A good GM should think about their media intake. “Garbage in, garbage out” as they say. Because no one’s creativity lives in a vacuum and, because as Qoheleth says, there is nothing new under the sun, we remix ideas when we create. So it would make sense that we should be careful about the media that we view / read / listen to. With only so much time and money, we should invest it carefully.
With all of that in mind, when I first heard of Cirsova, I was a little skeptical.
Why was I skeptical? I have a love-hate relationship with collections of short stories from different authors. There always seems to be a few dud stories in with the gems and I wish I did not waste money and time digging through the duds to find the gems. Even worse are the collections that are more duds than gems.
I also do not like reviews of short stories that go through each short story and spoil the plot of each story. Hence, this is a non-review review of the first 4 issues of Cirsova.
There are two perspectives to consider as a GM with any fictional media: is it fun/good to read as a person and is it good as inspiration for the game? Some media does not fulfill both criteria and in some cases, that is ok. However, here at The Mixed GM, I look at both perspectives.
Is it fun/good to read as a person?
– Absolutely. Stories of heroism and doing the right thing even when it is costly are always good to read. Cirsova contains many such stories.
Is it good as inspiration for the game?
– Yes. The themes, characters, and settings are ripe for plundering for your game. If these were all published 50 years ago, at least some, if not most, of the stories/authors in Cirsova would appear in Appendix N. While I should not casually suggest that a particular story or author should be added to that august list, I just did so.
Additionally, there are no duds in any of the issues. THERE ARE NO DUDS IN ANY OF THE ISSUES!!!
I cannot express how wonderful that is to type. I cannot recommend Cirsova highly enough. Each story is a joy to read. I am ashamed that I did not pick up Cirsova when I first heard about it and been a part of the Kickstarter campaigns.
Are there certain stories I like more than other stories? Of course. But that is like making me choose between apple pie and cheesecake. I enjoy both, but I will choose cheesecake every time!*
Because I suppose I should have a list of favorite stories, here is a list of my favorite stories in each issue.
Issue # 1: “The Gift of the Ob-Men”
Issue # 2: “Squire Errant”
Issue # 3: “The Lion’s Share”
Issue # 4: “The Sands of Rubal-Khali”
I hesitate to get into any specifics about any of the stories, because I want to you go into them with the same wide-eyed wonder I had. That is how these stories should be read, with eyes full of wonder at what the next page will bring.
TL;DR: All of Cirsova is great. Buy it. Read it.
*Please do not use this knowledge to poison me. Thank you in advance.