I hope you all had a great holiday season. As I look forward to a new year filled with more writing and hopefully one filled with even more inspirational sources, I'm going to spend some time looking back as some of the stuff I picked up during Christmas that are great imagination igniters.
Oblivion, the recently released movie with Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman. As a movie, it's merely alright; an enjoyable popcorn flick. (It was one of those movies that I figured out fairly soon into the movie what was going on, which dampened my enjoyment.) However, the tech and the imagery is fantastic. I like the contrast between the crisp and clean living quarters and tech of the "team" and the dingy and dirty world of the marauders. Very usable for settings in which there is a large tech gap between cultures on a world. I need to get stats written up for those wicked drones, by the way...
On the book front I did get some great offerings.
First off is A Field Guide to the Little People by Nancy Arrowsmith. This is a sort of bestiary of fae creatures from various cultures (though primarily Celtic). It is beautifully illustrated throughout by Heinz Edelmann. While many of the creatures found in the book have been translated into D&D stats over the years, not all have been. Even with those that have been statted out in game, not all are fully faithful to the legends or the information in the book is different enough to really throw a curveball to players that think they know exactly what they are up against.
I also received two great Sci-Fi art books: Masters of Science Fiction and Fantasy Art and Sci-Fi Art: A Graphic History both are filled with evocative and inspiring images for those looking for something non-gaming related to get those creative juices flowing.
With some holiday cash in hand, I binged a bit on some post-holiday sales. At Half-Price Books I picked up Out of This World: Science Fiction But Not As You Know It and Star Trek: New Worlds, New Civilizations. OotW is heavily illustrated (which is primarily why I bought it) and talks about the wide and varied sources that have brought the sci-fi genre to where it is now. The writing is a bit stiff in spots, but so far I am enjoying it. ST: NW, NC details 18 locations from Vulcan to Ferenginar to the Q Continuum; all with great illustrations from an impressive list of artists.
Lulu recently had a 40% off sale, so I stocked up on several early issues of John Strater's NOD, which I cannot recommend high enough. Most of each issue is related to Swords & Wizardry based hex crawls surrounding a general theme (though I understand later issues tend to be more Blood & Treasure based, but are still easily usable with S&W), but some issues have articles pertaining to one of the various games that John has put out. (Seriously, he is insanely prolific! I also recommend checking out Blood & Treasure, Mystery Men, and Tales of the Space Princess.) I've found NOD to be one of the best and cost effective resources for S&W (and D&D clone-related gaming in general) on the market.
I also picked up a OSR-inspired rpg called Seeded Space by Scott Roberts. Seeded Space is essentially D&D in space. It falls into much of the same realm as Hulks & Horrors. I'm working up a full review, but bottom line is that while it doesn't tread new territory, it is still a good game and toolkit to kitbash from for use in your favorite OSR-inspired sci-fi game.