Sunday, November 20, 2011

riot gear

Whenever I would work on anything cyberpunk related I always tried to capture the government control over everything. So I was always looking around for pictures of cops in riot gear in action and such. Sometimes I would see one and think "Man that would be perfect if the writing on the buildings and such was in english".

Now I have plenty of shots like that to choose from. All in english... complete with US city streets and people... It made me think differently of all the other images that I've seen from other countries. At the people in them and what they were going through. Something moved inside of me.

It's easy to hate, really it is, I've been doing it for a while now. However at this point I'm discovering just how hard it is to give a damn about something and still going after it anyways.

I can't believe how far the 'Land of the Free' has fallen. At least we are still the Home of the Brave, and I'm not referring to the ones in the riot gear.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Screams from the Outhouse: Fortune Cookies

Somebody mentioned the other day about someone using fortune cookies during character creation in a wuxia style game. Evidently the history of the fortune cooked being a Japanese invention that was made popular by Americans somehow taints the Chinese based wuxia ideas. Never mind the fact that it's Chinese restaurants that are giving out the cookies with every meal and thus making them popular in America....

Anyways, this got me thinking about using them as well. I'm not sure how the previous person used them as there was no link back to the actual statement of it. But here's what I came up with. You get your saying in the cookie and then use that to help set some sort of idea for your character. Here are a few I came up with:

“There is always a way, if you are committed.” The character never gives up on a cause no matter how much the odds are stacked against them. He is always searching for the way to succeed when facing certain failure.

“You are blessed, today is the day to bless others” The character is of a religious occupation or belief. He spends a lot of his times trying to spread that belief to others or aid them spiritually.

“Traveling more often is important for your health and happiness.” The character is always on the move and never settles down for long. He is always looking forward to what is over the next hill.

“Wisdom is on her way to you” The character is a seeker of knowledge almost to the level of obsession with gaining new sources to learn from.

These could be used in just about any sort of game as well. Not just anything of 'oriental' influence or what not. Just an extra little way to apply some twists to the characters during generation. Next time I run a game I may just try this out.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The ignore list

Well I've been on a lot more here lately. I've realised that I do something that other are incapable of on there. When somebody says trollish or flamebait things I put them on ignore. Many of the people who get banned from there are apparently can't do this. They get banned when they finally get tired of seeing it and go off on the trolls.

Why do they do this? The person is obviously trying to get a rise out of people and is probably seeing a person getting banned from their prodding as a feather in their cap. So why in the world would they care what they have to say the rest of the time? I know I don't.

Anyways I've been adding to my little ignore list already over there. Now if only everyone else would start doing the same then the actions of the trolls would be met with silence. Then the very few who also make some decent posts would notice the silence as well. Once the fun is gone they would leave.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Say what...?

Okay now this is a pretty petty thing for somebody to get pissed off about. From the G+ page of Gareth Skarka.

Comment on Twitter about a wuxia game that uses fortune cookies for character creation.

Fortune cookies.

A Japanese invention, popularized in America.

Fucking gamers.

Yeah so he's mad about somebody using fortune cookies for character creation because they aren't a Chinese creation (which is where wuxia originated) but Japanese and made overly popular by Americans. He doesn't mention anything at all about all the Chinese restaurants ran by actual Chinese people that give away fortune cookies.

Really sometimes GMS comes off with some things that I really think are intelligent and thinking outside of the box. Then there are time, like this, where I can do nothing more than facepalm about it.

Yeah we gamers are supposed to be of a higher morale fiber than to use a Japanese creation made popular in America and given out at Chinese restaurants because it is, I don't know insulting, to the Chinese. I don't see many Chinese cuisine sellers complaining about things like this though.

His post is public for anybody on the Plus that wants to see it.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fools who can't come up with their own topics

Y'know what I find funny? When somebody who claims to hate with a raging huge hard-on, and yet still has to steal topics from there for their own forum. Yeah RPGdipshit is at it again.

Does it bug you when a player has been participating in a game for several sessions, and still doesn't know how to do basic things in spite of having done them multiple times, and had it explained to him multiple times?

Would it make a difference in whether it bothered you if the guy was generally dim, or if you had the sense that he just doesn't care enough about learning the rules? Or if you got a sense that he won't learn the rules specifically because he knows everyone else will tell him how to do stuff?

An amazingly obvious copycat thread starter like this one over on the old big purple.

What do you do when a player simply won't learn the rules of the game.

He lacks so much in originality that he has to lift ideas from the place that he is constantly bitching about. Well the number of threads being updated per day seems to be down so I guess it is about time for him to start doing this in an attempt to get posting back up. He did the same when rpghaven was first trying to start up.

Guess that what has to be done when your raging epeen filled with anger online persona stops attracting the folks.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Other Side: Skill resolution mechanics

Skill ranking and mechanics idea. One main goal is to just use six sided dice since they are my preferred die type and easily available.

Most likely I'll be using cascade style skills like out of Unknown Armies or broad traits like Over the Edge. Either way there will be three rankings when you choose them skilled, adept and expert. This will tell you how many dice you roll. But you only keep one, the highest. Unless you are trying something you have absolutely no skill, in that case you keep the lowest.

unskilled roll two dice and keep the lowest
skilled roll one and keep the highest
adept roll two and keep the highest
expert roll three and keep the highest

Some skills would be listed as NA for unskilled and impossible to do without possessing it.

Target numbers would depend on the action. Some would be based off a preset difficulty. For example with lockpicking the lock would have its own number that needed to be reached. 2 for the easiest and 6 for the hardest. Others such as dancing would depend on a number determined by the GM, with 2 being easy and 6 being the hardest.

Target numbers for hitting somebody would depend on the weapon and range/actions of target. Examples: Long range would add one, moving target would add one, duress would add one, weapon is low quality adds one, things like this. So if you are trying to hit a perfectly stationary target at normal range the difficulty would be 2. But a target at long range that is running and you are being shot at also (duress) would be a 5.

Of course this could make combat pretty deadly with expert fighters. But then again, shouldn't it be that way?

Thinking of some sort of instant success choice with easy task. Like the take 10 and take 20 rules from 3rd Edition D&D. Where a skilled character spends extra time to make sure he is doing it correctly and is careful.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Other Side: The Sight

The Sight

In the world of The Other Side there are people who have a gift of sorts. It's a gift that allows them to see what most others cannot, they can see through the veil of our reality. The structure of our world has a tendency to try and protect those who reside in it. First step in protection is simply hiding what does not belong. So the cracks in the walls, creatures who have slipped through, people who have figured out how to use powers that are seeping in; all of these, they are covered up. Only those with the Sight can see or detect them.

They, of course, are the player characters.

Hopefully this will allow the game to be ran in a few different ways by game masters. From a group of monster hunters, to a occult detectives and people thrown into the power struggles between beings from another world who are using our reality as a battleground. It will also add in the extra antagonists of law enforcement agencies and such who will see an assault against an otherworldly humanoid predator as an assault on a strange acting homeless man. So there can be plenty of material to work with.

Now of course not everybody can see as good as the rest. The Sight will have a skill rating and anything that is hidden by the veil will have a difficulty number to beat in order to see. But everyone with the site can see the cracks, of course that's not necessarily a good thing since by seeing them you risk getting pulled though without a choice.

Why some people are able to see like this and others are not is a subject of great debate... among those who know of it. Common theories are human evolution in defense against a growing enviromental threat, influence by some as of yet unknown race from the Other Side who are secretly aiding us, even some think that it's caused by the amount of dependency that we have on avenues of escape from the world on a daily basis. The actual truth is nobody really knows. I don't even know and I'm never going to make a set reason. This is something of the cosmological setting in the game that will be left open for GM's to fill in for themselves if needed. Or they can use the same answer I will be 'nobody knows'.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Again idiots keep babbling on

The RPGdipshit continues his usual tirade showing his true colors. Basically this post of his boils down to 'run games like I do or you are running it wrong!'.

The Swine mistrust both setting and players.

Look at the Call of Cthulhu Swine, when they insist that players should not be allowed to have a high percentage in gun skills, or want to actively punish those who do. That's distrusting the player, and/or the setting. Its assuming that the player will not themselves have the sense to know when to use the weapons or not; or for that matter, the setting won't have the sense that if a player doesn't use his judgment about when to shoot or not to shoot, the setting will kill him.

But the Swine have never cared very much about emulation, I guess.

So yeah evidently all players all over the freaking world are just like his players (okay some of his are probably imaginary). Sorry but some GMs have to put some of their own rules in place to make their games run how they like them. It's an age old tradition in gaming called 'house rules' he may want to check those out.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Other Side - The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Pulling the name from my never finished system for Dark West on this one. I've always been a fan of having advantages and disadvantage in my games. It helps add depth to the characters and gives the GM a bit more insight into what the players actually want to do with them. So nearly any system I come up with is going to have these. Just sometimes how they work may vary a bit. Here are some details on how I see them working in The Other Side at the moment.

The Good and the Bad.

First thing out of the box I am not going to allow these to give the PC's any sort of financial or material gains. Turns it into more of a 'look what I get to start with!' situation. Instead they will be about their actual body of the character. Things that will affect their physical, mental and social abilities. They will be subdivided down into those three categories as well (hat off to the old WoD on this).

Now what I haven't decided on is how to figure out how many of each the players can choose. There is always the point buy method of varying degrees. Massive point pool to buy the entire character with, but this doesn't fit how I see the rest of character generation. Point swap, where the Bads would give you points to buy the Goods with, this has potential. Then there are a few random methods as well. Rolling dice for the number you get is an easy out but lacks flair. Or maybe even the lifepath set up that is used in games like Cyberpunk 2020. I just want to make it match the feel of the game somehow, exactly how to do this is the big question.

The Ugly.

Now this idea is lifted pretty much straight from the Kult rpg and honestly it's probably the main thing about character creation that I loved in it. Every character has something they don't want others to know, part of their past that makes them what they are today. They all have a dark secret. Nearly anytime I've ever ran anything horror related other than Kult I wished that I had put this into it. So much to use is just handed over on a silver plate to the GM. So I am damn sure going to be putting this into The Other Side.

Now I always like it when players make their disadvantages/advantages all cross into each other and with their dark secret. Suffering from nightmares from when they were the victim of a medical experiment, cold blooded because years back they were in a situation where they had to kill other people to survive, these sorts of things. So I'm going to work in a way to reward players for doing this. Depending on how I end up making the resolution mechanics it may be chances to reroll per game, extra dice in die pools, or bonuses. Maybe even all of them based on how the relation is done.

I want character generation to make the players think about how they want their characters to really be. All the way to the core. This seems to be a good step in that direction.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Old post from livejournal.

Fired up my old livejournal account and was looking back through some of the posts. Now over there is where I first started using the 'stupid shit' tag for special posts that just really made me go "What an idiot.". So after looking at a few of these I figured I would repost one of the old ones here. So dating back from April 23, 2009 here is one I titled 'What a twit....'.


Marcus King, the owner of the retail store Titan Games and Music, bitches about companies giving discounts on their pdfs but not to the brick an mortar stores. The article is here:

Now I would like to add that the reason these publishers gave these discounts is due to the fact that WOTC pulled all their pdf titles down and the publishers were trying to help the pdf sellers 'keep afloat' or some such. Basically they are trying to keep another seller of their product healthy.

Now back to Marcus. I've met Marcus once at a con, didn't seem like that much of a dick. But after reading this article I've got to say he really looks like one now.

Bitching that he wants free copies of Exalted to give away. Guess all the point of sale boosters like posters, quick play guides and discounts for buying quantity at release points don't matter. Oh lets not forget the free VTES starters they gave out there for a while, or the free promo cards they used to give out. Shit guess he forgot about all that.

I used to play the hell out of the Cyberpunk CCG. I got into it when the local shop gave me and a buddy a couple of decks that he was sent FREE. Once we got a few others playing the shop sold several boxes of the game. 7th Sea was the same, walked into the shop and the owner handed us a couple of free starters he got from AEG.

You see many publishers have been BENDING THE FUCK OVER BACKWARDS to help out the brick and mortar shops for years now. I've seen it. Seen free books sent to shops, free give away stuff, free this and free that. Discounts at conventions to retailers buying straight from the publishers there. So when they go and try and help the pdf shops he gets all pissy about it.

Fuck him. I hate people with selective memory who forget things to make their own arguement more valid.

You don't see him bitching about internet discounters cutting into his bussiness though do you? Amazon sells a metric assload of rpg stuff for cheaper prices than the shops. But since he sells on amazon I guess he keeps his mouth shut there.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Liquid Television back on the air, well at least the net.

MTV has finally did something really good for once. They created a Liquid Television website and uploaded, as near as I can tell, everything that ever aired on the show. This included a lot of animation made by very small studios, films that were a labor of love for these people. This included...

Aeon Flux.

Still one of the most surreal cyberpunkish series of shorts that I have ever seen.

Liquid Television - The alternative to reality.

Hell I still love that tagline for it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Screams from the Outhouse: Todays dice.

One of the first visuals that comes to mind when you mention role-playing games to anybody who has had any experience with them is that of dice. We seem to have a love affair with our dice. From people who collect endless amounts of sets and varieties to rituals that some do at the table to help their odds of rolling good numbers. Don't even try to grab somebodies little pile of polyhedrons without first asking for permission, you can lose a finger that way. It's in our blood to roll these things, the clickity clack of the plastic across the table is forever ingrained into our minds.

But usually the image in all our minds has pretty much remained the same. The colors may change, the six siders may have pips or numbers, the one may be a little picture instead of a number. But they all have nice, flat, solid sides. Koplow, Gamescience, Chessex and many other dice makers have their own fans who say they are the best, but in the end they all end up looking pretty much the same. Even when Crystal Caste turned up with some neater looking designs and the 'rolling log' appearance most still remember the ones they have spent years with.

However things are changing in the dice market now. The technology used to etch or laser craft dice has become more available over the years. People can now operate out of their homes, basements and garages in the dice business. The base unetched dice must still be bought from suppliers because, lets face it, plastic injection mold machines are a bit much to get into. So now you can have custom made dice for your specific game or campaign made just for you. Want a D6 with the symbol of the ruling empire in your game on it? It can be done, just decide how many you want and they'll send you a price. Combine this with blogging about all your new creations, your successful (and failed) tests and you can build up some popularity.


However for some this is not enough. If a technology is out there and it can some way be used to fulfill a gamers dream then by god somebody will use it. Enter the age of 3D Printers. For those of you who don't know these are damn near micro factories that can print full three dimensional objects in a variety of materials. You just design the item you want, or scan the hell out of an existing one and let the printer 'build' it for you. They are truly wonderful things.

So of course people are breaking the mold in how dice should look. Especially since the 3D printers break all the rules of the old injection mold technology. Things that would have required multiple pieces and be glued together can now be built as one object. Over on Shapeways there is starting to be a large variety of these dice being made available all with some very interesting designs.

Made by Wombat


These are just a couple of what is there. Plus there are many other sites offering up 3D printer created objects. Prices will vary a lot from maker to maker of course. But this is the start of a movement into smaller independently owned creators and away from the mass quantity companies of the past. Will Chessex and their like go away? I doubt it. But they will have some unique competition now.

Story out of Sequence part five

“Vehicle is a white Monte Carlo year 1980, excellent condition, plates number is SD4 56T. Doors appear to be locked; windows are rolled up, no keys present in ignition.” Detective Samantha Haberlin circled the vehicle talking into a small recorder in her hand. “In the back seat there is a plastic rifle case, several boxes of ammunition and a closed green sports bag. In the front there appears to be an empty bottle of Jack Daniels, an unfolded straight razor, loose cartridges for a pistol on the floorboards and a photograph of a girl. Oh and a sealed blank envelope on the dashboard.”

“You always seem to beat me to the scene Sam.” A voice sounded off from behind her.

“That’s right Murphy, always have and always will.” She turns to see the detective making his way around the police cruiser blocking off the alley. He looked like death warmed over this morning, probably hung over again. “Rough night?”

“As usual. It locked up?”

“Yeah, we’re supposed to get the keys for it sent down here once Julia gets done with the shit bag down in the morgue.” After pulling a five out of her coat pocket Samantha flags an officer over to her. “It looks like we will be here for a while why don’t you go get us all some coffee. Make mine black.”

“Same here.” Murphy spoke in as he peered through the side window of the car.

“Yes ma’am.” The officer turned away and headed off towards another patrol car on the street.

“So you think it’s going to be awhile before we get the keys Sam?”

“Well the body got pretty well ventilated. Jones is the one that finally took him down and you know how trigger-happy he is. With the way this guy went off you know he didn’t spare him any lead either.”

“Last count I got on the way up here was nine dead and fifteen wounded. With two of the dead being cops. I just can’t wait until we get a bullet count of how many rounds he put into him.”

“Detective Haberlin?” An officer approached from the end of the alley. Sam turned and gave him a nod. “Miss Bates down at the morgue wanted me to deliver you this. She said you wanted it as soon as possible.”

“Thanks.” Sam takes the envelope and looks inside, “Better glove up Murphy. For once somebody worked in our favor. They went ahead and sent us the keys.”

“I call dibs on the trunk.”

“I figured that much.” She sat the envelope on the hood of the car and slipped her gloves on, then pulled the keys out. “Quite a few on here, guess later we get the honor of trying to find out what they all go to.”

“Yeah lots of fun that will be. Hopefully he had some local next of kin to help us out when we get ready to do that.” He made an angry face as he pulled his gloves on with a snap.

“You always look like you’re about to give a cavity search every time you do that.”

“Yeah but the guys down at the jail hate it when I do one, my hands are to big for their tastes. Now come on let’s open the baby up.”

Sam looks through the keys a bit before finally selecting one out. She slides it into the lock on the trunk and turns it. “Well time to see what a psycho gun nut keeps in his trunk.”

“Oh didn’t know we were going through Jones’s car.” Murphy said with a grin as the trunk rose. “Okay now that’s not what I expected.”

“Holy shit…” Sam raises the recorder up to her mouth, “Inside the trunk there are several knives lined up in a rack, varying in size. A box of latex gloves, plastic bags, several rows of duck tape, rope, a Polaroid camera and some storage boxes.”

“I’m opening one of these boxes.” His hands gently lift the top of one of the boxes open while attempting not to disturb anything else. “Pictures, um … nothing special just a few… wait a second.”

“What is it?”

Murphy stood back up and goes through a hand full of Polaroid’s while Sam looks over his shoulder. “Victims I assume. Bound up and apparently being cut to death.”

“I recognize that person. She’s one of the victims of that serial killer that disappeared about a year ago. You remember that?”

“Yeah the one who got nicknamed the slow slasher since he took his time killing the victims. That means our man lying on the slab at the morgue is probably him.”

“I’m gonna go call this in. This pulls it out of our jurisdiction now.”

Saturday, October 15, 2011

From the mouth of a fool

Okay I haven't made fun of the RPGdipshit in a while so I think now is the time. Over on his forums there has been a poll with various games listed and the question is 'which of these are storygames?'. Now the raving fool is all mad because his favorite game is scoring high as a storygame. He makes this comment:

This is a stupid thread. You don't vote in a poll to decide what's a storygame or not. Its a question of the landmarks that define gaming. If the majority vote differently, all that means is that they are misinformed.

Now keep in mind this is the guy who thinks that HE decides the landmarks and writes the definition of what is an RPG. He will completely refuse to see another persons point of view if they think differently and label them as 'swine'. He is like Ron Edwards but only with a different set of favorite games... although they both hate White Wolf stuff most likely because they will never be that successful.

Yeah so his thinking is that everyone is misinformed because they refuse to follow HIS set of rules. Ron Edwards all over again. He is what he hates.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Other Side visuals

This is what you find when you make your way to the other side. The bleed was at an amusement park, one minute you were walking through the crowds of people smelling of popcorn and sweat. Then you saw the crack and you stared at it a few seconds to many. Then in a blink the people are gone and all you can smell is the mold and stagnant water.

You really don't want to be caught there once the sun goes down.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Other Side - quick overview.

A few notes about 'The Other Side' which I'm currently getting ready to start working on. It's my own personal little horror setting with influences from a bunch of different places. Some of the terms I have used before with other ideas or in various discussions about games I've ran. But they all seem to just lead right back to one place.

The reality we know is only one of many. They sort of exist like a spiders web, all tied together by various strands. Some exist right next door to us while others we have to cross more than one world to get to. Problems arise when the walls between these realities begin to weaken or crack and they start to bleed into each other. This also allows for things to travel between them.

Our little world is nearest to one that most simply call 'The City'. It mimics that which bleeds into it better than most others. Most of the surface is covered entirely by a city in various states of ruin and disrepair. Through it is how we gain access to others, but it's a dangerous place and many do not live to tell of their travels there.

Humans have souls, something that sets them apart from many other... things out there. Although there is no heaven and hell or angels and demons as we know them. There are, however, the places and creatures that provided the inspiration for the stories about them.

The characters will be those who are able to see the cracks in the walls of reality. For some unknown reason their minds are able to catch a glimpse of what others cannot. A few think this is an a sign of evolution, others think it's the laws of another reality bleeding into ours, many wish they never had that sort of sight at all. Because when you can see the cracks it tends to be easier to accidently slip over to the other side of them.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Be A Better Player... well nobody will be better player at the moment.

My new Be A Better Player will have to wait a bit. Life has been shoveling me some shit here lately and I've been busy digging my way out. Even when I get time to work on writing anything I'm not anywhere near in the right mindset to do so. So I would rather wait and write it right than hand out some half baked ideas. Hope you all understand

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cyberware and it's cost in humanity.

Been going working over some ideas to adjust the humanity rules (empathy, karma, whatever for whichever system) when it comes to cyberware. Usually the common rule is the more of your body that is not real the less human you become. Eventually ending up as a stone faced killer with no empathy or a raving madman.

Now the main reason I can see this being in most games is for game balance and power limitations. You get your good with the bad, but you also can't get to much good either or you flip out. Now this works but it also acts like a bit of crutch for the GM and is one less thing to worry about. But it doesn't seem all that realistic.

If somebody loses both legs in an accident. This could set you for a life in a wheelchair as a very permanent handicap. So why would a set of fully functional artificial legs run down your human empathy or mental stability. I means it's a miracle of modern science, you can walk, run and jump again. Just doesn't make sense to me that the joy of regaining your mobility would dump you into the downward spiral of cyberpsychosis.

So for me in any cyberpunkish game that I run, having a cybernetic replacement of something that was lost due to an accident will cost zero humanity. As long as it's just a simple replacement, no special gadgets, hidden guns, etc.

Now lets say time goes by and you get something added to those legs for your job or to make life easier. A plug in to power your laptop or recharge your legs batteries, a dermal pocket with a small flashlight for emergencies, stuff like that. Again zero humanity cost.

So when will it cost you? Well when you make the decision to go and have your perfectly good eye cut out of your head and replaced, that's when the costs will start up. The more you have modified by your own free will the more the cost will go up. Because you are consciously stepping away from your humanity, stepping away from your own body. Start carving off your legs and your mind has to been a different state than most normal people.

More on this topic later.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cyberpunk Sunday 008 - skin tech, t-cells, brainwaves and printers oh my!

Well the last few weeks there have been some really damned amazing stories coming out. It's really hard to decide on which ones to cover here. But at least it gives me plenty of material for the next installment.

This first one was sent to me by a fellow Kultist named Craig Toehill. I had seen a few articles on this already but the one he sent was by far one of the better. Electronic skin grafts, well not quite a graft but an overlay of circuits onto your skin. With the developments and stretchable and bendable technologies (I've covered a bit of the bendies before) this seems to be a natural mix. Attaching the super thin circuits to your skin through a method that, get this, is exactly like putting on a temporary tattoo. They are so thin you can even put an actual temporary tattoo over the top to hide the attachment.

Tons of uses for this. Currently the first to mind for development are in the medical field replacing all the long cords and sticky pads of monitoring equipment. It would allow the patient a lot more mobility and a lot less discomfort. Other ideas come to my mind also, like an old idea I had for a wearable headset that just sticks onto your skin. I'll let you read on this some more and tell me what idea you have for it.

Electronic skin grafts.

Next up is a US study presented in the New England Journal of Medicine. It had my jaw dropping at its implications and the groundwork it helps lay for Biopunk and transhumanism. By modifying the T-cells of patients into tumor killing predators they have successfully wiped leukemia out of three patients who have now lived cancer free for a year. Yeah bioengineering at it's finest. Let me pull up my favorite quote from the article:

"Within three weeks, the tumors had been blown away, in a way that was much more violent than we ever expected," said senior author Carl June of the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

Yeah, violently attacked the tumors. I'm pretty sure this is still a rather tedious and expensive process as the cells would have to be tailor made from the individual patient. But this is a success story which is exactly what they need to get more funding to keep working in this direction.

Modified killer t-cells

Now for a few years there has been work with a brain-computer interface with quite a bit of success. They managed to get it down to where the person could operate a computer, although rather slowly. This is a tiny stepping stone into the direction of one of the least likely cyberpunk ideas, netrunning or full computer interface. But now they've done gone and took a step further by integrating it into an online virtual environment. They hooked it up to Second Life. While it's still a slow and hard to control interface and there is a lot of work to be done with the sensors and pads that will read your brainwaves (or maybe not... hmmm... that stick on technology that I listed up above) since it's hard to keep them positioned right on a persons head. But the future is looking virtual.

Brain wave interface with Second Life.

Okay and last but not certainly least the 3D printer. These have been in the tech news for a while here lately but this video gives a really good layman's terms description of how it works and shows them scanning in and 'printing' a wrench. Thanks to Sean Barton for linking to this article now it's my turn to share it with a few folks. Personally I believe in a decade or so this will start to revolutionize some of the commercial industries just like CnC machines have done in the past. It also fits the description of the microfactories out of Cybergeneration.

See the 3-D printer in action.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Replicant Society Stress Triggers and Models.

Been hashing out some ideas for a game based on Blade Runner and the novel it was adapted from 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep'. Currently it's called Replicant Society and the players will be the Androids. This first little bit I posted over on my G+ stream. Might as well do a repost here.

Here are some quick ideas on stress triggers and android model types. This is all just ideas I've been writing down over the last couple of days.

One thing that androids do not have is a lifetime of experience. This is especially true in the area of the minds ability to handle stressful situations. Thus it become necessary to track the various types of stress that they are especially vulnerable to. Now some model types are more resistant to various types of stress than others. Now let's look at the four key stress triggers.

Socialization – This is the ability to handle constant social interaction with a variety of people in multiple situations.

Sexual Contact – The intimacy of sexual contact with a living being.

Combat – This is one stress trigger that androids tend to share with their human counterparts.

Emotional Crests – Intense amounts of any specific emotion. Be it fear, happiness, love.

Now the various model types are listed below. Each has specific triggers that they are more resistant while others they seem more susceptible to.

Administration – Resistant to Socialization.
Pleasure – Resistant to Sexual Contact and Socialization. Susceptible to Combat.
Combat – Resistant to Combat and Emotional Crests. Susceptible to Sexual Contact and Socialization.
Caregiver – Resistant to Emotional Crests and Socialization. Susceptible to Combat.
Labor – Neutral regard with all triggers.
Entertainment – Resistant to Socialization. Susceptible to Combat.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Story out of Sequence part four

“So we’re just going to put his soul back into a body that’s been rotting in a box for a couple months? I thought, like, it would go into another body. Send that person’s soul out and put my fathers in.” Tonya spoke while still staring at the doors, waiting for an explanation.

“Well…” Robert paused long enough to light up a Camel, “…it’s only going to be in that state momentarily. Once he is safely tucked away inside I start up another ritual that restores the body. Normally it would be impossible for it to work on a corpse, but with the soul inside it takes. In about a week your dad will be up, walking around, in his old body just like it used to be.” Taking a few paces up behind her he placed his hand on her shoulder. “How does that sound to you?”

“Better than I had imagined actually.” Tonya turned around with a grin of excitement upon her face. She reached up and takes the smoking cigarette from his lips and took a drag off of it. “Of course I should have realized for what I am paying that I am getting a true professional.”

“I am nothing if not professional.” He let out a sly smile and moved his hands to her hips, pulling her closer. “On top of that there is nothing that I wouldn’t do for you.”

“Well then let’s get this started, shall we?”

“That bit of detail certainly got your enthusiasm up didn’t it?” Over dramatically he stepped away from Tonya and turned towards the doors. Turning his head just enough to catch her face in his vision he placed his hands on the handle and turned it. With one swift motion he turned back towards the doors and pushed them open while walking in.

Her breath nearly escaped her at its site. On a rolling rack before her was the very casket she had picked out for the funeral, slightly dirty with a few dings on the top and smelled of earth. She took a few cautious steps forward and placed her fingertips along its side making sure it was solid and not imagined. Then running her hand over its top she stopped at a folded red cloth just above where the head would be. “You’ve certainly outdone yourself Robert, I will give you that. But what’s in the cloth?”

“That contains something that will be most helpful in finding your dear departed father. You see contrary to popular belief the soul doesn’t leave the body upon death, but only upon burial. Until that time it is trapped inside and witness to the events that follow. Once the first few shovels of dirt land upon the casket the soul is pushed up and out of its former shell from there it will go wherever it is supposed to go.” Robert walked onto the side of opposite of Tonya looking down at the cloth. “Normally it is through a sample of dirt that is collected that we trace the soul through since that is what it passed through. This time, however, we have something very connected to you and his soul passed through it. We have the rose you laid upon the casket before it was lowered into the ground.”

“My last farewell to him. I was the only one who stayed to watch the actual burial. They took the other flowers off but I asked them to leave one that I had brought. Something that I hoped he would take with him to the other side.”

“He may not have taken it with him, but rest assured he did touch it on the way out. Now you guide from the front and I will push. Tell me before we get up onto the lines on the floor, we’ve got to be careful going over them.”

The wheels of the rack began to squeak slightly as Robert started pushing. Tonya grabbed the front handle with both hands and pulled as best she could while trying to watch over her shoulder directing them. With the weight being so high it felt as if there was an unavoidable topple whenever they hit any small crevice in the floor. Slowly they manage to get it up to the circle.

“Alright from here we are going to have be on either side and lift the rack up and move it forward over the paint. We need to take it slow or we will wind up having to start all over again, and that’s something I would rather not do.”

“No problem, I got it.”

“Get on the left; I’ll get on the right. Okay. You ready?”

“Yeah I got a good grip.” She looked down at the floor underneath her and placed her feet appropriately so as not to step in the wrong place. “I’m ready.”

“Good. On three, one, two, three lift!” They both strain and manage to lift the front wheels of the rack an inch off of the ground. “Now forward just six inches.” Franks voice strained. Each slowly inched forward just enough to bring the wheels over the line. “Down.”

Tonya looked back up at Frank with a little exertion sounding in her voice. “So tell me, why we didn’t move the casket in here before you put the lines down?”

“Can’t, the lines have to be down first then the host body added on top of them for it to work properly. A lot of magic like this is very specific about the order in which you do things. One thing wrong and it doesn’t work or worse, it does something unexpected.”

“Ah, okay. I should have realized there would be some sort of reason like that.”

For the next half hour they move the casket to the designs center a few inches at a time. Stopping to rest for a moment or two here and there before continuing on. A few final alignments at the end and Robert walks back to the side room.

“What next? We have something else to move?”

“Nope just a few things to carry with us to the other side. Come with me I’ve got something for you.” He works two locks open on a cabinet in the corner and waits until she has walked up behind him. “We are going into an unfriendly area. It is best that we protect ourselves why we are there.”

Tonya steps closer looking at the cabinet’s contents with a slow studying gaze. Several weapons hang inside, knives, swords with ornate handles, a beat up looking fireman’s axe and a host of necklaces and assorted objects. On the inside of each door was a black leather backpack with several pockets; along the bottom on the inside the cabinet were various clear glass vials of colored liquids.

“So are we going to have to take all of this with us?”

“No. Only a few will do us any good on the other side, the ones made to deal with those who reside there. What do you know how to use?”

“Well I can use a knife decently I guess but I’ve never even held a sword. I’ve used an axe to chop and split wood but not for anything else.”

“Then you will carry the axe. Put this necklace on as well, it will make it harder for you to be seen.” Robert throws a backpack over his shoulder and hooks a sword to his belt. “Whatever you do don’t loose the axe, it belonged to my father.”

“The only way I’ll let go of it is if I’m dead.”

“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Story out of Sequence part three

Frank leaned back against the register looking off at the sun dropping behind the city skyline. Well as much as one could see through windows covered in sales posters, security bars and alarm wires. This was the time of day he enjoyed the most, almost no customers and nearly silent except for Tim stocking the shelves added into that the fact he got to go home in a less than half an hour. It was a good time to just relax, let your mind wander and plan what to do for the night.

Ringing from the door opening pulled his attention back into the store as someone entered. He looked over to see a young woman walking towards the counter holding a book bag out to him. “Thank you miss.” He uttered as she handed it over to him to place behind the counter, “Remember it on your way out.” She was kind of cute, he thought to himself, in a nothing fancy girl next door way. He couldn’t pull out much detail about her body but he did like what she was wearing. Loose fitting jeans, not those baggy ‘gangsta’ style ones everybody was wearing now days, just loose. A turtle neck sweater that covered her all the way up to the bottom of the jaw and only allowed her fingertips to stick out. Thin with a walk that was not attempting to show anything off.

He turned his attention back to the skyline, watching the glowing yellow disappear behind the business offices and car garages. All the while checking off in his mind the various activities that presented themselves for later. No dance clubs, didn’t feel like listening to throbbing music and even much less for dancing. Just going out and getting a good drunk going didn’t sound like what to do either even though he didn’t have to work the next day. He wanted music but nothing heavy, maybe some coffee with it as well. Maybe one of the more quite clubs down near the east side of the campus would do. Maybe.

“Next isle over ma’am, about half way down on your right.” Tim’s voice pulled him back into the store this time. So professional sounding, so utterly fake compared to what it’s like when he’s not around customers. He turned to watch the girl walk out of one isle and into the next one over.

“Hey Tim are you done stocking back there? It’s getting about time for me to clock out.” Frank called back.

“Yeah just a couple more boxes left and I’ll be done man.”

Beginning his normal leaving routine Frank cleared the bits of paper and plastic from around the register and wiping the counter down with a dust rag. Finishing up just in time as the girl walked up and place and armful of items down in front of him. “Find everything fine miss?”

“Yes.” Her small voice answered back.

She had beautiful blue eyes Frank noticed as he began scanning the items through and placing them in a bag. Looking at the prices ringing up and back at her more than at what was passing through his hands. “Looks like it’s going to be a nice night tonight, weather just cool enough for a jacket.”

“Yes it does look like it will be a nice night.” Her voice sounded smooth and quiet with a hint of shyness.

An exchange of currency between the two occurs without an announcement of the amounts. Frank handing her back the change without counting it. “Hope you enjoy it then.” He replied as he held the bag of merchandise out to her. “Oh and here’s your back pack also.”

“Thank you.” She turns and walks out the door without another word. Walking off to the left and disappearing from view.

Frank returned to his cleaning and realized that he forgot to give her the receipt. He pulled it out of the register and casually looked at it, going over the items in his head. Sewing needles, thread, rubbing alcohol, sterile gauze, medical tape, razor blades and a bottle of antiseptic spray. “What the hell.” He whispered to himself. Looking back out the door she left through he pocketed the receipt.

“Finished up man. Go ahead and get out of here if you want.” Tim’s voice barked, suddenly right beside him.

“Shit, don’t sneak up on me like that dammit.” Frank replied back with a smile.

“Sorry. Did Anna the ice princess get your attention? Noticed you watching her leave.”

“Ice princess?”

“Yeah down at the college nobody can even get her to talk to them for more than a couple lines. Lord knows a lot of us have tried, male and female.”

“Guess she’s not into being socially interactive.”

“Got that right. The only place I ever see her hang out at besides school is at that club down by the campus. She just sets in a corner booth drinking coffee all night and reading.”

“Which club would that be?”

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Be a Better Player 9 - Remember the rules.

GM – The black guardians slowly step out of the woodline around the campfire. They are on all sides effectively surrounding your group. The familiar sound of their blades being drawn, that high pitched scrape almost like screaming fills the air. It's very clear they aren't here to talk.

Player 1 – Oh hell here we go. I told you they would catch up to us.

Player 2 – Okay you were right. Arm yourselves guys it's time for a fight.

GM – I need some initiative rolls all around.

(sounds of dice rolling)

Player 3 – Um... how do I roll that again?

Player 1 – sigh... the same as last time.

Player 3 – I forgot. Tell me how it works again.

GM – Roll a ten sider, add in your initiative bonus. Don't worry about any negatives since your armor wouldn't give you any.

Player 3 – Ah okay. Where's the bonus at on the sheet?

Player 4 – We've been playing this for weeks now and you do this all the time.

Player 1 – Yeah man come on.

Player 3 – Relax, it's just a game. Chill out already.

Now we all know that the games we play have rules and at times they can become pretty essential. Especially for events like combat which can come up often. So learning at least the basics of rules can become a necessity to keep things rolling along. Nothing is worse than stopping every time to refresh somebody on how to roll to hit.

Before anybody gets riled up over this I'm not talking addressing people brand new to gaming or when you just start a new system for the first time. People new to the hobby usually take a bit of time getting the hang of the rules especially when, in the process of playing, you tend to go suddenly from amateur theater around the table to randomized mathematics at the drop of a hat. Nobody shouldn't expect a veteran player to suddenly know the rules for a system they never played before.

What I am talking about is when you've been playing games for a while and have been using a specific system for a while also. You should at least commit enough to remember how to roll for initiative, to hit, make a saving throw or a simple skill check. This alone will help save a lot of time and keep the game flowing along nicely.

If it's a system that is rather complex or you just have trouble remembering things then ask for, or make, a cheat sheet. Right down the basics of what you need to do on a spare sheet of paper and in a description that you can understand. Keep it right beside your character sheet during play for that fast reference. Hell I still have a couple of cheat sheets for some games I used to play, one even covered character generation so I could speed through it quickly. Personally I think a photocopy friendly cheat sheet in the back of core game books should be included right beside the character sheet. But that's just my opinion.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Story out of Sequence part two

The brush glided along the floor leaving a trail of purplish red behind it. It turned, created circles, moved off at angles. Slowly the lines are laid down and each with its own purpose. Each stroke almost seemed random while it was being laid down and yet the finished product looked entirely predetermined. When all is done the brush is dropped into the jar holding the excess paint that was not used.

Robert stood back and gave a slow glance over his handiwork. It looked complete and, most importantly, perfect. He put the lid back on the glass container holding the specially mixed paint, leaving the brush inside, and placed it back on the altar. The mix must be kept separate from all the others, each has its own special ingredients and one would ruin the other if they were ever to come into contact.

"Well is it ready?" Tonya finally spoke up. She leaned forward out of the shadows of the far corner looking directly at his face. "Are you ready to start now?"

Robert moved only his eyes to look at her keeping his head facing the floor, "Why are you so eager to look at death? That is where you want to go isn't it?" She stood in silence at his words. "The realm of the spirits the home to those who have died. Called by many names such as hell, purgatory, limbo and countless others by those who have seen it or are bound there."

"You told me all this before Robert. Why do you keep saying it again and again? Do you think I am suddenly going to have second thoughts and back out?"

"If you are so ready then begin lighting the candles around the circle, and be careful not to smudge the symbols when you walk." He turned from the altar, holding a worn black leather book in his hands. It was made by his own hands, even the paper, then stitched together slowly over time, it was something wholly his own. "The slightest damage to them could get us bound there as well. What they do to people who don’t belong there is beyond reason and imagination to those who are still alive." Tonya looked at him with wide eyes and a face that was slowly filling with the emotion of fear. "Well are you still so anxious to go?"

"Of course, I have to do this." She tried to put on a sterner face but her eyes showed the fear that was building within her. He stared at her for a few minutes and then looked back towards the floor." Are you getting afraid yourself is that the problem?" She blurted it out in a louder voice than before, attempting still yet to summon up her courage.

“Now you do know that if we find him and successfully bring him back he may not be the same person that he was before?”

“What are you talking about? You told me that we will get his soul, the only soul he’s ever had, not a copy or dupe of any kind, but HIM! So it will be the same person as it was before, it will be my father!”

“Oh yes it will be your father. But… he may not be like you remember him.”

“What are you talking about?”

Robert turns towards her; she can feel his eyes like needles upon her face. It’s like this every time he’s about to get really serious. “He has spent some time in hell, his own personal hell. This is something that nobody can ever be fully prepared for. In that place minutes can seem like days on end, eternities could pass in a single day’s time. Nobody walks away from that unchanged.” He takes another couple steps through the symbol, careful not to touch a single brush stroke. “I know this from experience.”

“What, you mean you’ve died and came back yourself?”

“No. I’ve brought somebody back before, and she changed more than I could deal with. Fortunately for the both of us her changes also made me less desirable to her. So in the end the person I went to hell and back for decided that we were no longer meant to be together. So much for love eternal and undying eh?”

“Well that’s a risk I am willing to take for my father. He means everything to me.”

“Alright then let’s begin the final preparations. I will need your help to move your fathers casket out here into the center; it’s currently in the side room there.”

Face draining of color she follows his finger to a set of double doors on the side of the room. “You mean his body? You’ve got his body in that room?”

“Of course. I mean, his soul has to go somewhere when we bring him back doesn’t it then?”

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Story out of Sequence part one

Roscoe sat crouched down on his knees with his back resting against the brick. The cold felt reassuring against his spine. He could feel the sun beating down on him, especially on his head and face. The red glow inside his closed eyelids was even bright to him; all he wanted was the darkness. Only the cold metal in his hands gave him any other comfort besides the bricks at his back.

The sounds of the city around him beat in on his eardrums giving no silence for those who wanted it. The never ceasing dull hum of engines set the average that everything seemed to challenge. Horns blared loudly without notice, like spikes through the skin. Screams of insults and foul language would often erupt, usually after the sounds of smashing metal and breaking glass. That would bring those terrible sirens of the local law enforcement that would add even more raised voices and insults. It was all an unending circle of noise and aggravation. It never ceased and it continued to drive itself further into his head every day.

“Still crying about the sounds?” the voice in his head finally rang out.

"Go away. I don't want to hear you today." Roscoe said out loud. Becoming suddenly aware that he was doing so. He calmed in a second when he realized that there was no one else on the rooftop to hear him. "You give me a headache."

"I give you a headache? No, what gives you a headache is yourself listening to all the sounds of life out there. You focus on them instead of ignoring them or trying to get them to be quite."

"You make me listen to them. I know it. I never used to be this way until you came along. Now all I hear is every little noise around me no matter what I do to drown them out."

"Oh I did this did I? Maybe you’re just having your midlife crisis or something. Did you even think about that? Or are you just looking for someone to place the blame on?"

"You ask too many questions. Shut up."

"Shut up? Me? What have I done to you?"

"Shut up."

"I will not. I have a right to speak just as you do. Its not my fault that you're the only person who can hear me." In the distance the sound of car alarm rings out.

"Shut up!"

"You only think of yourself you know that? Have you ever thought of anyone beside yourself? Are you listening to me?" In the apartment building across the street the sound of a child screaming suddenly blares out.

"Shut up!" Roscoe stands straight up. He opens his eyes to the pain of the light in defiance. A car backfires. "Shut up!" He spins to face down onto the street. An argument starts between several teenagers over a game of basketball. "SHUT UP!" He clicks the safety off, and raises the rifle. The noise being added now is being created by him. Every part of the sound is audible, the inner workings of the firearm, the round firing, the ejection of the empty shell casing, the brass hitting the rooftop, the screams from below. "I said Shut Up!"


Monday, August 1, 2011

Cyberpunk Sunday 007 - Dipping into the roots of cyberwear.

Microsoft, widely thought of by many to be the corporation of evil (until Apple started to blossom again) has always dabbled into areas a bit off the normal beat and path. This time they are looking at using the human body as controllers for electronics. While still in the early stages it has some interesting concepts. Your own body becomes a big remote control in a sense, so by doing a certain gesture or by touching a wall you can set off certain predetermined actions in electronics. So you wouldn't even have to walk five feet to hit a button to turn on your coffee make you could just point at it. Isn't technology grand!

You are the human antenna.

Actually technology is grand, especially when doing things like enabling the blind to see. Those wonderful German scientists are working on some cutting edge tech that implants a microchip carrying 1500 photosensitive diodes right into your retina where normal healthy photoreceptors of a non-blind person would be. Now it's still tied to an external power source, so this means a wire coming out of the eye. But in the test subjects who underwent this procedure all of them can identify bright colors and one could even read large printed words. Pretty damn spectacular if you ask me. One note to this on the test subjects though, it doesn't state if these were people born blind or had an accident or disease that rendered them blind. So the overall benefits of this aren't to clear yet.

Electronic implants allow the blind to see.

On another look into some more protocyberwear technology we have an implant that has helped a paralyzed man move again. Putting am electronic stimulator into the lining of the spinal cord has helped 'reconnect' severed connections. While not perfect it does allow the subject free movement of his legs although not up to the state of walking again. I'm pretty sure there is a lot of neural pathway mapping that has to be done to make the leap. But this gives us the great grandfather of the neural interface that would be necessary to operate a set of artificial legs. A small step in the direction of cybertechnology.

The full article on this.

Well that's the three links for this installment of Cyberpunk Sunday... or as it happened this week Cyberpunk Monday. Any suggestions for future articles or topics please send them to me at if you don't mind. See you in two weeks.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

This week only, Cyberpunk Sunday is Cyberpunk Monday.

It's going to be a cyberpunk monday this week. I guess most schedules get tossed out the window during the summer when it's nice outside and you have kids.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The ABC's of NVD's

Limitations to keep in mind when players decide to use Night Vision Devices. This article taken directly from the US Army's 'Countermeasure' magazine April 2003 issue.

Hope it helps a few GMs out there.


Wow! A soldier has just looked through night vision goggles (NVGs) for the first time. He can see – he thinks – and he'd like to put the goggles on and go. What he doesn't know is that while NVGs increase night light to incredible levels, they don't turn night into day and they don't show him everything. Like all Night Vision Devices (NVDs), the goggles have some limitations. Some of those are limitations in the devices themselves while others are in the eye. Sometimes those limitations show up in the accident reports and they're worth being aware of. Let's look at some of the most common concerns.

Reduced Field of View
The view through NVDs can be a lot like looking down a tunnel. Your normal field of view is almost 190 degrees – but that is cut down to 40 degrees with NVDs. That side – or "peripheral" – vision you're accustomed to, and from which you often see your dangers, is just not there. To adjust for that you must constantly turn your head to scan for the dangers on either side of you that you can's see in your narrow field of view.

Reduced Visual Acuity (Sharpness)
At their best, NVGs cannot provide the same level of sharpness to what you see as what you're accustomed to in the daytime. While normal vision is 20/20, NVGs can, at best, provide only 20/25 to 20/40, and even this is possible only during optimal illumination and when you have a high-contrast target or scene. As either illumination or contrast decreases, the NVGs visual acuity drops, giving you an even more "fuzzy" image.

Reduced Depth and Distance Perception
Normally you use both eyes (binocular vision) to pick up the cues to help estimate the distance and depth of an object. However, with NVDs you are essentially using one eye (monocular) vision, which can pose real problems. For example, when you are wearing NVDs and you view two objects of different sizes that are side-by-side, the larger object appears to be nearer. When you view overlapping objects through an NVD, the one that is in front "appears" to be nearer – maybe much more so than is true. In addition, some objects viewed through NVGs may appear to be farther away than they actually are. The reason for that is that we tend to associate the loss of detail sharpness with distance. On the other hand, a light source that is not part of a terrain feature – for example, a light atop a tower – may look closer than it actually is. It's important to be aware of these potential problems and that NVG users tend to overestimate distance and underestimate the depth (how tall an object is).

Dark Adaptation
Your eye needs time to adjust from day to night vision. That's why you can barely see when you first enter a dark movie theater during the daytime – your eyes need time to adjust to the darkness. So it is with NVGs. You are basically getting a dim-day view, so when you remove your NVGs, your eyes need time to adapt to the darkness. The amount of time you need depends on how long you have been wearing the NVGs. Most people achieve about a 75 percent dark-adaptation within 30 seconds of removing the goggles. This is especially important to keep in mind if you are using your NVGs as binoculars – basically lifting them to your eyes and lowering them.

In Summary
Accidents ranging from fender-benders to mission stoppers sometimes happen because people misinterpret what they see through their NVDs. To train safely and win on the battlefield, you need to understand the limitations of your night vision equipment and be skilled in using it. Leaders also need to be aware of the hazards involved in NVD operations and take measures to control the risks.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Be A Better Player 8 - Stop multitasking

GM – Okay you have the front guard taken out. All that is left are the two inside, what are you going to do?

Player 1 – Well first off I'm dragging the one we took out off to the side. Don't need anybody seeing him laying out there in the open.

Player 2 – Trying to find an area near the door where I can see inside. We need to get a good idea of where they are.

GM – Hey Adam what about you? Adam!

Player 3 – Huh? Oh sorry I was answering an email real quick it was kinda important.

Player 1 – Aren't they all.....

GM – Guard outside is down, two left inside are left.

Player 3 – Ah okay, I guess I back up the others on whatever they decide.

GM – Look can you just put the phone down for a bit. It's really breaking up the flow here.

Player 3 – I don't understand.

Player 2 – Get your head in the game damn it!

Player 3 – Yeah... okay... just let me check on a couple of auctions real quick. Need to see how much they are up to.

GM – What...

Player 3 – I'll start paying more attention, really. Just got some stuff going on you know?

When you aren't chatting with people over IM's or downloading the 'perfect' song to play in case the group goes to a club you are playing the game. Well sort of, sometimes you get distracted and have to be reminded of what's going on at the moment. But that auction ends in two hours and you are sure somebody is going to try and snipe it. Oh and there is always a good argument going on over at the forums you frequent.

Yeah... you aren't a computer so keep the multitasking down. This all rolls around to breaking the flow and mood of the game rather easily. By not paying enough attention play has to stop and the GM has to repeat what he has just said. The GM is most likely getting aggravated by it and the other players are starting to line up right beside him with the same feelings. Thus turning an otherwise enjoyable time into an irritating one.

Let's also not mention the distraction. Ring-tone going off every time somebody send you a text. Alert sounds when that download is done. Even vibration mode still makes noise. All this adds up into a long continues string of interruptions and breaks down the flow at the table.

Now I'm not fool enough to suggest that you should turn off your phone when you sit down at the table to play. Emergencies happen, spouses call and sometimes you need to answer the calls. But put it on vibrate and stick it in your pocket. Don't flip it out and start cruising the net just when the attention on you drops a little bit.

Oh and on a related note, sending text messages back and forth among yourself and the other players isn't a good idea also. Not only does it cause many of the same problems but usually it's done in some effort to 'undermine' the GM. I mean, after all, trying to do this is basically saying that you don't want them running a game. Some will get that message and you'll be a bunch of players sitting around a table with their phones in their hands and nobody running the game.

So please, unplug for a bit, be social without a social network and get in the game.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Class/role ideas

Okay I'm going to go with classes in my cyberpunk game I am trying to make. But I'm going to make two groups. One for street level type of games and one for the high end special ops type of groups. Just off the top of my head.

Street level classes- Courier, Musician, Freelancer (media type), hacker, street tech, some sort of freelance thug or bodyguard class, cop

Special Op level classes - Corporate executive, Security Specialist, a Tech class, a hacker class, police captain

All of this is up in the air as to how I will sort it out in make them different. Most likely giving the Special Op classes more starting points or some really nifty class only skills.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

classes or classless?

So I've been thinking of making my own cyberpunk game to run here locally at some point. Setting is going to be pretty generic standard stuff (no fucking magic though that shit isn't cyberpunk) so I'm really looking at the system. A cyberpunk heartbreaker if you will.

Here's my sticking point. Should I go with classes, like the roles from Cyberpunk 2020? Or should I go with a classless set up? Or some mash up in between? Which do you prefer and why? Just looking for stuff to get my creative thoughts flowing on this.

Cyberpunk Sunday 006 - Music and some of the technology behind it.

Let's talk a little bit about entertainment. Now while the base of most forms is pretty much the same as always: music, movies, book, etc the way it's being done is changing. Some of the changes are rather impressive. We'll look at music this time around. Also for a change of pace all my links in this edition of Cyberpunk Sunday are to Youtube videos, so turn up the sound or toss on your headphones.

First up let's look at music. Now the front man of a group is usually the person who is recognized by most people. They get the most camera time in the videos, they get more interviews and people remember their names. Now what happens when the front man isn't really a person at all? Enter Hatsune Miku, she isn't real, she's a hologram.

Here's some footage from one of 'her' concerts.

Hologram technology has really been taking off in some places. The ability to create a false 'front man' is just one of the many uses of it in the entertainment area. Plus in this particular field it can also prove to quite profitable, and that can lead to plenty of money being put into developing the tech even further. Another band that has used this is the Gorillaz. In the clip below you can really see now good they can be. They perform their normal routine until a certain point where Madonna rises up onto the stage and then walks around them at the 2:50 mark.

Notice how she doesn't show through from behind.

Now the holograms are impressive. But lets go back to Hatsune Miku for a second. Not only is she a hologram, but even her voice is artificial. She is powered by Yamaha's VOCALOID technology, which stand for Vocal + Android, and was developed by Crypton Future Media in Supporo, and released on August 31st, 2007. You can create some amazing human sounding voices with this software, complete pitch control and vocal stresses. There have been several different 'singers' that have been created using this mix of Vocaloid and hologram technology.

Here are two singing together.

Now onto somebody live on stage. House DJ's have reached a new level of popularity in recent years. Again, as with holograms, this is bringing money in and allowing them to put it into technological advances with their tools of the trade. The mixing table has been something that has really evolved over the years, starting with a couple of turn tables and a few slider controls to something that just looks completely cyberpunk.

Here's one...

and another.

With bands like Daft Punk, The Glitch Mob and many others driving the techno house musician style further into the mainstream their styles are becoming the future. How far will they reach, well that remains to be seen. But personally I think they fit more into the cyberpunk genre than what we thought about ten to fifteen years ago. Rockerboys are being replaced by one man sound machines.

Friday, July 15, 2011

just ranting

Personal rant I needed to do. Me bitching about something that most won't care about. So if you are here for gaming stuff just go ahead and skip to another post. I just gotta bitch someplace and facebook doesn't let me type this much.


You hear people complaining about the use of certain words. They get angry when people nearby use them. Hell primetime television shows can get big rating boosts just because they are going to use the word 'shit' in an episode. Personally the word I keep finding more offensive than anything else is quite different from all the others.

Hope. I fucking hate that word. How people like to give it away and instill what it means into people. They tell people to hope and get them to hope only to actually have no intention of going through with anything they say. Keep your hopes up. Why? So they can just fall all that much further? I'm tired of it. People keep telling me to look on the positive side of things, that things will change, things will get better. Bullshit. False hope.

Somebody recently got my hopes up. Someone I could work together with to get out of the current situation in my life. I got that little tinge of happiness, that shining little ray of hope. Only to feel it burn as is it went black in a moment.

Really I'm tired of it. 'The harder you try the better things get' yeah except lets add in a sudden change in my family insurance plan that shoots it to a 5000 dollar deductible before they pay for ANYTHING at all. That's between a third to a fourth of my yearly take home income by the way, depending on how we work. Trying harder didn't do shit there. Try harder and watch the local school district constantly sending your children home with their hands out for such and such project/fund raiser/whatever. Making THEM feel guilty if I don't pay up something, forcing them to be the outsiders even more if I'm broke and can't do it. Trying harder did what? Busting my ass at work only to get wrote up when a sickness goes through my family and I end up missing days to stay home with one of my kids who is throwing up all night. Try harder...

Everybody can take their hope and shove it up their ass.

Why the FUCK can a single mother that makes the same as I do get government aid to help a little bit with daycare bills and some with food costs? Why is the system sat up to FUCK somebody who is white, male and happens to actually try and work for a living?

Why do people even bother trying to give others hope.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Be A Better Player Seven - Enough jokes already!

GM – Okay guys enough jokes for a bit let's get back on track here.

Player 1 – heh heh... yeah okay you're right.

Player 3 – Sorry bout that.

GM – Okay now back to where we were. Your party finally makes it way through the rubble up to opening of the cave. There are the remains of a few previous adventurers like yourself lying about near the entrance.

Player 2 – Oh shit watch out for rabbits around here.

Player 3- hehe oh hell I didn't think about that.

Player 2 – “That's the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on!”

GM – No that's not what....

Player 2 - “Look, that rabbit's got a vicious streak a mile wide! It's a killer!”

Player 3 – Oh damn my sides hurting I'm laughing so hard.

Player 1 – I should have known better than to trust the gm to NOT pull out the rabbit.

GM – groan...

Okay I'll admit a little humor at the game table is welcome when I'm running a game. Getting a good chuckle over something while in the middle of some number crunching makes the numbers flow a little better it seems. HOWEVER... you have to stop at some point. You may have the best joke in the world suddenly on your lips, but there are times when you need to just shut the fuck up.

First thing it can throw off the enjoyment of others. Some people are there to play the game and not sit around for three hours playing amateur comedy club night. You need to understand that they are there to invest their time into something and you may be keeping them from doing that. These are also the kinds of players that a lot of gamemasters like and if it comes time to cut somebody they won't be the first on the list and will probably be whispering about who they would like to see gone.

Second thing is that all this joking stops gameplay. So if there is an 'stop point' planned for the night you are pushing it further and further away. Maybe even past the point to which the players are willing to stay for. When game play stops like this it has a tendency to stop dead in it's tracks and takes some time to get rolling again.

Third is the complete destruction of the mood. Not all games are dungeon romps through perfectly made corridors and shop keepers that are merely vending machines for arrows and rations. In nearly any sort of horror scenario the mood becomes very important. The intent is to keep the players themselves on the edges of their seats to try and make them feel a bit of what their PC's are experiencing. Suddenly busting out a song of 'Knights of the Round Table' when you find a dining room with a circular table can throw all that right out the window. In a high action game the mood is for fast thinking and quick decisions, making everyone giggle every two minutes destroys that as well.

Forth thing, well lets just face it, usually you are never even half as funny as you think you are. So not only is everyone else getting belted with jokes but they are bad jokes at that. You are not a professional comedian, if you were you would probably be up on stage at a club on Saturday night getting paid instead of at the gaming table. We've also seen The Holy Grail about a dozen times and can repeat the lines as we watch it, we don't need your refresher course.

So watch for the subtle signs. The gamemaster or other players glaring at you, the lack of anybody but you laughing and everyone suddenly having to 'other things' come up. Being to much of a disruption is a sure fire way to not be told that the game night is switching to Fridays starting next week.

Google +

Been trying out Google + for the last couple of days. It's a very interesting social networking application. Now for some opinions on various features it has or lacks.

Circles. Okay this is absolutely, hands down, one of the best things about G+. Basically you start off with so many circles already named, Family, Friends, Acquaintances and Follow. Now the idea you take the people you connected with into any circles they belong in. You can also name your own circles for further division if you need, for example I made a 'local friends' circle. Now whenever you make a post you can choose to make it only viewable by specific circles, all circles or even completely public.

Now people don't know what circles they are in, just that you put them in a circle. So there is no worry about people getting all butthurt over iDrama. This is all done with a drag and drop interactive interface. So much more better than clicking buttons over and over. More visually appealing and is automatically ready for touch screens.

+1. I've been seeing the little +1 buttons all over the place here lately to show that you like something. Now people can see what you gave one to in your profile.

The stream (sort of like a wall in fb) also has a neat little tool. You have your circles listed on the side of your screen. If you don't want to read everything you can just click the circle and see only the posts from people in that circle.

A notification button is also at the top of your screen. basically it turns red with the number of notifications listed in it. One nice touch is that it's also there when you are checking your gmail.

Voice, webcam and text chat are there but I haven't tried them.

What I see missing so far that I enjoy over on FB.

Public groups, interests and ... well that's all I can think of.

Now I will say I like the overall interface a LOT better than Facebook. It takes some getting used to because it's a step forward instead of just copying what we all are used to. This is a risk for Google but I think it will pay off, somebody has to move forward and somebody will hit the magic path (kinda like the Wii remotes).

More on this as I keep trying it out.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Datafortress 2020

Just for those who may not have noticed.

Over on the right side is a small section called 'Gaming sites I recommend'. It's rather short right now but one day I will get around to adding to it. Anyways there is one called Datafortress 2020. Now what the guy behind this site did took a lot of work. He has been gathering Cyberpunk 2020 material off of the net for years. Some of it from sites that vanished. When GeoCities announced it was disappearing he went into action.

He started contacting site owners, authors and anybody else he could to get permission to host their material. Following years old emails on pdfs, doing web searches for names and asking for help on various forums about getting ahold of these people.

Amazingly he managed to track down a whole lot of them. So all this material that may have been lost to the shut downs of the net has been saved and stored. My hat is off to him for this effort, not a small undertaking was this. If for all your Cyberpunk 2020 fan material needs, Datafortress 2020 is the only place to go.

Give it a look. It's just right over there on the right.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

When the new giant bought out the old giant.

A little bit of gaming history here. This is a release from Ryan Dancey about the time when WOTC bought out TSR. He discusses the state of the company when they took over an what he thought what was killing it. Interesting to read if anything.


Originally Posted by Ryan Dancey: the man, the myth, the legend

In the winter of 1997, I traveled to Lake Geneva Wisconsin on a secret mission. In the late fall, rumors of TSR's impending bankruptcy had created an opportunity to made a bold gamble that the business could be saved by an infusion of capital or an acquisition with a larger partner. After a hasty series of phone calls and late night strategy sessions, I found myself standing in the snow outside of 201 Sheridan Springs Road staring at a building bearing a sign that said "TSR, Incorporated".

Inside the building, I found a dead company.

In the halls that had produced the stuff of my childhood fantasies, and had fired my imagination and become unalterably intertwined with my own sense of self, I found echoes, empty desks, and the terrible depression of lost purpose.

The life story of a tree can be read by a careful examination of its rings. The life story of a corporation can be read by a careful examination of its financial records and corporate minutes.

I was granted unprecedented access to those records. I read the TSR corporate log book from the first page penned in haste by Gary Gygax to the most recent terse minutes dictated to a lawyer with no connection to hobby gaming. I was able to trace the meteoric rise of D&D as a business, the terrible failure to control costs that eventually allowed a total outsider to take control away from the founders, the slow and steady progress to rebuild the financial solvency of the company, and the sudden and dramatic failure of that business model. I read the euphoric copyright filings for the books of my lost summers: "Player's Handbook", "Fiend Folio", "Oriental Adventures". I read the contract between Gary and TSR where Gary was severed from contact with the company he had founded and the business he had nurtured and grown. I saw the clause where Gary, forced to the wall by ruthless legal tactics was reduced to insisting to the right to use his own name in future publishing endeavors, and to take and keep control of his personal D&D characters. I read the smudged photocopies produced by the original Dragonlance Team, a group of people who believed in a new idea for gaming that told a story across many different types of products. I saw concept artwork evolve from lizard men with armor to unmistakable draconians. I read Tracy Hickman's one page synopsis of the Dragonlance Story. I held the contract between Tracy and Margaret for the publication of the three Chronicles novels. I read the contract between Ed Greenwood and TSR to buy his own personal game world and transform it into the most developed game setting in history - the most detailed and explored fantasy world ever created.

And I read the details of the Random House distribution agreement; an agreement that TSR had used to support a failing business and hide the fact that TSR was rotten at the core. I read the entangling bank agreements that divided the copyright interests of the company as security against default, and realized that the desperate arrangements made to shore up the company's poor financial picture had so contaminated those rights that it might not be possible to extract Dungeons & Dragons from the clutches of lawyers and bankers and courts for years upon end. I read the severance agreements between the company and departed executives which paid them extraordinary sums for their silence. I noted the clauses, provisions, amendments and agreements that were piling up more debt by the hour in the form of interest charges, fees and penalties. I realized that the money paid in good faith by publishers and attendees for GenCon booths and entrance fees had been squandered and that the show itself could not be funded. I discovered that the cost of the products that company was making in many cases exceeded the price the company was receiving for selling those products. I toured a warehouse packed from floor to 50 foot ceiling with products valued as though they would soon be sold to a distributor with production stamps stretching back to the late 1980s. I was 10 pages in to a thick green bar report of inventory, calculating the true value of the material in that warehouse when I realized that my last 100 entries had all been "$0"'s.

I met staff members who were determined to continue to work, despite the knowledge that they might not get paid, might not even be able to get in to the building each day. I saw people who were working on the same manuscripts they'd been working on six months earlier, never knowing if they'd actually be able to produce the fruits of their labor. In the eyes of those people (many of whom I have come to know as friends and co workers), I saw defeat, desperation, and the certain knowledge that somehow, in some way, they had failed. The force of the human, personal pain in that building was nearly overwhelming - on several occasions I had to retreat to a bathroom to sit and compose myself so that my own tears would not further trouble those already tortured souls.

I ran hundreds of spreadsheets, determined to figure out what had to be done to save the company. I was convinced that if I could just move enough money from column A to column B, that everything would be ok. Surely, a company with such powerful brands and such a legacy of success could not simply cease to exist due to a few errors of judgment and a poor strategic plan?

I made several trips to TSR during the frenzied days of negotiation that resulted in the acquisition of the company by Wizards of the Coast. When I returned home from my first trip, I retreated to my home office; a place filled with bookshelves stacked with Dungeons & Dragons products. From the earliest games to the most recent campaign setting supplements - I owned, had read, and loved those products with a passion and intensity that I devoted to little else in my life. And I knew, despite my best efforts to tell myself otherwise, that the disaster I kept going back to in Wisconsin was the result of the products on those shelves.

When Peter put me in charge of the tabletop RPG business in 1998, he gave me one commission: Find out what went wrong, fix the business, save D&D. Vince also gave me a business condition that was easy to understand and quite direct. "God damnit, Dancey", he thundered at me from across the conference table: "Don't lose any more money!"

That became my core motivation. Save D&D. Don't lose money. Figure out what went wrong. Fix the problem.

Back into those financials I went. I walked again the long threads of decisions made by managers long gone; there are few roadmarks to tell us what was done and why in the years TSR did things like buy a needlepoint distributorship, or establish a west coast office at King Vedor's mansion. Why had a moderate success in collectable dice triggered a million unit order? Why did I still have stacks and stacks of 1st edition rulebooks in the warehouse? Why did TSR create not once, not twice, but nearly a dozen times a variation on the same, Tolkien inspired, eurocentric fantasy theme? Why had it constantly tried to create different games, poured money into marketing those games, only to realize that nobody was buying those games? Why, when it was so desperate for cash, had it invested in a million dollar license for content used by less than 10% of the marketplace? Why had a successful game line like Dragonlance been forcibly uprooted from its natural home in the D&D game and transplanted to a foreign and untested new game system? Why had the company funded the development of a science fiction game modeled on D&D - then not used the D&D game rules?

In all my research into TSR's business, across all the ledgers, notebooks, computer files, and other sources of data, there was one thing I never found - one gaping hole in the mass of data we had available.

No customer profiling information. No feedback. No surveys. No "voice of the customer". TSR, it seems, knew nothing about the people who kept it alive. The management of the company made decisions based on instinct and gut feelings; not data. They didn't know how to listen - as an institution, listening to customers was considered something that other companies had to do - TSR lead, everyone else followed.

In today's hypercompetitive market, that's an impossible mentality. At Wizards of the Coast, we pay close attention to the voice of the customer. We ask questions. We listen. We react. So, we spent a whole lot of time and money on a variety of surveys and studies to learn about the people who play role playing games. And, at every turn, we learned things that were not only surprising, they flew in the face of all the conventional wisdom we'd absorbed through years of professional game publishing.

We heard some things that are very, very hard for a company to hear. We heard that our customers felt like we didn't trust them. We heard that we produced material they felt was substandard, irrelevant, and broken. We heard that our stories were boring or out of date, or simply uninteresting. We heard the people felt that >we< were irrelevant.

I know now what killed TSR. It wasn't trading card games. It wasn't Dragon Dice. It wasn't the success of other companies. It was a near total inability to listen to its customers, hear what they were saying, and make changes to make those customers happy. TSR died because it was deaf.

Amazingly, despite all those problems, and despite years of neglect, the D&D game itself remained, at the core, a viable business. Damaged; certainly. Ailing; certainly. But savable? Absolutely.

Our customers were telling us that 2e was too restrictive, limited their creativity, and wasn't "fun to play'? We can fix that. We can update the core rules to enable the expression of that creativity. We can demonstrate a commitment to supporting >your< stories. >Your< worlds. And we can make the game fun again.

Our customers were telling us that we produced too many products, and that the stuff we produced was of inferior quality? We can fix that. We can cut back on the number of products we release, and work hard to make sure that each and every book we publish is useful, interesting, and of high quality.

Our customers were telling us that we spent too much time on our own worlds, and not enough time on theirs? Ok - we can fix that. We can re-orient the business towards tools, towards examples, towards universal systems and rules that aren't dependent on owning a thousand dollars of unnecessary materials first.

Our customers were telling us that they prefer playing D&D nearly 2:1 over the next most popular game option? That's an important point of distinction. We can leverage that desire to help get them more people to play >with< by reducing the barriers to compatibility between the material we produce, and the material created by other companies.

Our customers told us they wanted a better support organization? We can pour money and resources into the RPGA and get it growing and supporting players like never before in the club's history. (10,000 paid members and rising, nearly 50,000 unpaid members - numbers currently skyrocketing).

Our customers were telling us that they want to create and distribute content based on our game? Fine - we can accommodate that interest and desire in a way that keeps both our customers and our lawyers happy.

Are we still listening? Yes, we absolutely are. If we hear you asking us for something we're not delivering, we'll deliver it. But we're not going to cater to the specific and unique needs of a minority if doing so will cause hardship to the majority. We're going to try and be responsible shepards of the D&D business, and that means saying "no" to things that we have shown to be damaging to the business and that aren't wanted or needed by most of our customers.

We listened when the customers told us that Alternity wasn't what they wanted in a science fiction game. We listened when customers told us that they didn't want the confusing, jargon filled world of Planescape. We listened when people told us that the Ravenloft concept was overshadowed by the products of a competitor. We listened to customers who told us that they want core materials, not world materials. That they buy DUNGEON magazine every two months at a rate twice that of our best selling stand-alone adventures.

We're not telling anyone what game to play. We are telling the market that we're going to actively encourage our players to stand up and demand that they be listened to, and that they become the center of the gaming industry - rather than the current publisher-centric model. Through the RPGA, the Open Gaming movement, the pages of Dragon Magazine, and all other venues available, we want to empower our customers to do what >they< want, to force us and our competitors to bend to >their< will, to make the products >they< want made.

I want to be judged on results, not rhetoric. I want to look back at my time at the helm of this business and feel that things got better, not worse. I want to know that my team made certain that the mistakes of the past wouldn't be the mistakes of the future. I want to know that we figured out what went wrong. That we fixed it. That we saved D&D. And that god damnit, we didn't lose money.

Thank you for listening,


Ryan S. Dancey
VP, Wizards of the Coast
Brand Manager, Dungeons & Dragons

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pathfinder vs D&D 4th ed.

Just got back from the local comic/game shop. It's a rarity that I get to go there anymore with my full time job and raising both of my kids. They aren't old enough to be trusted in there without tearing stuff up so I have to elect just not to go but once in a great while. I was looking for a couple of comics a friend on facebook wrote (Project Superman and Rocketeer Adventures) but more about those later.

Talked with Dave (the owner) for a while about a few things. One thing came to mind that I had to ask him. The CEO of paizo recently made the claim that Pathfinder books are outselling D&D books (haven't read the actual claim myself but have seen several people talking about it). Dave agreed that this is currently the trend at his shop. Pathfinder is the number one seller when it comes to books. Overall, if you count other D&D products, they come in number two because he sells quite a few of the D&D Dungeon Tiles.

I found it interesting to see what is basically the older version of the D20 rules selling better than the new version. Plus he also noted that he still gets people in asking him to find 3.0 and 3.5 stuff. Now of course this appears to only be print copies of the books sold through distributors and not every shop will be the same. Not to mention we have no idea how much is coming in from DDI online.