Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ancient lore

Earlier this week I got this always recognizable itch, the need to delve into some kind of fantastic adventure, preferably through my fave hobby, roleplaying. But since our next Friday-Sunday session has been cancelled I had to resort to other methods to scratch that itch.
Looking through old RPG books only makes it itch more, but it is nice at the same time, imagining what I would do if I was a character in this adventure or that location.
However I needed to experience a fantasy story not just read about it, so I decided to play a CRPG. Trawling through a list of classics I suddenly realized I had never really played Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos, a venerable old school fantasy game that, if I remember correctly, was the spiritual successor to the classic Eye of the Beholder trilogy of games. Indeed, the gameplay is similar, but I don't remember why
I never played this one, despite being  a massive dungeon crawl fan. Maybe because it was simplified? Because I could not build my own party?
Anyway, this time I went for it, and the sheer nostalgia of the crude graphics alone was comforting. The plot in Lands of Lore is typical golden age CRPG style, that is, simple and quite ridiculous really, but it is only meant to provide a framework for the travels through dark forests and mines, one square at a time. Yes, it does not look or feel good to travel a forest that is basically a hedge maze - roaming the icy lands of Skyrim feels much more real - but there's something alluring about these old games anyway, and I believe it is simply the fact that they don't hold your hand (I don't want to tell how long I spent figuring out how to defeat the guardian of the Urbish Mine), yet are very easy to jump into for a moment or two when time allows. I am trying not to rush through the game by using walkthroughs et al, but sometimes I have to take a peak to eliminate time running in circles looking for an answer to some clue. It's a tale in which I hit the Save-button a lot, to avoid re-running large sections because I forgot to save and got killed by some nefarious monster jumping on my back. It is, in a way, the opposite of many of today's fantasy games, because it provides a challenge. A challenge in a fantasy environment ... scratches that itch I occasionally get from not having played tabletop RPGs for a while. 

Meanwhile, I am almost done with Ian C. Esslemont's Assail, I admit I have slowed down as my interest in the tale waned, as I shalt explain in a future review. I've been following the usual Westeros-related websites for news on anything that could hint at The Winds of Winter, ending up reading another batch of theories on this and that, reading an analysis of the possible future of Brienne and Jaime, and generally being unhappy that there's no news forthcoming. I am still utterly mesmerized by the fact we are getting a new Star Wars episode and spend too much time following news and rumors on it, and I still wish there were more hours in the day for all things geek. 

The next re-read post on A Storm of Swords should be up sometime during the weekend, hopefully. Kind of busy these days.


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