Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Taste for Nostalgia: Frustrated Fandom

I've posted before about how pursuing aspects of geek fandom could be a difficult chore growing up in the Philippines during the 70s. Although, having read the anthology of anecdotes by Rob Kelly (Hey Kids, Comics!) and listening to gaming and comic book podcasts, I realize that my experience was far from rare -- even to residents in the U.S.

For me, frustrated fandom took many forms: comic books that I only encountered sporadically, science fiction / fantasy novels, RPGs and related books and gear, TV shows and movies from different countries, mostly from the U.S. and the U.K., etc. Fandom in these areas was frustrated due to numerous reasons:
  • economic issues (not enough money, or statospherically priced objects of desire)
  • accessibility (no stock -- often a lack of awareness that such things existed, distance to store, being allowed to travel t, store closing down, selection)
  • constant travel or moving (comic book collections take up storage and luggage space)
  • family resistance (fortunately, I didn't get this much)

I can only speak for myself, of course. Though I've seen the same thing with others -- not being able to go after what I want as a kid somehow comes back as a mad collector fever. I would try to be compleatist and pick up copies of anything remotely related to my current obsession.

This is, of course, different from the actual collection obsession tied to something new. Like the 3rd Edition of D&D or the Fading Suns books when they first came out.

Some objects of my deferred collection obsessions were:
  • D&D Gazetteers
  • the complete run of The New Teen Titans
  • all the Babylon 5 DVDs
  • the complete run of Grimjack
  • all MechaPress issues
  • Mayfair's DC Heroes Sourcebooks
  • the complete run of Nexus
  • all the episodes of I-Spy
  • all the episodes of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  • every Sapphire & Steel episode
  • Fading Suns sourcebooks and war games
Ah, but it takes up too much space (and eats up too much money)!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Armchair Review: The Third Doctor Sourcebook

And the Third Doctor Sourcebook is out. And I am once again that young Filipino boy in the 70s and early 80s of the Philippines who would excitedly find a book about a TV show that I liked from the U.S. or U.K. in local bookstores normally dominated by non-SF/Fantasy stuff.

The Third Doctor, played by Pertwee, is the earliest doctor that I've been able to watch during those PBS pledge nights for KTEH in the California Bay Area -- so I'm especially stoked!

This sourcebook once again underscores the key elements of the featured doctor's personality, how it differs from prior incarnations, how it affected the stories and adventures of the Doctor and his Companions.

Here's an excerpt:
By contrast, the Third Doctor is less a renewal and more of a reboot. He is an active crusader against evil, utilising not only his wits but his martial skills as well. Neither of his previous incarnations took the fight to his enemies so directly. The Third Doctor also has a flair for fashion and a love of gadgets, particularly vehicles. He is not a reluctant hero or an underestimated schemer; he’s an action hero.
Another benefit of this concisely-written, well-laid out book in the series is an example of how initial ideas in revamping an ongoing campaign (especially a Doctor Who campaign) can impact future adventures. There's also a lot of material concerning U.N.I.T. campaigns, making this a great companion sourcebook to the DWAITAS U.N.I.T. Sourcebook.

Finally, fans of the series: will get writeups and history on The Third Doctor, the Brigadier, insights on how to craft a campaign with (most) adventures set on earth, the treatment of earth as a prison for a normally time-and-space spanning campaign, episode synopses with lots of adventure ideas and crunchy bits for villains and NPCs! A must-have for Doctor Who and DWAITAS fans.

R.I.P. Vic Cabazor

A friend, Vic Cabazor, passed away this morning due to a stroke.

In the recent half-decade, we just didn't see him as often due to changes in life schedules, but he was one of the anchors of the local gaming organizations (A.E.G.I.S.) and the local Sci-Fi / Fantasy organizations (New Worlds).

One of his major impacts on our life: being the selfless engine behind the monthly Gaming Meets that merged the wargamers and the role-playing gamers and the larger SF/Fantasy fandom.

Rest in peace, Vic and thanks for all the blood, sweat, and tears for the community.

The pic above is Vic doing some of his voice acting work -- which I did not know about until I googled for a picture of him just this morning. Just goes to show that people are always changing, growing, and have many, many facets, just like the dice we roll from time to time.

Another Lens: Halloween & All Saints

Playing with expectations -- especially cultural ones -- is always something I like to do in RPGs, particularly ones that are set in worlds and times other than our own. I often dip into my experiences stemming from living in the U.S. in the past, and living here in the Philippines now. The thing is, until you have that experience of being in a very different place -- sometimes a different country, sometimes just across the tracks, sometimes at your friend's household -- you don't realize something's out of the ordinary.

So here's another post on something that might be lifted for local color in your setting (perhaps on some world in the setting of Fading Suns).


The Halloween experience (costumes, kids trick or treating, etc.) is a relatively new experience in the Philippines. When growing up, my knowledge about this type of celebration came primarily from all the TV shows and movies imported from the U.S. via our local channels and the stuff we watch on Betamax (that's right, Betamax was THE format in the Philippines when I was growing up).

Our knowledge of this time of year growing up was mostly about the All Saints / All Souls days. Can you imagine what it might be like to be at that transition point when the commercial marketing aspect of a formerly solemn (well, not really, more on that later) holiday takes over?

You can have traditionalists clashing with the newer generation, you can have the day traditionally saved for preparations for All Saints / All Souls suddenly usurped by what might be considered another holiday. Like having Thanksgiving the day before Christmas Eve and Christmas.

All Saints' Day

Here's what Wikipedia currently has to say about All Saints' Day in the Philippines:
Hallowmas in the Philippines is variously called "Undas" (based on the word for "[the] first"), "Todos los Santos" (literally "All Saints"), and sometimes "Áraw ng mga Patáy" (lit. "Day of the Dead"), which refers to the following day of All Souls' Day but includes it. Filipinos traditionally observe this day by visiting the family dead, often cleaning and repairing them. Offerings of prayers, flowers, candles, and even food are made, while Filipino-Chinese additionally burn incense and kim. Many also spend the day and ensuing night holding reunions at the graves, playing music or singing karaoke.
For Fading Suns, you may use this in three ways:

  • it's a time for a mini-pilgrimage to your home planet, or wherever all your family members are buried. If a noble, it's likely that different sub-factions have different family mausoleums. It's like a time for reunions, for catching up with family gossip, for reconnecting with familial allies, and so on.
  • it's a time for the family spirits to revisit a PC, especially those who were unable to attend the reunion; to berate them for not honoring the family, to make revelations about family secrets, to give warnings about something they're facing in the future -- and then follow that up with scenes involving family members that have missed him at the reunion and want to reconnect.
  • there are unspeakable sects that worship their ancestors; this is a special time for them to perform their rites -- but during a period of excruciating scrutiny by the Church.