12 RPGs for the 12th Month: #internet

Paul Mitchener came up with a new writing challenge on role-playing games called “12 RPGs for the 12th Month” (see the full list of questions here.)

Question 10: 19th to 20th December

Mobile phones and the internet in an RPG setting in the modern day world (perhaps with fantastic elements): discuss. What possibilities do they open up? What, if any, issues come with them when it comes to RPG scenarios?

I guess this is a question for us old fogeys. Players and game-masters who are in their 20s don’t need to discuss this (and probably scratch their heads at the question.)

Some elements jump to mind:

Instant communication between characters give a very different feel to splitting the party. They can be physically apart but still in contact; if you truly want them separated, they have to lose the signal somehow.

Communication can be private and silent, via text messages (watch out for that buzz or the lit screen that can give you away, though!)

Knowledge skills are strongly impacted: online, you can learn to make Turkish coffee, decode a cryptogram, or use a Raspberry PI and Lego blocks to create a recon bot. This means that intelligence should be treated much more as the capacity for reasoning and analysis, and less as the accumulation of data.

Instant proof and documentation—snap a photo or secretly record a conversation, upload. While opponents of the PCs will sometimes be able to claim it’s a doctored photo or recording (and some supernatural critters may not show in digital media, I guess), in general that alters a lot of stories depending on “No one will believe us” or “Get the information in the right hands” premises.

Always have the right tool: With apps for GPS, magnifier, starfinder, compass, first aid manual, birding field guide, drawing, banking, and so forth, there are many tasks that become possible or trivial wherever the characters are, as long as they have a signal.

Under Big Brother’s eye: The flip side is that it can be very difficult to evade tracking or surreptitious phone cloning, and having a phone confiscated or stolen can put a crimp in one’s plan.

Horror games should be designed to use loss of signal, surveillance, unexpected ringing, cryptic texts or calls, new suspicious apps, panicked calls from other characters, trusted but unreliable Wikipedia information, and so forth. You can really affect the pace with such tools.


12 RPGs for the 12th Month: Future Imperfect

Paul Mitchener came up with a new writing challenge on role-playing games called “12 RPGs for the 12th Month” (see the full list of questions here.)

Question 9: 17th to 18th December

You’re planning to run some science fiction, in a setting of your choice. Is there any particular technology you want to include because the possibilities intrigue you. Is there any standard piece of “future technology” you’d rather leave out?

Ah, another fun question.

Let’s start by narrowing it to subgenre, since the scifi genre is so vast. While I enjoy cyberpunk, space opera, time travel, post-apocalypse, planetary romance, and fighting dystopian futures, I particularly love space exploration adventures with a realistic feel.

They don’t have to be excruciatingly accurate to the latest scientific journals, but I like when you feel the danger and the fragility of human life in the blackness of space, the sense that everyone aboard has to pull their weight for the ship to survive the voyage. I particularly like keeping things at the scale of colonization of the Solar System.

That means no FTL drives, and the only artificial gravity comes from rotation or acceleration. No light sabers, no replicators (except 3D printing), no teleportation.

Day 2 of first chemo cycle

Chemo haircut and #FlannelFriday
Chemo haircut and #FlannelFriday

TL;DR: I’m feeling well. No foolin’.

Pre-Treatment: I have been kept busy non-stop with medical appointments, bureaucratic processes for medical and disability insurances, and looking up information and resources. But I did schedule a haircut; this is what I look like and it’s taken the day after treatment, to prove that I’m doing well.

In the big chair: Yesterday I had a MUGA scan at the Nuclear Medicine department to check whether I had a heart, then I went to the Infusion Center for my first chemotherapy treatment. I was conscientious about following instructions on medication, hydration, food intake, etc. It was a long session because the first time the medical personnel administers each of the four medications at a reduce flow rate to monitor for adverse reactions. They provide you with pillows and pre-warmed blankets, juice, soups, etc. They are very attentive, friendly and professional.

Edmund had brought board and card games; some turned out to require too much space but we did play Race to Adventure! (Evil Hat Productions) and Mint Tin Pirates (subQuark Games). Having something to do not only passed the time faster but it really helped me not think about being sink. You know how when, getting on a boat, you sometimes start getting seasick just from worry about it or from seeing someone else ill? Keeping my mind occupied saves me from that.

The biggest hassle is when I have to go to the bathroom during infusion; I have to roll the whole IV drip and its attached monitors with me (they’re on batteries). The thing is heavy, cumbersome, and it moves like one of those damaged shopping carts at the grocery store. Do not like.

Cancer pagurus Linnaeus

Food and appetite: I went with some of dear friends for sushi farewell earlier this week because I’m forbidden from eating it during chemotherapy (depressed GI tract flora and immune system become more vulnerable to bacteria, etc.) I did order rolls that contained crab but refrained from making references to genus Cancer for the benefit of my table mates. I have not had any nausea or other unpleasant symptoms yet, except perhaps an early warning of acid reflux a few moments ago (the kind that usually don’t come to anything for me, but I will keep alert.)

Dumb luck, smart phone: I really appreciate having a smartphone right now, more than ever with the dumb luck of illness. I’m looking up information on treatment and funding, scheduling appointments, finding my destination for office visits, coordinating with friends, tracking my health record, snapping pictures of important documents, looking up personal information, showing my mom I’m doing well, playing silly little games to relax, and so much more.

Support network: I am so, so grateful for my husband and for my friends. I’m receiving wonderful help in so many forms. You have no idea how much even just well-wishes mean until the day you need to hear a friendly word. I love you all.


octaNe: Born to Be Wild

octane_squareI love Jared Sorensen’s little role-playing/story/indie/hippie game octaNe (Memento Mori Theatricks).  The premise: post-apocalypse road warrior adventures in the style of Six-String Samurai, Repo Man, or the Mad Max movies:

octaNe is a roller coaster ride through the trailer parks and strip malls of a post-apocalyptic, trash-culture America. A garish B movie brought to life in living Glam-O-Vision. A funkadelic, no-holds barred steel cage match of… well, you get the picture. octaNe shares a kinship with the B-movie action of Feng Shui, the PoMo gestalt of Over the Edge, and the weird western vibe of Deadlands (and its post-apocalyptic follow-up, Hell on Earth). But unlike some of those games, it’s not a grim, cautionary tale of the apocalypse or a gritty slice of urban street life. It’s a ridiculous world gone out of control, where the Mythic West meets Hollywood, where the clichés of film noir collide with the excesses of pulp comic books.
— Jared Sorensen, Introduction to octaNe

Google's Driverless CarThere are three dozen stock character templates, or “roles”, provided in the book: Masked Luchador, Elvis Impersonator, Outlaw Biker, Greasemonkey, etc.  One of them is the “Classic Smartcar”, more or less modelled after Kit 2000 and other similar vehicular wonders.

I’ve just been struck by a fierce hankering to play a renegade Google driverless car.  Won’t someone run a game for me?

Role: Classic Smartcar

Quote: “Don’t be evil. Amateur.”

Mode: Psychotronic

Gear: A mostly accurate pre-Collapse map database, advanced camera system, dual machine guns, a mine dropper, and an evergreen-scented air freshener.

Styles: Daring

Skills: Stunt maneuvering, Weaponry, Knowing the lay of the land, Sensors