Nope, not dead.
Work moved me to a new city, and we've bought our first house. A little smaller than we're used to, but there's a good sized garden, and I'm sort of lost in the whole getting used to owning a house and all the things that are needed to settle in - well, actually, we own 20.1%, the balance being the bank's, but that's nothing to worry about right now.
Most of my RPG notes and books are still in boxes, as we don't have enough bookcases anymore. Still, I'm taking the opportunity to finally get through The Books of the South, a Black Company volume I picked up last year. I do like Glen Cook's writing - gritty and more about what's there in front of the characters, rather than the 'long game'. That style of writing is okay in some series, but the number of fantasy novels these days that don't actually bother explaining what the protagonists are seeing, feeling or hearing during scenes that cry out for some description is somewhat startling.
I also like Elizabeth Moon's Deed of Paksenarrion series, at least the first couple, as it's immediate, without epic good/evil staring you in the face at each page.
Also been listening to Harbour Lights, a 1995 album by a New Zealand Celtic Fusion band called Rua, who made 4-5 albums then disbanded in 2001. It's both Celtic and NZ sounding, which is interesting.
This has got me thinking about a new mini-setting, small in scale and immediate to the players - no nameless NPCs - everyone has a name and a connection, including the bandits (one you recognise, from the village of Knockbridge; his family sold vegetables at the monthly markets...) and death has a real impact.
Drew a map on the back of a receipt with four or so large towns, a number of 'sites', and large Empires off the map in most directions. The area actually on the map is a small sort-of kingdom, with a hereditary Prince, ignored by most, scheming Barons below him, annual formal subjugation by an empire from the Plateau to the North, and a number of ill-defined power groups; the Red Knights and the Vermilion Order, both independent fighting forces; the Mages, recovering from almost complete annihilation by the Goblins, and their infamous Slug Riders; and the haunted Barrow Hills to the West. The map seems to have made its way through the washing machine, but the ideas it sparked are developing. Play should be nasty and brutish and death, quick and common. Game of Thrones crossed with Blackadder...
Semi-feudal setup, with fighters starting as Squires, and needing to prove that they own land sufficient to support the ability to campaign in order to be knighted, with this causing layers of obligation and politicking. Some may stay squires for decades, others leap quickly into the upper reaches of society.
Mages are only trained at The Tower of Obscurance in the main town, Malcarth. Each year, 16 children, showing talent and with wealthy benefactors, around the age of 10-12, are admitted into the dark gates of the Tower. They are treated as servants at first, learning cleaning, cooking, sewing anad other useful, menial skills. The dark arts are taught slowly at first, with caution and safeguards, but incidents do happen. Ten years later, classes of eight Journeymages are released, and assigned to various Barons, Lords or insitutions. The remainder have succumbed to various misfortunes, ritualised tests and fey tidings over the course of their apprenticeship.
Basically it's a tired little corner of the world that has been conquered by marauding armies passing through over much of the past two millennia. Because of this, burials and barrow mounds of many different cultures exist, and ruins dot the wilderness that has reclaimed much of the land. Not many people, only one big city, and that's on the Western edge of the map and sufficiently remote and foreign that travelling there is an adventure in itself.