Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Things that you want to find in RPGs... Book Review - The Book of S – JJ Abrams

I like Noodle incidents (, I like that they allude to something that went on that a whole bunch of people know nothing about.  I like books, and I like it when you have something that gets your interest because it’s got layers.

I very much like things like the Grail diary of Henry Jones Junior because it suggests that someone has put time into it, and rather than wanting to put all the details in different books and risk losing parts of them, they put them all in a single book and put notes and clippings and things they find along the way in the book so that they won’t lose them. 

With this in mind, when I first learned of the book of S, I was intrigued by the concept that had been put forwards.  Here was a book that was first and foremost a novel by V.M.Straka, but more than that, it is also a set of key notes that have been handwritten into the book by two students studying it, together with postcards and notes from what they’ve found of it and how they’re looking at the different things in it.

The first point to note is that this book is beautiful, and not from an illustration point of view, the writing that’s been chosen to represent the people writing in the margins of the book is neat, but it’s been done in such a way that it looks to have been handwritten (and indeed, the proof for the book may well have been), and it has the spacing that suggests the mind behind it was organised as well.

Then there’s the colourings of the inks in the margins, each of them done to denote a different time at which the writings were made.  It gives the book and the conspiracy it represents a weight not apparent in most books, you get the feeling from looking through it that this book has travelled between people and that conversations were had at various points in the book despite the idea that to have so many conversations between so many different people would have had the book in circulation for years and would be almost impossible when there would be so many easier ways of communicating rather than writing down the details of things in a book that would then have to be passed on to someone else and then back and so on.

The thing is that when you have the finished thing in your  hand, you become a part of the conspiracy that the book represents, and from my own experience of having props like this in games and events that I’ve played in, I know the fascination for finding out what has happened with these things and how this astonishing piece of work came to be in your hands.

The Book itself is sealed, the slip case is secured by a bound seal that can be cut along the perforations, but I was so excited to get into the book that I got the knife and went straight down the side of it, such was the interest I found in this.



What can I say...

Clippings, charts, letters, postcards...

Back in the late nineties, someone came up with an idea that they would set a puzzle so fiendish that none could solve it and called it the Merlin Mystery.  The problem was that all the puzzles were visual and if you’re no good at them, you might as well count yourself out of the running straight away.  With this, you’ve got to spend the time reading, you’ve got to put the page time in to get everything out of it and while I’m sure that the final solution to the book is known only to JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst, it’s not the actual solution that matters with things like this, it’s what you get out of them while you’re looking through the book.  Those who need a story that hangs together and reads well in all the different parts of it may be disappointed.  The novel isn’t so strong a read as to make for a good book by itself, but when you tie in all the other parts of it and start to look at the other things that are presented and the possibilities therein, it comes into it’s own.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you have to put the time in on this one, if you’re just going to pick it up and read it like any other book, you’ll be disappointed, save yourself the time, leave it.  If you’re willing to put in the time and see what the whole package is about, rather than just the book or just the side story, you’ll find a lot of interesting things in there. There’s a number of conclusions written regarding the book itself, and if you’re planning on getting the book.

Don’t read them...

Because the point of this book isn’t that it’s a novel or a story to be told, the point of this book is that like any story, it’s a journey that’s being taken, at various points in time with various places and people involved.

It’s also formed the basis for how adventures are going to be done in my new game Quest, but more on that later in the week.

For now, a very interesting book, I’ll post more when I’ve had chance to go over it again and cross confirm all I had thought, but it’s worth it just for the ideas that are given within the physicality of the book itself.