Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Of Podcasts and Obscure Knowledge

The folks at GeekLine 415 kindly invited me to join them on a podcast last night, February 10th.  Many thanks to Chad and his crew for this and the fun hour on the phone with them. I can imagine what joy it is to be gaming with such a happy bunch.  They reminded me of my D&D group back in France, in the early 80s.  What a flashback! The topics covered the years leading up to my move to TSR and my time there, fun bits about Mystara and the Gazetteers, and the connection with Calidar. All of this was sprinkled with jokes about obscure or underused  monsters as an ongoing theme.  What fun!  I listened to the interview a second time, this morning, and attempted to identify the various subjects.  I'll add a few comments below.

Click Here to hear the recording.

04:12 My turn comes up for my choice of monster.  I pick the thoul and give some background about when it came about in the D&D game.  Who did design the thoul anyway?

07:48 Here I explain that I'd started out as a diehard 1st Edition AD&D gamer, until I was hired by TSR and had to master the Basic D&D game line.  It was a bit of shock and a disappointment, but in hindsight I have no regrets!  It sounds like I am a 1st Edtn. player currently, though I am certainly more so than any of the later versions, I'm even more of a BECMI fan, which I didn't make clear in the podcast.

08:30 The discussion continues about how I managed to join TSR.  A series of innocuous events occurring as I traveled between my native southern France, St. Charles Missouri, San Francisco California, Paris France, and finally Lake Geneva Wisconsin, contributed to my meeting Gary Gygax who hired me as a French translator for Basic D&D.  A fun story if you haven't already heard it.

11:35 I explain my choice for the Twitter handle "@Ambreville"  (note the correct spelling).

13:10 More monsters!

16:16 Here we talk about the Voyages of the Princess Ark, why I wrote these stories, and what they were about, while explaining my fascination with flying ships.

21:40 Talk of the hoax purporting the crash of the Princess Ark and the death of her crew up, and circumstances behind this infamous April's Fools article.

22:35 Out of ashes and into the blue, we fly into the World of Calidar project, its origins, its general ideas, and direction. I find it hard to express everything I wanted, so I hope I don't ramble on too much here. 

29:20 The question is asked up about how I come up with fantasy names.  I'd like to repeat Egg Foo Young's retort in Little Trouble in Big China: "It wasn't easy!"  As a side note, I found that many of the names I invent turn out to be ingredients or dish names in East Indian cuisine.  One day I'll have to make a list of those. Hmmm. . . Calidar Masala!  Narwan Biryani with buttered naan!  Please pass the lassi.

30:30 We talk about how long it took me to write the story in CAL1 "In Stranger Skies."  It is a short foray into the world of fiction writing and what I did during my hiatus after TSR kicked the proverbial bucket.

34:20:  Moooore monsters!

39:08 This is where the story of the terrifying bugbear-killing mule hero is brought up.  I'll let you find out about this one.

41:00 We return to the topic of Calidar and upcoming events at Gary Con, which leads to a discussion about the Rules Cyclopedia, D&D Fifth Edition, and the lack of an OGL option from Wizards of the Coast.

46:40 We talk about the next book for Calidar.  By then, I'm tired.  It's getting late on my end of the world and tougher for me to explain as well as I wanted what's involved with CC1 "Beyond the Skies," so bear with me! 

49:50 One last round of fun and bizarre monsters.  Detail: there's no such thing as a "vargwheel."  It took me a while to realize what monster this was (the vargouille).  For the record, it's pronounced kind of like this: "var-GOO-ee-uh."  Blend that into two syllables if you can (okay, French has never been intuitive to English speakers!)

52:40 A word about where to find Calidar -- but you already know that if you're here, reading this.