The Computer Age is not a victimless crime

I find Computers to be a blessing and a curse. While on one hand, they have made this hobby both open to new ideas, and have brought us all together for the first time, on the other, it brings me worry and frustration.

With all of this technology at my fingertips, I still find the most productive tool in my arsenal is still the notebook and pencil. I do use the web, in the past I'd have been stuck in places, and either have to invent things or head to the local library to do some research, which was a pain because I tend to do my best work late at night.

I am frustrated because I'm working within the confines of our own planet, telling stories which take place in 1890, which makes it easier to research, yet at the same time, it makes it harder as well. In fantasy settings, if I want to invent a town, then POOF! There it is! But this can't really be done in the Victorian setting. Unlike fantasy, Gothic earth is one of Science Fiction and the Science has to be, in a sense, plausible. It is very easy to destroy the players ability to suspend their disbelief. One one hand, during prep I can actually see these places where I am tinkering. While I don't have to be all that accurate, I like to keep things believable. I've never been to London, nor have my players, however we've read and we've spent lifetimes in London through fiction, or nerdist history books. I can translate Victorian London into AD&D terms so that everybody who has ever picked up a copy of Oliver Twist, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or have read about Jack the Ripper can understand and relate to, and say, "This is London!" it has a different feel to it than Paris or Berlin. This is a hard game to prep because it is one of both History, stereotyping, literature, and lies. One would assume that there would be lots of resources available, but there really isn't. No RPG system related resources anyway. Okay, I'm whining.

I find the web to be a wonderful tool for research, but things that I had taken for granted in fantasy settings, are now rocks which serve no purpose but to stumble over, and one can't see them until they trip over one.

Maps! One should find it easier to work using Real world maps, but that isn't the case at all. It is one of those things that bugs me about the Educational System. Parents who have helped their children with homework know exactly what I am talking about, I am sure. Common core math makes no sense, they don't teach the kids how to write, and they don't teach geography. Well, they do, but it is computer based and I wonder if modern kids even know how to use a real map?

I'm frustrated because I need a little student Atlas, something that they used to sale all over the place, and dirt cheap, and is no longer readily available. I find lots of little sourcebooks which I had taken for granted, and are now a thing of the past. Once in a while one of my kids will ask me what  a word means, so I'll tell them to go look it up in the Dictionary, and I was shocked to know that my 5th Grader had no idea what a dictionary even was. I suppose that google is good enough while the web is available, but what about when it isn't?

Perhaps my skill set has just been replaced and I am resentful of it. A few years back the Missouri River flooded and it took out huge stretches of the Interstate. You would be shocked as to how many people had to pull over and ask for help, all because they didn't take a map with them. I didn't think that anybody was that foolish! When you drive cross country, you always take a map with you. These people were all relying on their phones to get them where they need to be, and in this case, the data on their phones was so inaccurate that it couldn't plot a new course. And do you think that any of these people bought a Road Atlas? They didn't, maybe because they had no idea how to actually use one.

For gaming, those online Distance Calculators aren't as handy for me to use as a physical map and ruler is. Yes, I can calculate the distance between two places, but it isn't all that handy. With a ruler, I can easily plot where the party will have to stop and rest, it is easy! A chore that normally takes seconds, now takes three times as long because I'm guessing. How is that better than a paper map with a scale on it?

I also find myself overthinking stuff. Movement rates that are uncharted territory from those in the AD&D handbooks. Is a  Victorian horse drawn carriage faster than one from the middle ages? You'd think so because it is constructed with materials which weigh less; so do I still cut the horses MR in half, or do I reduce it by a lesser number, and if so, by what? How does the speed of a steamer ship compare to a sailing ship? The train changes everything, even those old hulking steam engines could cross entire countries in hours. Figuring out a MR for them, factoring in stops and terrain is akin to creating your own MR system.  All of this before I can even begin to sit down and write actual content. Maybe I'm just over analyzing things, but it still bugs me.


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