Friday, February 19, 2021

After the Orange Emperor - And Some Reviews

 "Twilight of the Orange Emperor" was actually the name of a (very very brief) Google Plus campaign that I started when Trump announced his candidacy. At that time, I think we all thought it hilarious and a scam. And (let us breathe deep and recognize) it was a scam, but much more dangerous than we anticipated, let's agree or not I don't care. There's a problem with letting a toxic, self-interested narcissist run your space - it becomes about them, and about making money, and about them making money. Community be damned.

So, IIRC correctly, there was giant Ivana Trump Sorayama-style chrome-combiner robot, hideous mutant cyborg shocktroops, rebellious greaser mechanics, collectible canned sandwiches (don't laugh it's a real thing and god bless Jarrett C. who I miss dearly), and a thrilling hotrod car chase to grandma's house and we agreed it was a blast. And then it dawned on us, I think, that the guy was serious, and then G+ shuttered, and then... I don't know to be Frank, and let's be Frank shall we, Frank? My ninth chakra and mystic eye was closed, and peering easily into the Dreamlands became frightful and hideous, and sleep has been fitful.

I'm not saying a new day has dawned because Ewok orgies give way to brooding Fascism and bigger death stars, yeah? But when the Evil is vanquished a bit, it's time to get back to work. That's what all those movies I watched as a kid have told me.

Americana. I feel like the genre of Americana-gaming is ripe for an even bigger4 explosion at the moment - you just watch. Now Trump is gone and other (ahem) toxic personalities have subsided we will be able to fulfill our Manifest Destiny of RPGing - we turned away from L Frank Baum and the promise of Oz to focus on dreary Pseudo-Tolkienisms for the past, oh, I don't know. 60 years? Casually discarding a jillion capable American (particularly American women) scifi/fantasy authors to focus on the post-WW2 histrionics of Tolkien was a disservice to us all. I think I bought a copy of a 5th edition DnD Americana-based thing that is really cranked up to 11 on the parody (lots of Trump and, uh, Clinton)

Speaking of Americana, I Kickstarted my esteemed associate Tim Deschene's zine from last year "One of Us". There's been a fun trickle of stuff in my Americana awareness of late. Erik Jensen's The Lumberlands zine came out in the same batch of Zinequest 2 and arrived in my box a few weeks ago and is pretty terrific. More on that, later, probably. I can recall the Morgenzursturm the Manticore thing from a couple of years ago, David Baity's old west setting, and Eric and Carl's Black Magic Black Powder DCC setting. Not to mention The Shudder Mountain/Chained Coffin thing that Goodman Games put out back a few years ago was terrific. Listen: give up on the elfs and the dwarfs and the dragons n such and embrace the Tin Man and the Scarecrow and etc etc etc. I'm gratified in that I have run in the circles of these folks and nibbled on the edges of the pizza, some. 

It's Tim and One of Us is pretty fun, but the zine is a bit of a taste teaser. It feels fairly dense for a couple of dozen 6:9 ratio pages... The art is terrific. Essentially ONE OF US hints at that Freaks movie from way way back, and indeed the setting is focused on a travelling circus full of servants of The Madame wandering around, doing her will. A nice set up for a campaign. There are 100 new 0-level funnel occupations (Dust Bowl inspired), two new Classes (Strong-person and 'Natural Wonder' or mutant), the patron write-up for The Madame (without the d3 themed spells that the DCC kids love these days and are IMHO tedious to write) and some very evocative monsters. I've accidentally and coincidentally been on a 3.5e Ravenloft kick lately so this all feels very ominous...

MOre later - sadly my head not entirely in RPGs these days (I'm on an electronics and music kick that distracts me)

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