Monday, August 26, 2013

Random starting equipment

Been in a bit of a discussion with some folks over on G+.  A bit of talk about generating up some random starting equipment tables which I thought was a neat idea.  So I started working on one that is completely random for Basic Fantasy.  Basically was going to make charts for each class so they get gear that suits them.

Some people liked the idea of random starting packages of equipment.  One person spoke up and said as long as there were a lot of packages to really add some randomness to it.  Then somebody posted up a link to a blog post... the one here below to be exact:

For old DnD.  The four basic classes represented with sixteen packages for each.  Now this is awesome and I will probably be using it next time I run some BECMI DnD or Basic Fantasy.  Also if you look through the comments you can find a link to a pdf version of this list. 

So two thumbs up and I salute the work that went into this resource.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cyberpunk Sunday 2.009

The underlying theme to this weeks link is one of Gibson's favorite things.  How the street finds uses for technology. 

Wi-fi user stalking made easy. Just how easy it to spy on people using wi-fi devices like their phones or iPads? Pretty damn easy. With this very cheap set up a person can monitor and record the activity of various users as they simply pass by little boxes hidden nearby. If you think about it this can really crank up the creepyness factor as a person could monitor the entire neighborhood they live in.

Would it be cyberpunk without a drone? Heck no so here we go. Robot enthusiasts have started using Google Glass as a means to control small drones. Currently they are pretty basic maneuvers but I'm sure they'll get all the kinks worked out and a lot more options will appear. Just wait until officer Murphy can send that drone down a dark alley without having to set down his donut and coffee.

Tired of the worrying if the government is spying on your internet activity? Or should I say are tired of knowing that the government is spying on your internet activity? Well so are these folks and they aim to do something about it. Build a new form of internet. One that is composed of small nodes and various connections. A lot harder to control and probably a bit harder to shut down in areas with a high concentration of nodes.

Of course there are some who really don't like being spied on and have built a whole new layer of security under the net. The Darknet has become one of those things you hear about but very few ever seem to be let in on. Secrecy built on top of more secrecy. You even have to have special programs just to get in. If you ask me these guys are doing it right.

Friday, August 23, 2013

I found what in my bag of holding? Part 3

Now for a third batch of random items that your players can find in a bag of holding.  Because not everything thrown in has a use.

1 – Burlap sack with about a half dozen charcoal bricks inside.

2 – Large section of ordinary tree bark.

3 – Pack of rations... well beyond their expiration date.

4 – Waterskin and the water inside has been there a looong time.

5 – Handful of very pretty, but worthless, gems.

6 – Empty wine bottle.

7 – A wad of blood stained bandages.

8 – Bundle of a dozen very old and very dead roses.

9 – Bottle of Lilac scented perfume.

10 – A corkscrew in great condition.

11 – Recipe for making your own mead on a old scrap of paper.

12 – Small pouch holding chalk powder.

13 – The mummified remains of a small rodent.

14 – Leatherbound book of erotic poetry.

15 – A stack of decades old 'Wanted' posters.

16 – Around a hundred feet of thread, loose... not on a spool.

17 – Horseshoe with teeth marks on it.

18 – A nine foot pole.

19 – Small leather pouch filled with human teeth.

20 – Set of wooden dentures.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rules for asshole gamemaster number three

There seems to be the common misconception that runs through a lot of the gaming hobby out there. That we have to accept everybody who wants in no matter what. We should greet them with open arms and friendly words despite of their actions or behavior.

This is, in my humble opinion, utter bullshit.

Now don't get me wrong here I am accepting of a lot of things. Social awkwardness, various quirks and odd habits, a lot of what gets some people ostracized from other circles I am fully aware of dealing with and allowing at my table. The ones I am talking about here are the ones who go far and beyond the average 'geek' who isn't familiar with interacting with people on a normal basis. The ones who continue, or in some cases increase, their strong anti-social tendencies even after you've sat down and had a talk with them about it.

The guy who seems okay at some points but hits on every female that comes around... as long as they are underage. I've seen this one at a local game shop, he was in his mid twenties and he seemed to like the ones who either weren't old enough to have a drivers license or just got one. Really creepy pedo factor every time I was near him.

Or how about the overly violent bully. He sees all the other players as inferior or stupid, usually the GM as well. Yells at other people for the decisions they make, threatens physical harm if they make a bad die roll. Usually states that he is the only one at the table with any form of intelligence quite loudly to the other people.

The drug addict who is always trying to get other people to join in with his habit. The kleptomaniac who thinks what is yours should be his and has no problem taking it. The guy who absolutely refuses to bathe that people on the other side of the room can smell. The ones who really push the boundaries way far and beyond their limits. Those folks are who I'm talking about.

What's my asshole gamemaster advice here? Kick them the fuck out, plain and simple. Their reputation will rub off on you and the rest of the group even if you don't want it to. Potential players may avoid your games because of a single individual at your table. Folks outside of the gaming hobby will notice the company you keep as well. Trust me, reputation is a big deal out there in the world. Not to mention legal repercussions from folks like the drug addict or pedophile types. Do you really want to testify in front of a court room that you've seen somebody dating underage girls for the last two or three years... and never reported it.

We don't have to accept everybody. Some people just cannot and will not fit in.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Cyberpunk Sunday 2.008

Monitoring for crime even before anybody can call it in. Several cities are now trying out a sensors that can detect gunshots by sound. Not only that they are more reliable at pinpointing the point of origin than most 911 callers ever could be. So now no gunshot will go unreported. One could see this as an extremely useful for the police in quick response to potential crimes.... or as Big Brother not only watching but listening as well.


What would cyberpunk be without some sort of fashion? Pretty dull and boring. So coming soon to a club near you remote controlled LED clothing. First off is a light up skirt and top but I'm sure there are plenty more on the way. I'm just waiting for lit up cuffs and collars like they had in Automan years ago.


Last but not least is the burger built in a lab. A project to create artificial meat has finally taste tested their results. Apparently they aren't nearly as bad as some thought they would be. With the bulk of funding for this 330k project being R&D its nice to see it end with something of a success. Now that the development costs are out of the way I wonder how much it will cost to grow this 'smeat' for larger consumption.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Selling Jesus by Skunk Anansie

Music video for 'Selling Jesus' by Skunk Anansie from the movie Strange Days.  One hell of a song and she really puts everything into it.  It's actually a bit of a step away from most of the other music of hers that I've managed to listen to.  The lyrics seem even more true now than they did then.

Strange Days has to be one of the most underrated cyberpunk films of all time.  The themes, the characters, some of the tech, it all just bleeds chrome.  The only things missing are the net and cyberware.  Although the tech at the center of the storyline could be argued as a beginning jumping off platform for eventual virtual interfacing.

If you haven't see it, track a copy down and give it a watch.  Well worth the time.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cyberpunk Sunday 2.007

William Gibson is considered one of the fathers of the cyberpunk movement. He's been involved with the literary movement ever since the early beginning years. His book, Neuromancer, blew the doors of the genre and helped get some main stream attention. His take on technology is that he isn't all that interested in new tech as much as he is interested in how the street will find a use for it. So I would recommend to everybody who is a fan of cyberpunk to follow his twitter feed. While there is a lot of 'normality' among his posts there is also those ones that catch your imagination. Not to mention some of the things he retweets are pure cyberpunk in essence.

William Gibson's Twitter

We are stepping ever closer to using our brains to control more than our own bodies. At Harvard they have managed to make a nonevasive brain to brain interface... between a human and a rat. Again small steps at first, but they all add up. Eventually I'm sure people will be using this for much more and a lot of it rather immoral.

Havard brain to brain interface

Now after the whole NSA scandal is coming to light with how much they are monitoring everybody that they can we will probably see more stories like this. Everything is being recorded and sifted through and this story shows just that. A man is questioned by police after Googling the 'wrong' things. For some reason I think a few details of how or why their search history was picked up on are being told. Then again I'm paranoid... then again it's not whether or not you're paranoid it's a question of are you paranoid enough?

Be careful what you Google for

Saturday, August 10, 2013

GM Advice: COPS slack off the realism

Now most people know there is a distinctive difference in the way police work is portrayed in movies and on television and the way it is in real life. This is something that anybody wanting to run a police themed game will also have to decide on. Do you go with real life or the movies? Personally my recommendation would to always put quite of a bit of the movie/television spin into it. Here is a bit on why I say this.
A good chunk of actual real world police work is boring. Mind numbingly boring with very little excitement and lots of repetition. Directing traffic, standing in one spot telling people they can't come any closer to a crime scene for hours on end, paper work until your eyes bleed. This doesn't make for good entertaining game time. Now while I do urge folks to work some of the 'routine' assignments into the game from time to time I wouldn't make an entire game of it.
Bend the rules a bit on what an officer can and can't do. Let them do some of the investigative work instead of the detectives all the time. Instead of reporting everything and hoping their superiors take care of it let them follow up their own leads. Is this realistic? No. But is it fun or the players? Yes. Remember everybody having fun is the important part.
Give them the action filled chase scenes that almost never happen in the real world. The jumping over the car, gun drawn and bullets flying action. The damn near Parkour level of rooftop and alley way foot chases. When the excitement hits then make for sure that it's exciting. Because in the real world the 'exciting' part we see in the movies almost never happens.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Gaming Aid - Miranda Rights

Here is another gaming aid for those running games where the players take on the roles of police officers.  This time covering the Miranda Rights in the United States.  What they are and exactly how they work.

These are the rights read to a suspect if they are to be interrogated or asked questions regarding a crime they are being charged with.

"You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney and to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you at no cost. During any questioning, you may decide at any time to exercise these rights, not answer any questions or make any statements."

But -- You can be arrested without being read your Miranda Rights   The Miranda rights do not protect you from being arrested, only from incriminating yourself during questioning. All police need to legally arrest a person is "probable cause" -- an adequate reason based on facts and events to believe the person has committed a crime.   Police are required to "Read him his (Miranda) rights," only before interrogating a suspect. While failure to do so may cause any subsequent statements to be thrown out of court, the arrest may still be legal and valid.   Also without reading the Miranda rights, police are allowed to ask routine questions like name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number necessary to establishing a person's identity. Police can also administer alcohol and drug tests without warning, but persons being tested may refuse to answer questions during the tests.   Source: Court TV Legal Survival Guide

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cyberpunk Sunday 2.006

Bioengineering is moving along at quite a rapid pace. While this is a success story it does have a sad ending. A toddler was grown a trachea using her own stem cells and plastic fiber. The surgery and procedure were both a successful but the child died a few months later from other complications in her health. It does show the progress being made in the field.

Read the article on io9 here.

The passing of one of the most famous 'white hat' hackers. Barnaby Jack was known for being able to hack just about anything and forcing the tech industry to upgrade their security and protective countermeasures on several computerized devices. Although there is a lot of speculation and conspiracy talk surrounding his death there has been nothing in the form of solid evidence... yet.

Rest in peace Barnaby Jack.

Finally last but not least the Internet Map. While not really super useful it is an interesting representation of the biggest and most influential sites out there and those that are connected to them. It's also color coded by country along with a few other tidbits in the 'about' section. Enjoy.

Give the Internet Map a look here.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

GM Advice - Setting the mood in a COPS game.

Setting the mood when gaming can be very important to some people. Anything that helps them 'fall into' the game while playing. So it's time to discuss some mood setters for a COPS game. Some of these are great to use every game while others not so much.

The muster room. Hill Street Blues always started off with this each episode. All the officers going on shift getting the run down on what's been going on and things they will have to deal with. I highly suggest starting off each game with this. You can then drop hints at upcoming storylines, update some of the ones which have gone stale and not to mention it gives you the ability to railroad a little bit without looking so much like railroading. Just remember be safe out there guys.

Also a nice collection of music helps as well. I used to start games with a different cop show theme song along as with playing one each time we took a break. There are plenty of others out there that fit the bill as well. Take a look around online for a few soundtracks or collected scores that are inspired by various shows like Dragnet.

Have a pot of coffee on for whoever wants some. Even for those who don't drink it the smell alone will fill the room. Go with the old police stereotype also and maybe put a box of Krispy Kremes out on the table as well. Only allow refills or seconds when the characters are at a location that would allow them to do so.

Many times I would run games where the characters were regular duty police officers. So they would be two to a car partnered up during the game. At the table I would make the players set beside each based on who they were partnered up with. The only way they were allowed to pass information to other pairs of players while on patrol was through the radio.

Whenever they grab the radio to pass along that information, get ahold of the dispatcher or call for backup they have to use the 10-codes. Don't expect them to memorize it, make a few copies and pass them around the table and don't rush them to hard. After a couple of games the commonly used codes will become second nature.

Props are pretty much limited by your budget. You can plastic badges and toy guns. Or you can purchase actual evidence kits online and fill them with all sorts of things. Examples of paperwork can also be found on the net with relative ease (just don't bury them in it as gaming is about having fun more than frustration), If you do get extravagant with the props be sure to take some pictures and send me a link!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Gaming Aid - Police 10 Codes

Here's a handy little resource for games where the players take on roles of police officers.  The radio codes commonly used by law enforcement agencies.  Do take note that there are variances between different offices and some even use a code of their own design.  Using this during play helps create atmosphere and aid immersion.  This list was provided to me by a long time friend and game master.

A 10 code is a number designation to an event or message that is commonly used by the police departments of the United States. This helps quicken message transmission and also makes it harder for someone to understand whats going while listening to police band. This gives the police an edge in the fact that most people will not know where the units are or what they are currently doing. The following is a list of the police 10 codes commonly used in the fictional Transea metropolitian area.

In addition to the use of 10 codes, most police forces have a designated second channel they switch to when they need to transmit personal information or have a more informal conversation. Most or the time the number designation of the channel is not the actual channel they are going to. Ex: the call sign to switch to the other channel my be 'Swith to channel 5' where as they actually switch to channel 7.
  • 10-1 Unable to copy
  • 10-2 Able to Copy
  • 10-3 Affirmative
  • 10-4 Message Received
  • 10-5 Relay
  • 10-6 Busy, Stand-by
  • 10-7 Out of service
  • 10-8 In service
  • 10-9 Repeat
  • 10-10 Minor detail, subject to call
  • 10-11 Remain in service
  • 10-12 Visitor present
  • 10-13 Road/weather conditions
  • 10-14 Correct time
  • 10-15 Arrest made
  • 10-16 Pick up
  • 10-17 Urgent - Rush
  • 10-18 Anything pending
  • 10-19 Nothing pending
  • 10-20 Location
  • 10-21 Contact by public service
  • 10-22 Report in person
  • 10-23 On scene
  • 10-24 Completed last assignment
  • 10-25 disregard
  • 10-26 Holding subject
  • 10-27 Officer on duty
  • 10-28 Registration/operators check
  • 10-29 Stolen/wanted check
  • 10-32 Armed subject
  • 10-33 Emergency traffic
  • 10-34 Trouble at station
  • 10-35 Major crime alert
  • 10-36 Confidental information
  • 10-37 Traffic stop
  • 10-38 Need immediate assistance
  • 10-41 Beginning tour of duty
  • 10-42 Ending tour of duty
  • 10-47 Robbery in progress
  • 10-48 Burglary in progress
  • 10-50 Vehicle accident
    • J1 Minor
    • J2 Major
    • J3 Road Blockage
    • Fatality
  • 10-51 Ambulance needed
    • Enroute
  • 10-52 Tow truck needed
    • Enroute
  • 10-53 Fire response needed
    • Enroute
  • 10-55 Intoxicated subject
  • 10-58 Motorist assist
  • 10-59 Escort
  • 10-68 Dispatch information
  • 10-70 Fire
  • 10-71 Report progress of fire
  • 10-73 Alarm sounding
  • 10-74 Enroute
  • 10-88 Public service number
  • 10-89 Bomb threat
  • 10-92 Security check
  • 10-93 Secure
  • 10-95 Residence
  • 10-96 Mentally unstable subject
  • 10-97 Caution
    • J1 Known criminal
    • J2 Armed/violent
    • J3 Known to assualt officer
  • 10-99 Possible stolen/wanted
    • J1 misdemeanor
    • J2 Felony