Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Still Wobbling this Week

Just like how working my wooden block calendar everyday keeps me more aware of petty stuff like what day to write down on say the patient reports that I make my day-to-day living doing, writing Wobble scenarios helps me analyze different fantasy media. By media, I mean mediums, as in TV, written fiction, and gaming material.

My Wobble stuff, as you might've heard, is a personal coping mechanism for the RPG craze which is mixed genre settings. "Mixed genre" was always the third-most viable RPG genre besides sword and sorcery and it has continued to be since the 80s. With the publishing of Rifts and FASA's licensing of Dr Who this tradition has surpassed science fiction (from TV or Film or publication), superhero, or even post-apocalyptic. And it gets reinvented every few years. If you're a steampunk fan and don't know that it's gunnes-meets-high fantasy then you're illiterate in gaming culture.

It also is one of my least favorite sub-genre in any medium. It's popular on TV because it's so among TV show producers. Phasers and Nazis. Aliens that resemble Italian movie Sword and Sandal characters. Victorian-era folk with I-pads. The surreality of folks walking around in costumes from different historical eras has always been a source of inspiration. This has not only led to half of the BBC shows of the last century and later Stargate, but it becomes a trope to be used in every fourth Star Trek (all of the series, except Enterprise) episode. The convention of trying to make use of overly-abundant costumes makes its way into every TV sooner or later as the obligatory Halloween episode comes up. When it comes to gaming though, I like what works.

Even nicer is that mixed-genre works better in pen and paper RPGs than elsewhere in Adventure Gaming. Wargames and boardgames would require way too much reference material to be any sort of entertaining read to mix in plastic army men, 10mm Napoleonic campaign miniatures, and a Fisher Price farm's pieces to say the least. Pen and paper authors can strip to the waist, cover themselves in lard, and then use sock puppets before anyone in the audience gets surprised.

So when I come across Peryton's Qalidar: Resistance or Brandon Osorio's Time Shredders sessions, I come up with whacky conundrums and gonzo premises. My alien species don't have to be the result of research but of freaky images and pop culture anomalies. Only half of the time do my works have anything to do with either setting. Still, I don't feel the need to do the whole game design thing, even if my own rules are all but complete already. No. My rule notes are just notes. They're mere suggestions, for the enterprising GM, to interpret as he sees fit. At the same time, the creatures and story-arcs that I develop in these scenarios I want to remain distinct.

I have some seven scenarios written up, and just about ready for post-production. As always some are closer than others.

Wobble 1: "The Wobble Ship" (redux)
Wobble 2: "Corporate Raiders"
Wobble 3: "Eye Of the Needle"
Wobble Sideways 1: "Here Be Dragons" (Qalidar)
Wobble 4: "Egg"
Wobble Sideways 2: "The Clock Library" (Qalidar)
Wobble Sideways 3: "Back In the Saddle" (Time Shredders)

I am going to be looking for some help to do the initial playing on five of these pieces over the next year.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Wobble: The Clock-Trees

The Clock-trees- About 100,000,000 years ago this species started recording their history in chemical language. This intelligence developed despite a lack of what we'd consider full mobility, as the species is more like vegetation than animal-- they look like and behave like fruit bearing trees.  Their general lifespan being as long as a tree's and the insights that being intelligent but immobile seems to have been a trigger for them to become transdimensional travelers. Amazingly they have the side ability of acting as a conduit for other non-capable individuals of any species.
    The Clock-trees have been propagating themselves throughout the many universes, as well as thousands of habitable worlds within those universes, over that length of time.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Chicken And the Egg

The post-production of Glow has been a reawakening experience for me. While writing the damned thing, I kept getting two feelings: "This has been done before" and the other was "Will anybody understand what I am talking about?". So while writing up the world After The Bomb, I use that term loosely, I kept repeating those thoughts to myself.

The concepts behind Glow are of course the TSR game Gamma World and movies like Planet of the Apes from the early 70s. The times around the the inspiration process helped insure it would a bit different from other post-holocaust games. I knew too much about biology and physiology to know that massive amounts of radiation does anything organic any good. And since 1986, no one was too worried about the C.C.C.P. dropping nukes on freedom-loving Western democracies, but chemical spills and out of whack nuclear plants kept the mutant future dream alive.

In 2001, I was riding on the train one day on the way home from work, two threadbare guys celebrating the advent of their paycheck apparently, were nearby. Fellow drunks recognize each other so they started including me in their conversation. It was really because I didn't run away the moment that they sat down, but I do get chemical enjoyment and being a wage slave. One of them read a 9-11 propaganda poster above our heads thanking every train rider in advance for calling about mysterious packages left on train cars. One of the fellows suddenly became worried so he posed the question to me, "What's to stop terrorists from bombing Cleveland."
"The bomb has already been dropped on Cleveland." I replied after thinking for a bit. "Poverty."

That conversation helped solidify a couple core concepts of my vision of a dark future. Speaking of dark futures I really liked the dsytopian societies of the 70s sci-fi flix like Zardoz, Logan's Run, the Planet Of the Apes, and Mad Max. The 80s follow up flix, namely Beyond Thunderdome and 2019: After the Fall Of New York are probably the most influential works to any post-apocalyptic game designer ever, so I definitely needed to include some of the imagery, but not let them overshadow things..

Meanwhile, environmental technologies have steadily advanced since the 80s, while the media of our modern world has become increasingly illiterate when it comes to chemistry and biology. And this numbing process of things has not helped anybody understand all the industrial mishaps that are always happening. These events' by-product, making vast portions of hospitable lands into survivable toxin dumps. This led to the introduction of the game, presented here and unedited.

"...It was many littler things. Repeated massive oil spills over large biospheres. Insidious applications of engineered genes that unbalanced the evolved environment to where the benefits of them were lost in the damages. Over-marketing of a new medical advancement for purposes way beyond the ailment that they were designed to cure. Those paying attention were drowned out by the almost infinite amounts of information and data points being presented, mostly for the entertainment of everyone, that were more interesting and less depressing. A few nations started throwing some biological weapons at each other, and then escalated to a few nuclear missiles being unleashed here and there... "

The more I addressed the first thought, the question still plagued me. That question is "Will anybody understand what I am talking about?"

Just after sending up the pages to the editor, LinZ, Bill Bricker, Brick from now on, and I started pondering on the cover. I told him "Something with rubble, Logan's Run characters, and livestock gone awry... But nothing cheesy (wink)." He, being an amazing artist, as well being from the same geographic region and a similar creative subculture that I am, got it. The sketch above is dissimilar enough to the actual cover that I don't mind using it as an illustration of the tone and texture of my post-apocalyptic game. The humor may be a bit subtle but the ironies of this world will be glaring.

Now it should be expected that the artist and author should get each other. What I didn't expect was that world would start illustrating my points for me.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Quick Spacers(TM) Synopsis

I happened to be working my my notes and summary comments in the Spacers rewrite today. From chat-rooms on-line, to GenCon and BASHCon sit-downs, from 1999 until last Summer. Sadly, my Carnage Convention notes are not in the same booklet. Many of the plot summaries are compiled of more than one play group's session, so there will be differences in everyone's strictest re-tellings.

PYN 9911- Subgrunge: Prelude To the Others
    In 2342 while investigating the murder of Frederic Gulag-Johnson of the Primrose Corporation, Detective Smiles Lewis of the Karatoa Municipal Consolidated Police Facilities uncovered evidence of hostile alien infestation among a group claiming to be interested in New Age mysticism.
    From here the aliens commonly referred to as "The Others" became identified and the Alien Dawn campaigns began.

PYN 0005- A Fungus Among Us
    In 2325 members of Science Command's Third Pluto Expedition exploration vessel, X-1 the Northwest Passage, looking for frozen oxygen, hydrogen, and rare minerals required for future settlements, began to suffer a serious of hallucinations. Each member of the expedition felt that they had been transported to alternate realities with weird mixtures of their memories and religious icons familiar to Earth cultures.
    Dr. Zeno Albright was able to find the source of the "psychic plague" which was a massive fungus population below the frozen surface of the planetoid. His theory that the lifeform is trying to communicate with human beings within range of its mental reach has not been verified to date.

PYN 0702- The Straits of Sublight
    In 2356, the crew of the USS Venture were tasked to make direct contact with and decelerate the X-17 Icarus, a space vessel testing out the Belgium Drive engine, which could attain speeds up to 1/100 the speed of light after a test run that had gone out of control but still at speeds slow enough to retrieve. What the Venture encountered was the craft was merged with an alien vessel from another dimension. These hostile aliens are alternately known as  "The Devils" or "The Sirens."
    The ship was lost but data about the aliens and their craft were obtained.

PYN 0708- Rendezvous at Ice Station Zero Dot Zero
    In 2357, the crew of the USS Venture, under the command of the Oort Corps, were able to save a prototype of the Belgium Drive that had fallen in the hands of the Others. It was discovered on this icy asteroid out in the farthest reaches of the Oort Cloud that the aliens were experimenting with DNA found on Earth millions of years ago. An intelligent dinosaur was rescued and currently working for the Science Command Federal Reserve of Pluto.

PYN 0808 Trouble at SOHO Station-
    In 2356, crew members of the USS Crossfire during a routine check on the Stationary Orbiting Helios Observation space-station, SOHO Station, had to investigate the murder of the station's commander Dr. Jerome Kilroy. Through the course of the investigation it was discovered that Dr. Kilroy was not exactly murdered, but that his body was made up of mostly cybernetic parts made illegal by Earth Central in the previous century. The person attempting the murder was Kilroy's personal assistant, Jeffery W. , who was a member of the anti-cloning/anti-cybernetic political group known as "The Long Arm of the Lord." W. was able to escape with the help a member of the executive staff of the USS Crossfire, Ship's Surgeon Chadwick Duffy, who was a also a member of the group. 

PYN 0908 A- The Long-Arm of the Lord
    In 2356, an anti-cloning and cybernetic group called "The Long-Arm of the Lord" attempted to violently seize control of the Science Command Central Complex in northern Florida. Quick thinking on the part of the crew of the USS Hot Stuff which happened to be on shore leave during these events, prevented any loss of innocent lives and foiled the plan. The "Long-Arm" has been branded a terrorist group since.

PYN 0908 B- The Moon of Fear
    In 2350, increase activities of space pirates and the Others started a long series of rocketship verus saucer-like vessels around the planet Mars. The crew of the USS Derbyshire found what is believed to be the main headquarters of both of the enemy factions on Phobos in a daring head-on assault into the base. Captain Harold James Force still considered a hero to this day by the Corps Tactical of Space Fleet, he was forced to retire because of the loss of so many of his crew members' during the raid.
    He was last known to be serving on the exploration vessel X-1 Vanguard.

PYN 0911- Space Head
    In 2377, the crew of the USS Slingshot was dispatched from Space Fleet to become an operations base for various elements of Science Command involved in Operation Longshot. Operation Longshot would develop into the basis for the first human exploration of the Centauri star system. One of the first task was to complete an efficient navigational computer, one of the many prototypes was a bio-organic processor that was nicknamed "Space Head" as it was supposed to be completely devoid of neural impressions and any sort of outside influence.
    What was not known to Captain Zyat, Chief Engineer Blokes, and Dr. Paula Dunsany of the Slingshot that Space Head had indeed had its developed itself before the staffers working on it were able to format it for entering the information needed to act as a ship's navigational system moving at 1/10th the speed of light. Space Head went on the lam after killing its chief designer and was only tracked by an master computer scientist, and alleged cybernetic thief, Ionek and Paula Dunsany. Ionek could only be found on the ruins of a one-time city on the moon known as Miranda in the Uranus satellite system.
    Ionek and Paula Dunsany were able to enter the information and data required into Space Head without reformatting its burgeoning indentity. And then directly against orders, where able to begin the trek to the Centauri system, with the USS Slingshot and its willing crew members. They were considered essentially "pirates" from 2379-2406, when contact was established with the colony of Rhadamanthus, the first humans outside of our native solar system.

PYN 1004- The Blades of Triton
    In 2359, Commander Xavier Verne was abducted by a group of Others and human minions from Siren City on Neptune's moon Triton. He was physiologically altered for travel at velocities greater than human technological capabilities. He was able to overcome his captors, killing them all, but still had to navigate the alien craft back to Triton. After a very rough landing, the rest of his team had to endeavor to surgically undo the alterations of his body so he could live to tell his tale.

PYN 1008 A- The Whale

    In 2361, the crew of the USS Venture made contact with the alien species known as "The Floaters" in the atmosphere of Saturn. Communications between the human and floater species is on-going and a very difficult endeavor to date.

PYN 1008 B- Goofy Space
    In 2357, the Crew of the USS October Horse began to encounter mass hallucinations. A Class 6 Psychic, Lieutenant Hellene Cellar was aboard and after some frightening mind-tripping was able to determine that the phenomena was caused by a vastly powerful psychic presence almost 3 parsecs away from the ship.
    Lt. Cellar was then enlisted by Science Command's Major Tom as part of Operation Long Shot.

PYN 1104- Flight of the Slingshot
    The closest planetoid that the crew could find after a six year journey to Alpha Proxima, the USS Slingshot landed in 2402. The new realm was christened Elysium. A part of the ship was disassembled to start work on the outpost of Rhadamanthus. A few of the crew and most of its artificial intelligence stayed behind to be humanity's first foothold outside of the Sol System.
    Living in this settlement was Dr. Paula Dunsany, the first human ever known to give birth to a robot with artificial intelligence. The robot was crafted from organic material, but was wholly created in laboratory settings. On a side note about Dunsany, her child's father resembled a walking expresso machine with a banana-shaped transparent bubble for its massive brain pot, and its name was "Space Head." She just wasn't into local boys.

PYN 1111- The Wrong Side of Pluto
    In 2360, the crew of the USS Harbinger discovered that the crew of the of the exploation vessel X-1 The Great Reef had been murdered and their identities assumed by members the Long-Arm. Two of these space pirates were Jeffery W and Dr. Chadwick Duffy.

PYN 1112- The Charon Incident
    In 2360, the crew of the USS Crossfire were able to stop a group of Long-Arm terrorists trying to upset talks between dignitaries of Earth's Central Authority and individuals from four alien species represented an interstellar body known as the Continuum. Jeffery W was apprehended for trial for the Trouble At SOHO Station, while Chadwick Duffy was killed evading arrest.

PYN 1208 53 Miles West of Venus-
    In 2368, the Command Crew of the USS Harbinger were ordered to investigate malfunctions among maintenance and communication androids on the space station nicknamed "The Private Idaho." The ship at that time was placed under the command of the Science Command operative "Major Tom."
    What Harbinger's commanders discovered was that the androids of the station were not androids but cybernetically-enhanced clones who served the space stations artificial intelligence, "Interface," that could inhabit various clone bodies as needed. The real problem though was that a signal from an alien source was transmitting signals basically turning its receivers into homicidal maniacs. Major Tom and Captain Alexander Sprocket, both decided to concentrate on the signal and leave the autonomously functioning space station to its own means.
    Investigating the source of the transmission the Harbinger's Science Officer, Calvin Rip, it was determined to be sort of worm hole that was in orbit a mere 53 miles above the surface of the planet Venus. Captain Sprocket and Commander Rip were able to explore the portal and close it. They also brought back the alien Zyxx Dambern, of the Glorp Blort species from, to date,  an unknown part of the universe.

PYN 1308- Attack of the Androids
    In 2389, the USS Criterial was dispatched to investigate deviations in the orbit of a comet being delivered to colonies on the north pole of Mercury. The crew discovered the supposedly remote controlled piloting system of the comet-maneuvering platform was manned by humans that had been enclosed in cybernetic "lobster suits." They claimed that they were allowed to do by the company delivering the comet as a chance to develop an artificial intelligence capable of manning the helm of space ships designed for interstellar exploration. The maneuvering platform was just about at that level and they were trying to buy it time, which the "Lobsters" once again claimed the delivering company promised them that they were allowed to do.
    Before the illegal cyborgs's claims could be verified or not, a pirate ship attacked the comet and destroyed it and the maneuvering structure into particulate matter. The Criterial was able to save all the Lobsters.
    Later, the Revolution Evolutionary Profit Company, LLC, the business organization in charge of the comet's delivery denied all the cyborgs' allegations. They were sentenced en masse to work colonies on Io, in the Jupiter satellite system.