Sunday, December 22, 2002

A new home for Attacks!

After talking to Phil and Tony about it, I think that a forum would be a more manageable format for Attacks. So, I made one.
You can find it by following this link:

There are a few more forums at this link (Talislanta and Danger Patrol) but they're not open to the public yet. I've posted a few of my older Attacks ideas to the new Attacks forum, and I encourage you all to do the same (like Pixels, The Tower, Mathematica, etc.). Once you've all registered for the forum I'll make you moderators.

I'll leave this blog up as an archive.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002


Roger's last post in "Has it all been done?" tweaked my brain, and so I present:

Mathematica (with apologies to Stephen Worlfram)
"Give me but one firm spot on which to stand, and I will move the earth."
-- Archimedes

In rennaisance Florence, a seemingly random meeting between Machiavelli, Michelangelo and a mysterious stranger from Athens sparks a conspiracy that will change the world. Armed with the secret lost writings of Archimedes, the three hatch a plan to unite the warring states of Italy and rule the world in a new golden age of enlightenment and knowledge. It doesn't work.

At first, armed with their newfound method of manipulating the world through the knowledge of Plato's pure mathematical objects according to the priciples of Archimedes and the laws of Euclid, the cabal makes great strides towards a better world. But the Papcy is not amused. Under the guidance of the newly named Cardinal DaVinci, the armies of rome march armed with engines of war such as the earth has never seen. The engineering geinus of DaVinci forms an equal foe to the mysticism and machinations of the Cabal. Italy seems destined for a long bloody war.

But what of these stirrings in Germany, where un unheralded genius dares to speak that Euclid is wrong, that light has a definite speed, and the parallel lines may indeed meet.

In a universe where fetishized mathematical principles yeild awesome powers and improbable feats of engineering are possible, anything is possible. All your rennaisance favorites are back, with new, amazing abilities fighting the intellectual and even the material battle for mastery of the human soul.


Sunday, December 15, 2002

Has it all been done?

I was talking to a disillusioned former GM friend of mine who said that there is no point designing games because all the genres have been done. While I think that one should design simply for the love of it and to put a different spin on a genre, in the back of my mind I wondered if he had a bit of a point. Of course, my mathematical background took hold and so I wanted to prove that there is a genre that either hasn't been done or still has space for more - that is it hasn't been done to death. Of course, it would be difficult to argue if a genre has been done to death or not, so I now have reduced the challenge to finding a genre that has no games - a niche if you will for a new game. (which I'm sure will be filled by a d20 game in the near future). Of course, now my laziness takes hold and so rather than actually think of the genre myself, I simply pass it on and hope someone will rise to the occaision and find a genre that is un-gamed.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Perry Moore's Wargame Site

Perry Moore's Wargame Site

I wrote about asymmetrical conflict a while back, and was interested to note this site. The page has links to several grognards (simulation wargames), including a couple featuring Russian military might against geurrilla forces, including one in Afghanistan.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

"Psionics in Pulp Heroes is a subtle art that harnesses the latent powers of the mind. Psionic powers can only be manifested by living, intelligent minds. Psionics is not spiritualism (interacting with spirits), nor is it sorcery (interacting with arcane natural energies) -- but some cultures and traditions may view psionics as equivalent to either or both. "

For most of the last year, I've run a Pulp Heroes of the 1920's RPG using the D20 Pulp rules published as a mini game in Polyhedron magazine. Phil, one of the players, created a mystic character, Claire Tremont. After a number of episodes it began to become clear that the Mystic rules in that game, using the Psionics handbook for mystic powers, wasn't really cutting it. Phil and I sat down and came up with our own system. This system, which can be downloaded in rtf format is still in draft form, but if you're interested, you can take a look at our approach.

Our approach was to first lay out some things that your average pulp psionic should be able to do, and then build upon that to create more advanced, powerful applications of psionic power that were the exclusive province of advanced psychics. Let us know what you think!

The catalogue of UK Entrances to Hell

"Benidormo is made of glass and is where the devil famously had both of his wrists broken by Sinbad 12 centuries ago. Benidormo has a heartbeat and a robot arm. "

Yeah, there'se a game here...

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Deep Cover, Deep Magic - Part II

Okay, as John pointed out in the comments, my "Deep Cover, Deep Magic" post ended up pretty much describing the premise of White Wolf's Mage: the Ascension RPG, in which a secret war is being fought between wizards and the Technocracy (and others) for control of the nature of reality itself. Oops, I forgot about that. Well, that's not quite what I was thinking of, in any case. Because in all this talk about powerful wizards and Deep Magic, I sort of forgot about the Deep Cover part -- as I said at the beginning, it's not just "magic-powered espionage."

As Steven Brust wrote, "No matter how subtle the wizard, a knife between the shoulder blades will seriously cramp his style." Or a high-velocity round, for that matter. And that's where Spycraft comes back into the game. No doubt some of that comes up in Mage:tA as well, since the Technocracy, being the forces of science and technology, would hunt their foes the mages with "mundane" weaponry. (Note that I don't know a lot about Mage:tA, so this isn't necessarily wholly accurate.) But I'm thinking more of a struggle among powerful mages in our world, where super-spies and high-tech assassins are just more tools in the arsenal each mage can employ. Just because you can blast your foe with a Fireball doesn't mean that's always the best tool to use.

And to complicate things further, sometimes, the best way to hide something is in plain sight, and that is as true for wizards as anything else. After all, having mighty supernatural powers at your command must at least sometimes make it easier to gain power in the mundane world, even if you have to hide your magic from most regular people. So when your PC superspy agent is sent out to eliminate Presto the Magnificent, he's going to find it much harder if Presto is also Thomas Smith, CEO of TechCorp -- or General Smith of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- or Cardinal Smith, the Pope's closest advisor. Fortunately, those charms your employer gave you will hide you and protect you from the vengeful wrath and powerful magic of Presto's lieutenants -- won't they?

Monday, December 09, 2002

Coloured alchemical emblems

This page has a host of bizarre mystical/alchemical drawings from the 15th to the 18th century. There are a host of game ideas here. I can picture a modern investigative group trying to decipher some allegorical diagram, or an anceint mage trying to enhance his power, among others. - Gaming's Homepage

"Microsoft's plans with Relic, the developers of the upcoming Impossible Creatures, are considerably more than just rah-rah lip service. With Impossible Creatures and the Relic Developer Network (RDN), Microsoft is clearly trying to formalize a Valve-like relationship with modders."

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Deep Cover, Deep Magic

I'm just starting to read Spycraft, the d20 espionage rpg published by AEG. This line in the introduction caught my attention: "By removing outside influences, the Great Game of espionage becomes a contest of skill and daring that only the boldest and most cunning can survive." This is not the first time I've seen espionage referred to as "the Great Game" -- the character of Silk in David Eddings' Belgariad and Mallorean fantasy series speaks of it in the same way, for example.

For some reason this made me think of magic, sometimes referred to as the Art Arcane, Ars Magica, the High Art, or simply the Art. What could be made out of combining the High Art with the Great Game? Would you simply have "magic-powered" espionage, substituting "wand of magic missile" for "sniper rifle", and so forth? That's not really what I'm thinking of, though no doubt some of that would be part of the setting.

Partly what I have in mind is the sort of political/mystical intrigue involved in the "freeform games", LARP events for Ars Magica run by the fellows over at Machiavelli Games in Britain. (Milo read the whole thing, maybe he'll come around and tell us a little about it.)

I'm also thinking of the sort of stories told in the Hellblazer comic book series, involving hidden serious threats to the modern world from powerful, evil arcane creatures, and the bitter, cynical people like John Constantine who fight in the shadows to protect humanity. Knowing the Deep Magic and Dark Arts can save your ass, and the world - but always with the chance of damning both.

But finally, I'm thinking that the players get to become powerful practicioners of the Art, involved in complex and obscure struggles for power that don't mean simply blowing up your foes with a well-placed fireball (though sometimes that happens, too). The players may get involved for money, or love/hatred for humanity, or revenge, or desire for power, or any other reason. But over time, in the end, the players keep going because it's the struggle. It's the Game. It's the Art. And there are no last stands, no final victories or utter defeats, because the only true defeat is to be permanently eliminated from the Game, and the only true victory is to be a master of the Art.

And of course, all this fits nicely back into the next game I'm running, a "movie of the week" special (a one-shot), yet another game concept of John's called Section 8. Which is why I'm reading Spycraft in the first place. I have to stop reading all this stuff, I've got too many game ideas to run already. Also, Milo's been trying to get me into Ars Magica for a few years now, and he's totally going to kill me after reading this.

Friday, December 06, 2002

Campaign idea by the Incredible Hatboy:
European history between 1300 and 1750 thrown together and remade without any regard for anything except Fun. Machiavelli behind a vast conspiracy to take over the world, opposed by Queen Elizabeth, with da Vinci and Newton building clockwork war machines and Aztec Jaguar Men imported as shock troops, among other things.

And it's actually happening. I'm putting together the group. In part because I'm probably using Adventure! to run it, I've dubbed the setting "Europe!" I've got a guy who wants to be Mozart, a member of the mysterious mercenary group known only as the Orchestra - but who is its shadowy Conductor, anyway? I've got someone who wants to be Luther - and why not? A young, fiery, pistol-wielding Luther, of course, taking the fight to the Church and its Machiavellian masters. Another PC is going to be King Phillip of Spain himself, on the run from the Inquisition, which turned against him when he became a barrier to Machiavelli's control of the country. God knows what else I'll end up with by the time the group's finally put together...

Ornithopter chases under the bridges of Venice, coming right up!

God bless you, Hatboy, and Look at the whole thread here.