Then I remembered how much I love Vance, of course, and how much I'd enjoy trying to channel him, and just how much fun his ironic, cynical relativism is. So now it's great.
And it got me thinking about games that set out to "do" Jack Vance. It turns out, from a little bit of Googling, that not only is there already a Dying Earth RPG, it was written by no less than Robin D. Laws and John Snead, two of the least Cugel-like people in the entire world. Curiouser and curiouser!
I'm just perusing the quick start rules on my lunch break. No time for an in-depth analysis now, but suffice to say there's stuff in here that's likeable (spell titles like "The Astonishing Oral Projection"). I'm a bit more dubious about this:
In [this] game we're not always rooting unreservedly for the characters to succeed. They are often selfish, greedy or overconfident... What matters is not victory or defeat, but how well the story entertains us... We reward you, the player, for making the game entertaining.
It might just be my nautral prejudices, but when I read stuff like that it sets alarm bells ringing: there's nothing less entertaining than people trying too hard to be entertaining. If I was designing a Dying Earth RPG my main focus would be on getting the players to be interested in self-advancement and self-aggrandization, rather than on being entertaining - which, it strikes me, is more of a by-product.
But we'll see. I might be tempted to make a purchase all the same.