Sunday, June 17, 2012

What Uz is Not

I've been seeing quite a bit of excitement about Uz on G+* and since I'm going to be be running a game of it soon, I thought I should try to give a clearer picture of what it is like.  In one of the threads, Richard mentioned that it might be useful to talk about what a Science Fantasy setting isn't in order to get across what it is and how it's different from others.  I certainly agree with this sentiment, so here are some of the things that Uz is not.
  • Uz is not Sword & Planet.  To be honest, I don't really know what Sword & Planet is. While I am inspired by some of Roy Krenkel's art, I haven't read much of ERB's stuff.  My only familiarity with Barsoom comes from the recent John Carter film, and the only thing I've ever read that could be considered Sword & Planet was Amulric by REH.  If you're expecting Tharks, you will be sorely disappointed.
  • Uz is not Moebius.  I have a lot of respect for Moebius and enjoy his art a great deal, it just doesn't have anything to do with how I conceive of Uz.  Reynold Brown, Virgil Finlay, and Roy Krenkel are the artists that inspire Uz.  Oh, also Mark Schultz, but mostly just his work on the first Del Rey collection of Conan.
  • Uz is not Heavy Metal Magazine.  This is one of those things that is often brought up in conjunction with Science Fantasy. While I've seen the move - which also did not influence Uz - I haven't ever read an issue of the magazine.  
  • Uz is not He-Man or Thundarr or any cartoon.  I have almost zero experience with He-Man, and while I like Thundarr it was not what I had in mind in the short days between drawing this map and running the first session.**
  • Uz is not "80s" or "70s."  I was born in 1988 and so I missed most of the 80s experience that seems to be such a big part of the OSR.  Most of my young mind was subjected to things from the 50s and 60s, which is when my parents grew up.  I was raised on a steady diet of Saucer Men, Godzilla, and Hammer Horror.  However, I would hesitate too associate Uz with a decade after 2900 BCE.
  • Uz is not Carcosa.  Now, I like Carcosa and I actually used it quite a bit when I ran Uz recently - primarily its technology generators and some of the monsters.  However, Carcosa has no decadent city-states with jade-domed temples.  Uz is decadence and decay, not a brutal struggle for survival.
I hope this helps you get a better handle on my Uz setting.  If you would like me to clarify any of these points, let me know.

One last note:  I do not dislike any of these things.  You'll notice that the overwhelming theme is one of ignorance.  I don't include them because I haven't read or seen much of them.

*Comparatively speaking for one of my campaigns.

**The inception of Uz went something like this: I tried to draw a section of a big, Jakalla-style underworld map.  I then asked my wife "what does this map go to?" and she said "how bout some kind of Biblical thing?"    I then remembered that that two days or so prior I had already made a desert-y map, so I just put it in one of the cities.

12 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Uz is you

      Yes. I just need to make sure people realize that.

      Delete
  2. Comparison to Dark Sun? I can already see lots of differences in terms of style (the stone-age weapons and D&D races of Athas being big ones) but there are some similarities too: decadent city-states with jade-domed temples, desert, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should have put Dark Sun on the list. I never played any Dark Sun, having only gotten into D&D in about 2002.

      Delete
    2. From what I've seen of Dark Sun, mine is much more directly inspired by Mesopotamia. It also doesn't have any kind of traditional D&D magic - spells are psychic abilities that super-powerful aliens channel through "lucky" mortals.

      Delete
  3. That certainly clears a few things up! Thanks. I'm thinking if I get to play in it I should just go full-on Sumerian and be surprised by every bit of ancient ultratech I see. And pathologically distrustful of 50s Martians. Perhaps it's spear and sandals (with exposed brain jerks)?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The first session I played in was pretty straight-up "two Sumerians and an Akkadian walk into a bar" until we hit dungeon level 2.

      Delete
  4. Very helpful, and it really brings what makes Uz distinct into sharp focus. From what I've seen, I think your setting (among the few of us working on science-fantasy stuff) is the most coherent and sharply defined.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Another difference I've noticed recently is that Oriax and Krul both still have some access to space travel, even if it is limited. I'm thinking Uz is in a pocket dimension (if a larger one) kinda like Tekumel.

      Delete