[Some excised personal stuff...] I think that is why playing in shared known worlds is so common with RPGs as it is hard to play in a world that you don't have a handle on. With most generic D&D there's a certain amount of shared myth/world that is comprehensible as well as the "sort of historical medieval" stuff. With historical games or historical plus x (magic, horror, etc.) you also have a shared handle on reality and then you can ascertain of figure out the added elements. Sci-fi is much tougher in that in can encompass a wide range of possibilities: just the difference between Star Wars and The Expanse covers a pretty big range of expectations for society and technology and such if not everyone is familiar. I certainly feel like a lot of this played into my failure running a Stars Without Number game a few years ago for the group, which lasted... not many sessions at all (3 maybe?).
But in conclusion, I'm determined to be clearer about many things pre-game in the future. Is this a one-shot? Is it an ongoing campaign? Is it a multi-session adventure? Is it a one-shot that could be a campaign if we like it? And also, no more sci-fi for our group. I'm looking into this Elizabethan occult game now Dee's Sanction, as there has been expressed interest in historical flavored stuff from the group, and I know Eric likes the realistic esoteric/occult stuff, and Kristina likes Elizabethan stuff. The game has a good concept though as I read the rules, I'm thinking I do not want to use them as they seem a bit overly complicated for what they are (and are written with an excess of bolded words that make it really hard to read/follow). So I may use the concept and some of the adventures and the character creation/random tables but just use a simplified D&D rules since everyone knows them. Normal stats as modifiers, skills are mostly freeform, add +2 if it seems like your character would be skilled. d20 vs target roll. 3 hp + CON mod. Damage is always 1 unless it's is extra dangerous. No short rests, no healing spells. Magic is ad hoc per the setting.
Been writing a review of Oliver East's Blocks the past couple days, hopefully for The Comics Journal. Have another review vaguely started though I'm not sure how invested I am in it, we'll see. (Edit: Final review is here.)
I reread Queneau's The Blue Flowers yesterday which was fun and breezy. It's been awhile since I read that one. The plot intertwines a contemporary (1960's) old man who lives on a barge with a medieval Duke. When each falls asleep they dream they are each other, with the Duke skipping through time at 150 or so year intervals until he arrives at the barge and meets the old man. As usual for Queneau there is a lot of philosophy hidden amongst comedy and language play. I'm 90% sure one section is a parody of Robbe-Grillet (famous and new at the time) that minutely describes a strange hat and a scene at a bar.
Watched Ozu's An Autumn Afternoon (one of my favorites of his) with the David Bordwell commentary track running yesterday. I know I've listened to it before, but it was still really interesting and engaging throughout to hear Bordwell talk about Ozu, the plot, and in particular Ozu's stylistic choices and how he stuck to or varied from conventional filmic style. Probably not a ton I haven't heard multiple times before, but it is so much more engaging when you are seeing the film go by so that the commentary can talk about specific compositions and cuts and scenes as they happen.