Monthly Archives: April 2015

The Hand of Vecna has been found

The doom of the world is at hand. The Hand of Vecna has been found along with a treasure map and some old coins.

http://www.wpxi.com/news/news/weird-news/human-hand-found-florida-attic-coins-treasure-map/nk6Mx/

When I get home I am packing up my battle axe and crossbow, gathering a group of intrepid adventurers and heading out. Who is in?

 

Emergent Playing (whatever the hell that is)

Over on RPG.net I read probably the most interesting thread on RPG’s that I have seen in awhile.

Cyberpunk Gaming, Bleeding Edge, Emergent Gameplay and Eric Brennan

The discussion seemed to be around the difficulty of playing this genre that is more or less faithful to the literature that spawned the role playing games. The complaints seemed to center around the fact that most games tend to devolve into firefights and gear upgrades and miss the central themes of the genre. Some very good points and counter points were made and over all, I think it was or is an excellent discussion of the topic. As usual, I am going to give my opinion on the topic, good or bad.

First, I agree, most cyberpunk games are shadows of their literary roots. However, i think this true of all RPG’s, very few games being played are epic adventures on the level of Lord of the Rings. Most all RPG’s tend to center around “Kill the monsters and steal their stuff!” or Murder Hobos if you will. Even games that claim to transcend this, really don’t. Vampire: The Masquerade for instance, is suppose to be an about lost humanity and addiction, but most of the games I have played, observed or heard about, have been little more than “Plot against the city prince, to kill him, drink his blood and become more powerful!”, that is still pretty much “Kill the monsters and steal their stuff!”. The same thing can be said for Nobilis and Blue Rose.

Second, I am not sure this is a bad thing. Honestly I see nothing wrong with this style of play. Playing D&D or whatever is not really about creating stories about epic heroes. What this is really about is friends getting together and blowing off steam. It is not terribly different from watching football on Sunday afternoon and nobody attributes a higher purpose to that. In the real world I have to mow the lawn, pay the rent and be civilized, even when I don’t feel like it. In these fantasy worlds, I don’t have to do any of that and why would I want too? This is why court intrigue games like those mentioned earlier, tend to fail, they are boring.

I think a successful cyberpunk game really needs to focus on a couple of tropes. The Cyber part of cyberpunk, refers to the relationship between man and technology. This can be done in several ways; At what point does a cyborg become a machine? or Will Artificial Intelligence be our greatest friend or our greatest enemy? are examples of this. The Punk part refers to the fight humanity has waged for 10,000 years, the fight to drags ourselves out of the mud and be something better or greater. It is about the fight against those who are more powerful than us, those who use us and then cast us aside after we have served our purpose whether it be Big Business, Big Government or Big Crime. In this genre, those three entities are heavily entwined, are hard to tell apart and are often the same thing. I think as long as the game focus around these aspects of the genre, does it really matter what the body count is?

Happy 4/20

Go out and dance with Mary Jane, tonight is your night.

We don’t talk about Belize

Chad and I have been discussing the upcoming GURPS Cyberpunk game and he came up with the interesting idea of placing the game in Billings Montana. This is an interesting idea for a couple of reasons, first everyone in the group except David has lived there and is familiar with the setting, second people forget that Billings is a pretty seedy town.

My plan is to place the game in the 2060’s, this would put most of us around 100 years old, with the life extending technology of your average Cyberpunk game, it is a good bet we would still be alive and so would many of the people we know. I am not planning on putting US into the game, but what it does is gives me source material for a lot of NPC’s.

As a town, Billings has two sides. On the outside it is a clean city in a very scenic river valley. When you are down in the valley, the sunset on rimrocks can be breath taking and the view from up on the rimrocks at night is beautiful. There are a lot of nice parks and the gentrified downtown area has a lot of quaint stores. On the other side, the town is a breeding ground for drug traffic and prostitution, there are parts of town that walking around at night will get you hurt. There are bars in town where knife fights are a nightly event. There is plenty of sleaze in Billings, add to that another 50 years of economic downturns and batshit crazy libertarian politics and you have the perfect Cyberpunk setting.

My current working campaign plan is the characters are a group of black ops agents who were involved in a botched mission in central america. The the screw ups were not their fault, this is the only thing that saved their lives, but they are punished none the less being exiled to Billings. After their “Debriefing”, they were driven to Billings and unceremoniously pushed out the back of a van, and told if they stepped one foot outside of town until told to do so, no one would ever find their bodies. The plot of the campaign is the group trying to make a living with the skills they have and maybe looking for a little redemption, but the one thing they don’t do, is talk about Belize.

I have to draw the line somewhere

Lately I have found myself standing against people on my own side of the political spectrum. I do that every now and again, especially where freedom of expression is concerned. However, one has to draw the line somewhere and I draw it at supporting a idiot like Vox Day. I will not apologize for this, he is a very distasteful man and in this case the enemy of my enemy is in fact still my enemy. While I do think the Hugo awards have been poorly run over the years and it is controlled by a small tight clique of authors, I do not believe the way to fix it is by by replacing one small tight clique with another. Say what you will about John Scalzi, like him or hate him, but personally, I can say I agree with him on a variety of topics, I agree with Vox Day on absolutely nothing. This year I am voting in the Hugo’s, I have already paid my $40. I am doing so not to support either Scalzi or Vox, but rather to support all the fans out there who have been caught between two Waring cultural factions with agendas that have nothing to do with good books and the only cure for an ailing democracy is MORE  FUCKING DEMOCRACY.

As a side note, on the political compass site, I am Economic Left/Right: -5.75 and Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -8.05. It seems odd, that as I get older and seem to get even more leftist. I expect to be -10/-10 by the time I am 70.

5 things I want to see

Star Trek TV series: I know the money is in movies and I know it will take a near act of god to do another Star Trek series, especially in light of how poorly the last two did. However, I’d dearly love to see a good solid Star Trek series hit TV.

Green Lantern/Green Arrow buddy story: Something that has been missing from DC comics for many years is the classic best friend relationship between Hal Jordan and Ollie Queen. In fact I am not pleased with the current Green Arrow at all, he has lost all of the interesting things that give him depth, his relationships. DC writers have eliminated his relationship with Speedy, Black Canary as well as Green Lantern. Of all DC characters, Green Arrow had the best developed relationships of all. I want to see DC bring these relationships back, I want to see GL/GA gallivant around the world saving the day, I want to see hot steamy scenes with Black Canary and I want to see the broken father/son relationship between Ollie and Roy.

A good 250 page Fantasy or Science Fiction  book that is just a fun romp: I hate 700 page books, I especially hate 700 page books filled with dark gritty bullshit. No dark anti hero where the only difference between him and the villain is the body count, living in a world of murder porn. Give me a book about a light hearted hero who is sort of having fun while he saves the world.

16 page D&D Module that takes 3 months to complete: Along with 700 page novels and I hate huge hard back D&D modules that leave very little to the imagination. Really, all I need it an outline, a rough draft if you will and some maps, I will run with it from there.

 A computer that just works: Over the years, some computers have worked better than others, but none of them seem to just work, all of them require some maintenance and general fucking around with. I’d like a computer that just works, no screwing around it just works. The closest thing I have seen so far is a Chromebook, but it is still not quite there.