Sunday, February 28, 2010

Stupid Sci-Fi

I've contained myself as long as I could, here's my Avatar rant. There will be spoilers, if you haven't seen it yet and keep reading don't get mad at me.

I saw the film with my son a few weeks ago and was glad he enjoyed it, I was impressed by the visual spectacle of it all, 3-D actually improved and enhanced the film, otherwise I hated it.

The movie was simply stupid. It has an earth apparently choking to death on it's own pollution that has found an alien world with an interesting biology and awesome material resources in the form of Unobtanium (fuck you Cameron). This unobtanium is so valuable it prompt's a corporation from a resource starved earth launch a mining program and fund an amazing cloning-mind transfer procedure and trust it to a corporate governor that is a mental midget and a macho tin soldier cut out military commander that doesn't seem to understand the tiniest iota of military strategy.

The Avatar program is capable of growing fully functioning adult bodies of an alien species and allowing a human to not just remotely control them but to project their consciousness into them. Expensive or not, the avatar program would be the solution to earths problems in and of itself. If the environment is so bad humans can't live in it anymore: make new people that can, you have the technology.

The avatar program is so expensive Jake the hero gets recruited to replace his dead twin brother because of biological compatibility. Jake has no training at all, no idea of what his mission will be and of course does well in seconds and is allowed to go on what must be resource rich missions with no training to speak of.

This avatar program is so expensive the corporate idiot in charge ignores all input and seems to almost completely disregard it exists. Corporate idiot is told about the really cool bio-communication all the life on the planet shares and how information could be shred by everything on the planet and totally blows it off. Is this a sci-future with computers and information systems or not? Even if corporate idiot wants the unobtanium (fuck you Cameron) why doesn't he pause and say "hmm how could we make money off of this too?" or "hmm, maybe we could hack this information network to our advantage", it took me 30 seconds to think those two points, I suppose I'm too smart to be the corporate governor of an interstellar mining colony in a universe where Earth is running out of resources.

The military commander is sneaky enough to use Jake the hero as his "secret way in" to learn about the aliens and either learns nothing he couldn't with a telescope or utterly ignores all the input from Jake the hero who runs an avatar in an really expensive research program that can create mature alien bodies that function. The military commander doesn't seem to understand tactics however when he deploys ground forces during an aerial assault in terrain dominated by floating mountains for no reason I could see other then to give some toy properties a foundation in the film.

The aerial assault is apparently done in aircraft that move really damned slow thanks to a bullshitium energy field that screws up human tech sensors; the same technology that could get people to the planet, launch an insanely expensive side program that could create functioning adult aliens just can't cope and produce aerial combat craft that can fly faster then winged animals.

The robot armor suits are boring but a step up from The Matrix, these armor suits have plexi-glass shields over the exposed human operators. The robot armor boys use actual separate firearms and big ass macho knives; ever notice tanks don't hold weapons in big mechanical hands? But sure these robot armor is supposed to be versatile and of no apparent use except for being a bigger target then a person.

The expensive Avatar program is so expensive there are some spare Avatar control pods just laying around the scientists are able to secure for themselves and avoid corporate and military involvement when lazy writing couldn't think of another way to move the story forward.

The alien sentients look too much like people, forgivable when it's people in costumes but this is all CGI, they don't' have to look so much like people except for cheap story telling reasons. The aliens are so alien compared to people I seriously doubt we could have a conversation with them: they can organically communicate with other life forms, effectively and meaningfully. Why the hell do they have a spoken language that says anything more complex then being able to yell warnings? They could certainly commune with each other with their magic ponytails and never need to develop a complex spoken language.

The aliens emotions key to facial expressions just like ours do, here in western culture. Not every human on earth shares the same set of facial expressions keyed to emotions, stupid sci-fi aliens do so only for lazy story telling.

Of course Jake the hero stumbles into and falls in love with the alien princess and this works out for him and the story plot. Sure they do only make stories about interesting things but it's a ridiculously beaten to death storyline.

In the end the primitive aliens in touch with their environment send the earth men packing back to their dying home world: leaving Jake the Hero behind as the greatest traitor to the human race that has ever existed.

It's all dumb sci-fi, having half a brain capable of solving problems in the story with resources mentioned within the story in most situations would have completely nullified the story.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Color Carcosa Map

Here is a color version of map 1 for Carcosa I whipped up a little while ago and recently checkd with Geoffrey McKinney to make sure it was cool to post.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Door Legend

I'm always working on sets of symbols for my dungeon floor-plans, I've got sheets full of symbols for different genres, styles and scales.

Here for my gentle readers and fellow DMs out there is a comprehensive legend of dungeon doors.

THE OCD Dungeon Doors Legend.

Putting more info on the map is something I strive to do, hopefully there might be some utility to this table. I know it's not the last one I'll ever produce and this set will likely only look good for grids ruled between 3 to the inch and 6 to the inch as far as I currently tell. The legend certainly looks better if you open it in it's own window or download it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

That was no coconut !!

Should players know how badly hurt their characters are in roleplaying games? You can do really stupid or amazing things when injured and most certainly so when you are unaware of the extent of your injuries.

Sure there would be extra book keeping for the GM, but why not?

Real life story-
Way back when i was 18 and briefly unemployed one winter a friend and I went sledding with tire tubes at a sand pit not too far from his house. It was a hoot, at one point however I bounced and my foot caught in the snow and flipped me out of the tube sending me sprawling head over heels down the hill, I smashed into the bottom of the sand pit and heard an odd sound that made me wonder "who dropped the coconut?" (yes that's what I really thought). A moment later I snapped awake thinking to myself "That was no coconut" was my head. Being the young genius I was I continued to sled for a while until my vision started to get all funky...hello concussion.

Another far more serious real life story-
A family friend has a dead relative that was shot several times on D-Day, he was likely killed (but not put out of action) by the first wound he suffered. He was instrumental in taking out a number of enemy positions that day. Finally succumbing to a shocking number of wounds. His family always wondered if he knew how badly he was hurt and whether or not he decided to die a hero or simply was one, letters from some of the men he was with testified to his heroism but not to his certain knowledge of his impending death.

My two horribly mismatched points illustrate people act without being aware of how badly they are injured all the time. Why should RPG characters know more then we do about ourselves?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Giving the One Page Dungeon A shot

I'm giving the one page dungeon contest a shot with a retro-apocalypse one pager.
No stats at all is actually a bigger challenge for me then I thought it would be, it's also a little liberating.

I'm stretching the definition of "dungeon" a wee bit with a remote highway Gas-Station/Diner. Somehow it just felt right, now I just have to throw in a few goodies like mutant bikers and a radioactive cockroach.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Proud to Roll A d10,000

Not much of a "joiner" but I just couldn't help myself, I'm proud to have joined the mystical order of the d10,000.

What the heck is the order of the d10,000?

Thanks Daddy Grognard. Thanks G. Benedicto.

So what can you use a d10,000 for anyway? Whatever you want.

Chuck Norris doesn't roll a little old d100 when he can reach into his dice bag (made from some of his own skin by the way) and rolls a d10,000 instead. You gonna stop him?

(it also turns out there is also a d1000000 out there, maybe I'll write my ultimate space combat rules someday, of course I could also break out seven d20's labeled 0-9 twice and roll a truely awesome d10,000,000)

one last note: I just typed eiglophian correctly three times in a row; an amazing act since I usually feel I have to edit each line I type three or four times (and on re-reading I always spot something wrong after I post). Three times you ask, I only see it once here? I didn't say I was typing it all three times in this blog.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

MutantBox Game Play 5

The Flatulent Desperadoes exited Spillside with haste after the mega-chilling at the bar. They quickly evaded a gang of canines on their train of Jackalopes and headed into the twists.
Their second day in the twists and the party runs into a mutant human being chased by a couple of Mants, they help the mutant and he joins the party.
The next night the Bay Aluminum notices a gamma Wyrm sneaking up on camp (they have a number of tasty jackalopes), battle is joined. Craniax whips up a little invisibility for himself and saves his Spidery from the Gamma Wyrm onslaught. The new mutant has a killing sphere mutation so he and Bay take on the Gamma Wyrm head on. To their dismay Bay Aluminum's radiation blasts cause no damage to the beast but the mutation does function. They are killed by it's acid breath before it is put down by Karhoo with a crossbow bolt.
When morning rolled around a patch of the Wyrms skin is harvested before giant rats arrive and start devouring the corpse.
The party found a pair of scavengers (an Android and a Mastermind) camped out on the edge of the twists within sight of the Dome ( a huge metallic golden dome). The two scavengers let the pay join them in their camp after some difficulties. When morning arrives the two decide to join The Flatulent Desperadoes and travel to the ruins rumored to sit in the center of the Tar Pit.
The party spotted but avoided a band of Leapers before trying to cross the Last Bridge instead of risking the chance of bumping into the Gargantuan Goliaths that hunt the Dry River. A minor fortified fence blocks the way across the bridge and the toll is way to high so the party assaults the barrier. The combined forced of a standard Goliath, a pack of Kamata and 4 Medusiods prove to be difficult for the party; land mines and an electrified barrier didn't' make it any easier for the party.
Karhoo tried to use his gas attack to whip out the guards (a Goliath a Medusiod and 3 Kamata) but wasn't' able to slay all of them in one blast. The party eventually killed the Goliath and 3 Kamata and launched an assault on the gate before retreating the onslaught of a larger pack of Kamata and the Medusoids.
When play stopped for the night we ended on a cliff hanger: The new Mastermind was climbing up a bridge cable trying to avoid a trio of Kamata hoping desperately the beast aren't bright enough to realize he is climbing a metal cable, Bobo is running off being harried by a pair of Kamata and Craniax is rushing to the side of Karhoo who has been poisoned by the Medusiods while the new android party member flies overhead on his mechanical wings trying to fire on the enemies below.


The players all sort of dummy slapped themselves at one point when they realized their jackalopes could have bound over the barrier with ease, Craniax and his Spidery could have climbed over the side of the bridge and the flying android could have most certainly crossed without incident.
So 2 PC Deaths tonight, 5 so far in the game and 1 or 2 close to occurring as well.
I must admit I'm glad the new mutant with the killing sphere died so quickly a double whammy of killing sphere and toxic gas would have ravaged many encounters.