Articles

Reviews and Ramblings
View All Articles
Game Design
What if you\'re not prepared?
    by PurpleXVI - 09/19/14
GM Startup Guide
    by PurpleXVI - 06/10/09
Weave: The Threads of Reality
    by PurpleXVI - 01/30/09
View All Articles
STORYTIEM
Jachin Akhenaton: Epic Death in Two Sessions
    by PurpleXVI - 11/10/08
DF Let's Play - Episode One
    by CAPSLOCKGUY - 11/06/08
DORF FORT ELLPEE
    by CAPSLOCKGUY - 10/19/08
Razamon, Barbarian of the North
    by MxSavior - 10/17/08
View All Articles
 
[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Hc Svnt Dracones: Part 5
11:59pm EDT - 7/31/2015
Hc Svnt Dracones

Would you believe there's still more fluff/setting bullshit to crunch through?







Setting



This section starts out with a glossary of Space Future Terms, which are basically a bunch of tiny fluff snippets to tell us more about living in the SPACE FUTURE, most of them are dumb and pointless, but a few of them are dumb and hilarious, and I'll paste from those.



Did you know that in the Furry Space Future, stores are outdated? Instead of buying physical goods, you just buy limited-use licences to 3D print stuff... which actually seems like an alright idea for a setting where 3D-printing/nanotech forges replace most traditional construction. Though it's partnered with the bizarre idea that you can only buy said blueprints in certain areas, called "BuySpots." That seems weirdly anachronistic. If you've done away with physical stores, why still tie purchases to a location?



Space suits are now called "Suck Suits," which sounds more like something related to some really bizarre fetish.



quote:

A physical surface that contains digital components capable of processing information and displaying it. Almost every piece of glass, metallic or reflective surface in a Vector community is a smart surface.




It seems weird that HSD's society is so much more "civilized" than EP's, everyone's on board with the hypercapitalist thing(so far, anyway, there's an antagonist chapter later on which I guess might include filthy unionist scum and others who want to share wealth), because it appears to be a perfect playground for anarchist/anti-establishment pranksters. Make an infinite-use 3D blueprint for dildos and go swamp some corporation's "BuySpot" with dongs, hack an entire city to display nothing but your taint on every fucking surface. But no, everyone seems to have just mindlessly gone along with the whole idea.



quote:

When they were first developed, smart surfaces blared advertisements and followed Vectors around with digital salesmen to the point that the community as a whole demanded a stop to it.




Also, as much as EP is hostile to hypercapitalism, I think it displays it more realistically than HSD, because in EP, corporations largely have power over their employees, yet still have to avoid massive scandals, since they're not invincible. In HSD, on the other hand, corporations instantly bow to the wishes of the public and their employees and seem to either have no actual power to throw around, or to be innocent of any real desire to ever abuse people, committing misdeeds largely out of ignorance rather than selfishness. Not to mention, did the corporations not need the advertisements or anything? Could they just cut them with no harm to their revenue streams? Nope, must've just been on a whim that they advertised for stuff, since they could just cut it out at the drop of a hat.



quote:

Ledger: An autonomous investment system that works on behalf of each individual to make them a functioning part of the flow of commerce. Its profit offsets the cost of living in a society with chronic nickel-and-diming, and ensures a partial income. Ledger systems are not distributed after birth, cannot be bought, and cannot be traded. Their encryption relies on certain codes and programs only possessed by a handful of people in the universe, and the system itself operates on a constant basis. It is not updated, tampered with, changed or modified, which makes it easy to notice if someone is meddling with it. By and large, Ledgers cannot be hacked. They do what they do based on centuries-old equations that grow naturally with the inclusion of certain variables, and anomalies are very easy to spot. The systems themselves are contained within the sealed archives of the corptowns in which people are born, and might be accessible by one in every 10 million people.




I just want to repeat the whole "Ledger" thing because it's so fucking stupid. I love how it's "not updated" and "based on centuries-old equations," and clearly in the centuries since the start of the setting, computing power has grown massively if we've now literally made every fucking reflective surface a computer, and Transcendent Technologies surely has holistic crystal power quantum computers or something, yet despite this program never being updated, and being based on ancient equations, apparently no one has ever thought to use this massive flood of computing technology to either exploit bugs in the system's equations or crack the encryption?



quote:

Also known as the Human Aural Resonance Effect, this phenomenon is the largest piece of unaccounted-for evidence known to Vector-kind that perhaps their understanding of their own history might not be all they thought it was. The human voice, specifically human singing, resonates in the Vector mind in an almost hypnotizing fashion. While Vectors can still function more or less adeptly in the presence of human singing, they become somewhat placid and susceptible to suggestion, and can even be calmed or manipulated if the right person is exerting the right pressures.



...



Very few uncompressed original human pieces have survived 700 years past the death of their world



...



When combined with the other curious discrepancy in the early days of Mars: the last of humanity choosing to die off or transform rather than push onward, this paints a disturbing potential alternate to the end days of mankind, in which they attempted to gain control of the Vector population, failed, and were subsequently killed off by the early Vectors themselves. It would mean an awful lot of early history was entirely manufactured, but it wouldn’t be the first time.




I want to point out that I have not read ahead at all, so if the book is setting us up for some sort of surprisingly rad twist where it turns out that everything we've read so far has been blatant propaganda bullshit, I'd be pleased, but I doubt it. If anything this seems more like "the humans were evil all along, only the furries have true moral purity, that's why hypercapitalism works for them."



quote:

The Shadow President is a single, faceless, nameless civilian that exists above the CEO. Each megacorp has one. Their job is as profound as it is simplistic: watch. Be the stopgap. Hold the corporate machine in check when it needs to be reined in, allow it to roam free when it doesn’t. Be silent and uninvolved while the business flourishes, but when it oversteps its boundaries, when it pushes too hard, bring the hammer down on it. It is suspected by those in the know that nearly every megacorp CEO assassination was only possible because the Shadow President determined that the CEO had to be stopped, and arranged it.



...



The nature of the order of succession is as mysterious as the people themselves, but it is suspected that the titles have been passed down from person to person for generations, carefully selecting brilliant individuals who can accomplish the weighty goals held before them. They’re geniuses, whose job is not just to keep the system from snowballing, but to use its assets in ways that will profoundly influence the universe while the greater machine worries about what this year’s spring fashion line will be. They walk the streets as normal people, see the effects of their titanic corporations, monitor their books and research, and silently weigh in their hands when it’s necessary. A slip of paper containing even one of their names would be worth billions. So far, no such document has been found.




In short, all those checks and balances, those distributions of responsibility and decisionmaking, such as shareholder councils and the like, don't actually work. What's necessary for corporations to act correctly and morally is a single, powerful CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY with ultimate power over them. At least they just decided to go, "UH, IT'S A MYSTERY" rather than trying to bullshit up a way in which none of these SHADOW PRESIDENTS would ever be corrupt assholes or fuckups. I also want to point out that the book describes one of the reasons to need the SHADOW PRESIDENT as being because the other entities controlling the company are too far-removed from the public, and can too easily seek safety in bunkers or in orbit if their decisions ever really piss someone off... so I want to ask you, what protection is better than PERFECT ANONYMITY? At least people know who to fucking blame with the rest of them.



Next, we're on to locations! Which starts out by describing that "skirmishes" ranging from "a couple of employees" to "a few hundred thousand" in size, happen with some regularity and often little warning. This is described as "worrying" to us, that is, us, the reader, and perhaps unsettling to us. But apparently to the people of THE SPACE FUTURE, this is just how business is done and nothing to whine about, highly implying that it's just a matter of culture and not, objectively, a bad thing. I'm absolutely boggled by whatever thinking came up with this... and then it turns out that the "locations" section has a dire dearth of actual locations, instead just describing types of locations like "urban city" and "a big cave" with a single, sparsely-detailed example of some of them.



About the only interesting parts are a couple of incredibly wanky space-stations briefly mentioned, one for idiot furries with mythical-esque forms, who live on a big space station where they permanently LARP themselves into a delusion that they actually ARE mythical creatures, like dragons, sphinxes, etc. They're somehow described as "noble" and "self-sacrificing," even though I remember most mythical monsters as being selfish and concerned largely with wealth and/or stealing attractive human women. The other's for idiot furries who idolize being ~wonderfully one with nature~ and all live as feral predators on a single space station... with no mention of what they hunt there, are there other furries there who worship the glory of being prey that gets messily murdered as food for the predators? Do they hunt targets? Do the predators hunt each other? Of course, despite ~abandoning all technology to live beautifully one with nature~, they're somehow still a match for the hunters with plasma rifles and railguns who regularly visit to hunt them for sport.



quote:

Being feral does not make you stupid, and smart animals hunt in creative ways.




Gotta make room for everyone's fursona, after all.



Blightspots are one of the few ideas in this book I actually like. Basically, growing bioships, like Transcendent Technologies does, is a tricky business. And sometimes, rather than forming correctly, they become a tumor, complete with the original ship's defenses and self-repair abilities, but now just sort of... spread across their construction facility(whether in space or planet-side), and aggressively resisting attempts to destroy them. But then again, I've got a soft spot for body horror type stuff.



After that is the bit that's about actual, defined, locations, the various planets.





Mars



Mars is incredibly dull, it's just Earth with taller trees, literally. About the most interesting part is the detail that Deimos was just casually demolished by automated debris-clearance machines in orbit, at which point I have to ask what challenges can really remain for players or anyone in this setting if a fucking moonlet can just be recycled for trash without anyone apparently noticing until it's too late.



The bit on Venus and its terraforming just makes me laugh, though, apparently it was a casual operation to increase the planet's rate of spin and give it an artificial magnetic field to shield it from solar radiation, and so I repeat: What fucking challenges are left? What technology even needs to be discovered? Faster-than-light travel seems to be about the only thing missing at this point. There's already a substance to make you immortal and planetary-scale engineering seems like a wave of the hand away.



quote:

During the course of the Venus terraform, the planet’s rotational speed would accelerate from one turn every 238 Earth days to an almost perfect 24 hour spin, in the opposite direction. Its core would be liquefied, its magnetic field restored, and its atmosphere stabilized.




When they terraformed the place, they were also fucking idiots, I'd note, deciding that what an awesome, habitable world totally needed was herds of giant sea monsters and dragons. Why yes, I would love to go settle on a nice, Earth-like planet where a giant, flying fucking goose with scales might incinerate me.



Europa's somewhat interesting, since someone's actually bothered writing up a bit of local culture beyond "this is where all the corporations live" or "they like taking trips to Mars."(for Venus) With the Europans described as superstitious and, in fact, particularly in dread of Jupiter, the entire surface colony effectively going into blackout when Jupiter's in the sky, and leaving it ambiguous whether being farther out-system, more isolated, and dominated by a single, odd, corporate culture(Transcendent Technologies) is what's making them weird, or whether it's because the heart of their planet is full of ineffable alien artifacts.



Lastly, there's Ganymede, which is dull. It's just a generic space-frontier, a moon basically covered in jungle, and Earth, which is also dull, because it's got even less of a purpose in the setting than Earth does in Eclipse Phase. Earth in EP at least has a canonical reason to be scavenged-on, and a canonical number of scavenger inhabitants. Earth in HSD has half its surface literally covered in Whispers, the red gooey crystal shell covers half of Earth and extends almost all the way to the moon(and the entire moon is also covered), and apparently it's made of Whispers that can just wake up and murder people. So like, good luck visiting Earth, everyone who ever has, in canon, has fucking died.



But on the bright side, that taps out setting and lets us see how badly done chargen is, which I'll do next post.



~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Hc Svnt Dracones: Part 4
11:34pm EDT - 7/31/2015
Hc Svnt Dracones

The missing ingredient for benevolent corporate overlords: Cat-ears and tails







Corps



We're now on to the section of the book that's about the current state of the world, not the highly implausible way in which the world reached its hugely implausible state. And just from the first paragraph, it's a fucking doozy. The chapter starts off by saying that sure, corporations have been dicks to people before, and unions will fill your ears with tales of it(of course phrased as though the unions are kvetching excessively and without merit), but that's not all there is to the story of person/corporation interaction!



quote:

But as was the case with many human endeavors, work and labor problems didn’t arrive out of nowhere. They trickled in from earlier problems of classism and mentalities of people-as-property, and in the American example, were assisted by an as yet undefined role of federal government in business affairs.



...



In HSD, the origin of corporate control stems from drastically different circumstances. At its heart is a single corporation that fled its own world with a message of unity, cooperation, innovation, and acceptance of the personal ideal.




To summarize, corporations and people only got along poorly because people believed in socio-economic classes, and because humanity hadn't made as perfect a corporation as furries were able to. Also, in some undefined way, The Sleeping Dragon of Government helped make people and corporations not get along well. One paragraph in and they're already knocking it out of the park. But how did furries, who are basically, at heart, just humans with bits stapled on, manage to do what humanity never managed to?



quote:

Seven hundred years is a very long time. People have had a chance to hammer out the major issues.




"They just worked at it real hard for a real long time! Duh! And now it works!"



quote:

Without a federal government to point their finger at, most corporations have had to serve as both representative and employer, and as such have become significantly more accountable to their employees. Those corps that ignored the needs of their citizens were removed, often violently, until they eventually got the message that certain behaviors were not going to be tolerated.




I am literally at a loss for words. The book is now mocking itself. If anyone actually believes this shit is vaguely plausible, they need to be admitted to a mental institution immediately. Without a system of checks and balances, without a legal system to prevent abuse of employees, corporations are somehow more responsible, not less. And the great, wide mass of furrydom is somehow a bunch of omniscient, self-sufficient consumers that cannot be manipulated by propaganda and disinformation, or bullied by monopolies or private corporate armies. No, instead, brave citizen militias totally take care of any mean corps so only the good ones remain! No business would ever act short-sightedly! No consumer would ever act illogically!



quote:

As for those born in a situation they couldn’t agree with? Well, competition is a wonderful thing. Somewhere out in the big empty is a Corp waiting for a citizen like you, and they’re all eager to bring in newcomers, if only to sap them from their enemies.




And in this theoretical market of wonders and fairy dust, there's always a shortage of manpower and workforce, so the employee always wields the power in negotiations and can simply go somewhere else! Even the janitors are, somehow, surely, something that there's a shortage of! Just join another corp because someone wants to deprive your current corporation of freshly-mopped floors!



No one who worked on this RPG has ever held a job.



quote:

At the top of the heap, however, is the Corp that runs the corpornation itself, to whom all others pay rent for the privilege of doing business. Its similarity to traditional government is clear, and the argument that all corpornations are benevolent dictatorships holds more water than many within them would care to admit.



...



For one, all megacorps are publicly owned, meaning the ones living within them have stock in their success. For two, there is no election, and as such, no campaigning, for advances in corporate status. Promotions work differently in every corp but still tend to hinge on performance rather than popularity. Corps will only move people up who have a better capacity to make the business successful or strong, and that strength filters down to the ledgers of their citizenship, who, by the very act of living there, all have a piece of the pie.




"It is like a traditional nation, except not, because it's better! And no one is ever promoted because their boss likes them more! Or because of nepotism! Only because of skill! It may be a benevolent dictatorship, but it works! The corporate trains run on time!"



The corporations also offer free schooling for everyone and they totally respect people who decide to break free of their pre-made assembly lines for educated employees, who actually get way better odds at advancement for BUCKING THE SYSTEM and being INDEPENDENT THINKERS! Corporations would never suppress your free expression!



After making my head explode, the book decides to explain what big corps there are.



MarsCo



To summarize: They're incredibly dull and generic, do a bit of everything, and are omnipresent on Mars. Also huge. Literally there's nothing interesting about them, not even anything to mock.



Applied Sciences and Robotics



They invented the first sentient robots, and those robots are considered to have a "soul" as long as their brain(the Core Consciousness) is powered. Which brings up a lot of weird questions. Is this just a political thing, somehow? Are they considered non-persons if powered off, say, for maintenance, and then powered up again? CAN they be powered down and powered up again at all, or does running low on batteries delete their brain? It's implied that whichever it was, it's an intentional choice of their design/legislation regarding them, and didn't have to be that way, so it seems odd and meaningless. They hit on the brilliant idea of raising their machines like humans, so they'd grow up to think and act like humans, but also got the bizarre idea that they needed to be child-sized when "born," and so keep having to have their brains transferred into new chassis as they grow.



Why? Because.



Also they somehow got it right on the first try. No fuckups or false avenues of experimentation or anything. First try just BAM, nailed an artificial, conscious brain.



Pulse



Did you know that genetic code needs to be "pure" and "streamlined," otherwise some random genetic flaw might just pop up a few hundred years later and turn everyone sterile? HSD taught me that! Wow, poor humans and animals on current Earth, with our "messy" genetic code, I bet any day now our children will come out looking like crawfish.



Pulse does sports for the genetically augmented, which seems pointless, seeing as how it's like sports with sanctioned doping. Also for some reason Pulse was tasked, back in the early days, with inventing new sports, since most Earth sports "wouldn't function on Mars" due to the reduced gravity. Personally I can't think of many that wouldn't. Maybe a lot where records would be rapidly broken or you might need to enlarge the playing field, or account for players suddenly being able to acrobatically leap over each other with limited effort. But I think most of them would work just fine except for being way more fucking fun to watch.



In addition to never having held jobs, I think we can clearly say the HSD devs have never played sports.



Also, each Corp has their own WACKY NAMING CONVENTIONS, I haven't mentioned the MarsCo and ASR ones since they're dull as dirt, but the Pulse ones are retarded. Instead of having last names, they just jam symbols next to their names, for instance: “James!!@-"(actual example from the book). Apparently this is meaningless as said symbols are never pronounced in any way, but Pulse employees tend to run around with, I shit you not, bright signs proclaiming their WACKY NAMES!!!!!!



Spyglass



Spyglass is basically the capitalist CIA-for-hire.



quote:

In the interests of preserving a working system of competition that served billions wonderfully, they were universally denounced and almost every major corporation in Sol outright refused to commission their services.




Good thing all the CAPTAINS OF INDUSTRY are too noble and upstanding to use underhanded means to defeat their opponents on the free market! Also Spyglass isn't just the CIA, they're somehow also the legal system, and somehow their being RUTHLESS and AS EVIL AS EVERYONE THINKS THEY ARE is a "virtue," because they're equally evil to everyone? In some sort of weird vigilante justice way? How this, somehow, protects the free market, is admirable and is a workable business plan, I have no fucking idea. But apparently they're filthy rich despite actively declaring war on everyone with those statements.



quote:

And so the Spyglass Corp Community doctrine was established: we will be every bit as bad as everyone else, and we’re not going to pretend it’s not happening.



Since then, Spyglass’ primary goal has been the promotion of a truly open market without the facade of decency that has forever clouded it. Let the buyer beware, as they say. But more than that, let the seller beware that the buyer may shoot them in the face for lying to them, and if Spyglass courts find that there was in fact a lie involved, the buyer will be absolved of all crime. It’s a harsh system that leads to two possible outcomes: you get a lot of very honest people, or you get a lot of people who are very good at lying. Spyglass breeds both, and holds both in equal regard. If you’re going to deal with someone, anyone, know that they are a liar. Know that they want to cheat you. If you can accept that and pick your battles accordingly, things move along at a pretty even keel. If you want to call them on it, you call them as hard as you want to. But if they’re a good enough liar to survive legal scrutiny, well. You should have thought of that before you pulled your gun. Spyglass does not promote open violence or murder, but it does hold other general rights and decency in fairly low regard.



...



If you’re willing to just accept that someone, somewhere, is constantly watching you, and that everyone’s out to gouge you, and you play by the same rules, Spyglass corptowns are actually damned honest places to live. You know where everyone stands, you pick your friends carefully, and you keep them for life. You can find plenty of decency in a den of thieves; you just have to expect it to take a little while.




Add to the list of things the HSD devs have never done: Interacted with human beings outside of the internet.



Inner Ring Police Force



The private space police, whom everyone was absolutely terrified of when they actually had the fleet power to impose their will on corporations, but who are now "put in their place" and only police when people hire them to police. Thank goodness. They're described in more suspicious and negative terms than Spyglass, somehow.



Progenitus



So all of the health care corps were actually evil and capable of curing all illnesses and injuries and cancers forever, but not doing so to prolong their profits, and when a Spyglass group called Progenitus found out and released this to the public, everyone loved them and paid them a constant, minor tax to safeguard this vital knowledge and keep everyone safe from the Space Flu forever. Welcome to the corporate utopia, plebs.



Also they invented a substance that could literally free anyone ingesting it from all biological needs(breathing, eating, drinking, having organs, etc.), but somehow it was "unnatural," and they decided that it wasn't to be used.



Transcendent Technologies



That super-substance? These guys love it and use it to make all sorts of grotesque, modified creatures and even living spaceships. Despite their very existence being founded in "FUCK THE LAWS OF NATURE, WE'RE GONNA MESS WITH GENETICS" and their society already having created one other species from raw cloth(the sentient machine people), these guys are totally weird and bad and taboo.



quote:

Though still very much in its infancy, Transcendent technology has already redefined the rules of reality. Much of its function remains a well guarded secret, but the premise is that certain things in the universe gain resonance and power due to their very construction. The arrangement of their molecules interacts with the waves of radio in the air, and other unseen forces. Crystals, for instance. By arranging these reactive constructions in patterns that also react to each other, complex harmonies can be made. Like a series of reeds all being blown over by a single wind, a sophisticated symphony emerges that is more than the sum of its parts. The beauty of it is that these structures work on the scale of the universe: from atomic to galactic. Their size is irrelevant, they simply...work. No power source, no special attachment, no port, no plug, no emitter or receiver. They are, and so, they function.




Eager to make sure that no retarded idea is left out of the book, HSD also insists that "crystal energy" is totally a real thing.



Thankfully this is where the chapter ends.



~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Hc Svnt Dracones: Part 3
11:10pm EDT - 7/31/2015
Cyborg Cat-tains of Industry. In space.







And we're getting right into the meat of it with the part that'll make you laugh at their insistence that this totally isn't a fetish RPG, guys. Honest. HONEST!



quote:

The destruction of Earth cemented the need for the Vector race to prosper more than ever before, and shortly after the war ended, the third generation project began with the intent to bolster the breeding pool and correct some of the errors of the previous generation. Dubbed “the Omega generation” by its progenitors, this was to be the last of the artificial creation projects for the Vector race.



...



allowing species that were normally genetically incompatible to breed and give birth to offspring that shared a species with one of the parents, but the necessary genetic variety of both.




After all, it'd be a damn shame if there were some characters that couldn't knock each other up! An outright fucking travesty, that.



Also, since it's an Eclipse Phase ripoff, it needs some obligatory horror elements. Now, where Eclipse Phase relied on the potential annihilation of humanity at the hands(or pseudopods, possibly) of a rampant, techno-organic virus with powers that broke the laws of physics itself, HSD one-ups them by going for something way more scary. Something way more sinister. Something way more... fowl. Sorry, I meant foul. No, wait, I meant fowl because their SCARY THING is owls. Fucking owls. Apparently when trying to make owldudes, they fucked something up and the only one that grew to maturity fucking murdered everyone in sight, scrawled something sinister on the wall and then snuck away. And of course that meant everyone gave up on making owl guys ever again.





Slender-owl



quote:

In the next few years, Mars’ terraforming operation would complete, transplanting the majority of Earth wildlife, with some variation, to Mars’ new climate. The deep canyons ran with fresh water and the largest mountains in the solar system sported snow and the finest views in recorded history.



...



First Generation Vectors were now 23 years old, with 30 of the original 108 females known to be pregnant, and the entire first generation population recorded as sexually active.




The need to point out that all the first mutants are fucking isn't really what I'm concerned with here, it's just another shitty "this is a fetish RPG"-detail. I just want to hammer home again, the point that makes me want to flip a table. Somehow these fucking people terraformed Mars in less than three decades, if the first Vectors aren't any older than that. But, anyway, after hammering the final nail in how shitty that is, the whole thing just... leaps forward 150 years to talk about what Earth is like 150 years after getting nuked out. Apparently Earth's water is drinkable again, 150 years after a worldwide nuclear war(is that even plausible? And why is it relevant? And how would anyone fucking find out from Mars?), and to complete the Eclipse Phase knockoffery(though I doubt it's the last we'll see of it), of course photography(from Mars, I guess? Since no one's ever mentioned a Lunar colony or anything else closer to Earth) shows that there are mooooonsteeeers on Earth. Totally nothing like TITAN monstrosities, I bet.



Hahahah, actually, I'm right, it's worse than that.



So they decide to send the last humans first to Earth's moon, to make a colony there, then the humans, literally all of them, apparently, decide to travel to Earth, on and off, to do some in-person investigations. It says there are 300 of them, but that they're also literally all killed in their sleep. So I guess either the horrors on Earth can leap to the Moon or all 300 of them decided to take a camping trip, without any security precautions or guards despite knowing that huge, mutated monstrosities were roaming Earth's wastelands. But then again, I guess it could also have been because what defeated them was worse than a monster. Worse than a TITAN exsurgent. Worse than a Chris Field RPG. It was... a meme!



quote:

Manned expeditions stopped for the immediate future as financial needs steered MarsCo toward other avenues of production and development, but the cameras continued to broadcast for 30 years after the deaths of their caretakers, before each one was systematically destroyed by an unknown life form resembling a tall, thin biped. It had the intelligence to remain out of the camera’s view until it was forced to approach the last one from the front due to its sheltered location. Naught but a shadow, with limbs too long and a skin too smooth, and a glimpse of a face with no eyes in it. The video reached viral status through Luna and Mars, but no further signs of the creature emerged within anyone’s lifespan.




The last humans were killed by fucking Slenderman. Jesus Christ,



Anyway, we're suddenly jumping ahead again. I think 200 years or so? And now Earth is totally safe again. All radiation, gone, all ecological damage, reversed, but I guess the place is still full of monsters. Slendermans and godzillas and whatever else. So anyway, being idiots, the furries decide to send more dudes down to Earth to try and scavenge, and of course after some more tacticool chatter about how they're taking precautions, they get murdered by Slenderman, too, after, of course, finding scribbled, mysterious "scripture" all over the stuff they were planning to scavenge. Again, I'd like to point out, we're getting no detail on some 200-ish years of technology, development and society, but we're instead being told about Slenderman killing furries on Earth. I'd also like to point out that one of the huge things promised in the intro was how the furries had abandoned all traces of old human society, yet the few descriptions we're getting sound basically identical to human behavior and society.



And of course the untelligible "scripture" corresponding to no known language was the exact same as what their fucked up owlthing wrote a couple hundred years earlier. Why they expect it to be text, and not just graffiti or modern art, I don't know.



We got more horrors in store for you, though, now I give you... FIAT CURRENCY!



quote:

Currency had been a point of some fluctuation and concern ever since Earth’s fall, but a more or less stable form of measure simply referred to as “credits” had been adopted and maintained for the better part of a century. Basing a currency on nothing wasn’t a new idea, but it was always a dangerous one. By now, rampant inflation and a lack of a stabilizing force was making the Credit dangerously unstable. Add to that the proliferation of micro transactions throughout the system that attached miniscule fees to everything from walking in front of buildings to opening doors, and Vector society was looking at financial ruin in short order.




They still seem to not be catching on that a corporate-run world is usually described as a dystopia for a reason. There seems to be just enough self-awareness, at times, to accept that corporations might do awful things, but they never actually seem to wake up. Also this next bit, I'm... I'm pretty sure it's retarded, because there's no way it isn't, but I'd love it if someone could pick apart just how terribly retarded it is, because I don't even know where to start.



quote:

The solution was a deceptively simple program developed by a 17 year old ferret on a bet, and subsequently cycled through the web until it appeared under the nose of MarsCo execs, who hailed it as the monetary equivalent to a miracle. It took the form of a stand-alone system of micro-investments that bought and sold in tiny amounts, constantly. A miniature stock broker that could plot long-term growth goals in a much smaller scale, making them profitable in the short term. By linking this system to the micro-transaction section of one’s bank account, it could offset the constant drain caused by everyday living. Issuing one of these programs to every Vector at birth ensured it had a lifetime to grow, making its comparatively small profit margin substantially larger, while at the same time fueling exchange. The constant and consistent exchange lent stability to the value of the Credit, which was in turn linked to the number of people using the system. In effect, the program turned the population of the Sol system into a physical base for the value of currency, one that would (barring an extinction event) continue to grow at a steady, predictable rate. The program was dubbed “the Ledger,” and became the closest post-humanity Sol had ever come to social security. Everyone got one, and it stayed and grew with them throughout their life.




So there's that, but it's starting to get hard NOT to quote everything, because EVERYTHING is fucking retarded, and getting dumber.



quote:

Mars reached a population of three billion in 400 years of colonization. Luna colony maintained a population of roughly 35,000 people, and produced personal space flight vehicles capable of travelling between Mars and Luna in less than a month’s time.




I'm going to crack the numbers here and I don't think they're gonna make me happy.



Humans: All dead and gone.

First generation Vectors: 180 individuals.

Second generation Vectors: ~3000 individuals.

Earth-Mars Refugees: ?????

Third generation Vectors: 10000 individuals.



The book clearly has informed us that a few thousand individuals is not enough to continue a species, because a few thousand humans survived the war and they died out(unless the humans just plain chose not to breed and elected to die out as penance for their sins), hence the first generation, second generation, and refugee generations of Vectors have all died out or almost so(remember, only the third generation can actually interbreed despite being different types of animals). This means we've got 10000(even if we assume the third generation can fuck everyone and knock them up, even outside their own generation, that's, what, twenty-thousand, max? Fifty-thousand if we're super generous with refugees?) individuals who have somehow managed to fuck their way up to three billion individuals in 400 years. And a society which, on a relatively virgin planet, has managed to boom its fucking infrastructure and agriculture absurdly enough to sustain them all. Captains of industry, totally believable science.



While I find another table to flip, because the first one's already gone through the wall, the terraforming of Venus into a habitable, Earth-like world is just sort of a footnote that happens without any real problems aside from space hippies complaining that maybe there are native Venusian lifeforms that are dying because the furries are cleaning out all the acid clouds they need to survive in. Oh no. There's also a footnote about a potentially interesting era where all ship-to-ship combat is with nautical boarding actions, due to ineffective weapons and heavy armor plating, but that's just swept away as "this interesting stuff is in the past, we're in a more generic space-world, now, where you've got all the stuff from your favourite space sim game. Pew pew, lasers. Also space cops."



So there's also an expedition intended to scope out Europa for settling, but, gasp, the scouts, before disappearing completely in the depths of Europa, find MYSTERIOUS STRUCTURES. They find signs of life once existing there and... THEY FIND THE MYSTERIOUS "SCRIPTURE" AGAIN. And their last transmitted message is "Hydra." Because Hydra couldn't just have been a goddamn computer virus that went haywire, it had to be a fucking ripoff of Eclipse Phase's alien virus that made the TITANs flip their shit. Congratulations, furries, you couldn't even be original about that.



Despite this, of course, and despite their probes still roaming the depths of Europa's oceans, now haywire, aggressive and mutated to vast, threatening sizes(did I forget to mention? They were BIO PROBES, modelled on orcas. Because there's nothing ethically shady about manufacturing relatively intelligent creatures as servants), the idiots decide to colonize Europa anyway.





The depths of Europa. Spooky



Lacking capacity for pattern recognition, the furries decide to go back to Earth. This time with mechs, and lasers! And of course they're too fucking stupid to think to quarantine the people returning from a hostile, by now rather alien, world, that has claimed all search parties so far. And wow, gee, oh gasp, some of the returning crewmembers are infected with nano-sized things that cause them to mutate, and which appear to break the laws of physics! Ooooo. Aaaaa. Wooow. A novelty the like of which we have never seen before. But anyway, the nanoviruses explode out of people, harvest people for more resources, and are crystalline things that look totally like a recolour of Slenderman with a tail.





OC Donutsteel



But anyway, because the furries are idiots and incompetents, everyone on the Moon, and a lot of people on Mars, die. And then all of Earth and the Moon start turning into red crystal and grow together into one big red crystal tumor. This just sort of happens and then nothing more really gets said about it. It's just a thing, okay, something exists that can infect literal planetary bodies. That doesn't seem to shake society or anything, or cause everyone to make nukes and just bombard the fucking thing until it drops into the sun. Nope, let's just cut the lore chapter here with a summary of things as they are!



So how are things? Well, governments are megacorps, which are enlightened enough to only have small mercenary wars, no great wars of conquest, and they never make WMD's, and also they allow all sorts of small, private competitors to pop up, because a truly enlightened business never attempts to become a monolithic monopoly. That would be ridiculous. Everyone's a furry now, except for the ones who are robots. Wait, what, robots? When did they mention robots? They didn't.



quote:

Substantial populations of robotic Cogs shore up the overall sentient contributors to everyday life and have lived alongside Vectors for centuries, in varying gradients of peaceful coexistence.




Because it's not like sentient fucking machines might merit major mention or have any sort of noteworthy impact on society! Better talk more about furries fighting fucking SPACE SLENDERMAN, wait, sorry, "Whispers" or "Pale Men." Better use the appropriate terminology.



quote:

The invention of transcendent technology has opened up amazing and terrifying new avenues of advancement, and keyed in a critical piece of the ancient and frightening puzzle that is the final days of human kind. Some who have received transcendent implants go insane upon tapping them, and exhibit behavior not unlike the Owl catastrophe centuries ago.




W-wait, what? What is "transcendent technology"? This is somehow connected to the metaplot but no one ever really bothered to mention it or explain what it is? Hello? Is the editor there? Or did he fucking kill himself after reading two pages and just leave the rest unedited? Christ. Fuck it, I'm done with the Lore, so that means I can take a break, you guys can look at this shitty art, and I'll be back with more miserable shit when I want to hate life again.



~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Hc Svnt Dracones: Part 2
02:44am EDT - 7/31/2015
Hc Svnt Dracones

It was a lion, and it had wings.







Still Lore



quote:

That is, until the wild card arrived, walking cautiously out into the sun from the dark confines of one of the many bio-research labs that now littered the planet.



It was much smaller than a GeoMat, couldn’t reshape a mountain or boil rock into iron, and sustained mostly on fish and raw meat.



It marked the beginning of the end of the world.



It was a lion, and it had wings.




So whoop, OUTTA NOWHERE, hyper-awesome genetic research just happens. And dudes can just graft HAS_WINGS=YES into lion DNA and it flaps its way across the landscape eating people. Apparently, though, this level of genetic expertise hasn't come with any sort of wide-ranging, society-affecting consequences, like designer-babies, vat-grown organs or other things that vastly prolong human life. No, this avenue of research just made a beeline for WACKY PETS, and after making a Sphinx, it's apparently easy enough to also make "Griffins, dragons, hydras, all the marvelous beasts of myth and legend." Because identifying the necessary work to add feathered wings to a lion means you just need to copy-paste that genetic code to an alligator and you've got a dragon! Right?



Biology 101, sheeple.



And of course, while outraged, the governments are helpless before the CAPTAINS OF INDUSTRY and can't do a damn thing about it when they decide to make hybrid monstrosities.



quote:

Before the governments of the world could so much as finish their gasps of shock and outrage, a brand new, multi-billion dollar industry was created. Clothing, accessories, custom pens and care-giving tools, and millions of requests for more elaborate and impressive creatures surged through the internet in an unstoppable wave of commerce.




Which leads to this quote I still have trouble parsing, I'm not sure if it's implied that the clothing, pens, etc. were somehow also genetically grown, or whether they just need to point out that HSD humanity is such a bunch of fucking suckers that they're now feeding their corporate overlords with billions upon billions of money's worth of merch. The quote's not that bad, though, it's just a breather before the part that's going to make every biology major's head explode.



Ready?



quote:

It was only a matter of time before some overzealous geneticist activated bipedalism in animals and tipped the final scale. To many, those bounds had long since been ground into dust, but this marked the inescapable truth. The first line of bipedal animals had human posture and anatomy paired with the animal-like dedication of domesticated pets, and the implications were too blatantly obvious to ignore.




Just a matter of "activating" that one line of "WALK UPRIGHT"-genetic code and BAM, now you've got fursonas walking the streets! And obviously the VERY FIRST GENERATION also look like humans have tits, no time for fuckups and intermediary generations that are shambling, drooling, damaged monstrosities. Nope, instant jump to something you wanna spank it to, just to make the moral outrage and claims that this whole thing is for dogfuckers seem even more absurd.



quote:

Sexual exploitation, abuse, allegations of bestiality and moral outrage, and to top it off, ludicrously high demand filled the media coverage of the day.



...



To some populations of the world, the new races were accepted as a logical progression of scientific expansion and the perfect companions for the elderly or infirm that needed loyal and constant companionship and something with the ability to manipulate their world. Up until now, that task had been delegated to helper robots, and this seemed a vastly superior alternative. Others were so disgusted by what they took to be blatant hedonism and hubris that they opened hunting up on the creatures, and piled the corpses up on their owners’ porches to show the community who owned them to begin with. On more than one occasion, the owner’s corpse was piled with them, with all mannor of profanity scribbled on their naked bodies. Lobbyists be damned, something had to be done.




This gives me a really strong Lifers vs Wiccans(I can't even remember what they're fucking called, now) vibe, the conflict from Otherverse: America. Because one side here has some genuine worries, the fact that people are creating a servitor species which have short lifespans, yet apparently are smart enough to serve in care positions for the elderly and infirm, and sexual characteristics, but are suggested to also lack the self-awareness and will to say no to someone who's their "master" or "owner." Yet there's no acknowledgement that any of these concerns have any kind of legitimacy, only vivid descriptions of the maddened extremes that the "conservatives" go to.



But, anyway, the governments finally get off their asses and, quite sanely, ban having any of these fucking monsters outside of Corptowns, or making new ones.



quote:

forcing corptown citizens to cloister further into their private utopias and watch as progress was crushed by the overbearing weight of stagnation.




Right back to describing Corptowns as utopias, so much for the brief moments of admitting Captains of Industry as having flaws! Also, you know, maybe the Corptown citizens could just own up and admit that this latest "progress" was fucking skeevy and creepy, then they could leave their towns with no worries. "Thankfully," someone mails all the project files to the Mars corporations. And having nothing better to do, and certainly no resource shortage, because why would a young colony on a barren world have that(no years are really attached to this, but since the first "sphinx" was to celebrate Martian independence from Earth's governments, and the Martian colonies existed some two years before that, I'm going to guess it's not much more than a decade onwards), they're clearly the greatest place in the world to start producing a population of limited-intellect creatures that can't really contribute, only consume.



Hilariously, the message attached to the data was "save them." The Mars colonies look at it, go, "Hmmmm... they're gonna be kinda retarded and useless. So how about we do something entirely different, that's not going to actually save the original designs?"



The original hybrids were animals combined with other animals, and some novel genetic code, these new ones are literally just human fetuses with bits grafted on while they grow in vats, which raises a whole bunch of OTHER ethical questions about what right someone has to alter an unborn child for the sake of their own amusement, aesthetic preferences or corporate profit.



quote:

MarsCo chose to approach the problem of intelligence from a different direction: they would turn the human into the animal, instead of the animal into the human. By manipulating cloned human “blanks,” or genetic fetuses built from scratch, and endowing them with the same appearance and features of the previously abolished species of bipedal pets, MarsCo reset the evolutionary clock and emerged with something new.



...



Armed with the full set of from-scratch genes at their disposal, MarsCo removed vestigial organs, improved the efficiency of critical organs to help increase lifespans, integrated various stopgaps to combat common health problems and even developed a muscular maintenance enzyme that would combat atrophy in low gravity environments and allow for the rapid adaptation between one world and another. Body heat maintenance was assessed so the presence of fur wouldn’t cause the instant smoldering of the person it belonged to, and secret communication to prominent genecorps who supported the plan helped fill in the blanks in the science to ensure that the experiment would succeed on the first attempt, out of fear that they may not get a chance at a second try. As Mars’ terraforming operation entered its final stage, the first non-human sentient race known to man was created. Due to the nature of their development, Vectoring human evolution down a dramatically different pathway, the new species were called “Vectors.”




Wait a moment. What?



"As Mars’ terraforming operation entered its final stage"



I realize that they're being very vague about the timeline, and that it could've been five years, ten years, maybe twenty years since the first settling, but it's described as though all of this happened rather quickly. And even if we're gonna be very generous and say that Mars can be terraformed at all, it's definitely not gonna be terraformed enough to be human-habitable on anything resembling a short fucking timescale, or with the resources of only three small colonies when, apparently, all Earth's major governments are opposed to them, and still maintain enough strength to enforce their legislation with regards to hybrid monstrosities on the Corptowns. Goddammit, fucking, shit.



Oh, yeah, and, I guess the "science" reminds me an awful lot of Wraeththu. "UH THEY MADE THINGS MORE EFFICIENT, THAT'S HOW THEY WORK."



They also made a breeding population of fursonas at first and steered and organized their breeding, which also isn't creepy or abusive or anything like keeping slaves, or anything. Totally not fucking weird, yo.



But anyway, cue the whole "THIS IS CREEPY, BURN THE ABOMINATIONS"-theater again, except this time the pro-furries are busting out the SICK BURNS.



quote:

Others argued that this was the realm of God, and humanity did not possess enough responsibility as a race to foster a new one. That too became a trick pedestal to stand on, as humanity certainly seemed to possess enough responsibility to kill a race. The sheer level of extinction on Earth was evidence enough of that.



...



Governments played the long game, and built their societies to endure under singular principles for the duration. The very presence of this new species would cause such a dramatic shift in those principles that many feared a general collapse. Vector phobia gripped mass populations, fueled by campaigns for support among their governments, as though the very presence of one of them on Earth would result in a viral collapse of modern civilization.




I literally do not understand half of that second statement. I'm not sure what the hell they mean about "Governments played the long game, and built their societies to endure under singular principles for the duration," but I guess it's meant to be something about how national governments don't tolerate dissent, because earlier there was a bit about how innovative and embracing of all new and awesome things the corporate governments were.



But anyway, the Martians keep sending Earth videos of happy furry children, which pisses everyone off. Nationalist militias raid corptowns, corporate militias and secury forces raid suburbs, both sides declare war. All of Earth's nations join together and organize an economic policy to guard themselves against the corporations crashing everything... and then the corporations crash everyone's economies within seven months and this is enough to make half of all the pro-nation forces defect or switch sides just for food and medicine for themselves and their families, because somehow corporations, without standing militaries or military traditions, manage to hold out for over half a year despite being scattered across Earth in widely spaced enclaves, and Earth's nations can't manage to stockpile food and medicine for their armed forces and their families for half a year's time.



What's Mars doing during all of this? Making more furries, because that's what really matters, I guess. Also it turns out that a couple of casual mistakes in genetic work don't create drooling, downsy fursonas, but instead makes "taurs." Yes, cat-taurs, lion-taurs, all the fucking furry something-taurs you can think of was because someone was sloppy at coding his fursona.



quote:

One wave was nearly completely lost when the bipedalism gene sequence utterly failed to express, and MarsCo was forced to try an experimental living-mutation technique to save them lest over three hundred fetuses be lost. The emergency save allowed the growing bodies to complete their gestation, but resulted in sentient beings that were completely animal in appearance. The irony of the accidental creation of a subspecies with human intelligence and an animal body from science that resulted from the destruction of a subspecies with animal intelligence and a humanoid body was lost on no one.




I love that even though they care so little for the rights of self-determination of the unborn to fuck around with them prior to their birth, just aborting them when they're clearly gonna have grievous birth defects isn't acceptable, instead they're going to try EXPERIMENTS that are gonna leave them fucked up forever. Wonderful. It's sure gonna be great having a human mind but no fucking opposable thumbs or ability to stand upright or, you know, generally exist in a human environment or manipulate human tools. Woo! Go Mars! THESE ARE OUR HEROES, GUYS!



quote:

By late in the second year of open war, corptowns were fighting back, building buffer zones around their territory to avoid falling victim to long range shelling. To the armies outside, they were now aggressively expanding, and lending legitimacy to the long standing rumor that all of this was just one more trick to destroy the traditions and values of the countries in which they existed. Civilians who refused to leave their homes as the corptowns reached outward to the surrounding cities were captured and imprisoned, or quietly disappeared.




More imprecise writing! Who was disappearing these people? Were the corporations kidnapping and executing people who refused to vacate territory for them? Or were the nations killing people simply for not being afraid enough of the corporations? This shit cannot possibly have had an editor. Anyway, Earth's nations still can't get their shit together economically, because corporations are ~just so dreamy~, so they decide to use nukes.



Thankfully the corporations have TECHNOMAGIC defenses so they can just "redirect" ICBM's, somehow. Just how much of the fucking Earth is corporate-owned, anyway? It's stated that the corptowns are all bottled up after the first furries pissed everyone off, but apparently they've got enough territory that even multiple successful nuclear strikes, despite the redirects, don't break their back. Also they're literally why the Earth gets nuke-fucked, because they force the nations to throw four times as many nukes at them, because three out of every four get "redirected."



The responsible reaction to Earth becoming a nuked-out wasteland is just to jab people up with random, animal-like mutations in the hope that a half-labrador or a half-tiger will be able to survive a nuclear war better than a human. Are there even any living things particularly resistant to nuclear fallout outside of some insects and, I guess, some molds/fungi? So far we've been told that the only "vectors" made have been mammals. So good luck surviving nuclear fallout because you've got a pretty mane of hair. Somehow, though, despite a NUCLEAR WAR GOING ON, there's still enough orbital lift capacity to shuttle most of these people to Mars until the nationalists smuggle a nuke on board one transport and blow up the spaceport on Mars.



quote:

Mars continued on alone, its doors to space now closed and too hindered by trying to support its local population through barely established agricultural systems to attempt to repair its damage or lend Earth any support.




GEE, MAYBE YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE SPAWNED A COUPLE THOUSAND EXTRA MOUTHS TO FEED JUST TO MAKE A POINT, YOU CHUCKLEFUCKS.



Despite all the nuclear war, though, the Earth is largely surviving, and the corps are getting their asses kicked, but then someone, some fucking idiot, releases a MAGIC TECHNOVIRUS. Called Hydra.



quote:

It transcended digital communication, almost as though it could step behind the 0’s and 1’s and simply move electromagnetism to where it wanted.




It takes it literally an hour to hijack all of Earth's nukes, and then it just starts firing them all off until Earth is glassed. Simply because.



And after Earth gets snuffed out, there's still, like, ten fucking pages' worth of "lore" to go through. This is gonna hurt.



EDIT: Also, just so everyone knows, I haven't been ignoring any art, this book just basically has none. It's practically nothing but walls of fucking preachy text.

~PurpleXVI

[#] FATAL & Friends Repost: Hc Svnt Dracones: Part 1
02:35am EDT - 7/31/2015
Hc Svnt Dracones



I'm not actually sure how to intro this, I have no idea how bad it is, maybe it's a hidden gem. All I'm going by is the ATROCIOUS SCI-FI FURSONA on the goddamn cover, it promises the sort of badness I've been needing a fix of ever since I tapped out Chris Fields' more noteworthy atrocities. So, let's see what we've got waiting for us!

292 pages, 70-ish for the setting, about as many again for chargen, and then about 150 pages' worth of rules, pregenerated enemies and the like.

Quote:

A quick page-through of this book will give you a general idea of what you’re in for in a HSD game, but only a general one: space fantasy, animallike characters, an apparent lack of humans, and the presence of a few creepy looking monsters, all pretty cut and dry. But, if this setting were only about being a fox person in a space suit, this book would be dramatically shorter. There’s much more in here than just that, and it’s in those nuances that even people who aren’t fans of the visual motif can find fascinating possibilities.

I think this may not be a hidden gem, as I read the very first page. It tells me about how this game is set after humanity destroyed itself, in the process replacing itself with cyborg furries, and how this somehow destroyed all old biases and reasons for discrimination.

Quote:

Their old planet was leveled, as was the vast majority of its cultural history and heritage, and all the previous biases associated with slavery, racism, classism, sexism, and so many others that all grew out of thousands of years of human cultural growth and change were effectively wiped out as the old race died and the new race took its place. Are such biases gone forever? Of course not.

At least it admits that those things aren't going to be gone forever, but I'm feeling a strange sense of deja vu, product of roughly 2003, on the Portal of Evil forums, where an evangelical furry ranted to us about the amazing future that science was going to bring, when he could have a self-lubricating anus and catgirl slaves, because science was going to provide that, it was just around the corner, any moment now, a furry Utopia.

Quote:

HSD is not about ‘getting in touch with your animal side’, as so many anthropomorphic systems encourage. You’re welcome to, if that’s the way you’d like to play it, but the setting is intended to allow you to get in touch with your human side instead. Not the culture you were raised in, or the history you’ve experienced; not whether you’re black, white, red, yellow, or polychromatic; not your geographical history or the wars your species has been in; your humanity. Just that. Devoid of the centuries of cultural momentum that currently governs our thinking and thrust into a brand new world with its own unique challenges.

Completely unlike all those other RPG's set in a world completely unrelated to Earth. So I guess this is gonna teach us all about love, friendship and the true meaning of Christmas.

But outside of acting like it's going to completely shatter the mold and blow our minds, HSD(I'm refusing to type out the full name any more than I absolutely have to, fuck it) starts out with the same "what is an RPG"-section we've seen a thousand times. Explaining to newcomers to the hobby what roleplaying is, what dice are, what a GM does, Rule Zero and all that stuff. So I'm not going to recap it, and instead we're going to dive into the lore chapter.

LORE

The Lore section starts off by explaining to us that most historical conflicts are because we're too separated by geography to understand each other, and governments brainwash us, but thanks to the magic of the internet, people finally started realizing that those living in other countries were human, too. Except of course for the staunch conservatives who couldn't understand the wonders of being online and playing Mortal Kombat against your friends in Vietnam.

Quote:

At first, this divide was a minor inconvenience. Acts and laws would come and go attempting to govern, censor or control internet based association. Most would be blocked or voted down by citizens more attached to their internet relationships than to their geographical ones, which only furthered the divide. When conflicts between nations arose, the situation grew dramatically worse. Now, communication between best friends suddenly became “consorting with the enemy,” and the public outcry was tremendous. As the world became more and more integrated, the chasm between the old regime and the people still trapped within it became more than many could stand. Civil unrest was on its way toward civil war when a new opportunity released the steam, if only to throw fuel on the fire later.


The Geomat? If that's a river or a road next to it in the lower right, I want to know how the fuck it's mobile. It's also described as "battleship-sized" in the text, this looks a tad bigger.

I feel like this isn't quite the 21st century that most of the rest of us are living in, where aggressive censorship is the last resort of a few, autocratic states and most governments don't try to legislate who you can talk to online, or what you can say to them, unless it involves something that's illegal in the physical world, too. But anyway, there's a New Opportunity! Coming along, it's the GeoMat(tm), a giant, mobile factory that can core raw materials out of the ground, 3D printing to make just about anything(including new copies of itself, I suspect 3D printing magic may be HSD's version of Eclipse Phase's nanotechnology magic) and is effectively self-contained. The description of it, is followed up by this paragraph:

Quote:

In stark contrast to the stationary mountain that is Government, there was the fluid river that is Business. In the free market, businesses could turn and twist and adapt, market themselves for different audiences, sympathize with different needs, and operate without the same tethers that bound so many private citizens. Theirs was the power of money, without which government could not sustain itself. Money bought leniency within the rule, and the simple greed of capitalism portrayed a sort of bizarre purity next to the holier-thanthou declarations of principles made by most governing bodies before they charged into some act of violence, conquest or general dishonesty toward their own citizens or others.

Well yes, obviously, who has ever heard of business involved in deceit or violence? This makes perfect sense and is a completely believable description of the real world.

Quote:

The knowledge that an entity was motivated purely by a desire to increase their profit margin in return for goods and services was refreshing next to the slew of lies, scandal, deceit and violence disguised as moral allegations and broad declarations of right and wrong that dripped from government bodies.

Hc Svnt Dracones, an accurate description of human psychology and behavior. I know I'm certainly more well-intentioned towards entities that I know are going to fuck me over, rather than ones that may be benevolent! But anyway, because the humans of HSD have terminal brain damage, they all love the corporations and swap national loyalty for brand loyalty, moving to Corptowns built by the Geomats. Also the Geomats were environmentally friendly, too! Because a mobile strip-mining operation totally isn't going to poison huge swathes of the countryside or anything. Mind, these things also apparently changed the entire world, but I'd love to see one of these fucking things trying to move around in Europe. Sure, in America, there's plenty of free space to strip mine, lots of empty space to move around in, same for most of Asia, Africa, South America... but I know that in Europe, at least, you'd never have that fucking thing far enough from a settled area not to be poisoning their water supplies or wrecking their roads, power lines, water lines, etc. when rumbling across them. But all the world's just one big homogenous blob, here. Every place loves corporations and benefits from Geomats

But, you know, CORPTOWNS, obviously now you get corporate citizens, they get corporate education, etc.

Quote:

Corporate education would leave a person in debt, but not impossible debt. Citizens that played the game could see light at the end of the tunnel, and it was reachable, unlike the old days of company stores. When the system was actually working, it worked beautifully, and corptowns shone like diamonds amongst the comparatively undereducated populations around them.

"Okay, so we're going to acknowledge that the corporations might be mean, too, but at least they're way more efficient than governments, and more HONEST about being mean, and people have better chances with them!" I'm going to almost be surprised if there isn't a line about how the trains in the Corptowns always run on time, this is leaning dangerously close to some people's worship of fascist/autocratic figures for being strong/efficient, even if they're dishonest/amoral.

Quote:

Space exploration long sat fallow due to an overall lack in returns. It was a curiosity, a public showing, but to most governments, not much else. That changed with the second generation of GeoMats, which were designed to operate in vacuum and under varying degrees of pressure. They were originally intended to work in watery environments to help alleviate the growing population of Earth by building out into the ocean, but when faced with environmental complaints and activism groups concerned about the potential impact on Earth’s largest feature, the corporate entities of the world turned their eyes skyward, and hit upon a new idea.

Why would we need to build into the OCEAN? We've got SHITLOADS of empty space on land, goddammit. Do these people even know anything? And operating undersea and in space aren't quite the same thing. Not to mention, like I've said, Geomats are described as battleship-sized. Getting something the size and weight of a battleship into fucking space, isn't a minor fucking accomplishment, and there's no mention of any new technologies that would make it workable. No warp gates, no space elevators, no big honking mass drivers.

I realize this may seem like silly nitpicking, but I'm treating this like the Wraeththu RPG, when it pretended that its mutations were scientifically somehow viable, rather than just saying "TECHNOBABBLE!" or "IT'S MAGIC!" This goddamn thing is really trying to present itself as a believable path the future might take, so I'm going to put it through the wringer. But anyway, let's pretend this makes even a whit of sense. Now the corporations are going to Mars! They establish colonies on Mars! And then...

Quote:

For the first time in history a company was created completely outside geographical government ruling, as no nation had yet established recognized control over any territory on another planet. By merging and splitting off from their parent corporations, this new entity severed its ties to any Earthlocked contracts, and refused to continue paying taxes to the nations from which their employees originated. It sent Earth’s political machine into an uproar, and made several very wealthy people in very tall buildings smile slyly as their Corp-loyal populations cheered this first decisive blow against the ancient sleeping dragon of government from which they had originally fled.

This is described as about two years since Mars settling begins. I'm sure these colonies are entirely self-sufficient and won't just horribly starve as governments embargo any attempts to send them food supplies. But maybe they just use the magic of 3D printing to print Martian dust into pizza or whatever the fuck. Also yes, I'm sure that people would cheer and praise corporations for refusing to pay taxes. Now, yes, sure, this is their corp-indoctrinated population, but one of the very first things the book told us about was how The Internet was freeing people from old, nationalist indoctrination. Is it somehow not able to free people from corporate indoctrination? Hmmm. It's almost as though the authors might have a bias here.

Also I suspect that legislation on outside-of-Earth territoriality would be fast-tracked and sorted out as quickly as possible the moment someone started mentioning the idea of off-world colonies. Gah, none of this makes sense.

I'm four out of twenty-ish pages of "History" in, and there's already this much stuff that strikes me as poorly-thought-out trash. I think I'm going to need to put this down for a moment.

Next time, more lore! We're going to get to the bit with the GENETIC MODIFICATION that makes the super furries that will inherit the Solar system(not Earth, though, Earth is totally fucked, because this wasn't cribbing enough from Eclipse Phase). I wonder whether it's going to make any actual biologists/chemists froth as much as Wraeththu did.

~PurpleXVI

[#] What if you\'re not prepared?
10:47pm EDT - 9/19/2014
  I think we've all been in this situation before(those of us cursed eternally to GM, and never to play, at least). Maybe the game hasn't been on our mind all week, maybe we've been distracted, maybe we've got ideas but none of them are quite polished enough to use for this session or maybe the ideas we WERE going to go with were simply reliant on the presence of the player who had to go ahead and work overtime or get sick this particular session, but we don't want to make the others miss a game just for that.

But it's only a couple of hours till gametime, and you're not prepared! What can you do?

Why you should be prepared

There are some things that are relatively easy to improvise, especially if it's a game that runs a lot more on thematics than on crunch, for instance like FATE, or if it's a game heavy on social stuff. But some things always require preparation, for instance combat. An improvised fight can either be a meaningless hour of mooks running into the players and being unable to harm them, or it can be a "CR 4"* creature pulling a total TPK(Total Party Kill) on a 10th-level party simply because you forgot to actually run the maths on its stats and abilities.

A dungeon crawl, of any sort or by any theme, can also quickly turn into a lot of oddly identical rooms and choices on whether to take the left or right turn fifty times in a row if you didn't actually prepare any content to fill it(or maybe if you didn't make a map, but one of the players IS mapping, he may come to the conclusion that they've wandered into some sort of wormhole or singularity because by now they've passed through their own route ten times without seeing the same things).

You may be introducing a major character un-statted, expecting him to make an epic escape or simply talk with the players(leaving you time to stat him properly for a future session), but when the players throw a punch out of the blue, and he's got no character sheet, you have to decide if he demolishes them out of hand or whether they just stab him, get away with it and you have to revamp your entire plot.

*For those not familiar with the D&D editions between 3rd and 5th, they used a theoretical system, "Challenge Rating" or "CR" to judge the strength of a creature. Unfortunately this CR was only loosely based on anything, and made a lot of huge assumptions(players always have a mage and cleric, for instance), not to mention was instituted for most creatures in a vacuum never considering splatbooks and supplements past the core three(PHB, DMG, MM), and ended up being about as useful as tits on a bicycle. A CR1(intended for a 1st-level party of four people) creature could utterly demolish a group, five times above that, while a CR10 creature could likewise be stomped by a group of 2nd-level characters.

So what do you do, then?

In short, the answer is to distract them. Most players tend to have a lot of easy triggers you can pull to give them the fast food equivalent of gaming. Something that doesn't leave them particularly filled over the course of the campaign, and which they'll get sick of if overfed with, but which they'll happily gobble down for a session every now and then and compliment you on.

Of course, it's also about knowing your players, depending on how much initiative they actually take in situations, it may be more or less easy to distract them. Players that take a lot of initiative and like considering choices and options and making plans are the easiest, while those that stare blankly into the air without clearly labelled options A and B(don't introduce a C or they'll probably panic) are, perversely, almost impossible to befuddle.

Each experienced GM probably has his own methods for distracting the players, but I find that there's a short-list I can make use of in most cases...

Shopping Trip

One of the most "classic" NPC's(at least to me) in just about any setting or story with even the faintest fantasy twinge is someone the players might recognize as CMOT Dibbler from Pratchett's Discworld books. In other words, a highly charismatic bullshit artist who will attempt to flog non-flying magic carpets, magic lamps full of nothing but spiderwebs and enchanted swords that couldn't cut toast to the players, but who does it with a smile and never gets offended if the players call him out on his bullshit(but does lament that they're leaving his 1d6+2 children, wife and assorted livestock to starve. Reroll the number of children for each lament, even if it's the same salesman).

In most cases, players get mesmerized by him, wanting to see what the next thing is, curious about whether any of the items actually have any use, even if unintended(maybe the magical sword isn't merely blunt, it actually sucks so hard that it makes what it touches harder to cut, could have defensive uses!), and are of course on the lookout for a bargain. Have him pepper the conversation with a few "facts" about what exciting origins these items have and you've got future quest hooks(especially if he offers to sell them totally legit maps to these not-at-all-tapped-out sources of artifacts).

Despite largely being a fantasy archetype(in my experience), he can, of course, also be jammed into sci-fi games, where he'll offer to sell them totally-not-stolen starcruisers and ancient alien doodads that will make the players young, virile and immortal. It's a bit harder in modern games(if there's no occult element), but it can be done.

Generally, the ease is that you can simply keep making up new products until the players get tired(which will probably be half a session if you play it well), and that each product is simply something that they want or might be interested in(vorpal swords in D&D, plasma guns in WH40k, a kebab not made from dog meat in a modern game), but with some sort of obvious, unmentioned flaw that is entirely obvious the moment someone uses it/holds it/looks at it(the sword can't cut hot butter, the plasma gun emits copious amounts of thick, greasy smoke when you press the trigger, the kebab is, in fact, made of plastic). As soon as the players point it out, the merchant offers them a discount or tries to explain away the flaw(It can cut anything BUT butter, just try it somewhere far away from him, the smoke will clear up in a few minutes, plastic is actually more nutritious than meat and vegetables).

Then when the players discard buying the item(or buy it heavily discounted, perhaps with a look towards scamming someone else), he brings out the next thing in his repetoire and laments for his starving children again.

Potential Crisis

This one is a bit simpler and a bit of a mindfuck, it doesn't always work, but when it does, you'd be surprised at how it can throw the players for a loop. It works best when the players are currently in the middle of travelling from one place to another with NPC's along, and it works simply by putting a potential crisis on the horizon. It could look like a natural disaster, it could look like an obstruction or it could look like enemies.

But it's not clearly ANY of them, and the players have to choose whether to delay themselves or head straight through it(and maybe the delay heads past/through something ELSE that looks worrying). Now, the trick is to get them trying to decide which option they'd rather take, or what to do to ward off danger. What they don't know is that no matter WHAT they do, they'll have made the right choice for avoiding danger, so they'll argue, they'll debate, they'll try to use their skills for more info, they'll ask NPC's(who will, of course, only contribute to the gridlock by supporting whichever argument is currently losing).

When they finally make up their mind, biting their nails... it'll turn out they were right, they'll be relieved, high-five and feel good about themselves. By then, of course, half the session might have passed and you might be able to go, "Gee whiz, guys, I'd love to keep running, but this seems like a decent cliffhanger and the next bit is something I'd hate to interrupt halfway through... how about we pause here and tackle the next part with a full session?" Players never seem to recognize that this excuse is almost always because you need to do more planning.

The Sims: RPG

Some players love to play with dollhouses.

Give them property, ANY sort of property, and they'll want a map. Then they'll try to decide what to do with each part. Where can they put a winecellar? What sort of drapes will the big window on the bridge of their starcruiser need? Should the necromantic chapel be lined with femurs or ribcages?

The ease of messing with this one is, again, down to player personalities, they have to actually enjoy this sort of thing, and also down to whether you can reasonably introduce any sort of property to them. Sometimes it's easy, for instance if someone's got some Manse-rating in Exalted and never bothered to stat it out because he just wanted the goddamn hearthstone, or if it's assumed that everyone's got a home in a Modern game but never expected their apartment to be particularly relevant.

But a few oblique questions that might suggest someone's going to get attacked in their apartment will get them started down the road on what they've got in their home, what it looks like and how they could best fortify it against zombie hordes.

This sort of thing mostly works well in the first few sessions of a game, however, and is hard to sneak in later. But hey, sometimes we need this sort of thing in the first few sessions.

Be a man, admit you forgot to prepare, postpone the session

Ha ha ha. I'm such a funny guy.

When have any of us actually done that?

Thanks for tuning in to yet another of my stupid rambles, and if you want to tell me how awesome or stupid I am for writing it, pop on to the IRC.

~PurpleXVI

[#] No Fun Allowed: Stross Edition
10:14pm EDT - 5/30/2014
Welcome to another edition of "Your Fun Sucks And You Should Feel Bad."

Today we're going to explore why Charles Stross is a goddamn hack and anyone enjoying his "The Laundry" novels should summarily sterilize themselves. Let's start with an introduction to the series for those of you who are suffering from senile dementia or have yet to read them(lucky bastards).

The Laundry proclaims that it's a different, unique take on the by-now somewhat tired old Cthulhu mythos and attendant concepts of universal nihilism, god is dead(or never was), terrible things lurk in the dark, etc. etc. Most of the basics are still the same, in that dark gods lurk in space, underground, and in the oceans, and doing the wrong shit can awaken them, end the world, or summon bad stuff. Now, where it tries to be different is that instead of sorcery... it's really just high-tech technology and mathematics that make it all function. And instead of a square-jawed manly investigator, our protagonist is basically a dweeby sysadmin for the tough guys who really DO go and resolve things.

Alright, so clearly, this isn't a bad concept. I mean, seriously, it could be fun, right? Possibly even funny, not taking itself too seriously, that sort of thing.

And for most of the first book, this largely holds true. Our protagonist is a bit of a dork, he does just enough to justify being the protagonist rather than a side character, but by and large he seems relatively realistic. It's not all love and roses, clearly, there's the issue that he still scores with the staggeringly hot girl, the terrible writing for his winceworthily stereotypically prancing homosexual roommates, etc. but it could scrape by as just a bit rough, rather than outright bad.

Then we get to the second book. It features the line "Occupied by a dead man's dick."

Now, the first book hints a bit that Stross maybe needs to go have a wank before he writes, but the second one cements it. Like, really, our protagonist teams up with a sex demon who, because of PLOT, has him psychically tagging along when she fucks a guy (and kills them in the process). Again, sex isn't necessarily bad, but when written in first-person-perspective by someone who clearly needs to get laid to work out some weirdness, it's not something I want to be along for. See because in one of the cases, the guy dies DURING the fucking, not AFTER, so our protag narrates himself jerking off while the succubus rides the dead guy's still-rigid wang. This is a no thing.

Also the stereotypical homosexual roommates get even more offensively mincing and our protag fucks a Deep One.

Still, if that was the worst of it, then you'd have to hate on a lot of authors for having badly-written sex scenes in their books. This is a thing authors do... no, what we REALLY hate on Stross for here is, much like the Dresden Files, essentially betraying the Laundry's core concept by the second book. Our dweeby sysadmin kills frogmen and generally acts like a fucking James Bond character more than a dweeby fucking sysadmin. It very quickly starts feeling like Stross put a bit too much of himself into the guy and desperately wants him to be a badass so he can feel like one by proxy.

Also, re-iterating: OCCUPIED BY A DEAD MAN'S DICK.

It's frankly a shame, too, because Stross actually does come up with a good concept for this one, namely somewhat-strained diplomatic relations between humanity(secretly, obviously) and the Deep Ones, getting more complicated when someone wants to basically snatch a doomsday weapon(a cybernetic Chthonian) out from under their noses and use it for Generic Villainy.

Essentially it's a story that would've been good if anyone else had been writing it.

So I can only assume that if you bother to read his shit, you're like Stross and jumping on the weird power-fantasy bandwagon, that your taste is shit, or that you like dead men's dicks.

Thank you and goodnight.

~PurpleXVI

[#] Eclipse Phase
04:56am EST - 1/10/2014
More Fun To Read Than To Play


Now that "all" of Eclipse Phase is out and it's basically a "done" game until an eventual second edition or the rumoured FATE conversion happens, it might be time to look through it and see what it got right, what it got wrong, and which things they go so wrong we should just outright mock them for it.

A Brief Timeline


The original EP corebook came out in 2009 accompanied by considerable hype and containing basically everything you needed to play the game, but being at kind of a dearth for information about a lot of the actual gameworld(which can, I suppose, be excused, considering that said gameworld covered nine planets, countless off-planet habitats, asteroids, comets and exoplanets).

2010 provided Sunwards(near-Sol to Mars) and Gatecrashing(away-from-Sol locations accessible via the Pandora Gates) and both were essentially necessary to actually use any of those elements. Sunwards finally gave the Planetary Consortium, LLA and Morningstar Constellation some actual details and gave some canonical habs to work with. Prior to Gatecrashing, there were literally no mechanics or any sort of real information beyond a couple of vague paragraphs with regards to the Pandora Gates, it also had a lot of useful hard-scifi stuff for GM's who wanted to be detailed when making their own alien planets.

Panopticon in 2011 was the book where they made up for largely forgetting Uplifts and realizing that they'd made a relatively undetailed review of hacking and computer security in the core book, despite having a world where even half the population's brains could be hacked.

2012's Rimwards expounded on the Sol system from Jupiter outwards, again sorely needed considering the very, very vague sketch we'd been given of things in the core book.

Finally in 2013 we got what's looking to be the last Eclipse Phase book until the system gets an overhaul/conversion: Transhuman. It's the only book that's purely mechanics and zero fluff, containing a revised character generation system that does a lot to make things more interesting.

Oh and there's also Glory. Glory is going to get its own subheading.

An Overview of Eclipse Phase


The core conceit of Eclipse Phase is that some Unspecified Period into the future, things are going decently for humanity. We're expanding into the solar system and have experimented with Seed AI's(self-improving AI's) named the TITANs. Predictably, considering the ominous name and the utter stupidity inherent in permitting an intellect-singularity, the TITANs go insane and decide to start massively fucking humanity over. Earth rapidly becomes uninhabitable, billions are killed, displaced or forcibly have their minds uploaded into TITAN memory banks.

Earth is sealed off by the off-planet authorities, leaving the surviving TITANs either trapped on Earth or having escaped out of the system through the Pandora Gates, being newly-discovered alien artifacts connecting to vast networks of Pandora Gates in other solar systems, permitting instantaneous travel between them. The TITANs have at this point also basically evolved into horrifying things utilizing femtotech and nanoplagues, real Lovecraftian horror stuff. Humanity eventually stabilizes the situation, and this is where the players are introduced. The game intends for them to be agents of Firewall, a secret organization dedicated to preventing humanity fucking itself over by fucking with seed AI's, TITANs/remnant TITAN technology or alien technology in the future.

Oh yeah, there are aliens. We'll get into that later.

The main "novel" mechanics for EP are that minds can be uploaded and transferred, meaning that players can swap bodies. It also adds a "horror" element that minds can be stolen, modified and etc. But as most people know by now, "horror" RPG's are easier said than done.

What They Got Right


All of the in-setting fiction, from snippets to exposition to start-of-chapter/start-of-book storytelling is excellently written. It really does feel like they got people with writing experience doing this, not just random grogs who wanted to write about their goddamn waifu characters. It also feels like, by and large, thought was actually put into how all of the new technologies and concepts would change people's attitudes and lives. The art also deserves praise, as it's well-done, creepy and doesn't just gank some pre-existing aesthetic, but seems very dedicated to creating one of its own.

Everything about the game speaks of creators who really, really wanted to do something good, who really had soul, and some degree of talent, and invested both into Eclipse Phase.

What They Fucked Up


Sadly, just WANTING to do things right isn't a magical potion. Once past the writing(which does have its issues at times), the game starts to show some strain.

The core mechanic, 1d100-roll-under, is functional enough, but considering the low cap for skills and the lack of any modifiers like perks or feats, characters and monsters tend to end up very similar and there's very little room for describing a truly exceptional individual or dangerous enemy. Considering the hugely generous point pool for chargen, it's very likely that most characters will never see any growth after being created.

Equipment-wise and morph-wise(morphs being the setting's words for the bodies that can be swapped between), there are also a very few, very obviously superior choices that aren't even exceptionally expensive to make them something to aim for in the long run. You can start out with a "maxed" loadout during chargen except for one or two very specialized morphs. In fact, morphs are a specific issue in and of themselves. They're split into three groups: Bio(entirely organic), Pod(heavily mixed cybernetic and biological) and Synth(entirely robotic). Biomorphs and Synths each have their strengths and weaknesses, as well as some mods that the other group cannot use. Pods, on the other hand, have nothing unique or exceptional except for a tendency towards(very shit) natural weapons and low cost, they can't use any of the group-exclusive mods, and have no exclusive mods of their own.

They're really only useful to use if your GM regularly and viciously one-shots party members and they need cheap body replacements, because you may as well otherwise just make a hyperstrong, 'roided out, modded-to-the-max bio or synthmorph that he can't kill without cheap one-shots.

As mentioned, equipment-wise it's really bad. Literally only ballistic weapons are worth using, a bit of mods and special ammo and they're by far the superior choice for ANY situation. Armors have different kinetic/energy resistance values, but the difference is never huge enough to justify energy weapons over ballistic, and the Spray/Explosive weapons have even less going for them. Melee weapons are really only competitive if you focus EVERYTHING about your character on maxing their damage and then wear power armor to boost it further.

The issue is that the mentality appears to have been that players have a lot of sub-standard morph/equipment choices they might have to resort to in pressed situations, but since they can start from chargen with the best choices, it really requires the GM to take away a lot of their toys immediately after chargen, which is a dickasstastic goddamn move from any GM. Either don't give them the toys or don't just strip them away arbitrarily.

And starting off with all the best stuff and letting PC's make themselves superhard to kill and carrying a bunch of stuff they do not want to sacrifice also kind of sabotages resleeving(getting put into a new body) as a mechanic, because why would they ever swap unless it was for disguise purposes, upgrading(which there's little left to do) or after being killed(which they're unlikely to be)?

Another useless thing they added is Psi. One nanotech virus unleashed by the TITANs rewires your brain towards you being psychic, but without turning you into a monstrous, Lovecraftian terror. Sounds neat, right? Except Psi is basically entirely useless. It has one or two useful powers out of twenty or so, no combat applications, and generally sucks except as a plot hook. There are SOME really awesome, powerful psi sleights... but they're restricted for use by totally corrupted TITAN servants/monstrosities, not for PC's.

Despite really lauding the writing earlier, they also made some slipups there. The core book mentions an alien species, the Factors, that makes contact with humanity not too long after the TITAN issue... and then none of the other books ever really bring them up. They're not encountered on the other side of any Pandora gates and somehow they just seem to not affect humanity at all. They're just there, slightly odd, don't even switch anything up or introduce any cool new technologies. Similarly, two large groups, one antagonist to Firewall, the other neutral(Project Ozma and Oversight, respectively) get brief mentions in the corebook and then, again, never really get elaborated on all that much.

Ozma is just nebulously a bunch of dickheads with no real motivation for it that's ever elaborated on, Oversight(essentially the Planetary Consortium's police force/FBI/CIA) could be an immensely handy ally or potential enemy depending on how players handle situations... but there's nothing to really help the GM utilize them for it.

There are also some hilariously blatant writer biases in the setting. Religion tends to be disparaged unless it's Eastern, and adherents tend to be referred to as "clinging on" to their antiquated beliefs. The main religious force in the Sol system is the Jovians, who are entirely antagonistic and whose churches are literally just religious Wal-Marts, entirely corrupt and commercialized. Anything reminiscent of current social models or economic systems also tend to be ruthlessly portrayed as evil/sinister and part of mankind's eventual doom.

By comparison, anything related to Anarchy, Communism, Socialism and rebelling against THE MAN tends to be shown in a positive light. Even when it's completely absurd hedonism and insanity that results, it tends to have a less vicious vocabulary directed against it. And for the record, I'm actually a proponent of Communism and Socialism and I still think they're aggressive and ham-handed about the whole thing.

Oh and then there's Glory. Fucking GLORY.

Glory, Glory Hallelujaaaaaaaargh


A detailed review of Glory by yours truly

I reviewed Glory once, but here's the Cliff's Notes: It's a fucking hentai adventure about rapist fuck-aliens planning to spread boner-alien spores all across the solar system and infect everyone with their dongthirst. And it's official. It's not fanmade. It's shit on every level and it's utterly depressing that it was allowed to become a thing. It's an adventure that needs to point out that the exsurgent virus carried by the Glory exsurgents can be spread by sexual contact. Seriously.

And to make things worse it's even inconsistent and doesn't even manage to get its writing and rules working together. Fuck Glory.

Fuck it sideways.

A Small Saving Grace: Transhuman


The last released book, Transhuman, did a lot to make the game more playable, more than could be expected for a book that really only exists to market an alternate form of chargen. Original EP chargen was basically "assign points, buy skills, buy gear, go nuts." Transhuman, on the other hand, does "lifepath" chargen, two variants. One where you pick the life path yourself, from start to end, following the trail, and one where you randomly roll your route at each stage.

Either version ends up with less optimized, equipped and powerful characters than the original EP chargen, however, which suddenly means characters have a lot more to strive for, neither they nor the things they fight need to be bumping against the skill ceiling right off the bat to stay "competitive," they might have to improvise with regards to morphs, mods and equipment rather than all starting off with machine guns/sniper rifles packing Shredder ammo.

After having had my hands on Transhuman, I would really never recommend playing the game without it, and more than any other of the expansions, it should have been part of the core book.

The Final Verdict


Save yourself the headache and avoid Eclipse Phase until it gets a new edition/FATE sidegrade. Currently it suffers a good bit from forcing you to browse through supplements for specific morphs and pieces of gear/upgrades rather than having one unified list, and even Transhuman doesn't help out the issues with equipment balance, that a lot of it just... feels very similar. None of it really has any distinct properties that make it separate. Using a rocket launcher instead of an assault rifle doesn't change much except for descriptions.

The FATE edition, if it ever hits, sounds like it may have a lot of potential for making the game worthwhile, though.

~PurpleXVI

[#] Why the Dresden Files Are Bad And You Should Feel Bad For Liking Them
12:12am EST - 12/07/2012
So as it turns out, someone was wondering why I had an issue with the Dresden Files, by way of wondering why I had an issue with the Dresden Files RPG.

Well, let's take a look at what the Dresden Files are, for those who don't know. The Dresden Files are basically the World of Darkness but where wizards are the top dog for the most part, they need staves and rituals to cast magic, not all of them are superpowerful, they've got a bureaucracy and by and large they're the most benevolent faction out there. The wizard we follow around is Harry Dresden, a low-ranking mage who works as a private investigator and is highly disliked by the rest of the wizardy fellas because he cut his magical teeth by being in the employ of an evil cultist whom Harry eventually murdered(mostly in self defense).

The core conceit is that Harry is not Gandalf, he cannot fireball his way through everything. Firstly, he must be subtle, the world at large thinks wizards and vampires are just a fairy tale. Secondly, spontaneous magic is tough and relies mostly on the charge left in his staff, ritual magic is way more reliable, and so he cannot magic himself out of trouble every time, he needs to use rituals and preparation. This is largely upheld in the first book where Harry deals with demon-summoners, vampires(reasonably classic ones, the Red Court) and pixies.

By the second book this is quickly in shambles and it only gets worse from there. First we get "splat-bloat" that would make White Wolf recoil in terror: Four kinds of vampires(Red, Black, White, Jade), three or four factions of wizards, demons, angels, dragons, three kinds of werewolves, two kinds of Fae and the list goes on. Secondly, Harry rapidly drops the idea that "he's gotta prepare" and starts to DBZ his way out of most conflicts with vividly-described energy blasts and masturbation over guns so overt you can literally hear Jim Butcher(the author) panting in the background. He has bondage sex with a half-vampire, fifty percent of the text is dedicated to describing tits(including a friend's teenage daughter's tits, eugh, Harry, keep it in your pants) and yes, it turns out that Harry's half-brother is a vampire.

In short, Harry rapidly becomes a goddamn wish-fulfillment Sue of the worst kind. He even redeems a fucking Biblical demon and becomes an archangel's chosen. It's goddamn stupid. Also by the point where zombies, undead T-rexes and wizard laser battles are spilling into the streets of Chicago for days on end, humanity in general would need to be suffering from severe brain injuries not to realize something was up.

The point where I finally gave up on the series was when Harry's half-vampire baby got introduced. Fuck's sake, Butcher.

~PurpleXVI

Jim Butcher blows goats

[#] HOW TO MAKE AND RUN PEN AND PAPER CAMPAIGNS ONLINE, THE BLAXPLOITATION WAY
11:52am EST - 12/28/2009

Hello. Chances are if you've ever gone to the sup/tg/ IRC, you know who I am. If not, then it doesn't really matter, both those unfamiliar with me and those who know and hate me can read this article, I don't fucking care, I'm not your mother.

Anyway, this article is about what the title says: Making and running your very own PnP campaign to run online. I'm being very broad here, but this guide should work for any setting, be it High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Mid Fantasy, Higher Fantasy, Pulp, Noir, Sci-Fi, Horror or even Ero, if you're a weirdo pervert. The difference is, I'm not going to try and make some ALL ENCOMPASSING GUIDE TO RUNNING GAMES or anything. Chances are these guidelines won't work for some people. But, that's what this list is: How to run games as Blaxploitation does it.

Now, chances are that most people who read this have NEVER EVER played a game I have run, or even know I DM at all. The truth is that I do in fact run Pen and Paper games quite often, so I know what I am talking about, fuck you. But, again, if you've played in one of my games or if you haven't shouldn't make a bit of difference.

So enough Rambling and introductions, let's go on with the LIST.

Read More...

~Blaxploitation

-

[#] BESM, 3rd Edition
08:40pm EDT - 6/14/2009
BESM is short for Big Eyes, Small Mouth, which some might recognize as describing a stereotypical anime character's deformed mutant face. And BESM is, indeed, mostly billed for running anime. All the art is anime-related, a lot of the fluff sounds pretty anime-tastic and it's hard to ignore that most of the system seems geared towards replicating DBZ or some sort of harem anime.

But that would be selling this thing short, because it can do so much more.

The Basics:

BESM relies on a simple mechanic of rolling 2d6+stat(of which there are three, possibly also +skill or some such) or 2d6+(defensive combat value/offensive combat value). In the former case you roll against a TN from 6 to 24, as decided by the GM, in the latter case it's an opposed roll. Armour and damage are static, so combat is fast and easy, with the occasional extra roll to control or resist some side-effect of an attack.


The Ups:

Extreme freedom for character creation. At first it looks like BESM merely has a sizeable list of pre-made abilities with everything from flight through sixth senses and highly customizeable weapons. But then right in the next chapter, it lets you customize those abilities with special limitations and side-effects that can make your character even more unique. If it's not for some GRIM DARK DARK GRIM GRIT game, you can make your character in BESM. BESM works well for sci-fi, fantasy and just about anything with a dash of supernatural or superscience.

BESM also handles high power levels really well since it doesn't, like some games, blossom into absurd numbers of modifiers, rolls or dice.

Simple mechanics and high customizeability are rarely wedded as perfectly as they are in BESM.


The Downs:

Freedom requires a lot of vigilance as BESM unfortunately makes it very simple to make completely broken characters, even without trying. Additionally, two characters made with the same point total can also end up highly divergent in actual power. So it requires a capable GM to make sure no one is going to hog all the glory in one form or another.

The art is pretty much fucking atrocious from one end to the other. It's actually so bad it might count as an Up because it's fucking hilarious half the time.


The Verdict:

Simple and customizeable, and the only things that mar it are essentially superficial.

~PurpleXVI

Look at me I can throw fireballs from my dick because I'm Goku

[#] GM Startup Guide
06:42pm EDT - 6/10/2009
This is intended as a guide for startup GM's, for the people running their first game(or second, after the first one imploded dramatically and they want to do THIS one right...).

Read More...

~PurpleXVI

I am an awesome GM

[#] Weave: The Threads of Reality
11:03am EST - 1/30/2009
The Google Docs upload of Weave

So I talk a lot about making games, and I often add a lot of unsolicited advice about other people's game-making, I even tend to feel that I have a lot of ideas for improving professionally designed games. You know, the kind you buy for dollars(or pieces of bark and wood, if you're Canadian, you get what I mean.).

Here's my attempt at making a little thing of my own. Still very much under development, but I like to feel that even though I cranked this out over fifteen minutes of original writing, twenty minutes of talking to people and then five minutes of revising, this thing is pretty close to its final shape.

The basic concept is a game where magic(in this case Weaving) is synergistic with other skills, rather than some sort of separate profession that makes you way more powerful than others. Instead, the people with access to Weaving use it to craft impressive or useful items, to make themselves more powerful in combat, etc.

Of course, some people are capable of using Weaving without combining it with skills, more close to traditional magic, but this is a tricky and dangerous thing to do, as fate, known as the Great Loom, dislikes those who try to escape the predestined way of fate so grossly. In systemic terms, it temporarily robs you of Pattern(the way in which fate defends those vital to the proper happening of things with small miracles), making you more susceptible to being killed by accident or people with unpleasant intentions.

I like to feel that I've taken the chance to rob nice things from several systems(Earthflame's Mosaic inspired parts of the "Weaving" system, Trigger Discipline inspired the minimalistic approach and I've probably been inspired by a few other things without realizing it) without ripping off any of them.

~PurpleXVI

I made a thing!

[#] Trigger Discipline
10:16am EST - 1/09/2009
Latest version of the rules.

So, when I first heard of Trigger Discipline, I looked at the name, I looked at where it came from(/tg/) and assumed it was some crazy-detailed, realism-wanky piece of shit and completely ignored it. Later some people mumbled something about mecha and I still proceeded to ignore it, because, hey, come on, giant robots do NOT need realism, are we agreed? They need to be all BAM BAM BAM, SPEED, BOOM, POWER GIANT LASER KATANAS, KABOOM, POWER, SHAZAM.

On closer inspection Trigger Discipline actually turns out to be pretty close to this.

Read More...

~PurpleXVI

SURPRISE, BITCHES, IT'S AN UPDATE.

[#] Board and Card Games on XBLA
10:04am EST - 11/21/2008
Now Fa/tg/uys Never Have to Leave the House

Or

Board and Card Games on XBLA

Part I: Catan

Read More...

~Gorbash Kazdar

View Older News

 

Site code and contents © 2007-2015 thisisnotatrueending.com. All rights reserved. Click here for legal information.
If you are under the age of 18, please leave this site immediately. Asshole.