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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Emissary’s Voice

These swords are the only remaining sign of a world-spanning empire long ago. Each one a work of art made of the finest metals and gems. Razor sharp even when found in the bottom of a centuries-old gravel pit lair of acidic lizards. So far in recorded history three of them have been found, and none have woken up for their powers to be discovered.

Each one is a +1 weapon to start with. When woken up the sword reveals itself to be a intelligent sentience that was crafted to be a translator and advisor for the soldiers sent out to explore unknown lands. The sword communicates telepathically and can instantly translate for the wielder and even translates the best possible version of what is being said to make the wielder sound like a master diplomat. Giving the +1 bonus to social/negotiating rolls.

These swords are very lawful and attempt to nudge their owner into founding a empire. Wanting to see a world-spanning nation once more to bring the light and stability of civilisation to every corner of the world. If the owner has a weak will the sword may even take over and use him as a puppet to advance the cause of lawful control as best the two of them can manage. Use the rules for magic-user mutation whenever using the +1 bonus in combat or diplomacy. With some kind of imposed lawful compulsion instead of physical deformities.

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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Items

 

Anime: Dennou Coil

Dennou Coil is not available commercially as far as I can tell, so if you want to watch it you should head over to AnimeSuki and download it for free.

Anyway, the basic premise of the show is that Augmented Reality has become common enough that every kid has computer glasses and all the nerds play around with the hologram-hacking tools. Augmented reality meaning that holographic things and events are layered and interact with the physical world in a way where you often can’t tell them apart.

The reason I like this series so much is how well it demonstrates the concept of augmented reality. The idea of virtual pets you can see and talk to, but can’t touch. Hacking programs that look like handheld objects and anti-virus programs that look like floating robots. Data deleting and corruption as formless black areas. All of this shown to the view through the eyes of young kids (6th graders mostly) messing around with each other. I would use a episode of this show, any episode really, to teach people what augmented reality is.

The show itself starts out fairly typical. Semi-episodic with little hints of a bigger picture every now and then. I don’t want to give big spoilers, so I will remain vague. The primary theme through the main storyline is how the line blurs between the ‘real’ physical world and the ‘pretend’ digital world. There is both the reality of how a computer program getting a glitch kills people when that computer program is running traffic programs. Later in the show it starts indicating a more metaphysical theme as well. Of how the soul and mind could be affected by AR hacking and tools. Which I really enjoy in a show and haven’t seen since the excellent Lain series from a long while back.

The art style for the show is fairly different as well. Not sure I would use the term realistic, though compared to most anime shows it is much closer to looking real. Yet it does still have many stylistic mannerisms. Just that it is doing something different from the mainstream style is a big bonus in my book.

Not really much else to say about it. Well-written, good characters, great plot, and the best example of augmented reality I have seen anywhere. If you haven’t seen it you should go download it now while it is free.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2012 in Anime, Reviews

 

VSOCM

Or, to spell it out,Victorian Space Opera Cyberpunk Mythology. My brain has wandered back to the scifi rpg I have been doing half as a project and half as a thought experiment to get away from the typical mechanics and trappings that seem to be my go-to for tabletop game design.

As always I want to build a very simple and rules-light system. This time from the ground up instead of modifying another base system as I did with my old-school fantasy version of Risus. My unspoken goal with such systems is have a character sheet that can fit on a single index card. I hardly ever manage it, but it is a good goal to keep my efforts limited since I tend to like overly elaborate character sheets for my games.

I had two primary goals (more actually, but the rest didn’t work out in the first runaround of this idea) that I am using to build this system. One is that I like my scifi games to have skill systems instead of ability/class games. Just seems more ‘intellectual’ in the classic scifi tradition. My other starting assumption was I wanted everything a player needed for task resolution to be on their character sheet. So the gm calls for a roll and the player rolls and checks their sheet. So the skill levels on the character sheet become the task target numbers to beat when using that skill.

That second one was a bit tricky as it takes a lot of the mechanical gears and bolts of the game away from the GM. Even most story games tend to let the GM set the difficulty of the problems the PCs run into while gaming. I wanted a system where the Player Characters skill mattered more then whatever situation they found themselves in. The flavour of my game is ‘gentlemen adventurers against the untamed wilds, in space’ more or less and I figured that a good way to help set the mood was to have each character’s choices in skills matter more then anything else. So my main resolution mechanic is a d20 roll trying to get under the skill on the sheet. If you win, the problem is solved, if you lose you get damage. So far I am thinking that the GM can make events more complicated by calling for more rolls in more difficult situations, but that is still a work in progress.

As for the skill system I decided I wanted something where all the parts built on each other and had plenty of variety. The setup I am using at the moment has three tiers. First is the three basic attributes:Vitality, Intellect, and Grace. More or less what they seem to be, though I am using them in as broad an interpretation as possible, these are rated 1-10. Then there are the broad skills, of which there are 21 sorted by attribute and rated 1-5. Then each broad skill can have any number of player-derived specialities that go 1-5 as well. You add all three of these together(or just two if your character doesn’t have a speciality) and that is the number you need to roll under with a d20.

Example: Intellect (7) : Shooting (4) : Rifle (3) : 14 is the number to roll under.

Each time a attribute goes up, all related rolls go up. Same with broad skills.

I still have other work to do for damage and other details of course. After a unsuccessful first try at building this system I have tossed some of my other contradicting assumptions and now it all seems to be working together more or less.

As for the built-in setting, think Victorian age of the British empire. Only in space with creatures of mythology as long-lost cultures and civilizations of advanced cyborgs. So a Victorian-feel Space Opera with Cyberpunk Mythology encounters.

Example character sheet (incomplete):

  • Vitality   5
  • Intellect  7
  • Grace    3
  • —————
  • Perception 10
  • —————
  • Vitality (5) : Fighting (2) : 7
  • Vitality (5) : Fighting (2) : Rapier (5) : 12
  • Intellect (7) : Shooting (4) : 11
  • Intellect (7) : Shooting (4) : Rifle (3) : 14
  • Grace (3) : Persuasion (3) : 8
  • Grace (3) : Persuasion (3) : Logic (5) : 11
 
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Posted by on February 1, 2012 in Pondering RPGs