There's nobody here but us chickens.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Murder in Samarkand pre-release

Craig Murray is releasing a book. In case you need reminding, he was the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan who spoke out against the Uzbek regime, notably its use of torture and murder against its own citizenry. Following this he was removed from his post after various allegations. Some reminders here, here, here. I should say that I've met him and found him both engaged and engaging.

The book is entitled Murder in Samarkand: A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of a Tyrannical Regime Within the War on Terror. Because of its controversial nature, its ultimate release rests on confidence in public interest. What this means is that pre-orders may contribute to it seeing the light of day. It can be found at and WHSmiths. Someone near to me has read a late draft and thoroughly recommends both the writing and the insights offered. If this is your kind of thing I recommend snagging a copy, and spreading the word.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Why I enjoy story games / rpgs - little cool things.

I'm brimming with ideas. I watch a movie, and think 'but what if?' I read a science article, and think 'the ramifications could be...' On the bus, thoughts coalesce with no apparent basis. This stuff leaks out all the time. I'm brimming with ideas, and I suffer for it. Why?

Because it's hard to do something with these ideas. Mostly because although I would love to expand and deepen what they are, for the most part they're not a high enough priority for this to happen. They're little things that make me go 'cool'. Rarely the idea is magnificent, and then I'm prepared to sink the time into it. Occasionally, a string of seemingly unrelated little ideas reveal a common theme, which might also encourage me to develop them. But most of the little cool things never gets anywhere.

For example, walking home today, an image struck me, of a Western (maybe US) bureaucrat's desk shadowed by a big poster depicting both Christ and Marx, looking sinister, with a tagline such as 'Jewish ideologies: a threat to our wellbeing!' Cool, and intriguing. Do I have a compelling story to base around it? Nah. And if I was going to develop something, there are other things that probably jazz me more in any case. Still, what a waste of a little cool thing!

With a story game I could sit around with some mates and sell them on the idea of an alternate Cold War where Christianity had also been rejected by the West. We can develop between us a type of story that might be exciting within these confines, and play together, developing the parts of this world that interest us and the aspects of story that excite us. I don't have to do work - it's not a painstaking project, it's a social game. I would probably be begging for a scene in a bureaucrat's office at the beginning, to introduce that jarring image and jazz everyone with it. Other people could riff off that to produce more cool stuff.

I want to note that the little cool thing doesn't need to produce a momentous cool thing to justify the game: bottom line, if the game was fun, it was all worth it, and if the li'l kewl ting contributed to our having fun at all then there's the bonus. Whereas if writing lead to no momentous cool thing, I'd be pretty ticked off at the wasted nights.

I think it would be cool and fun to make a story about pick up artists, or disabled conmen, or butlers who hate their masters, and all kinds of stuff that I would never want to pour my life into to make come alive.

Now I don't have to.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The lone stag stalks.... together?

My first stag weekend came and went, and verily, I am weary! Godspit, I'm clearly not getting any younger... but it was great sending Duncan off in some style. Nothing too much to say, a little karaoke, some fairly mild ritual shaming (to be honest, almost impossible with such an unflappable figure), shots, cheesy indie music, sake, far too little sleep, and paintballing.

I think the whole running in the woods with guns thing has unleashed something fairly primal in me, as I keep daydreaming key commando moments, and had an extended dream involving some kind of paintball war (and, I reluctantly add, some kind of Tolkeinesque faction of dwarves...). Frere Dodger was even more 'up in it', rescuing the flag and conducting madcore assaults on the enemy. As they say, "I'm just glad he's on our side."

Props to everyone there, and much love to Duncan. Next, wedding bells in Kyiv!!