Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fire Up the Hookah

I quit smoking close to ten years ago. Cold turkey. Zip, nada, nothing.

Actually, it would be more accurate to say I quit smoking January 1st 1998, but then started again around the time I met my wife (who was a smoker). Then, when she was ready to kick the habit (close to ten years ago), I had no problem going back to my life as a non-smoker. After all, I'd already decided I preferred to live and breath (nominally) clean air rather than cigarette smoke.

And while I don't have "cravings" for cigarettes, it wouldn't be accurate to say I don't sometimes miss it. I always loved smoking. I haven't had much of a sense of smell since age 12 or so (don't ask) so that part never bothered me. In fact, if the damn things didn't completely F you up and kill you, I might still be smoking today. The one thing that made me want to become a non-smoker again was just that...I wanted to live, and wanted to live to a ripe old age. Smoking was not in the game plan for that kind of goal.

But they DO kill you, and so I have cut them out of my life (and good thing, too, now that their prices are soaring). I don't put anything into my lungs anymore if I can help it; but sometimes I wish I did, so that I could have the chance to fire up a hookah at smoke some Turkish tobacco.

No, I am not talking about bongs or even water pipes, I mean real honest-to-goodness hookahs. Seattle has a fair number of hookah bars in town, where one can rent and smoke and commune with others in a real Old School Arabic fashion. Even though smoking indoors has been banned in Washington State for several years, hookah establishments can get away with this by being "private clubs" (membership is cheap) after a certain hour of the day. Some are simply gyro shops for lunch and hookah clubs at night. Plus, who doesn't enjoy coffee in which you can stand up your spoon?

However, the hookah scene didn't really get going till after I gave up the habit (or rather, replaced it with the breathing habit), so I never got to sample this particular branch of Seattle night life. Which is kind of a shame...since a hookah would seem to go quite well with my recent acquisitions from Gary's Games in Greenwood:

- The Complete Psionics Handbook (2nd Edition)
- The Dark Sun boxed set (2nd edition AD&D)

Now, I'm sure many of you are thinking, JB must be smoking something to blow his hard earned dough on 2nd edition junk which he hates-hates-hates. But as I said, I don't smoke anything anymore...and no I haven't been drinking either.

What I have been doing is fighting a "summer cold" the last two-three days...and most of the time it's felt like I've been losing the fight. My head is stuffed to the gills, I haven't been thinking clearly, I haven't been sleeping well...hell, I've even voyaged into the land of feverish dreams once or twice (probably not helped by a recent viewing of Inception at the theater).

And when everything starts to lose cohesion, or become surreal, and when I'm bored and frustrated and want to lash out like a half-giant gladiator (sorry, I don't like being sick very much) my half-baked brain tends to come up with half-baked schemes. Like writing a 64 page setting book for B/X play, modeled on a certain sorcery ravaged setting. Including weird-ass psionics and strange dweomers of the kind only Vance (or a guy hopped-up on sudafed) could ever imagine.

See, I've mentioned before that Dark Sun has always held a strange and terrible fascination for me. First off, you're reading the writings of a dude who loves psionics and gladiators (which right there might be a warning you should STOP reading). Second off, I don't find the setting terribly original, as my old AD&D group did something similar years before TSR ever published Dark Sun.

At least, according to wikipedia, Dark Sun was first published in 1991. Well in 1988 my long-running game group had decided to scrap our existing campaign and start anew from scratch, in a world ravaged and left barren by ancient sorcery, a post-apocalyptic fantasy world modeled much on the imagery of the ancient Roman Empire (especially the gladiatorial games), where strength of arms was as important as the powers of the mind. Oh, yeah...and half-ogres were used as a standard race.

Well, unfortunately this was our last campaign together as a group, and we only ran one or two sessions before a falling out that sent us all on our separate ways. Which was unfortunate for a variety of reasons (we had all been quite close friends), but had the additional loss of never seeing where our cool campaign setting would take us. And I always thought it had a ton of potential (and no, it wasn't my brain-child anyway...I was just a player, not a DM).

Of course, now I don't even play AD&D, let alone 2nd edition AD&D, so it would be quite a challenge to see how hard it would be create a similar setting using the B/X rules. Personally, I don't think it's nearly as ambitious as the other couple things I've been considering with my fuzzy brain: B/X De-Constructed and a little space opera RPG that finally has a name and is NOTHING like B/X nor Star Wars (still 64 pages, though).

We'll see which of these ideas (if any) bear fruit. Right now, it's nap time.


  1. Funny that the 2e version of Dark Sun ends up for sale just as the 4e version is coming out. I wonder if that's someone "upgrading" and getting rid of their old stuff. They might regret it.

    I would be interested in seeing B/X Dark Sun; I like the setting, but have never enjoyed the A in AD&D.

  2. You've NEVER enjoyed the "A" in AD&D? Obviously you are immune to thoughts of rank and prestige, my friend...

  3. Indeed, the A seemed to be adding on more stuff, when all I wanted to do was take stuff away and make the game more streamlined.

    I have always liked the settings though. Even Ravenloft and Spelljammer.

    This may be why I've never played much D&D; back as a younger gamer, I clearly didn't have the sense to ignore all the A stuff and just run a BECMI Planescape game. My loss!