Issue #37, December 2017

ISSN   2206-4907 (Online)

Cosmology, Gods, and Religion

GURPS Demigurge… Worldbuilding … Exalted … Pantheon… A&D Deities & Demigods … RuneQuest Gods of Glorantha … Rolemaster Campaign Law … RuneQuest Cult of Shargash .. Movie Review Alien Covenant

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RPG Review is a quarterly online magazine which will be available in print version at some stage. Maybe a ten year anniversary? All material remains copyright to the authors except for the reprinting as noted in the first sentence. Contact the author for the relevant license that they wish to apply. Various trademarks and images have been used in this magazine of review and criticism. Use of trademarks etc are for fair use and review purposes and are not a challenge to trademarks or copyrights. This includes Advanced Dungeons & Dragons by Hasbro, Wizards of the Coast), Stormbringer and Call of Cthulhu by Chaosium, GURPS by Steve Jackson Games, Traveller from Far Future Enterprises and others. Alien Covenant distributed by 20th Century Fox. Cover image of God from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Chamax image from the Traveller Wiki. The Basilica of Aquileia from Wikipedia.



In our gaming, we create and explore shared imaginary worlds. We populate those worlds with planets, and suns, and moons, and oceanic expanses, continents, and islands, beasts, monsters, and people. Depending on our genre, they can be fantastic, realistic, and often a mix of the two. Also, we create a mythos for these worlds, whether it be from impersonal elemental forces, to gods that walk among the people. In creating these worlds, we both reflect what we have learned and imagine, both consciously and unconsciously. It’s fairly heavy-going as deep study on the relationship between philosophy and psychoanalysis, but there is a explanatory gem in Herbert Marcuse’s classic Eros & Civiliztion:

Phantasy plays a most decisive function in the total mental structure: it links the deepest layers of the unconscious with the highest products of consciousness (art), the dream with the reality; it preserves the archetypes of the genus, the perpetual but repressed ideas of the collective and individual memory, the tabooed images of freedom.”

We create and explore imaginary worlds because of a partial rejection of the reality principle, and its performative requirements. It’s not that the world doesn’t offer many wonders that are worth seeing, if we are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit them. But it is only in our imaginations that we can visit a world that is "a slightly bulging, squarish lozenge, like the Earth Rune’s shape. The earth floats upon Sramak’s River, the Primal Ocean of mythology. The sky overhead is an off center bowl rotating about the Pole Star which marks the center of the sky, and is the only stable point in the celestial dome. Between the earth and sky the turbulent realm of the air and storm gods. Underneath both earth and sea is the dark, silent Underworld” (RuneQuest, second edition, 1979).

And before anyone asks, this applies even (and perhaps even especially) in Papers & Paychecks.

Whilst it is common to consider our gaming as “harmless escapism”, these imagining serve an additional and even functional purpose. The elucidate our unconscious desires (which can be both good and bad), they allow us to explore the mindset of others through the characters in situations, they provide an opportunity to explore analogous situations and scenarios, they provide opportunities to think of an alternative reality to the one we are in. The club I founded in 1988 wasn’t called the Murdoch Alternative Reality Society for nothing.

Here’s a kicker – we do this socially and cooperatively. That is probably a unique part of our hobby and one which it has cemented a place in history by doing so.

So who created the gaming world that you participate in? Does it obey the laws of plate tectonics? If not, why not? Who are the strange beings that inhabit it? Who are the mundane ones? What problems do they face? What threats and conflicts, external and internal? What story will they tell? And how will you take these imaginings, these creations, these explorations, back into our shared reality?

To help us along this journey, we have yet another packed issue of RPG Review, which does deserve some award for having the dullest name for a fanzine in gaming history. This said, it has also been in operation for nine years now, which is certainly a lot longer than many professional publications. Make of that what you will (yes, we’re fanatics, right?).

It begins with Cooperative News, which includes our publications, library, and the excitement of formal financial statements that go with our annual general meeting. Knock me down with a feather. We even have some letters this issue, which is a good thing. Write to us and thank use, complain, or seek elaboration.

This is followed by some gaming ‘blogs, now a regular feature of the journal and something that probably should have been included from day one. All those sessions, lost, in the mists of time.

Daniel Lunsford providing the first of a seires in "Civilization in Worldbuilding" with the ever-important matter of geography, a particular pet peeve of mine in the mapping of imagined worlds. After that yours truly provides a number of "Godly and Worldly Reviews", including AD&D Dieties & Demigods, Rolemaster's Campaign Law, RuneQuest's Gods of Glorantha, GURPS Religion, Pantheon and Other Games, and Exalted. It would be too recursive to repeat the review of Godsend Agenda (issue 30) despite its appropriateness.

Karl Brown follows up with a clever adaption for cooperative world creation with GURPS Demiurge. Bill Blatt, following a long tradition of cult design in RuneQuest, provides and example of a rather violent old diety with the Cult of Shargash. To finish off, Andrew Moshos has some choice words for his movie review of Alien Covenant.

And that about wraps it up for our stunningly late issue – but finally it is here!

Lev Lafayette, lev@rpgreview.net

Cooperative News

This Cooperative News update covers our activities from September to December 2017.

Papers & Paychecks and Other Publications

After a long (too long) wait, Papers & Paychecks was finally released, with an introduction by Tim Kask (the first employee of TSR) and artwork by Dan ‘Smif’ Smith (“the GURPS guy”), with PDF and physical copies distributed around the world. Papers & Paychecks is available from the following URL for a PDF copy, or direct from the Cooperative for a physical copy. All proceeds go to the RPG Review Cooperative – indeed, it’s own main source of income, and we do actually have expenses.

Initial reviews appreciate the humour and express some surprise that there is actually a workable game, and the entire thing is not just milking the joke. Who knew that was going to happen, eh?

The first supplement for Papers & Paychecks, Cow-Orkers in the Scary Devil Monastery, will be released with the next issue of RPG Review.

In the meantime, the Cooperative is also planning the release of our first D&D publication by Karl Brown, The Tinker’s Toolkit, a race-design publication which reverse-engineers the system used in D&D 5th edition.

The two publications can be found at the following URLs: