Sunday, August 14, 2016

Young Centurions Take On Mars!

We'll be running "Young Centurions Take On Mars!", a Young Centurions scenario at Con of the North 2017. The event will be part of the programming for the Saturday Night Space Opera dedicated theme space. I have requested the game for Friday afternoon, February 17, from 12-4 PM. 

Here's the teaser:

On the eve of WW I, Martian artifacts are uncovered hinting at a new Tripod Invasion. The teen heroes of the Century Club must find a way to defeat the Martian foes before they once again wrap their slimy tentacles around the Earth. Try out this easy, fun-to-play pulp RPG prequel to Evil Hat’s Spirit of the Century.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Diversicon Lobby Talk

I attended Diversicon this past weekend, and as usual, it was a fantastic, intimate convention that takes SF&F seriously. As the years go by and I know more people, I am more inclined to hang out a tiny bit and chat in the lobby. On Saturday afternoon, I overheard two people at the con talking about generation ships. That got my attention, as generation ships are one of my keener interests in SF.

Penny has been reading Kim Stanley Robinson's Aurora. The novel is about a generation ship that is already a few generations into its interstellar flight. I gather from the conversation, and from what I heard reviewers say earlier in the year (or was it last year in the annual "What do I read next?" panel at Diversicon?), that Bad Things Happen as the flight proceeds. Descendants of the original crew feel "trapped" by their ancestors' decision to take this flight. Things Fall Apart - socially as well as physically. At least that's what I gathered from the table talk.

Penny expressed some skepticism about the prospects and wisdom of long-term space flight. She felt the risks to human life were too great, the containers too flimsy and fallible. Ellen, an engineer by training, felt that the safety concerns could be addressed through good engineering. I can't say the conversation went much farther beyond this, but the conversation got me to buy the book and think it through myself. The discussion could have been one or more panels in their own right, and if I finish KSR's Aurora, I may propose one for next year.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Far Trek Now

Today is your next, brief opportunity to order an extremely affordable print copy of C.R. Brandon's original series fan RPG, Far Trek. For the same presumably very limited time, you can also order the first double scenario book for Far Trek, The Danger of Peace. Each brief release of the core game has featured a variant cover, so these releases are both affordable and collectible. Best to order today if you are interested.  

If you miss it, you'll feel lonely and sad.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Young Centurions

I had to pull out of the recent Fate More Kickstarter, due to the first in a series of massive car repairs this Winter/Spring. This week, a slew of new Evil Hat releases hit The Source, and I grabbed them all! No more fear of missing out!

The new game Young Champions is particularly welcome. The game is set in the Spirit of the Century RPG universe.  And SOTC was my first brush with Fate. In fact, it was love at first sight!

I may have run the first open game of SOTC in Minnesota. That demo game years ago at The Source drew my friend Chad, who created a Jungle Lord (transplanted to NYC), as well one of the only Hollow Earth Expedition RPG fans in town, who played a Doc Savage type, complete with labs and domicile in the Empire State Building!

The action featured a fight on a Zeppelin in the skies over NYC. Like so many subsequent Zeppelin fights in my SOTC and HEX games, it did not end well for the Zeppelin! I think in this case, a wrench being used as a weapon hit a metal ladder frame within the airship's canvas shell. Sparks were drawn, and leaky gas cells ignited. Things like this happen, ALL-THE-TIME, in Spirit of the Century.

From there, I never went back! I've run many convention scenarios set in the SOTC universe, ranging all over the Earth and onto Mars. We've had Moorcockian Eternal Champions and villains in our games too, including the Ulric and Ulrika twins (my own creations), Count Zenith, and Jumping Jack Flash. But by Fate Core standards, SOTC has a bit heavier frame than I really need for a good pulp action Fate game, so it is good to see Young Centurions deliver the pulp using the lighter chassis that Fate Accelerated Edition provides.

And this isn't simply a retread of the 1930s SOTC setting, but instead features the young heroes of 1910 earlier in their career. I haven't read through the rules yet (just got 'em) but the cover and interior art are just outstanding, so I want to call that out today. Look at the diversity of heroes - and vehicles - on the cover. (Tractors don't get nearly enough love.)

And look at the heroes on the back cover:

Finally, I'll point to my new favorite character right here:

Given that my initials are JET, I'd say this is a perfect character.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Saturday Night Space Opera & Free RPG Day

On Saturday, June 18, I'll be running two SNSO game events at the Source Comics and Games. Both events are part of Free RPG Day:

  • From 6-8 PM, I'll be running an old school SF game using the SLUGS monster booklet published by Lamentations of the Flame Princess. We'll probably use the Lamentations of the Flame Princess RPG, but maybe also White Star for this game session.
  • From 8-9 PM (or a bit longer, if the Source stays open later), I'll run a demo of FAITH: the Sci-Fi RPG. FAITH is a very new card-based RPG. I'm looking forward to trying it out!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Curtain Call For Space Brothels

Subterranean edition of Leviathan Wakes

I manage programming in the anti-sex trafficking field, so it's perhaps not surprising that themes related to space brothels and sex workers in space really hold little interest for me. The TV show The Expanse carried forward some of the not-so-credible genre cliches associated with prostitution (e.g., working girls with nice cop boyfriends) - cliches which I'd like to think have a limited, ah, future.

But even within the limited optic of the show, we can see that the conditions of production/reproduction of space prostitution are about the same as space mining in the Belt: cramped living quarters, no differentiation between workplace and personal space, little insulation against coercion and violence. Very much like the experience of the majority of trafficked women and youth in real life.

Have I featured space brothels in my own games? Not too often, although players in my Fate Strange Stars games have visited a fetish bar on one of the Deodands' sordid orbitals, and one female player chose to create a rebel sex worker. For me it really depends a great deal on where the players want to go; I'm certainly not going to push them there. I've been in too many games that were theater for the GM's particular, or rather "particular", interests. I've probably done that myself at times, but maturity is understanding that you are GMing and creating a world for others - even when the primary and immediate motivation is creation for oneself.

What gets played out at the table depends on the comfort level of individual players. I frequently game with women and LGBTQ folks, and being LGBTQ myself, don't make assumptions that what one or two players find amusing will be universally experienced as fun or enjoyable. It's often best to know when to draw a curtain around a scene. In fact, we use a curtain-closing gesture at the gaming table as a sign that it's time to move on.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Thirty Days of Space 1889: The World(s)

This weekend I read the first chapter of the Ubiquity Space 1889 RPG, "The World of Space 1889." The first chapter provides a brief overview of the Space 1889 setting, with an emphasis on technology.

A few key items are:
  • No telephones
  • No radio
  • Telegraphs (and of course mail) are how you communicate across vast distances on Earth
  • Heliographs are the only way to communicate across vast distances in space, and even then, planets like Earth and Mars may be on opposite sides of the sun (and therefore out of communication) for up to six months at a time
  • Mars has more gravity than it should (90% of Earth's)
  • There is an odd speculation that terrestrial planets' distance from the sun may tell us something about their relative age, with the outer worlds having existed for progressively greater spans of time. This latter point deserves some amplification.
The asteroid belt is Space 1889 is purportedly due to the break up of a planet called Phaeton. Now suppose for a moment that Phaeton was the first terrestrial planet, and therefore the first to reach advanced senescence and break apart.

Mars is the next oldest. Its formerly advanced civilizations are now in decline, with mere city-states left where once great empires stood. Mars' climate gradually is drying out. In time, the planet will become completely uninhabitable and it will break apart like Phaeton did.

Earth is still blue with abundant life. It represents an earlier stage of planetary evolution than Mars. Human civilization is more advanced at this point in time, meaning that our technology level is higher than on Mars, and our civilizations are expansionist and imperialistic rather than in decline.

Venus represents a stage some 150 million years younger than Earth. It is a humid, wet planet with ubiquitous shallow seas. Dinosaurs are everywhere. The only intelligent life are spear-using lizardmen. 

Mercury is even worse. It is a tidally-locked hell world. One face of the planet is scorched by the sun. The other face is frozen. Between them runs a narrow band of riverine canyons in perpetual twilight. This is the abode of extremely primitive life forms; the kind that have just emerged from the sea for the first time.

Now Darwin's The Origin of the Species By Means of Natural Selection had already been published in 1859. One wonders how the apparent discovery that planetary age increases with distance from the sun resonates or conflicts with evolutionary theory? Evolutionary theory tends to be presented in stages that correspond with geological eras. But is it one thing to depict those stages based on one planet's fossil record and geology, and yet another to assert that the stages will follow the same pattern on other worlds, and in a manner in which relative distance from the sun predicts one's current stage?  There's a lot to think about here, as this moves evolution into a much closer and less contingent orbit around physics.