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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Meanwhile...

Well, Tony was round again this afternoon. He's never properly seen HERO5 in action yet- our last roleplaying run having run out of steam under the rule of 4th ed.; so we tried out a quick bout of fisticuffs to familiarise ourselves with the new stuff that we both hope to be GM'ing and/or PC'ing just asap. We had a good laugh; admired some of the nice touches in the revisions to the combat system; and some cleverly chosen maveouvres and a couple of well-timed haymakers (not to mention a hefty dose of Sheer Dumb Luck on Tony's part: to which he has already confessed, so this is less than Sad Loser's Whinging!) left my basic template mook dying- from injuries to the face and head. OUCH!

After that we continued developing the key NPC's behind the new superhero campaign we're working away on. As a result of today's efforts we now know the following to our satisfaction: who they are; where they came from; how they first met; what went down through that first encounter; how they fell in together thereafter; and, what roles each fulfils in their double-act. We are both well-pleased with how this longstanding project is now beginning to develop ever more rapidly with each session we put in to shaping it up.

Whiling away some time before tea thereafter, I took a look through a book I've had on my shelves for years now, but which has only finally revealed it full value to me since Donald started his FB game. I picked up this book some 25 or more years ago for the then already low price of £1 in a 2nd hand bookshop in Perth. It is:

The Student's Manual of Modern History

Containing the
Rise and progress of the principal European nations, their political history, and the changes in their social conditions

With a history of
The colonies founded by Europeans

By
W.C. Taylor, LL.S., M.R.A.S.
of Trinity College Dublin

The sixth edition, with additions

London:
John W. Parker and Son, West Strand
MDCCCLVI
[1856]

Really rather the worse for wear, it wasn't the price which made this book an instant purchase for me. No, it was this section from the Preface:
"In this the sixth edition the Supplmentary Chapter has been considerably enlarged, so as to bring down the History to the Treaty of Paris signed at Paris, March 30, 1856..."
What the...?! Imagine that I thought: a 'stop press' to update a book for the end of the Crimean War. I would like to think that was the moment when I realised what history was really all about.

Whatever the truth of that matter, this volume has had a cherished place on my bookshelves down the years since the day it came into my possession. I can say with more certainty that this book did give me a taste for works contemporaneous with my favourite period of history- namely the 1st half of the 20th century (I was a teenage tankie, y'see); and that it is the nearest thing I have to a genuine antiquarian work in my 'library' (thank goodness for those classic orange/blue and white Penguin and Pelican originals!).

And the book itself? Well, apart from its antiquated style, which is just perfect for atmosphere, here is a sample of its contents:
I. Consequences of the Fall of the Western Empire;
VI. The Reformation, and the Commencement of the States System in Europe;
VIII. Growth of the Mercantile and Colonial System;
XIV. History of the Jews.
There is also a 16-page Analytical and Chronological Index (that's A5 approx. in max. 8-point type- THIS OR SMALLER IN OTHER WORDS) that runs from AD 50 onwards. In short, Taylor's old Student's Manual looks like it will prove invaluable to my WFRP and to Donald's FB both. I certainly know that I saw Donald with his nose deep in its yellowing pages Sunday last during our break from the adventures of Felix and the good Baron. ;)
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