Thursday, September 27, 2007

The King of Life never burdens you with more depleted uranium than you can carry.

Lore "Slumbering 'Brunching Shuttlecocks' Lungfish" SjĂžberg mentioned some off-the-wall RPG ideas in his blog, and commenters including myself pointed him at many and various indie RPGs. He just grabbed Dogs in the Vineyard.

Your initiatory conflict: hold a depleted uranium beholder statue. The stakes: are you crushed by the 11-hit-die aberration?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

[The Emperor's Heart] Love and Death in the Imperial City

A few weeks ago I ran a play-test of Chris Chinn's new game, The Emperor's Heart. The report of the play-test can be read here. It was pretty cool game, and I look forward to trying it out again soon.

Friday, September 07, 2007

You Scratch And Scratch And Then You're a Cyborg

OK, the fact that everyone involved in this story is plumb stark raving nuts is sad, but man, this is an awesome article.

Remember the phantom disease people were complaining of a year or two ago, Morgellons, which dermatologists insist is really "delusional parasitosis"?

This dude has it figured out. It's nanotech.

The preliminary findings were disturbing. Morgellons appears to be a communicable nanotechnology invasion of human tissue in the form of self-assembling, self-replicating nanotubes, nanowires, and nanoarrays with sensors.

Other nanoconfigurations associated with Morgellons disease carry genetically-altered and spliced DNA or RNA. The nanomachines which precipitate Morgellons thrive in alkaline ph conditions and use the body's bio-electric energy and other (unidentified) elements for power. There is evidence that certain of the tiny machines possess their own internal batteries as well. The Morgellons nanomachines are configured to receive specific tuned microwave, EMF and ELF signals and radio data.

At this point, why this is happening is anyone's guess. We do know that Morgellons is commonly found in all body fluids, orifices and often even hair follicles, and are believed to routinely achieve total body systemic penetration.

If these findings are correct, and Morgellons is nanotechnology capable of taking over biological systems, the question remains whether or not these nanomachines were the result of an accident, or a deliberate release with the intention of infecting people for some unknown purpose.

It is almost as if Morgellons is in the process of reconstructing people into an entirely different life form; a cyborg-like creature, both biological and machine. As well, with the reports that the Morgellons nanomachines are capable of receiving radio signals, this could indicate that each infected person/system would be able to communicate with other Morgellon sufferers, creating the potential that each person would be like a single brain-cell of a larger, artificial intelligence.
That is AWESOME.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Actual Play: InSpectres West Michigan

Posted not because InSpectres is, like, in need of feedback or playtesting or anything, but because I get to play little enough that just about anything is worth an Active Play post.

Joe ran InSpectres on RPG Day in our little NotGenCon weekend. It was a pretty simple, standard game, but we had fun.

We made characters one by one, and ended up with a bookish PhD candidate/dropout desperately in search of a way to make money off his 9 years spent researching Akkadian Arcana or whatever, an Emasculated House-Husband whose daughter Addison just went to school and now he doesn't know what to do with himself, a Grease Monkey who contributed a big-ass van with the InSpectres logo airbrushed on the side, a dot-com survivor Techie, and an ex-world-famous BMX stunt biker (who finagled us the official InSpectres Lamborghini that the bookworm uses to drive to the library for research).

We decided to be local, and became the first InSpectres franchise in West Michigan. Set up our offices in the former offices of CyberNet Inc, which we imagined were huge but deserted and bereft of every possible item of value.

The initial interview was with the local media. I -- the bookish academic -- had volunteered to be the CEO of our franchise, so I got to put on my smarmy public relations face and look good for the media. Everybody got their place in the spotlight, especially the ex-stunt-biker, Pietro, who the female interviewer recognized and, upon recognizing him, focused on to the exclusion of all others. He's so dreamy!

Then it was time to meet the client. A stereotypical Italian businessman came calling; apparently he was in the process of opening a new Italian restaurant downtown named Guido di Beppo's, and, though it was nearly complete, suddenly his contractors had become spooked and were refusing to enter the place. Though details were vague it was a clear case of paranormal infestation and a job for InSpectres West Michigan! He gave us the key to the restaurant and we were on our way.

My bookish fellow went to the library to research the history of the place, while the others headed down to case the joint (the Techie, Mac, was carrying a big semi-functional Spectre Detector he'd jury-rigged himself, which had a bad habit of causing nearby electronic equipment to sputter and die...)

I took the first Confessional: "It seemed a harmless idea at the time for me to separate from the group, but I'd forgotten how twitchy Ben [the greasemonkey] could get when he's, well, unsupervised..."

It all began when Ben drilled a big ol' hole in the wall to see if the walls were sound, peeked in, and saw an eyeball staring back at him. He screamed like a man who's gone wading in Lake Michigan and has just been touched by the bloated corpse of a sailor who died on the Edmund Fitzgerald, and floated down through the Soo Locks to collect souls.

I won't go on through all the manifestations (demonic Pope Head anyone?) but it cost the party a lot of Stress Dice and melted the biker's comped iPhone. They had to drill through a spectral door which, when compromised, dissolved into a huge splatter of blood which drenched poor twitchy Ben. The Emasculated House-Husband, Gordon, was the only one relatively unfazed by it all, because as he said, he'd changed diapers containing scarier stuff than anything he'd seen in the restaurant.

Meanwhile my bookworm, Michael, had found out that the property had once been an abbatoir, but it had been forcibly shut down in about 1912. Checking the newspapers from the period, he found that front-page stories from that year, starting at the time the restaurant was shut down, had been cut out of the newspapers in the library's archives. There were big holes where some big story had been, that everybody wanted to forget about...

Long story short, we did get the name of the guy who owned the abattoir then, he was still alive in a nursing home in St. Joseph, MI, way on the other side of the state. We headed over there and there he was, an evil, evil old man, kept alive at the age of 100+ by some force of devilish hatred. We confronted him about what had happened at the abattoir back then and of course it came out that he had a Sweeney Todd operation going on there that spiralled out of control, and it ended up with most of the population of the city having eaten human flesh, hence the ripping-out of the newspapers -- everyone wanted it forgotten.

There was a big supernatural confrontation, where Ben's player kindly repaid my "twitchy" by giving my character "balls of steel" -- the old man's spectral cleaver-wielders waged war against us but we prevailed through the zaptastic power of the Techie's weaponry. The old man was banished to his final reward or something (he disappeared) and we ended up retrieving the one Evil Cleaver which was the source of his power and exorcizing it with a ritual that Bookworm Boy had handily cooked up.

Guido di Beppo's was saved, we were treated to a feast in the Pope Room (we all sat scrunched up on one side of the table with the Pope Head turned in the other direction) and we got our ten Franchise Dice, plus one from a Confessional I think... which barely replaced what we'd spent and taken in Stress Dice. A couple of us, I think Gordon and maybe Pietro? voluntarily kept the Stress rather than tax the Franchise too bad, which is an interesting development.

Overall, a really good little game, worked well with a fairly large group, we got some good use out of the Confessional (though I kind of hogged it), and the mechanics did their job well. I would really like to follow these characters up in another game, but getting everybody together again is kind of an iffy proposition. Might be able to swing a game with a small subgroup of the characters, and since I have a copy of InSpectres myself, maybe we can make it happen...