Friday, February 28, 2014

Dual Underworlds and Predestination

Okay, so a friend of mine and I have several times discussed Max Weber's Protestant Work Ethic, which he hypothesized was based on John Calvin's doctrine of predestination, and their deleterious effects on American culture (but I digress).  So that got me to thinking: what about a game world where there is predestination?  That is to say, every creature with a soul, including the player characters, is already predestined to go to a Nice Place or a Nasty Place after death--but no one knows which.  How would that affect their playing style, choice of class, and choice of deity?

But then I was wondering how that would work in the typical polytheistic game world.  You could have a deity of Fate who decides all things but who cares not for the affairs of mortals.  People in such a world would be quite literally fatalistic.  But that seemed a bit boring to me.  So, how about there are two gatekeeper guardians of the afterworld, one for "heaven" and one for "hell".  They are equal in all other ways, maybe even twins, and share everything equally--including the souls of the departed.  As each new soul comes to them after death they decide who will get it, perhaps through a game.  It could be a game of chance or one of skill; since the two are exactly equal they have an even chance of winning a non-chance game.

But what if a character dies and is resurrected?  Does that give away the game?  If it is decided by Fate, then yes, which is interesting if they find our they're going to hell.  If the decision is not made until the twins play their game, then no, but a bummer if they found out they got into heaven and then got yanked back by the resurrection.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

First Game with Skype

Okay, so I have actually been doing stuff and so it's about time I did a post or two.  Monday night we finally got back in the saddle for another ripping episode of our Castles & Crusades game, The Adventures of the Amazing Trevor and Some Other People.  I'll have the write-up along in a bit but first I want to talk about our experience using Skype.  One of our esteemed members (hi, Dan!) lives farther away than most and so last night we decided to try having him join us via the Internet (invented, as you know, by DARPA so that even after a massive nuclear war people everywhere would still be able to share cat videos).  So Mike brought a handy little tablet and we dialed up Dan (and his bird).  We didn't get video going but Dan was able to participate by voice pretty well.  The only drawback was that we couldn't turn the volume up very high and so he was a bit hard to hear sometimes.  Overall I'd chalk it up as a success.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

More Stuff to Buy: The Gaean Reach Gazetteer

Okay, so Jack Vance is my favorite author.  I'm pretty sure I have all of his books--and yes, I have actually read all of them.  When Pelgrane Press came out with the Dying Earth game I soon purchased several of the books for it.  Now they have announced the The Gaean Reach Gazetteer.  Vance is best known in the RPG community for the "Vancian magic" system in Dungeons & Dragons, which is based on his Dying Earth novels.  However, most of his novels were actually science fiction and many were set in the Gaean Reach.  So I am quite thrilled that Pelgrane is working on a full setting book for their The Gaean Reach rules.

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Mecha Campaign Intro...(2)

So here's another short bit of campaign intro fiction for a mecha game.  An earlier intro is here.

Nothing to Lose But Your Chains...

Through the viewport you can see your new home away from home, the Light Mecha Carrier "Comrade Zaporizhye" orbiting above Sirenus III.  The transport carry you and your mechs docks with the larger ship.  The crewmen look on with hostility as you shuffle out of the docking tube in your coveralls and leg irons.  The "EP" printed in large letters on the chest and back of the coveralls proclaims your status: Enemy of the People.  Once a promising and trusted mech pilot, now a traitor to the Revolution.

It was only a few weeks ago that you held up your synth-bread ration at lunch in the communal mess hall on People's Planet 67854 and remarked that it looked like a lot less than the regulation 200-gram serving.  The new ration level, recently "revised" on the basis of careful scientific study by the comrade-scientists at the People's Central Institute for Nutrition, were already about a third lower than last year.  You simply hefted the slice and noted that it really seemed a lot thinner than before.  Unfortunately your work unit's new Socio-Political Commissar, eager to start making his mark early in his new post, was right behind you.

You and the other convicts are herded into line by thuggish wardens from the People's Ministry of Re-Education brandishing their high-voltage riot rods.  An officer approaches.  His immaculate uniform and large armband bearing the Party's symbol immediately identify him as one of the ship's commissars.  "Silence you swine", barks a voice, followed by several crackling applications of the riot rods.  The commissar takes a moment to look you over with undisguised contempt and disgust.   "You scum!  You dare contest the will of the People?!  You dare to question the righteousness of the Revolution?!  The only thing keeping you alive is your critical military skills!  The current campaign, led by Comrade-Commodore GrigoryAlexandrovich Kutusov against the reactionary elements and and their alien henchmen in the sector, calls for all the troops we can muster.  These mechs in the bays have been fashioned by the ardently loyal hands of the comrade-workers in the People's industro-communes.  You will be allowed to pilot them to serve the Revolution.  But don't think for about betraying us once you are inc control of your mech, you swine!  All mecha are fitted with Loyalty Modules which can be detonated by remote control at the first sign of treason."

"Combat refresher training and revolutionary re-education sessions will begin at 0600 ship's time tomorrow.  Are you all clear on this?"  "Yes, comrade commissar!" shout your fellow convicts.  The PMRE wardens turn and depart for the transport.  A squad of ship's marines in battle armor and heavy blasters takes over and herds you to the detention barracks to begin your first night on board.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

What Do I Listen to While Thinking Stuff Up

Personally I find that music is an important stimulant for the creative process.  I have a somewhat eclectic taste in music, but for a while now I've been specifically seeking out music not in English.  This is largely because I've grown bored of most of the classic rock and disco I used to listen to--and when the stuff I used to like started showing up in elevator music and the soundtrack to Shreck I knew it was time to move on.  But also, as far as the creative process goes, music with lyrics in English tend to be distracting.  The flow of irrelevant words into my brain often jams my mental gears.

My primary source for finding new music is YouTube and here are a dozen of the favorites I'm listening to nowadays:

【Utattemita】トキヲ・ファンカ(TOKIO FUNKA) Ver.杏ノ助(Kyounosuke)

Jordan Chan - 算你狠

Yoon Mi Rae T (t윤미래) ft Tiger JK, Jung In - GET IT IN (겟잇인)

Temple of Love (extended) Sisters of Mercy

【和楽器バンド】天樂 Tengaku 【VOCALOID】

GO!GO!7188 Jetto Ninjin 2008

Cherri Bomb - The Pretender

Fatboy Slim Vs Dire Straits 'Money for Rockafeller' Sam Flanagan Mash-up


Munni badnaam hui - Dabangg Movie Song - Mika Singh-Malaika Arora - Salman Khan

【Utattemita】ドーナツホール(DONUT HOLE) Ver.杏ノ助(Kyounosuke)

ボーダーランズ! (Borderlands!) - 鏡音レン

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Random Coinage Generator

One of the things which I'm sort of tired of in fantasy RPGs is that typically the different coins don't have names.  I don't think there has ever been a society where people used money called Gold Pieces, Silver Pieces, and Copper Pieces.  Well, okay ancient Chinese coins were just called "money/钱", but that's a bit unusual.  Anyway, for my games I like to give the coins names, but I try to keep them easy to remember.  In my current game I'm using gold Marks, silver Shillings, and copper Pennies.  It's a lot more favorful to have the innkeeper tell the PCs that a room is "one shilling and sixpence" for the night or that there is a reward of "fifty marks" for the capture of a bandit.  Along with that goes physical details of currency.  As I was jotting down ideas of what to put on the coins for my game I thought that I could easily expand the notes into a simple random coinage generator.  So here it is:

Coin Shape (1d6)
  1. round
  2. square
  3. triangular
  4. rectangular
  5. polygonal (roll 1d12 + 4 for number of sides)
  6. trade blade  (a stylized miniature of a: 1) axe, 2) knife, 3) arrowhead, 4) plow, 5) scythe, 6) spade)
Hole (center for most, appropriate place near edge for a trade blade; 1d6)
1-4: no
5-6: yes (optional: roll 1d6 for the number of holes, usually placed symmetrically)

Design (1d12; roll for each side)
  1. bird or bat
  2. sea creature
  3. land carnivore
  4. land herd animal
  5. magical beast (griffin, etc.)
  6. fortification (tower, castle, gate, portcullis, etc.)
  7. plant
  8. weapon or shield
  9. humanoid  (usually a ruler, legendary person, or deity)
  10. dragon
  11. musical instrument
  12. writing (usually about the ruler and/or country of origin, or a prayer)