Reviews and Ramblings
MIDDENARDE - PART 7 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
MIDDENARDE - PART 6 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
MIDDENARDE - PART 5 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
MIDDENARDE - PART 4 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
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GM Startup Guide by PurpleXVI - 06/10/09
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DORF FORT ELLPEE by CAPSLOCKGUY - 10/19/08
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Hc Svnt Dracones
FATAL & Friends Repost: Hc Svnt Dracones: Part 1
12:35am EDT - 7/31/2015
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.