Monday, April 25, 2005

Osafune Kiyomitsu made my sword

So I finally got around to investigating the origin of my sword.

I bought a katana many years ago when I was living in Tokyo. I'd been studying at Sugino Yoshio's dojo for about a year when I approached some of the senior students about finding me a reasonably-priced antique katana that would be good enough for a humble barbarian wanna-be like myself.

One fellow had a friend who was a collector and was planning to get some of his high-end blades polished, so he was looking to sell some of his crappy blades to raise the money to do that (katana-polishing is very expensive). The fellow looked over his selection and brought one to me.

At the time I knew almost nothing about swords. And my Japanese was never terrific, so communication was always a problem. But the sword was beautiful, if obviously flawed in a couple of respects (two chips, one right at the tip, and some minor corrosion), and I bought it, having faith in the people who were teaching me how to use it. There was a signature on the tang, which I was interested in, but I understood that it was considered probably a forgery.

Note that that doesn't mean the blade is worthless; it means that the guy who made the blade figured he could get more money for it by passing it off as the work of a superior smith. It's still a properly-made and antique weapon, it's just not made by who it says it was made by.

Okay, enough preamble. My copy of The Samurai Sword arrived the other day and I just spent the last couple of hours inspecting the blade and figuring out what it says and what the rest of the weapon's qualities can tell me.

I've owned it for nine years now, and I'm just getting around to verifying what people told me. Nine years after I spent several thousand dollars just taking their word for it.

Anyway, the tang inscription says "Bizen Osafune Kiyomitsu" which is a reasonably well-known smith from the mid-1500's. The blade is of size and shape and style consistent with smiths of that time, and although the hamon (the temper line) is quite a bit smoother than the one verified Kiyomitsu blade I found online, it is very similar in terms of form (ridgeline, general shape, grain of steel and tang) and I think it's reasonable to say it's from a smith who knew Kiyomitsu's work pretty well. I'm pretty sure it's not a mid-Tokugawa sword, as I once thought, as the grain is very pronounced, which apparently is rare in the later swords, so I think I've got a Muromachi or an early Tokugawa sword.

That's what I'm going to believe, anyway. And I thought it was cool and that I would tell you lot. So I did.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Sidney Blumenthal on Church & State

Whoa. Worth Reading, just for the quotes from the American Revolutionary leaders.

When men of God mistake their articles of devotion with political platforms they will inevitably stand exposed in the political arena. When politicians mistake themselves for men of God, their religion, however sincere, will inevitably be seen as contrivance.

As both president and pope invoke heavenly authority to impose their notions of tradition, they have set themselves on a collision course with the American political tradition. In the name of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, democracy without end. Amen.


From wood s lot.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Review Round-up: Hot Pursuit

Just thought I'd provide a useful public service by collecting assorted reviews to my big hit product these days, Hot Pursuit:

On RPG Now:

Four reviews, averaging a 4.5 out of 5.

On EN World:

Two reviews, both a 4 out of 5.

Bet you're glad I did that, aren't you?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Mini-Games: Art

My biggest headache right now is finding quality art at reasonable prices. There's a couple of ways one can go about this sort of thing.

One can pony up the cash bucks to buy some pro-quality art. Expensive, and risky, especially for a venture like this, where I have no idea what kind of sales to expect.

One can pony up much less bucks to buy some other art. Now the risk is that you will have BAD art, and your product will look unprofessional and less valuable as a result.

One can look for alternative resources: online art exchanges, stock art, and so on.

I'm trying a combination of all three, I guess, and trying to take advantage of my office overtop of a design and animation school to exploit some young students looking for publication credits.

I'm not proud.

Barsoom runs tonight! Is the BBEG as dead as he appeared to be last time? Well, don't bet on it.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Canadian Music Industry and P2P: Coffin, Meet Nail

Michael Geist takes the industry's stance apart, on factoid at a time.

Auto-Generated Comp Sci Papers

This is really fun stuff. Bored grad students create Comp Sci paper generator, get accepted to conference to present, plan randomly-generated Comp Sci presentation, acquire sufficient donations online to attend, get rejected by conference.

What would we do without bored grad students?

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Mini-Games

So I'm the shiny new manager of EN World's fancy line of mini-games. Hope it works out. I loved mini-games when Polyhedron (and then Dungeon) published them and can only hope I can put out products of that level.

One of my criteria is going to be that mini-games ought to be nearly as much fun to read as they are to play. You should have a good time just reading the game itself, even if you never actually play a session of it. They ought to evoke a love and passion for the genre or setting or mood they're trying to evoke, and make you think, while you're reading them, how much fun it would be to play such a game.

There's some great projects in that pipeline and I'll be talking about them (hopefully) in the upcoming weeks. Right now I'm working on getting the first one written. It's called Gun-Fu and it's a game that lets folks have the kinds of adventures that characters have in movies like those of John Woo and Ringo Lam and Luc Besson and Robert Rodriquez, where all that really matters is having an automatic in each hand and being incredibly cool.

One of the key rules changes for Gun-Fu is the lack of hit points. See, with hit-point-based games, you're always worrying about, watching over and trying to manage your hit point total. Which is fine, but doesn't lead towards game play in the style of Chow Yun-Fat. So characters in Gun-Fu worry less about hit points, because they don't have any. Instead, they need to worry about maintaining their Panache, which are sort of like Action Points on steroids and let characters do cool stuff.

But the idea is that Panache serve another purpose -- because when you run out of Panache, you lose your cool. And that's bad, kids.

So Panache acts like a combination of hit points, Sanity and Action Points. Sort of. It need some serious playtesting, for sure.

Mini-Games. Gun-Fu. Whee!

Grand Opening! Hurry!

We're going to try (yet again) to maintain a regular sort of blogamation. No promises but we now have a pretty hefty set of stuff we've written for previously-abandoned blogs so hopefully that will keep us going in the dry times.

Cross your fingers!