Reading the Numenera (Core Rulebook) by Monte Cook

I know I’m pretty late to the party, but I’m trying to take notes as I read different RPG books, in part to sort of collect my thoughts about them. Numenera‘s already got a new (backwards-compatible) edition, so I’m really behind the curve, but I’m behind the curve on everything these days, and if I let that stop me, I’d never post anything here. So, here are my thoughts on the Numenera core rulebook, loaned to me long ago by my amazingly patient friend Justin Howe

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Blades in the Dark, Round 2: The Rescue of Belle Brogan

We had our second session of Blades in the Dark earlier this week. Good time, though I am still trying to figure out a better approach to playing: my characters tend to be a fair bit more confrontational, while others tend to play theirs in a more cagey manner—and you can guess who racks up the stress by doing that.  Not that I want to revert to a more cagey approach to play, but I think it might be good if I can wrap my head around the sneakier, trickier stuff, and the tactic of standing back and waiting for a more obvious and advantageous opening. 

That said, today’s mission was did not only end successfully, but also resulted in the addition of some points to our crew’s advancement track… and all the player characters survived! We also gained some rep, which is nice. We settled on the Radicals playbook (originally posted here) for our crew—whom we’ve called “The Cinder Brigade”—so we’re playing outright revolutionaries who’re fighting against the pernicious influence of a semi-secret society of horrifically exploitative and monstrous, but powerful and well-connected, factory owners known as “The Glitters.” (We borrowed bits and pieces from the Anarchists crew type, like their prioritization of “Rep” over “Coin,” for example.)

I continue to be impressed with the game system: the dice mechanics are pretty straightforward once you get used to them, the resource economy is brutal, and on the player side, I expect there’s a kind of thrill to finding your feet in the system—adopting a kind of fluidity that allows you to let go of preconceptions and get stuff done. Two sessions in, I know that it’s often my own failure to adapt to unanticipated circumstances (and “stick to the plan” in my head) that holds my characters back. I’m going to try be more of a blank slate when it comes to strategy next time, I think… and also, less in-your-face with our crew’s antagonists, because playing in that more confrontational way seems to cost my characters a lot more stress and injury, and seems to jeopardize every score more than sneakiness otherwise might do.       

For those interested, here’s how the score went:

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Blades in the Dark, Session 1

A few weeks ago, I got my copy of John Harper’s Blades in the Dark, but I set it aside because I was reading the copy of the Numenera rulebook that my friend Justin Howe loaned me an embarrassingly long time ago. However, by happenstance it turned out that Justin and I realized a Blades in the Dark game would be possible when someone I know on Twitter, M.R. (@ageekinkorea) expressed an interest in playing. So last week, I grabbed the rulebook off the shelf and, slowly, started reading it. 

I don’t have a great handle on the system yet, but I think it’s pretty cool. I’ll say more about that below. First, though, I’ll summarize our first session, which we played last night. 

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Blogging Pound’s The Cantos: Cantos LXIX and LXX

This entry is part 55 of 55 in the series Blogging Pound's The Cantos

Pound CantosThis post is one in a series of readings I’m posting of each poem in Ezra Pound’s The Cantos, one (or a few) at a time. The readings are atypical, for reasons made clear in my first post in this series. I’m not sure whether the fiction project that inspired this series will ever come to fruition, but I’d like to try finish the Cantos just the same.

There’s also an (updated) index of all the Cantos (and related sources) I’ve discussed so far.

This is my second post on the Cantos after returnint to them following an eight month break. I do hope to finish the Adams Cantos by sometime this summer, since there’s only three left—not two, as I’d stated when I last posted in this series—including this one. Then I’ll be into the Pisan Cantos. I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to reach them, but I kept bouncing on the Chinese and Adams Cantos. Like many people, I suspect. 

Today’s post will be exclusively text, because I am sick and don’t have the energy to dig up the usual accompanying images. Perhaps at some point I’ll return and redress that. 

This post brings me one Canto closer to Pisa, so without further delay… 

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“The Peppers of GreenScallion,” and More

This entry is part 69 of 69 in the series SF in South Korea

Among the many wonderful things included in the June 2019 issue of Clarkesworld, you may find two things of interest to those following Korean SF, or my own work as a cotranslator with Jihyun Park.

The first is a translation of Myung-Hoon Bae’s “The Peppers of GreenScallion,”translated through the efforts of Jihyun Park and myself. It’s a story about war, systemic failures, bureaucratic nonsense, food, and love. We’re very proud of it, especially given the fact that it turned out to be a lot more fiendishly subtle than we originally realized: little things throughout proved challenging to translate, including an almost-completely untranslatable pun that meta-referentially calls out an infamous mistranslation.

Second, the issue contains an interview I did with Korean SF author/translator/powerhouse Soyeon Jeong, in which she discusses things like what it was like to grow up as part of Korean SF fandom in the early 2000s, challenges faced by SF authors, the genesis of her story “The Flowering” (which was in Clarkesworld back in April), and more. 

Besides that, there’s lots of other great stuff, too, so it’s worth going and checking out the whole issue

If you dig this stuff, think about supporting Clarkesworld either with a subscription (Amazon.com | Itunes | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Weightless Books) or by pledging at the magazine’s Patreon!