²1988 Steve Marsh

P.O.Box 2552

Wichita Falls, TX 76307

Comments on TWH 133

Mark Swanson: I recall doing a zine and a series of letters on the subject of whither The Wild Hunt and what we should do to control the direction. It saddens me to see the way the apazine has continued to shrink (copy count down to 90). I really wish that some of those who have dropped their subscriptions would write and comment on why they left and what would have kept them in.

A year from now I would suggest switching over to a BBS system. One week a month the BBS would accept zines in batch format. One week a month the BBS would download the entire file in batch mode to all callers. Put a watchdog in high RAM to hold on to the system interrupts and to dump any system calls (i.e. no reformatting of the hard disk by input zines) and have the manager do a quick edit for objectionable zines, and we'd have an automated Hunt.

All it takes is access to modems (or floppy disks and the postal service) and computers by all the writers in TWH. My guess is that within a year that will be all of us. Running the batches at night (so as to keep charges low and the residential use of the phone unimpaired) would mean that the only load on the BBS manager would be hard disk space.

Until then, I think we can hold on.

John T. Sapienza, Jr.: I like the idea of making the clerical spells a subset of the magical ones (along with the other various possible subsets -- such as illusionists). TSR appears to be taking a different route -- they are doing a series of subsets for the cleric.

If I don't know the rules I keep the sense of wonder. Part of that is that I refuse to play (for any period of time) with bad GMs (most of my playing time was under Sandy Petersen who made any set of rules work) and part that what I don't know, doesn't hurt my play.

Robert & Ruie Clifford: I really enjoy the stories. Please keep them coming.

My reading about Ninjas was mostly done in the 1970s. I wanted to have some in my character's service. My GM (Sandy Petersen) went out and read some too. The fact about Ninjas that stuck out in his reading was just how easily bribed they are (a fair number of stories feature a Samurai tracking down a Ninja who was paid off by his target.)

David Dunham: The average law professor . . . Win says that I should point out that most successful practicing attorneys make more than most law professors. I'd say two or three times as much. At least. But the average is lower. Just like the average adventurer in a "stock" D&D campaign has negative net income (he dies early and loses it all). Some are more successful than that.

I did a point system TRAVELLERS that was similar to GURPS. The idea is that each player gets a "fairly" balanced character to play with -- not that the disadvantages reflect any "real world" trade-offs. In such systems there is always the question of whether or not players should have to "buy" successes "earned" during play and whether or not they should get points for disadvantages. Keep everyone posted on how you finally resolve the question (and why).

Marc Willner: A friend of my wife's does a cartoon series (in San Diego) featuring Otters. If you keep up your story, I'll try to get copies of some of them for you (as sort of a pay-off. I really like the stories.)


GURPS HUMANX: Ever since Mark Swanson suggested play in Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth I've been thinking about the idea. And ever since I saw the SJG (Steve Jackson Games) book, I've thought of buying it.

Good points: The rules are complete. You can get a job, buy food, travel the Commonwealth, study Commonwealth history of note (i.e. get a synopsis of all of the books) and use the index. Decent index.

Bad points: The psionics do not use the terms used in the books and are not true to the system portrayed in the books. The rules also achieve a "neutral" tone (nice, but not "Fosterish"). Many scenarios are suggested but only one completed. It is entirely soft-keyed. Complete soft keying leaves me cold -- I feel like I have not accomplished anything. Now, if I didn't know better . . .

+/-: The rules do not cover a fair number of "technical details." I.e. what kind of power (in kilowatt hours) does a starship produce, what do the crew members of a "tramp steamer" (err, "tramp freighter") actually do, what is "partially automated?!" (requires two pilots?), etc.

The rules also do not contain much in the way of "new" information not contained in the books.

Rating: not inspiring. If Brian McCue does a "Fosterish" write-up (like his "Vanciful" one) I might regain interest. For now, bottom of the drawer.

Compare with Ringworld by Chaosium. More text in every description, more details, psionics system was completely true to the milieu. Biggest flaw was that the rules did not address non-Ringworld scenarios in any degree.

Heck, Ringworld inspired me to roll up characters, do scenarios, design spaceships and to hack the rules. Gurps Humanx did not.

Note, Freedom in the Galaxy, now by Avalon Hill, now $12.00 in fine stores everywhere (its been discounted after Christmas), is better the second time around. The mechanics are better than I remembered (though some of the "background" is just as bad). Useful if you are planning a Star Wars campaign and want something to generate plot background on a strategic scale.

It also has the advantage that most players will not have copies of it.

Heck, use it for a Travellers or Ringworld/Runes in Space game rules setting. You can always skip the tacky background & such and just use the mechanics.

Poul Anderson The Game of Empire, Baen Books, $3.50, 278 pages. A new Flandry novel.

When all the trash novels came out in the TOR book editions I quit reading Anderson. A couple of gags and ghuus, and I couldn't face another Anderson novel. --It was really a pity as Anderson used to be my favorite author.

This book puts him back on the shelf. Not as biting or emotional, it is a solid and well executed novel about Dominic Flandry's bastard daughter. Well done.

Melissa Scott The Empress of Earth, Baen Books, $3.50, 346 pages.

This is a book in a setting after my own heart. Imagine a world where space ships fly by means of alchemy and magic. Logically developed from that point with a neoArabic setting (not Arabic, but derived from Arab culture just as the Dune series was).

The book can be enjoyed without any of the prior novels (I enjoyed it a great deal and have not read any of them) and is the last of the set. It tells the tale of the first female magician and pilot and of her quest to open the ultimate star road. The majority of the novel is spent on plot development or descriptive passages that are a clear part of the story. I'm considering subscribing to Locus purely on the quality of the review Locus did of this author.

Patricia A. McKillip Fool's Run, Questar, $3.95, 244 pages.

Questar novels are usually overpriced for the size and pretty heavy into low grade science fantasy. Patricia McKillip's recent novels (the "Moon" series) have been pretty low key, mild stories.

Fool's Run blows the socks off of both trends. Hot, without being cyberpunk, the novel runs on several levels of human understanding, belonging and need.

Warren C. Norwood True Jaguar, Bantam, $3.95, 324 pages (seems like more).

Warren C. Norwood lives in Weatherford, Texas -- soon to be immortalized in my first published federal decision (I won the case). He also wrote the Windhover Tapes series -- very soft Science Fantasy that was just too well written to escape.

His latest novel is neoMayan. A refreshing motif after all of the neoCeltic material I've read recently. Even more since I am working on a Fantasy Champions campaign setting in that motif.

In the novel a reluctant hero goes through the steps of an ancient Mayan story cycle. The hero descends into hell, accepts his name and self, and faces the lords of death. Not bad. I would have preferred a little bit less of a reluctant hero, but Norwood can execute unbelievable things (i.e. "Fizz of the Gabriel Ratchets" comes out without a snigger in an earlier book).

Tom Deitz Fireshaper's Doom, Avon (?!), $3.50, 306 pages.

(For those of you who want information reviews)

Coming of age, maturing of love, defining of self story in a Celtic setting. Current milieu, new story using old characters (i.e. Lugh, Fionchadd, etc.). Extrapolates magical rules correctly and well. No deus ex machina levels of power or characters. Satisfied?

Chris Claremont FirstFlight. Not recommended.

Of course the female lead gets a mohawk haircut, the male lead gets claws and the bad guys use an antimatter warhead so large that a shuttlecraft intercepts it so that it doesn't have the mass of an asteroid to feed on.

Chris Claremont writes the X-Men for Marvel Comics. It shows. The story is well paced, quick and active. The "technical" details (hard science details?) are woefully poor.

If you just want a great piece of light reading, no critical faculties engaged, it is a great book. Otherwise . . . all the homosexuals exiled in space because of the AIDS problem on Earth . . . chess grandmasters growing on trees . . . fusion, fission and anti-matter warheads all from the same ship . . . extras die like flies.

Robert Howard Son of the White Wolf.

NeoAryan Race Hero cuts through evil arab hordes the world over. Well, not quite, but you get the drift. It contains the original of at least one Sprague deCamp Conan pastiche. Will make you appreciate deCamp.

Again, great light reading, but . . .

Speaking of the aryan race (the fictional one, not the guys that live in India), I've run into a group that puts the KKK to shame. Neopagan white supremacists. You too can join in the worship of the old norse gods as the saviors of the white race. Ghuu. If that obscene stuff wasn't coming to me in the mail . . . Anyway, I'm convinced that P.E.I. Bonewits really missed out when he said that monotheism was the source of all evil. He ought to meet our local neopagans.

Makes me mad everytime I think of that feces defiling my post office box.

Marksman, Hero Comics, Steve Perrin.

I bought this because I like Steve Perrin. Took a good deal of looking to find the comic. It is ok. Artwork, inking and color is easily acceptable professional quality. The characters would have been above average in the 1960s - 1970s.

For $1.95, buy it if you are interested in the "official" Champions universe, if you are a Hero Games fan, or if you would like to see a real advertisement for "Nasty Naughty Nazi Ninja Nudnik Elves."

I suspect that the characterizations will smooth out, the art improve and the consistency pick up. Check the title out in a year.

Martian Manhunter, DC, DeMatteis & Badger, $1.25, 24 story pages.

The best of the "new style and new format" comics. Symbolically stretched artwork, minimalist, but clear and complete. I'd call it successful evolution. If the rest of the series holds up this should be a real keeper.

Write D.C. Comics Subscriptions, P.O.Box 1985 Dept. L-10, NY, NY, 10185.

Champions, Hero Comics, (issues 1, 2, and 4).

You can subscribe, order copies, from Hero Comics, 6433 California Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90805.

The Rose in this series is a bit different from the Rose in Marksman. She has different hair length, different attitudes and a different focus. Marksman appears to be the same. The others are not in both series (yet).

The series includes characters & bad guys you can use in your campaign. While the artwork is up to "professional" standards, it could use better use of perspective, better use of shading and focal points. Oh, in wrestling a take-down is worth two points -- just like a reversal.

I should note that issue 4 shows better graphic values. It is what gives me the feeling that Marksman will be looking sharp in about a year.

In my private TWH supplement (for the missing issue) I have already reviewed Glen Cook's latest, An Ill Fate Marshaling, which is all that his last novel should have included. Suffice it to say that a friend wrote and gave as an excuse for getting his Christmas cards out late that he had bought the book -- and I had to agree that was a good excuse for a delay. Well done.

Win has a new cat that we adopted from the neighbors when they moved. Puff is furry and friendly and wants to eat the pet bird. Alot of love and purrs.

Essay on Apazines

Most Apazines in a fandom start when the fandom is young. They are an exuberant place to share the excitement and energy of discovering a new vista on life. The focus tends to be on (1) minutia and (2) stories. In D&D/FRPG that translates into rules and write-ups.

TWH is interesting because it has matured without going bust. I have not seen a spell point discussion for years.

If this has started you thinking, complete this essay yourself. I'm curious to see how each person feels it should end.

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