Sunday, June 30, 2019

From this morning's writing

This will almost certainly get cut, but for now it tickles me:

“What can I call you?”


I was expecting “Killatron” or “Defense-o-Matic” but Frank?

A trans AI? I mean, why shouldn’t they regard “Killatron” as the dead name?

Still. A.S.P.S. abandoned the whole death robot thing and became a poet in the nuBeat movement. Drone 118 became a mid-level soap opera star after appearing on Silicon Falls, though the other Drones had filed a class action suit against the soap for slander.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Thinking out loud


My wife will be out of town for four or five days in July, and I think I want to run something ICONS online while she's away.

Possibilities that occur to me are:

  • A Fainting Goat module
  • An adventure involving the Justice League or some other DC group. (This line of thought inspired by the Doom Patrol TV series but I'm not sure I could muster the level of weirdness necessary for the Doom Patrol, especially since my GMing style tries to be "here's a situation, go run with it.")
  • A five-session series that's essentially the community college course for superhero wannabes.

Let's discard the last one for now; I have four of the five sessions named and plotted out but the work so far is in Mutants & Masterminds.

Fainting Goat has produced many adventures, but there are five or six that are candidates for this. I've been thinking of "Vampires of Red Square," "The Other Side" (an adventure with Cthulhu-esque monsters), "The Sugar Hill Invasions" because I want to see Saturday morning cartoons as the enemies, or "Return to the Crimson Frontier." The last one I'm most mixed about, just because I am not sure how well the adventure works with your bog-standard superheroes.

For the Justice League one, I was going to do something with satellite-era JLA. A piece of Starro fell in the ocean, various Atlanteans got possessed until one of them was Aquaman; he took over the satellite. Players play unaffected members of the JLA who have to get into the satellite, take it back, and turn on Amazo's head to counter Starro's influence. (Or something. The choice isn't formed in my head yet. For all I know at this point, the whole thing is engineered by Despero's ghost and Felix Faust.)

Thursday, June 27, 2019

For Reference


This is a link to all of (Hugo nominee) James Nicoll's posts about ICONS, including games we have played.

Eventually I want to produce a pruned list of the Halifax and Hope Prep campaigns I ran. (I had one such list, but it pointed to LiveJournal, and James has nuked all his LJ entries in favour of Dreamwidth.) So as a starting point for creating the list again pointing to Dreamwidth entries, I need to refer to this:

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Personal stuff: the C word

Personal stuff

I got some interesting news from the oncologist on my last visit. Until recently, the time-span for follow=ups on my particular cancer were two years: if it didn't show up again in two years, you were declared cured and off you go. (Survival rate for five years was still about twenty-five per cent, which mans that there was probably a tremendous death toll in the first two years).

However, it is now five years. On the one hand, this is bad, because I still have to keep going to the oncologist and having MRIs every six months.

On the other hand, this is good, because it probably means that the lethality rate has gone down enough that I am worth a doctor's time for five years.

I choose to focus on the good interpretation. (I should probably get serious about exercising, though.)

Friday, June 14, 2019

In Medias Res


I was listening to Encounter Party! (a actual play that works very hard on editing it down to less than an hour) and it was close enough to fiction that I was thinking about the differences between roleplaying and fiction, and something came to mind that might be useful for writers and GMs.

Interrupt NPCs.

That is, they have lives of their own. They're presumably doing something at the point when your PCs or protagonists interact with them. What? It doesn't have to be something big or obstructionist; a character might be there to help (an Uber driver, a doorman) but it's still the beginning of a shift to be dreaded or the middle of a weird day, or the end of a long one.

And other characters were actually doing something else. That guy at the beer store has a list as long as your arm to complete before going home for the weekend, and it's 3:55, buddy. The concierge at the hotel has just been taken to task for helping guests but at too high a cost. The gossip just wants to tell somebody in her group that she just met StupendousMan and really, it looks like he's wearing lifts.

Even the people who don't look like they're doing something significant might be doing something else in their heads, too. That professor going into her office is fuming about her placement in the published proceedings. The old guy pushing a broom is thinking about the argument he had with his wife.

So maybe part of coming up with an NPC is name, attitude, and what they were doing.

The Girl Group


So I was playing with a friend's kid while we were visiting, and the kid's name is "Hannah" which means that her family calls her "Hannah Banana." Very cute. (For the record, her sister is "Riley Smiley.")

Except I wondered if a group of women might adopt names like that, ones that reflect their powers instead of their actual names. Something like:

Kristy Fisty
The strong woman of the group, and the one who likes more than anyone else to fight.
Jade Fade
Teleporter or invisibility; you could go full Sue Storm and add force fields.
Jenny Many
Duplicator, possibly with other powers as well. Or she's Jenny Any, who acts as the face for the group because she can shapeshift into, well, anything. "I've lived as a man. They act like they have PMS. All. The. Friggin'. Time."
Margot Cargo
She can shrink something down and carry it. People too, with extra effort.
Mary Ferry
And how do you get from there to here? Or move the cops from here to there? Mary Ferry, of course.
Molly Jolly
And where would they be without the emotion controller? I mean, telepath and telekinetic as well, but she chooses to name herself for the emotion control.
Wendy Bendy
Who goes places where others can't, so long as there's not a hermetic seal? Wendy Bendy. She's very good at opening locks from the inside.

I just have this image of burly tattooed women kicking open the door and one of them shouting, "We're the effin' princesses! Hands on your heads!"

(If I were to use this idea and write them up, I'd put more thought into who does what, how many people do they really need, and what names sound distinct enough to be used as code names.)

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Helpful neighbours and racism

So it's the season for home repair. And some folks across the way (I'm near the end of a court) are having their roof redone. (Good idea; we have to do it.) And the city is predominantly white. Not all white, but our particular neighbourhood doesn't have much besides your pale northern European descendants. There's a few, but most of them live in the controlled-cost housing at the end of the lane.

Anyway, I came home at lunch (because I can, now) and one of the roofers called me over. In a concerned tone, he told me that a tall black guy had gone into my garage.

"That's my son," I told him. I can understand his surprise: I'm short, white, red-headed, and dumpy; my son is tall, black, dark-haired, and thin. My daughter takes after me, so we kind of have salt-and-pepper kids. (It was my son; he had forgotten his key, so he was getting the one hidden in the garage.)

I choose not to be offended by this casual assumption that my son is going to cause problems. I mean, if he did it again and again, yes, there's be a cause for concern. And my son looks different: if you've seen me come out of the house, you're not prepared to see him. I hope by telling the roofers who he is, that's helping educate them. And if we were in a place that was, say, fifty-per-cent non-caucasian, then I'd see it as a more systemic stereotyping.

That stereotyping does take place. I just think that gently educating people is better than beating them over the head with it.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Citizens Aiding Police


In a superhero world with lots of supers, there’d be citizen volunteers, and they should be vetted in some minor way. So there’s a national organization, the Citizens Aiding Police (CAP) for people with powers who want to help but don’t want to be heroes. (This is loosely modelled on both the Guardian Angels and the St. John's Ambulance Society.)

The “costume” is a dark green vest with reflective stripes and the letters “CAP” in big reflective letters on the back. The letters and logo are on the left breast as well. The vest has utility loops to hold a flashlight and a first aid kit. The organization might supply other equipment for a specific call, but members hold on to the vest, flashlight, and first aid kit.

Like St. John’s Ambulance, it’s a couple of weekend courses to be a member and a police background check. 

It’s more courses and tests to be a higher-ranking officer in the organization. 

You have to tell them who you are and what your powers are, because then they can match you to emergencies, but you're not fighting crime, for goodness' sake; you're helping out in case of wildfires, or earthquake, or breaks in the water main. Who can be mad at that?

In your game you use them as a source of supers who help but won’t take over. 

Because they have databases of members and powers, they can also be used as a source of information: the creepy guy who wanted to help so he could be near people to take their vril energy, the woman who stays young by harvesting a year off the lifespan of each injured person she helps (hey, she should be a nurse: no one would notice the extra deaths in a hospital or an old age home...wait, I'm devolving into Bubba Ho-Tep.) 

There might be a data leak and criminals who really really need a teleporter might say, "Hey, we can blackmail that person right there until they do what we want. It just takes holding a hostage."