Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Little Holiday Geekery

We had a nice little holiday spent at home by ourselves, with the traditional Christmas Eve dinner of ham, potatoes, kale, and pinkelwurst (with a newer tradition of Virginia spiced plum chutney as a condiment with the ham) and a Christmas morning filled with torn wrapping paper and delightful presents. Given the crazy schedule around the holidays for us, this Hobby Games Recce entry is regrettably short but timely.
Among the gifts I received were several that satisfied my inner geek, particularly in the gaming vein:
The Hobbit (Illustrated Edition):
My parents have always quietly indulged and encouraged my interests in gaming, fantasy, and science fiction, and returned to my roots (and my Amazon.com wishlist) for gift ideas this year. Numerous, full-page illustrations by Tolkien artist extraordinaire Alan Lee grace this edition, which I hope to someday read aloud to my son when he gets old enough to sit still for a bedtime story without copious illustrations on each rigid, cardboard page. My paperback edition of The Hobbit a great uncle bought me many, many years ago is well-read, but in no condition for regular handling anymore. I’ll admit I’m probably more a fan of The Hobbit than The Lord of the Rings for a number of reasons, not simply its shorter length and easier style than the epic trilogy, but it’s classic hero’s quest theme and its much lighter shades of dark, moral severity.
Art of the Hobbit:
I’m a fan of Tolkien-inspired artwork (as evidenced by my delight in the give noted above), but to see even the most basic or stylized sketches by the author of my favorite of his tales remains an inspiring treat. Recently released in a slipcase edition, this book contains all of Tolkien’s Hobbit sketches, inks, and other artwork keyed to different chapters or iconic scenes, including material for the two famous maps featured in The Hobbit. Needless to say this and the previously mentioned book above have rekindled my inspiration for running some kind of Middle-earth roleplaying game campaign, probably around the time of the Quest of Erebor.*
Lego Ramses Pyramid:
Despite many reviews frustrated with the rules presentation and gameplay (possibly the reason it was only $9.99, one-third the original price, at the local Target toy department), this game remained on my list for a number of reasons: I love most things with an Egyptian theme; I love Legos; and German game designer superstar Reiner Knizia co-designed it. It was a gift from my son, with help from Mom. I still haven’t had a chance to build or play the game, but I’m looking forward to giving it a try. It’ll make a nice set with my copy of the Lego Minotaurus Game.
Overall it was a modest holiday gift haul. I also received many other way more practical gifts, but given the far smaller portion of my life geeky pursuits now inhabit, it only seems appropriate.
* Campaign Idea: Pipe-Weed to Erebor

This one’s from my old Griffon’s Aerie website, from a “Dispatch” about various roleplaying game campaigns I’d like to run. Gathering at Bree, the heroes agree to guard a train of pack mules delivering pipe-weed to the Dwarves of the  recently liberated Lonely Mountain. They must overcome their differences (and seek their hidden agendas), protect their premium Shire pipe-weed, and make the treacherous passage across Eriador and Wilderland, encountering Orcs and wargs fleeing from a terrible battle at Erebor, and evading dark forces seeking to seize a secret one of the heroes carries.