So I started reading some weird fiction lately – specifically Annihilation and Authority, the first two books of Jeff VanderMeer’s “Southern Reach” trilogy. The Southern Reach is a secret agency that manages expeditions into an area known as Area X. Area X is an uninhabited and abandoned area that nature has begun to reclaim. The third book (Acceptance) doesn’t come out until September, so I’m going to wait until then to review the trilogy.
Some of the features of Area X got me thinking about Tempora Mutantur again, and I started hunting for books with a similar theme. Earlier, I had read about Roadside Picnic, by the Soviet sci-fi authours Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. The text of the story is available online, and epub versions are easy to find. I downloaded a copy, and read it through in a day.
I must say I’m still confused about the ending, but the idea of the zones is very compelling. The story inspired the Ukrainian FPS S.T.A.L.K.E.R., and the Finnish diceless RPG Stalker. The latter is of particular interest, as although I’m lukewarm about the whole “diceless” idea, I quickly realized that the minimalist Tempora Mutantur ruleset could be adapted very easily to this setting.
We’ll see if I get inspired enough to do a “Stalker” edit of Tempora Mutantur, but in the meantime I provide the following ratings for Roadside Picnic and the Stalker RPG.