Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mindjammer High

A friend let me know last night that he had just run the Mindjammer RPG for a group of very smart high school kids, and that the game went very, very well. It has brought a smile to my face all day. There's a pleasure in playing, and there is a pleasure in running, and I guess there is also pleasure in seeing your far away friends having fun too.

Maybe somewhere really far, far away someone is playing something like Mindjammer right now. If you're really, really quiet you can almost hear the 4DF hitting the table around that distant blue star.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Strange Stars: Gelmorphs

Metal Aerogel

During the days of the Radiant Polity, it was commonplace for infosophonts to download copies of themselves into service substrates known as gelmorphs. These substrates were manufactured and extruded from raw material fabricators in the form of simple polyhedrons. They were then typically laser sculpted into a useful form desired by the infosophont, after which the infoporous substrate was imprinted with a copy of the infosophont.

Gelmorphs provided a convenient way for infosophonts to get around, particularly in war zones and other hostile environments. They are immune to vacuum, and difficult to damage using conventional weapons. Gelmorphs were one of the ideal-typical soldier types during the memetic wars which fractured and destroyed the Radiant Polity.

Mindless, ever-appetitive wild-type gelmorphs still prowl abandoned Radiant Polity complexes on isolated and long-forgotten worlds. The substrate is virtually immortal, and can even replicate if sufficient organic material is present. Wild-type gelmorphs are often still imprintable by informorphs, although an infomorph copy imprinted onto a wild-type substrate typically degrades quite quickly.


Wild-Type Gelmorph (Threat)
  • Aspects: Mindless hunger; Hard to see until it's right on you; Slimy and resilient; That scraping, shuffling sound; Susceptible to infosophont implantation
  • Skills: Superb (+5) Engulf; Great (+4) Digest; Good (+3) Physique; Fair (+2) Athletics; Average (+1): Notice.
  • Stunts: 
    • Tough Substrate: The gelmorph substrate is completely resistant to stress dealt by piercing weapons and projectiles, and ignores the first two stress inflicted by any hit using energy weapons.
    • Vacuole: Once a gelmorph has inflicted physical stress on someone using its Engulf skill, it may spend 1 FP to encapsulate its target within a digestive vacuole. The target is then assigned a temporary aspect such as Captured, Stuck, or Being Digested.
  • Stress: 4 Physical stress boxes, 2 Mental stress boxes 
  • Consequences: One Mild, one Moderate.

Special: An infosphont may attempt to imprint a copy of itself on a Wild-Type Gelmorph; they are are highly susceptible to this kind of attack. The infosophont makes an Engineering skill roll using the Metascape Sculpting stunt in an Overcome action whose difficulty is the gelmorph's Physique. If the action is successful, the infosophont has imprinted a copy of itself upon the gelmorph's substrate. Roll 1 Fate Die: on a (-) face, the imprinting lasts for one Scene; on a blank face, the imprinting lasts for one Session; on a (+) face, the imprinting lasts for one Scenario. The gelmorph reverts to its mindless wild-type nature once the imprinting is gone. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Fate Strange Stars in Layout

The Fate rulebook for +trey causey's Strange Stars setting is now in layout and in the very capable hands of +B. Portly. The writing happened from roughly June 2014-mid-March 2015. Last night, Trey shared a test layout for the first chapter, Fate in the Strange Stars. It looks wonderful.

There's really something quite special about seeing your first book in layout. Things suddenly seem very real!  I'm looking forward to having the real thing in-hand too!

We'll be sharing more content for Strange Stars very soon. My priority over the last month has been to get the manuscript in to Trey, as well as shepherding a major project with long term implications through the research phase at work. Both of those tasks are over the hump now, and I am just a few weeks away from my next Strange Stars game event, so you will be seeing more Strange Stars content here very soon!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Rescue on Tenebrae

My next convention game using the Fate rules for Trey Causey's Strange Stars setting is coming up in late April. This is a link to the write-up I am preparing for the game.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lady Blackbird
I've heard about John Harper's Lady Blackbird for a few years, but Thursday night was the first chance I had to play the game. Lady Blackbird is a steampunk Firefly space game with a baked-in "first chapter" set-up for adventures: Lady Blackbird is fleeing an arranged marriage with the help of the crew of the Owl (a small space freighter which looks more than a little like a Firefly-class ship). She and her crew have been captured by the Imperial cruiser Hand of Sorrow, and they are stuck in the brig.

The adventure begins there, but groups can readily play out new adventures.

Lady Blackbird uses an extremely light, narrative-focused RPG system. One of our players, Eric, thought was derived from The Pool, an archetypal indy game mechanism from which many specific games took inspiration. Some of the terminology used in the game (particularly the Keys) reminded me of The Shadow of Yesterday/Solar System RPG, which I always thought was a neat game and world but have never had the chance to play.

We'll be doing at least one more session of Lady Blackbird this week. Thanks to our able GM Rachel for offering to run this for us!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Shadowcraft: The Glamour War

Ryan Danks' Kickstarter for Shadowcraft: the Glamour War is in its final day and a half.  It's still a few thousand away from its target, but making progress.

As it should! Ryan's a good designer. I really liked a number of features of the Jadepunk RPG design, and the playmat was a stroke of genius.  I'm sure this game will have lots of worthwhile innovations too.

There has been a fair amount of bickering about this KS over at, and it really disappointed me to see it. So I thought I'd put in a brief letter of reference for Shadowcraft's designer.

Ryan and I don't agree on too many things politically. I don't really need us to either. All I am saying is we are not buddy-buddy types who see most things eye-to-eye.

On the internet, there is a cheap and easy grace in pointing out where and how other people have gotten it wrong. We see this every day, from just about every corner.

Ryan is one of the few people I have seen on the internet who has directly apologized for things he has said that had either offended others, or were based on misinformation.

He's not afraid to admit when he is wrong. That takes a lot of character. It's something I admire.

I can't participate in too many Kickstarters, and these comments are entirely unsolicited.

It's just something I felt it was important to say as the KS approaches it's finale.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Our Last Best Hope

Eric our GM, and Oscar

Don't be confused by the books in the foreground. Last night we played our second game of Our Last Best Hope, a SF storygame by Mark Diaz Truman. It's kind of like Fiasco, with lots scraps of paper and fiddly bits (and fiddly rules), but unlike Fiasco the characters need to cooperate to save the world from a disaster that will affect the entire planet.

With the really fiddly rule sets that storygames often have, I am really glad to have a player/GM like Eric, who doesn't get flustered by rules - or even by his own confusion about what is supposed to happen. He takes it all as a chance to explore something - as if he's running a scientific experiment - which is very appropriate for a game in which a disparate group have to work together to solve a desperate planetary threat.

If you keep in mind the kinds of plots and types of action that occur in Hollywood SF disaster movies you have the right idea about this game. Over the top threats, and only a handful of people in the world who can resolve the threat. The science does not matter too much: it's a movie.

In our case, we went with the Winter scenario, and decided that the cause of global winter was a Yellowstone eruption. We did the only thing intelligent people would do in such a situation: dive into the volcano with our lava sub, find our way around using deep penetrating lava radar, and use ice lasers to defend ourselves against the Lava Yetis living in the flows.

Our eventual plan was to release a nanite swarm that would "take care" of the volcano. We ran out of time in the game session (we play for 2-2.5 hours) to release the nanites but that would probably happen next scene. Maybe.