Savage Worlds of Science Fiction

I’ve recently finished reading two very different systems dealing with the science fiction genre. The first was Harp SF, a…

SFC_Cover_WebI’ve recently finished reading two very different systems dealing with the science fiction genre. The first was Harp SF, a very dense, very simulationist game. I’ll be reviewing that one, soon. The other was the Savage Worlds Science Fiction Companion and, as you might guess if you know Savage Worlds, it was far less dense and far more focused on having fun than on getting every detail right. As happens often with Savage Worlds, I was left with a mild feeling of incompleteness when I finished the book yet also felt like I’d been given exactly the right amount of information and rules.

If you’ve read any of the three previous Savage World’s Companions, the format of this one will be very familiar. It starts with player character information, including ways to create player character races and a few races that are appropriate to the sci-fi genre using those rules. One of the most interesting of these examples is the insect aliens, who have both the mute and outsiders hindrances built into them. This combination seems rife for roleplaying opportunities for someone playing one in a mixed group. Another interesting choice are the Deaders which are sentient space zombies using the classic sci fi genre trope of space slugs controlling humanoid corpses. There is also a short section of both edges and hindrances specific both to the genre and to the rules presented later in the book.

Also for the benefit of the players is a pretty extensive list of high tech equipment with everything from stealth suits to cyber decks. The largest portion by far is the weapons section. Rules for almost any high tech weapon a person could want from vibro blades to rail guns is included and, just as large as the personal weapon section is the vehicle based weapons. Exactly how these can be used is unclear at first but becomes important later in the book.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition: Player’s Handbook

Over the holidays, I recommended picking up the 5th Edition D&D Player’s Handbook. I failed to realize that I hadn’t…

Over the holidays, I recommended picking up the 5th Edition D&D Player’s Handbook. I failed to realize that I hadn’t really talked about the book here on Ideology of Madness.

Allow me to remedy that mistake.

Let’s start with the book itself. The Player’s Handbook is a 316 page full color hardback book. The book retails at $49.95. The cover illustration of a giant fighting with a hero is just gorgeous and the back cover art of the Hell Hound growling at the melee is also well done. The binding of the book is sturdy and has held up well to multiple references by different people. I mention this because I have purchased books in the past where the binding begins deteriorating after a few uses and this books does not have this issue. The interior are picks up on the promise of the cover and carries it throughout the book. One of the problems I had with prior editions of Dungeons & Dragon was the use of recycled art in the newer base books. This is not the case here. In particular, I like the wide variety of characters that is presented throughout the book. We get tribal warriors, half-orc paladins, female samurai, and a whole host of diverse characters which just made the book sing.

Rat Queens Sass and Sorcery

The Rat Queens series is either a commentary on what it means to be a modern feminist woman or a…

The Rat Queens series is either a commentary on what it means to be a modern feminist woman or a commentary on the breakdown in communications in the post modern world. No matter what its philosophic or sociopolitical message might be, it is exceptionally entertaining and fun to read. It also makes me insanely jealous and happy.

It makes me happy for obvious reasons. The reasons it makes me insanely jealous are a little more subtle and stem from the fact the Rat Queens are a quartet of adventuring women. And they are not simple one dimensional characters who that cling to one end of the spectrum of sexual activity or the other. There is neither a slut nor an ice queen in the group, nor are they all in the same spot in the middle. It is probably sexist to make this a point, but all too often authors are incapable of making such subtle gradations so it is worth noting.

This deft handling of women characters should not make me jealous. I should simply enjoy a good story written by a good writer. But I know from personal experience how hard it is to write believable women so every ounce of joy I take in reading the exploits of the Rat Queens is faintly tainted by my jealousy of the skill with which Kurtis J. Wiebe writes them. Add to that the fact that the Rat Queens are also a fresh take on a classic D&D adventuring party made up of an elf sorceress, a dwarf fighter, a human cleric and a smidgen (apparently Halfling is too boring) thief and the book becomes an epic that is almost impossible to put down.

But maybe it will be easier to discuss the Rat Queens one by one. First is Hannah, a sort of elf Betty Page lookalike. Like all of the Rat Queens, she’s not just the pretty face she appears. In fact, she’s not an elegant, ethereal being her race would suggest but rather a foul mouthed hot head who fairly regularly attempts hair brained schemes that as often as not are a necessity because her big mouth has written a check her cute elf ass can’t cover. She also seems very young sometimes and subtly overwhelmed by the situations flying at her and the duty of leading the Rat Queens. Like most of the Rat Queens, both family and romantic issues haunt her. The former stems from the fact that her parents are necromancers and the latter stems from the fact that she has an on again off again romantic relationship with the captain of the town watch, a man who is often torn by his duty to the town and his interest in her.