I’ve also recently done some work with The Sundering, the big Forgotten Realms story event announced at GenCon this year. I’m afraid I can’t say much about my part in the Sundering, since my contribution hasn’t been announced yet. But I think it’s some pretty interesting stuff, and I pulled in a ton of old Realmslore to piece it all together.
Gaming: One of my favorite distractions to engage in is the “What game would I create if I could do anything I wanted?” I have this idea that if I ever win the lottery, I’ll establish a little gaming company that has no particular purpose other than to do things I’m interested in, and provide me with a dozen or so hours of great gaming every week. We’d print a couple of games a year, and to hell with whether they make money or not—remember, in this scenario I’m already rich because I won the lottery. Anyway, here are three things I’d like to do, Just Because.
7th Fleet 2013: I’m a huge fan of Victory Games’ old “Fleet” titles – 2nd Fleet, 6th Fleet, etc. Speaking as a former naval officer, they had pretty high sim value. And speaking as a fan of strategy games, they had some really elegant mechanics for organizing the game turn, handling formation defense, and dealing with detection as a critical part of modern naval warfare. Well, the bad news is that all of those games were focused on the Soviet Union as the primary adversary, and the most recent of them is now close to 20 years out of date. So what I want to see is an updated 7th Fleet that zeroes in on East Asia—the South China Sea, the East China Sea, the Korean peninsula—and takes a serious hard look at China’s navy and all the new assets for the USN, the PLAN, and Japan’s MDF. Believe it or not, I don’t think this would be that hard to do; the basic game engine is fine, all you need to do is work up a new map, produce a new order of battle, stat out some new units, and think up some interesting scenarios.
War at Sea 1914: I’m also a big fan of the old Avalon Hill titles War at Sea and Victory in the Pacific. I’d love to work up a strategic game based on that engine to cover the confrontation of the Triple Entente and Central Powers navies. I think it would be a blast to play for control of the North Sea, the Dardanelles, the Baltic, and the Adriatic. It would be especially interesting if some events like Italian belligerence were not a given; the Austrian fleet looks a lot tougher if the Italians aren’t involved. A few blog posts back, I speculated about good task force rules for Victory in the Pacific; it would be pretty cool to put ‘em in play here. Not being guaranteed of bringing your whole line of battle into play would make the North Sea standoff a lot more interesting. Again, the game engine is there: All you have to do is figure out the order of battle and provide very simple stats for a whole lot of dreadnoughts.
A Coherent Campaign Setting: One of my big regrets about my time with TSR and Wizards of the Coast is that the company abandoned the idea of creating new worlds. On the very rare occasions when new worlds were created, there was so much riding on the concept that creatively we felt obligated to try to include something for everybody. It’s sort of pre-kitchen-sinking your setting, and I think it really dilutes the clarity and usability of the work. Someday I’m going to sit down and write up a campaign setting that stays on message and delivers the hell out of a single design vision. Worlds like Al-Qadim, Dark Sun, and Planescape did that; some other worlds don’t. I often argued that Wizards of the Coast ought to publish a decent, middle-of-the-fairway standard medieval fantasy world again, just to see if people were interested in seeing new iterations of that sort of idea. But I never could talk ‘em into it.
Anyway, there are three games I want to do someday. I’ve got a few more on the list, but those are the ones I occasionally design in my head when I’m stuck in traffic or walking the dog.
Politics/Current Events: I had an interesting conversation with my wife and daughters the other day. Here’s the lead-in: Are the Boy Scouts of America a hate group because they exclude gays? There are a lot of people who would unequivocally answer that question “Yes.” I’m not so sure. I think in America we seem to be forgetting what REAL hate groups look like, and what sorts of things they do. Are Boy Scout troops hiding in alleyways, waiting to lynch gays? Are they burning down gay-owned businesses? Are they burning crosses on the lawns of gays’ homes? That’s what real hate looks like. If you throw around terms like “hate group” or “racist” and use them on everybody you disagree with, you dilute the meaning of the words. To put it another way: When everyone is a hate group, no one is a hate group.
I think the Boy Scouts are more wrong than right, since I don’t think anyone should be worked up about gays in 21st century America. But they’re a private organization, and I wouldn’t call them a hate group just because they don’t hold the opinion I do.
The Finer Things: I’ve only watched a couple of episodes so far, but Longmire on A&E is a darned good television show. Robert Taylor plays the sheriff; other cast members include Lou Diamond Phillips and Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica). I’ve always had a soft spot for Westerns; it’s nice to see a good crime drama with interesting characters set out west. Check out an episode or two, and see if you agree!