Walking the Planes 2: A History of the Planes in Dungeons & Dragons

A Map of the Inner Planes (1977)

This one took a bit longer to write, but finally the second article in my planar series is out, in which I give an overview of the planes in the history of Dungeons & Dragons. Next time, I’ll be diving into Planescape properly for the first time. […Read more…]

Walking the Planes 1: Introduction


As promised, my series about Planescape and the Planes in Dungeons & Dragons kicked off this month. The first in­stalment is only an intro­ductory piece, in which I set out my ideas for the future of the series. Hope­fully it will whet your interest; check back here or on The Onto­logical Geek soon for the second piece! […Read more…]

A Chaotic Gift (for Chris Bateman)


Dear Chris, You have recently returned from paternity leave, and have witnessed the birth of your second son, on which again my congratulations! As you wrote on your own blog, you’d like nothing more from your readers as a gift than an open letter, so who am I to refuse? After I finished reading the final draft version of your upcoming book, Chaos Ethics, somewhere last year, I wrote to you in an email that I thought it would be an interesting idea to start a letter series on the topic of Chaos, in the broadest sense. It is not something you touch upon extensively in your book—understandably so, since it is about ethics first and foremost—but knowing you slightly, I suspect you will have some additional things to say on the concept. […Read more…]

Sanctifying Games


This April was a religion-themed month over at video­game blog The Ontological Geek. I wrote the final arti­cle in the series, and mused a little on how con­cepts of reli­gion, God, and par­ticu­larly The Holy, can be in­cor­po­rated into video­games. For per­haps ob­vious rea­sons, it’s easy for games to tackle and re­pre­sent the more mun­dane sides of reli­gion and faith, but they seem to struggle some­what when it comes to matters more tran­scen­dent. In “Sanc­ti­fying Games”, I try to ex­plore why that might be. […Read more…]

2012: A Year in Books

Lori Nix - 'Library' (2007)

What did I read in 2012? I’ve found looking back at my last year in books helps me chart some themes and developments in my (mental life), so I’ve decided to do it again this year. I read 92 books in 2012, a little fewer than in 2011, but they were bigger books, and my page total ended up higher. This doesn’t count all the articles I’ve read, but we’ve got to draw the reading nerdage line somewhere. It’s all slightly arbitrary anyway. […Read more…]

What It’s Like to Play Planescape: Torment

Videogames can sometimes be a very arcane medium, and it can often be difficult to comprehend what they’re all about for people who never or seldom play them. Of course entertainment is often the main ‘use’ of a video game, but many of them have elaborate themes and stories, and the way in which video games deliver those narratives and themes is often unique to the medium. Today my own piece on Planescape: Torment was published, and I try to explain how the game uses exploration and conversation to allow you to reconstruct the protagonist’s tortured past. […Read more…]

Science Stories: The Mythology of Evolution


Most people will be at least passingly familiar with the ‘war’ between ‘science’ and ‘religion’ that has been a central theme in the history of the West in the past few centuries. My quotes are intentional because each of these concepts is far more complicated than common usage would suggest. The problem is: most, if […Read more…]

The Viewpoint of Eternity

time scale

I came across the schema below in Olaf Staple­don’s book Star Maker. The book in gene­ral made a very favour­able im­press­ion on me, as you can read in the short review I wrote on Good­reads. How­ever, this one bit in par­ticular I wanted to high­light on this blog, as it speaks direct­ly to the title, Sub Specie. […Read more…]

Mythic Fantasy: Pages of Pain


What a chimera of a book this is. It has one foot in plain old fan­tasy, with quite a few battles, some spell-slinging, and a hero on a quest. The other foot is deep in myth. When I first read this book, around seven years ago, I didn’t quite get it. I was already quite familiar with Planescape, the Dungeons & Dragons setting that forms the backdrop for this novel. However, in the novel, I found little of the vast vistas and wide-eyed wonder that typified the setting for me. Instead, the book’s narrative is almost completely confined to a labyrinth, which offers only a few passing glimpses of all the imaginative places that make up the Planescape multiverse. However, upon a second reading and some brief reflection, I think I now see what Denning tried to do here. […Read more…]