Previous Entry Share Next Entry
smartest guys in the room?
hattifattener
richardthinks
Nintendo's shares drop to a 5 year low on unveiling the next-generation Wii.

The report keeps it upbeat, says folks didn't know what to make of the iPad when it first appeared. OTOH, that's got to be soul-destroying for the people who worked on it.

Like the rest of the world, I'm still trying to figure out what separates the good kind of evocative game setting writing from the bad. Here's an example of good, for reference: Land of Nod's intro to its Chinese flavoured city.

This is the Tolkien that somehow never makes it into game supplements or OSR discussions. Even though there's abundant evidence for it in the source material. Medieval America indeed.

  • 1
Here's an example of good, for reference:

And yet I find it so mediocre, at first I thought you weren't being serious.

it ain't literature, but it makes me want to keep reading. Over in RPG writing I find that's a big step above average.

Nothing about the Bronze Rooster description says "fantasy setting" to me (unless the "fierce bronze roosters" are literally fierce, i.e. magical constructs that will peck your eyes out for looking at them funny); it reads like subpar travel prose until the jarring un-Chinese name of the proprietor reminds me it's being thrown together from scraps the writer has around the house. If that's a "step above average", well then, Gygax wept.

Gygax made me weep plenty of times. Now I'm imagining a Conde Nast Traveler or J. Peterman catalogue treatment of the Vault of the Drow.

It's a bit peculiar that 'medieval America' seems to refer to (distant) Tolkien descendants, as opposed to...Tekumel? Talislantia? Jorune? Can I throw Glorantha in there...and then be offended on behalf of the US gaming community that created all those settings?

well, it depends who you're going to be offended at, I guess. I was commenting on the surprisingly satisfying mashup of Tolkien and Ginsberg, the sympathy between alienations that, apparently, WW1 and mid-century American life could engender.

I do also use the term "medieval America" in something like the way I think the post author uses it, to mean the world we know and inhabit lazily given a light cod-medieval post-Tolkienian gloss. I also use the term to mean a particular kind of expansionist, ordering ideology that you find in colonial literature, Manifest Destiny tracts and "points of light" settings, which in general I strongly dislike exactly because of their particular historical roots (cf my recent post on Udemans).

The fact that Tekumel etc were written by American authors is a separate issue. They're not "medieval America," any more than Middle Earth is medieval Britain or South Africa (although the latter's an interesting question) because they take pains to depict something other than the country where they happened to be written.

So by 'medieval America' you mean something like 'fantasy medieval-renaissance-enlightenment-industrial Europe'.

I thought I was the only one who collapsed America and Europe around here: the country's creation myth pretty much demands a critical difference, doesn't it? Born free and this land is my land and no kings and all that?

But yes. By 'medieval America' I mean a fantasy version of post-industrial Europe, through which you can see a re-enactment of fantasies of industrial, colonial-expansionist Europe, all of this tied up with a self-conscious (fantastical) othering of Europe, where Europe is imagined to be distant, foreign and authentically rooted in some sort of "native tradition" identified with a vague pre-enlightenment time when people thought wee folk were real and magic was in the woodwork (exactly when this time finishes for Americans who identify as Irish is left as an exercise for the reader).

This time of legends does not admit to any kind of chronology, but it seems to be incompatible with gunpowder, which might be too recognisable a part of the colonial project. It is compatible with hotels, restaurants, adventurers' general stores, industrial steel production and very common precious metals, however.

On rereading I see better where you're coming from with the 'points of light' business. My internal model of the generic D&D campaign is more of a post-holocaust (i.e. post black plague) continent; North America lacks abandoned castles, after all (with the exception of, e.g., Detroit, Gary, etc.)

Maybe 'medieval modernity' would work.

...I slipped the precious metals in because they remind me of El Dorado, which emphasizes the way Europeans placed their fantasies in the Americas, and the way gold rushes collapse the time between the Civil War and Cortez into a kind of American time of legends. Really I guess it would take a whole essay to spell out what I think is going on here.

  • 1
?

Log in