Nine Weeks Later (or something to that effect)
Oh, I had the best of intentions.
I’d started into the RPG a Day thing with the unshakable belief that I would be able to catch myself up, keep abreast of the topics, and finish out with a solid month of posting. And I had been making a pretty good show of it, overall, with multiple posts on some days and only the barest absence when visiting the in-laws.
And then I hit a weird sort of ironic reversal.
See, everything had been going well on the process of moving into the new place and getting settled in. We’d even made a point of going off to see the relatives with the ulterior motive of visiting the local Ikea for supplies and furniture to adorn the house. New chairs, consider a new couch, update a couple of things here and there. Nothing big, nothing terribly intrusive.
And down that list a little ways was the shelving that I’d be putting in one of the spare rooms. This would be the newly relocated Games Library. I’d mapped it out, mentally, with an eye on the display aspect of the room. See, the Library consists of literal hundreds, perhaps thousands of books. And my intention has always been to have access to my Library, for ease of use and reference, all while displaying it for my own mental well being.
And for most people, this is nothing to worry about overmuch. My cousins have their libraries in a corner of their dining room. Three shelves here, a chest high bookcase there. Not a problem to accommodate. One of my good friends took a wall of his basement and was able to store his rather expansive collection.
This becomes an issue when you’re staring down something like 54 banker’s boxes of RPG books, however. The room I had set aside was well sized, and even so, I was wondering if I would be able to manage it with an estimated 72 feet of shelf space. (By way of reference, the boxes I’m working with are actually slightly larger, measuring 16 inches or 40 centimeters, give or take. These can handle, at a glance, sixty-six of Paizo’s Adventure Path modules, with room left over for two hardcovers. With this in mind, my calculations circle right back around to being able to fit these 54 boxes into 72 feet of shelf space precisely.) Assuming that the banker’s boxes are the entirety of my gaming collection (they are not) and I would stop buying RPG books upon completion of my shelving (this has never been my intention), I’ll be set perfectly.
Add to this the sheer weight of the books in question (I believe the boxes clocked in at close to 40 lbs. or 18 kilos for the heaviest) on a shelf that would be able to handle perhaps half that weight without problem, and the whole enterprise becomes something of an exercise in logistics and probabilities. I had researched brackets and techniques for the necessity of supporting this particular load and come to a solution, more or less. Having wanted a particular aesthetic and construction, I’d zeroed in on the way that I figured would work best. Now, it was just a matter of getting lumber and settling down to work.
… and it was about this point that I realized that the floor was starting to rot out.
The long and short of this was that the room in question was a late addition to the house, and the construction thereof was … shall we say, questionable. Inquiry led to investigation, which in turn led to tearing out the floor and pouring a new slab. Very little of the existing structure of the floor was salvageable, and this led to the inevitability of delay based on simple economics. Rather than simply buying lumber for shelves, I was now faced with several yards of concrete and the construction of a new floor over that. These are things that add up.
It also led to some fascinating introspection. While I am wholly capable of raking concrete and operating an auto-trowel, these are not things that I have skill in or interest in cultivating as talents in my life. It is dirty, grueling work, and the end result that I am living with is less than perfection. It’s not enough for me to regret or lament, but let’s just say that rolling a marble across the surface would yield some extremely interesting results. Now that plywood and carpeting has been lain over that, it’s far less noticeable, but I’m wholly aware of the imperfections.
So, yeah. I can swing a hammer and smooth out cement, but I’m much more practiced and comfortable behind a keyboard or with a pen in hand.
Now that the new carpet is in place, I’m back to where I was when I reluctantly abandoned my updates; as soon as money becomes applicable, I’ll set about putting up shelves and getting things arranged to be able to give my Library a home. It’s only taken me close to two months to return to this point of having apparently accomplished nothing.
In the interim, I’ve managed to lay hands on a couple of interesting items.
My rewards for the Ryuutama Kickstarter finally arrived. When I’d happened past the IPR booth at GenCon this year, one of the guys had assured me that the shipment of books from China was due to arrive the following week. No idea if this was the case, but I’m not going to begrudge the time taken to get it to me, given that I assume the logistics were mainly handled by one guy. I had put in for a green leatherette and a normal copy of the book, and both are amazing. I barely touched the limited one, given that it’s going to go on a shelf mainly for display, choosing instead to delve into the normal copy.
Sidenote: I actually met the original designer, Okuda, at GenCon one of the previous years. He was being squired around by one of the translators, Andy Kitkowski, and I had wished I’d had something for Okuda to sign for me. Alas. I managed to get Andy to sign a reference card for Tenra Bansho Zero, which was nice. I was actually in the IPR booth this last time picking up the hardcover limited of TBZ when I learned about the Ryuutama shipment.
Reading through Ryuutama this time, I’m struck by how wide a range of plots and games could be generated from the base that’s given. There are obvious Lord of the Rings ideas lurking around the edges (fortunately, Cube 7’s The One Ring RPG delves into the journey aspect of the books as a primary mechanic), but nearly every fantasy story deals with the themes of a journey in some way or another. Immediate and obvious examples are book series like A Song of Ice and Fire, Alan Dean Foster’s Spellsinger series, and Piers Anthony’s Xanth series, to add to Tolkien. Hells, Joseph Campbell was name checked by George Lucas for this idea, tracing the Heroic Journey back into myth and legend.
See, my original intent was to finally run a game based on the Legend of Mana ideas I’ve been letting bounce around my head for the past decade, but now I feel like that would be inspiration rather than hardwired source. Now I could see weirdness like an Akairyuu (red dragon) game of war and conflict where the characters are soldiers of a vanquished army that have to return to their homes across the desolation of a wartorn countryside. Where Ryuutama is sold as being the vaguely pastoral and heartwarming Japanese fantasy RPG, the Dragon of Journeys is only one of the four archetypes presented in the book. A reworking of the themes of Twilight 2000 in eastern fantasy is completely within the scope of the game.