list of authors who have made it work and there’s even a few tips!


As always, if you feel I missed something (and it would be impossible NOT to), drop me a quick note via the contact page or drop me an e-mail at news(at)gameknightreviews(dot)com and I’ll add it to the list for next week!

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