Thursday, August 8, 2019

RPGaDay Challenge 2019 - OBSCURE

Oh how I love the Obscure.

That which is Obscure is defined as relatively unknown and there are few things I like better than the relatively unknown. 

I am not sure what draws me to the rarely seen, the oft forgotten, and the tragically overlooked, but there is definitely a warm place in my heart for the Obscure.

Whether it's little known Superheroes of the Golden Age of Comics or Japanese Role-Playing Games that never made it to the States, I absolutely revel in those bits of creative splendor the rest of the world seems to have tossed aside or simply failed to pay attention to the first time around.

I like to think of myself as a fairly smart and knowledge fellow within the circles that interest me. I am well aware I am not the smartest or most knowledge but I do try to do my research, ask questions, and stay informed. To this end I have dived down many a rabbit hole while looking for information on a particular folk tale, place in the world, or moment in history that has led me to some very strange and fascinating morsels of trivia. 

I am not the prideful sort but do find some personal satisfaction in knowing the history of how National Comics and All-American Comic became DC Comics in 1977. I like Osamu Tezuka's famed character 'The Mighty Atom', known in the United States as 'Astro Boy', but not nearly as much as his other creation, 'Jetter Mars'. If you've never heard of Jetter Mars, that's OK by me. I have and I enjoyed this fill-in for Mighty Atom who developed a personality and identity all his own.

One benefit of collecting and consuming the Obscure is that when I borrow from it, my games appear more original. 

If I do a riff on a famous and well-received movie in one of my games, it will be obvious where I got my idea from. Copy the concepts of a Star Trek episode, a film like The Godfather or The Predator, and a table of players will be saying, 'Hey, you stole that from...'. Guaranteed.

On the other hand, I recently took an idea from the Stanislaw Lem SF novel Solaris and combined it with one element of Wayne Douglas Barlowe's book Expedition to create a gelatinous life form for a session of my ongoing Star Trek campaign. The encounter went over extremely well and I was applauded for the strange and unusual colony creature I'd developed. Afterwards I remarked that part of the idea was indeed from Expedition, as seen in the Discovery Channel adaption, Alien Planet. People had seen that, though quite a while ago. I gambled that the players probably hadn't seen it recently, hadn't read the book, and weren't immediately familiar with Lem's novel.

Like I am.

For you see, I just have this itch to look left when everyone is looking right, to ask who that character in the background of that one scene is, to rifle through the out-of-print paperbacks of old bookstores, and wonder why this particular flotsam of creativity was cast adrift, floating aimlessly to be discovered by me, treasurer of the Obscure.

Barking Alien

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