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Issue 2

Editorial

When I started an online zine I thought that I would at least be putting out an issue every quarter instead of maintaining my old paper zine format of shambolic and periodic fits of activity that would result in a final product. The problem has been that I have been doing too much playing recently and therefore reviews and reports on existing games have constituted the bulk of the writing that I have been doing. An "issue" needs to consist of some blend of different content that forms a theme.

So here are a bunch of reviews with a fig leaf article about the experience I have had playing those games. Perfect!

Every game reviewed here has become a personal favourite. Each one captures a certain theme or style of play so compulsively you want to immediately give them another go. The weakest of the bunch is Mars Colony, it could probably do with another round of revision to make the political aspect more fundamental to the gameplay. However it is still a great two player GM-less game that does not leave you feeling short-changed when a group session falls through.

Playtesting Durance was an interesting experience and I am interested to see the revised edition when it is released. The basis of the game is interesting and playing both prisoners and guards is intriguing. However currently the game mechanic is flawed and the experience fails to evoke a prison planet right now.

Roleplaying generally is going through an amazing period of self-consciousness at the moment in terms of game design. Even OSR people are making conscious choices about the way the game rules and the game they want to have are going to be linked. We're only at the beginning of the tensions between people who want to be one step away from improvised theatre and those who are happy to castigate "trad" games but still retain their conventions.

M. A. R. Barker

Some sad news this year was the death of M. A. R. Barker, the author of the Empire of the Petal Throne RPG and creator of the world of Tekumel.  Professor Barker produced some of the clearest writing on religion, morality and the play of roleplaying I have read. His contributions have been invaluable.

This post offers a far better perspective on what Barker gave the gaming community but personally I feel a sad sense of loss.

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