Archive for the ‘Accross the Web’ Category

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Dark Future Ahead 29 – News from the ‘Net of a Cyberpunk bent

9 June, 2021

How will the world change as we move into the new corporate dystopia?  Join me in looking at some inspiration for cyberpunk gaming culled from my many trips into the matrix.  Enjoy the news:

It is a ridiculous vehicle but cost effective, even if it does look like a toy, meet the Ami.  For absurdity, a chase involving several of these could be hilarious.

Let there be warFor those cyberpunk setting that feature Neo-Soviets or aggressive Russians, here is their Cathedral of War.  It seems like a rather over-engineered justification for any future military actions taken by the Russian state, not disturbing at all.

How Red Bull uses football (and other sports) to build their brand, the success of RB Leipzig in German Soccer. An excellent example of how corporations use various means to advertises themselves which sometimes  becoming money making enterprises in their own right.

The celebrity impersonators making money on Cameo, it seems there is at least the chance to have some confusion on an extraction mission here.  Or possible a way to help pay for that body sculpt into an obscure 20th C actor.

Need something valuable and interesting to people to steal (or need to protect)?  What about Bob Ross paintings which are surprisingly rare given the number he painted . . .

Who says technology and superstition do not meet?  There is a superstition, maybe humorously played into, that a certain type of snack will keep your technology functioning properly . . .

Robots and cows, living together in harmony, at the Oldenkamp Diary.  Would be an interesting place for a chase or fight.

Notes:It has been a bit since I did one of these, hope you find it interesting.

Photo of the Cathedral of War found on Wikimedia Commons, comes from the websites (mil.ru, минобороны.рф) of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation and is copyrighted.  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence.

 

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Festival – The Empress’ Birthday (RPG Blog Carnival)

27 May, 2021

The year in the Sea of Stars runs as dictated by the Empress and is universal across the entire world, the year consists of thirteen months of twenty-eight days each and one epagomenal day in the middle of summer, the Empress’ Birthday.

495px-Pantomimes_of_1866_-_Hush-a-Bye_BabyWhile the Empress does not demand or enforce celebration on this day, though naturally all of the lands she personally rules do, most communities celebrate it in one fashion or another.  It is often combined with other civic festivals, founding days, name days, all sorts of events get rolled into the big day.

Popular ways to celebrate include parades, speeches and firework displays.  Some groups have martial displays, gladiatorial combats are not unknown.  Plays, songs and other performance art celebrating (or at least acknowledging the power of the Empress) are expected not least because the Empress often visits out of the way communities on this day, sometime she is said to have visiting multiple places across vast distances but that can not be true, can it?

Over time, the plays have evolved from very formal and stately celebrations to more popular entertainment.  Many now use the plays and performances to comment on and satirize local politics and notables.  In a fashion similar to commedia dell’arte or the English Pantomime, the former usually performed by professional with the latter begin more ad hoc productions.  The Empress (and local dragons) are usually not the targets for such frivolity, as most dragons are rather thin skinned, though the Empress is occasionally (and somewhat ironically) cast in the role of deus ex machina on occasion.

How the characters could get involved:

  • Attend a play or celebration.
  • A wizard, or other spell caster, could be hired to provided fireworks or illusions.  Especially at the last minute after the prepared firework got wet.
  • If the characters are well known, they could be asked to perform or be drafted to act in the Panto.  Once in, they might be paid or pressured to include political commentary damaging to one of the local factions.
  • Rumors say the empress has been spotted!  At our festival!

Notes:  This is in support of this month’s the RPG Blog Carnival, Adding Festivals, Holidays, and Birthdays to Your Game hosted by Full Moon Storytelling.

Image Details from “The Pantomimes of 1866”, found on Wikimedia Commons and is in the Public Domain.

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RPG Blog Carnival – the Parable of the Bridge

8 March, 2021

Bridge to SomewhereIn support of this month’s RPG Blog Carnival Say yes to your players(hosted by the Roll4 Network) I thought that I would tell a story from some years ago that taught me a vital lesson.

So, I had gathered a group of five players. Their characters had all been drawn from across the Sea of Stars to the edges of civilization by a set of powerful dreams.  They arrive in the city of Asku-Korla, once a wealthy city that sat astride a major trade route, which has been slowly dying since the Sundering changed the world.  Much of the city is abandoned and the core is now ruled by the Bronze Lion, a Conan type former adventurer who deposed the former king.  This will be important later.

They find each other at an inn, the Compass, knowing but not knowing each other, where they each receive a letter inviting them to a tomb to discover the truth about the dreams.  Together, they venture out to the tomb, defeat some monsters and each recovers an item from the tomb that seem to be of a deeper significance, almost as if it was made for them.  Emerging from the tomb, there is Burns Brightly, a sorcerer and the source of the letters, who ask them to join her in her plans of conquest as together they can ascend and rule.  The characters refuse, a fight ensures, Burns Brightly escapes, vowing revenge and the characters return to the city.

So, here we have the characters (and the villain) as reincarnations of great heroes (actually demi-gods, but the characters never learned this) set up for a classic conflict of good against evil as they try to reclaim their birthright!  But it did not happen that way . . .

One of the characters, Kao Li, was one of the apprentices of a famous magistrate of the Jade Pillar Dynasty and disliked by his rival apprentices.  An attempt is made on his life and they trace it down to the Resident Magistrate of the Dynasty, who was acting on a request from one of the rival apprentices, depose him and install Kao Li as the new Resident Magistrate.  When they visit the Bronze Lion to introduce themselves, it goes well, and they learn who Ashu-Korla was once a rich and prosperous city on the trade route from the Dynasty to the outside world but it is rarely used now as it marginally easier to sail around the island than travel over it.  The characters decided to rectify this by . . . building a bridge!  Making travel to and from the Dynasty easier and restoring the ancient trade routes.

The rest of the campaign was devoted to the task of building that bridge: gathering materials, drawing up plans, making deals on both sides of the bridge and so on.

But that was what the players were excited by, so that is what the game’s focus shifted to.  That was the important lesson learned, follow what the players are interested in even if it is not where you thought the game was going.  I was a bit surprised at first (“My beautiful campaign idea!”) but quickly adapted and since then, I have never made big plans and let the players choose their direction (if any) for campaign arcs.

Image Suō Province: Iwakuni, Kintai Bridge (Suō, Iwakuni, Kintaikyō), part of the series Famous Places in the Sixty-odd Provinces, No. 51 (Sanyōdō group) by Hiroshige, found on Wikimedia Commons and is in the Public Domain.

 

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Gifts of the Gods, divine artifacts, ending the RPG Blog Carnival

28 February, 2021

Gifts and CursesFebruary comes to an end and with it, my time as host of the RPG Blog Carnival, though I am sure that I will host again soon.

The framework for Gifts of the Gods, divine artifacts, is here.

Firstly, Roleplay-Geek provided thoughtful advice on handing out A Gift from the Gods.

Moving through time and space to Campaign Mastery who presents the Forbidden Weapons of the Omega Archive, a very Whovian trove of items but with suggestions to adapt them to other settings.

Out of the mists comes Owlbear Games with a look at how divine gifts might be twisted in the realm of Ravenloft.

A silver flame leads us to Codex Anathema exploration of the Relics of Old, with a focus on Eberron.

The gentle flow of water is the core of Full Moon Storytelling‘s tale of how the Everflow became a central point of their campaign world.

At Five Foot Square we are introduced to the mysteries of the Hidden Queen in A Gift or a Curse?  The Cult of the Hidden Queen.

Cruel Trinkets of the Mad Gods are presented by Rising Phoenix Games as their contribution to the Carnival.

My contributions were: the Third Celestial Armory, where the gods used to keep their weapons and now the Draconic Imperium does.  Divine Artifacts in the Sea of Stars, where to look for them and where the few new ones come from.

Thanks to everyone who participated and spread the word!

Notes:  March’s RPG Blog Carnival is Say yes to your players, hosted by the Roll4 Network, hope to see you there as well.

Image “Keith Haring – The Marriage of Heaven and Hell [1985]” by Andrea Sartorati is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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Gifts of the Gods, divine artifacts, beginning the RPG Blog Carnival

1 February, 2021

Is all right in the heavens?Welcome to the RPG Blog Carnival for the Month of February, 2021, on the theme of Gifts of the Gods, divine artifacts,

Such items figure in highly legends such as:

  • The Aegis of Athena, the shield that protects her (and indirectly the Olympians).
  • Mjölnir, the hammer of Thor, popularized in the Marvel comics and movies.
  • The Yata no Kagami (the sacred mirror) of Japanese legend.
  • And in fiction with such items as Stormbringer, the soul-drinking demonic sword and tool of the gods of Chaos.

A small number of such items, the thunderbolts used by Zeus, are mass produced.

So, let your imagination run wild!  Make up new items or stat up those from myth, describe places where lost items can be found or quests set by the gods for those who wish to “borrow” item for an important task, what artifacts would your campaign villain seek?  What is the craftsman of the gods working on?

I hope you find inspiration.  Please leave a comment on this post with a link to your submission.  As people post link, please take a look as the idea is to share, inspire and bounce of one another’s ideas.  At the end of the month, all of the links will be collected in a wrap up post.

If you are not a blogger hopefully you will be still be inspired.  If you start a relevant thread on Reddit or Discord or a forum or whatever, then please post a link to it in the comments so that can be shared too.  The more people involved, the merrier!  Let us create some wondrous things together!

My first contribution, the Third Celestial Armory.

Notes:  This will be the third time the Sea of Stars has hosted the RPG Blog Carnival, the first time back in May, 2017 with the theme of Occult Mysteries, and the second time in February, 2019 with the theme of Making Magic Wondrous.

Image Royal Armory at Leeds by Lofty found on Wikimedia Commons and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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History Resources for your Game [4]

20 December, 2020

A piece of historyA variety of interesting articles about history that have found recently and wished to share:

The story of the HOUGHTEAM, a secret unit sent into the ruin of Germany (while the fighting was still ongoing) to acquire the Nazi’s vast collection of maps and geophysical data for the US (and the keep it from the Soviets).  What a great plot for an adventure!

Some of the high valleys of Switzerland used to store cheese to be served at the owner’s funeral.  Funeral customs, apart from tombs to plunder, are often neglected in RPGs, so good food for thought here.

A very good discussion on oaths, how they are made and why can be found here.   Very useful for designing oaths for characters to take.  In fact the entirety of A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry is well worth mining for information on history.

Games have been with us forever, recently a Roman game piece has been found.   Many partial games have been found but is most case we do not have a firm idea of how the game was played.   Do your game worlds have any games unique to them?

Languages live and die with their speakers, and there are only about 2,000 people left who speak Tsakonika, a language descended from Laconian, the language of ancient Sparta.  It is one of the oldest surviving languages.  Have you used lost languages in one of your adventures?

Have you found any intriguing or fascinating history you would like to share?  If so, please do!

Notes: Photo edited from the one at the Chester Standard and used without permission.

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History Resources for your Game [3]

4 October, 2019

A variety of interesting articles and sites about history I have found recently and wish to share:

Gamers will be pleased to learn that dice and games of chance have been with us a long time, the Romans even used dice towers to ensure randomness of the roll!

A canal in Amsterdam was drained as part of a construction project and they cataloged and photographed it all.  You can delve below the surface and see what they found by the date it was lost here.

Fish Pond in Hawai'iAquaculture, that is, the controlled raising of seafood, is not a new thing.  The Hawaiian have been doing it for centuries and they recently set about restoring one of the fishponds, very interesting and a good idea of what clever people can do even with limited technology.

In the late 19th and early 20th Century, railway work was so dangerous that the companies retained their own railway doctors who pioneered early trauma surgery.  Seems like a great background for a character to me.

A fascinating article about travel in the Ancient Greek World, which is full of useful information and ideas.

California City was designed to be a massive metropolis but it never happened.  Now there are just echoes and roads to nowhere.  Seems like a great place to visit or the seed for an alternate history.

Have you found any intriguing or fascinating history you would like to share?  If so, please do!

Notes: Image of the Hawaii fishpond from Atlas Obscura and used without permission.

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Dark Future Ahead 28 – News from the ‘Net of a Cyberpunk bent

29 September, 2019

Energy VaultHow will the latest technological advances be used to advance the plutocracy?  Join me in reviewing some inspiration for cyberpunk gaming culled from my many trips into the matrix.  Enjoy the news:

Raytheon, that big defense contractor, is working on drone defenses for the US military working with various sorts of directed energy weapons, such as lasers and microwaves.

The Chinese Government is backing a Belt and Road Initiative, a new Silk Road, to build transportation and economic links from Asia to Europe and Africa, some of the giant machine used to build it are impressive in size and productivity.

A Swiss company, Energy Vault, has a design using cranes and concrete blocks to store energy.  If nothing else, it would be a great place to have a fight going on.

More ways to avoid facial recognition technology, some useful, others less so.

There are many ways to grow food inside using artificial light, LEDs are proving to be extremely flexible in such applications.  Who knows what harvest may come from such technologies?

For plants grown in the traditional methods, they are becoming increasingly vulnerable to diseases and other blights in our interconnected world.  Perhaps ironically, viruses may provide the best way to introduces defenses into plants to fight these dangers.

What visions of the coming dark future have you seen recently?

Notes: To my surprise, it has been nearly a year since my last Dark Future Ahead . . .

Image from Energy Vault and used without permission.

 

 

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Creative Sunday – Howard Brandon and Shaintar

9 June, 2019

Shaintar QuickStartAnother in an irregular series of posts, where I highlight some of the awesome creative things being done out in the world.  Today, we have:

Howard Brandon

Howard has been a friend of mine for many a year, he has played in several of my campaigns and I have played in a few of his.  For quite a while now, he has been the public face of the fantasy world Shaintar, powered by Savage Worlds, and its Organized Play branch (originally called Justice and Light, though I am not sure of the name of the current incarnation).

To go with the new version of Savage Worlds (the Adventure Edition), Savage Mojo, the current owners of Shaintar, have released a Shaintar JumpStart adventure, written by Howard, along with a set of pre-generated characters, if you want to give this fantasy world a try.

If you want to see some of the other work Howard has been doing for Shaintar setting, take a look here, he has been very busy.  He also has organized a mini-convention in his hometown of Madison, GA, which he hopes will grow into something bigger.

Notes: It has been a while since I did one of these so time to bring them back.  Howard deserves more recognition for all of his hard work on the Shaintar setting.

Also the links are affiliate links which will earn me a pittance if you purchase anything through them.

 

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Making Magic Wondrous – February RPG Blog Carnival Wrap Up

28 February, 2019

Magic is ColorfulAs is the way of February, it comes to a close quickly and with it, February 2019’s RPG Blog Carnival on Making Magic Wondrous comes to an end (though late submissions are always welcome).

The introductory article is here.  And I wrote a supporting piece, Everyday Magic in the Sea of Stars.

Contributions:

Roll4Net brings us the 3 Laws of Magic, showing how magic can work in a world.  And it is supported by the 3 Laws of Enchantment as well.

The Library of Legends uses an eponymously named article to look at magic items and gives advice I strongly agree with (I removed Detect Magic from the Sea of Stars years ago).

Codex Anathema looks at The Color of Magic to see what Magic: the Gathering can suggest to designing magic systems for RPGs.

Campaign Mastery, who is hosting March’s Carnival, contributed the math heavy but intriguing The Language Of Magic: A Sense of Wonder for the Feb 2019 Blog Carnival.

Thank you all for your words and thoughts!

Notes: Photo is “colour drops” by friedwater is licensed under CC by 2.0.

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