Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Defying vanilla: Tales of New Crobuzon

Irony is a funny thing. I was gearing up to write a gushy post about one of the most exciting Gencon announcements I came across: Adamant Entertainment’s forthcoming RPG line based on China Mieville’s Bas Lag universe. For the uninitiated, Mieville’s fiction (Perdido Street Station, The Scar, Iron Council and a handful of short stories) blend elements of fantasy, sci-fi, steampunk and romance in the melting pot of New Crobuzon, a sprawling, gaslight-era urban fantasy city. You'll either love his prosaic writing style or hate it.

The city is very cool, but (critically) it’s an entirely new fantasy setting that completely discards common tropes — and brings in so many new, exciting ideas. It’s the complete opposite of Uncle Bear’s recent post bemoaning the lack of originality in D&D today — the idea that, once we strip away all the pop and sizzle, most D&D settings are basically the same. Vanilla through and through, to use his phrasing.

Mieville’s fiction defies this notion, and it will be interesting to watch the development of Adamant’s forthcoming Tales of New Crobuzon RPG. (Email tonc[at]adamantentertainment[dot]com to sign up as a playtester.)

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