Tuesday, June 24, 2014

GURPS: Morale system

Making the party roleplay through everyday activities in all but the simplest of methods is a potential disaster, risking a mutiny due to boredom. But without at least an element of the routine, the fantastic becomes mundane, as the party of murderhobos slides along from encounter to encounter like an old fashioned FPS game protagonist. How do you split the difference?

I've tried a number of things. I like to request my players use a forum or blog post to lay out how they use their downtime. Non-spur-of-the-moment shopping (particularly shopping for unusual things or where they don't know what they want) is to be done not during play. But how to make them take this seriously, and really immerse themselves in the world?

Give the party a morale counter. Every player has morale points equal to their willpower. Morale points are lost whenever the player experiences trauma, or just as a function of fatigue. Points are regained through leisure. Drink with friends, tell scary stories or sing around the campfire, watch some enjoyable programming, enjoy a hobby, getting a good night's rest, etc. This needn't be roleplayed extensively, just sufficiently to establish that the character actually exists outside of adventuring.

Morale Point Costs:
Making a Fright Check
, 1 point; Cannot lose more than half morale to passed fright checks
Failing a Fright Check, 1-3 additional points; Degree of trauma (failure) determines point cost.
Performing questionable actions by the character's morals; 1-5 points for degree
Long or boring tasks, 1-2 points.
Extended periods without downtime; at Will-(days since last rest) days, begin making will rolls to maintain morale. Each subsequent roll is at -1, 1 point lost upon failure.
Substantial loss, 3-10 points.

Effects of low morale:
Half Morale: Below half, the character is fatigued. This may take many forms, depending on their personality, but there is always a sense of malaise. It would be wise to rest.
Below 3 Morale: Depression. Use the rules given under Chronic Depression (B126)
Negative Morale: Below 0 morale, rolls to resist depression are at a penalty equal to how negative your points are. At -1X(Will), make a will roll to resist becoming suicidal.

EDITS TO COME: adjusting rate of morale loss (likely a modified will roll), and the effects certain advantages have on losing, gaining, and maintaining morale.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

GURPS Metro: A Charred New World

War is the norm, rather than the exception, in and around the Wastelands. Usually the punchups between the governments of the coastal nations were small, not unlike the minor spats between our European nations. But sometimes, things got out of hand. Superweapons powered by magic and mad science had long existed, but their use was limited in nature, reserved more for threatening and posturing because of their terrifying potential. With the war in which that changed, everything ended in the Calamity.

It was a war unlike any other, a total war. More than just two or three nations at war, nearly a full quarter of the world's countries chose sides, and gave it everything they had. No weapon was too terrible, only a few were ill suited to some targets.

Hex carronades fired cursed shells, filled with the devil's breath. Wherever they hit, an evil mist filled with monsters blighted the land. A single shell was enough to turn a city to a ghost town; thousands of them were fired.

Magical backlash bombs destabilized the ambient mana, igniting manastorms. The already volatile magic of the wastelands went berserk, unleashing the fury of reality's bounds itself upon the world.

Chemical weapons of all sorts spread across the lands, from choking toxins that ate flesh from bone, to mutating agents that warped minds and turned plant and animal alike into ravenous horrors.

Nuclear weapons in all their various forms even made a few appearances, and a few more inventive and unusual incarnations charred the world to boot.

The tunnels, caves, and fortresses of the underdwelling races were hit with boring rockets, filled with a plethora of nightmarish payloads. Hex shells, backlash bombs, chemical weapons, nukes, the lot, focused into the protected cities, turning them into sealed tombs. Without the option of dissipation to the atmosphere, many will never be habitable again without dedicated purification. Those who survived were forced to the surface, which was by no means untouched.

Surface cities were ravished by the horrors, driving survivors underground, into the metro systems and bunkers. Rudimentary subterranean cities were improvised together, the inhabitants protected from the horrors by thick concrete and determined fighters.

And so, this transition of the old world to the new came to be known as The Calamity.

In the aftermath, the region's mana was reduced to negligible levels, granting protection from some of the warping effects of uncontrolled magic, but limiting the use of spells to ease the burden of survival. The ravaged ecosystem adapted, and those races that remained unwarped by the Calamity must maintain a constant vigil against the monstrosities that walk the land.

It has been 40 years since the world ended as it was known. Since then, things have settled down. The surface can be traversed, with enough protective equipment. In most places, a gas mask and a layer of tough clothing will suffice. The militaries of the city stations and station states have begun to reclaim the areas of surface around them, and underground frontier towns have been carved out. Old world equipment has been reclaimed where possible, and older designs modified and adapted for creation from the limited materials salvageable. Young recruits hold the lines against marauding animals, and brave adventurers range far from home in search of surviving treasures. All the while, new abilities have begun to manifest , and magic has begun to return, at least a little. Many of the mutations are helpful for survival.

Life isn't easy, but it isn't that bad.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Student Loans

Much has been posited about the problems with and caused by the current student loan scheme.

I'm sure all one of you who might possibly read this have read, if not written such things.

Regardless, I've got some, a fairly nice new car's worth (in fact, right about the base price of all the hot-hatch-or-equivalents that I'm looking at down the line). Tomorrow, my grace period ends. This is not a problem.

Why? Because engineer. I solve practical problems. And that pays fairly well. Still only a contract worker, but now I have work experience and positive references, at an extremely regulation heavy industry (We design medical tools. LOTS of paperwork and paper trails, more than just about any other industry I'm likely to hit as a newer engineer), so I should be fine to take care of these. The payments aren't bad, either.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

GURPS Metro: Apocalyptic Gear

So, I've rounded up enough interested parties for a Metro2033/Fallout styled game. The world (or at least substantial vicinity) has been bombed or otherwise into an uninhabitable wasteland. What's left of civilization has retreated into caves and metro tunnels, fortifying them into city-stations and station-states. Pre-calamity gear is a rare luxury, carried only by the best soldiers and the luckiest survivors who went out to find it.

What's left for everyone? Stuff cobbled together from scraps. Over the next few days/weeks I'll be starting the process of figuring out all of the gear, from guns, to armor, to miscellaneous gadgets and gizmos, that will be available to my players and the rest of the world. How it works, what it costs, and maybe some doodles of how it looks.

Metro 2033 assumes that the "default" combat weapon is chambered in reloaded 5.45x39 brass, even the shitty, made-from-junk Bastard Gun. This however, doesn't make sense to me, because even the simplest possible operating system for an intermediate carbine is still far more complex than that of an SMG.

Gun progressions will be roughly as such, in terms of stats/performance;
Pistol: Derringer, Revolver, makarov, glock
Intermediate Rifle: Single shot, bolt, pump/lever, AK
Shotgun: Slam tube, Improved slam tube (functionally single load only pump shotgun), double barrel, pump, semi-auto, box fed
Rifle: Single shot, bolt, FAL/Dragunov

Melee/muscle powered weapons will be around and fairly commonly used, because ammo is scarce and loud. Gear will probably go good TL6, Cheap TL7, good TL7, fine TL7, to account for it having been a higher TL than it presently is, and the knowledge to make good steel being available if resources allow.

Gadgets will be things like watches (simple through fancy combination watch including air quality meters or Geiger counters), radios, flashlights and lamps, and will mostly just be treated as "what can be made by hand? K, use the cheap gadgets rules."

I'll be going into greater depth on each of these topics, with actual stats for each, but links to books or mention of other work done to this end is appreciated.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tech Tuesday: Sick Edition

Managed to catch a bug that slipped through my ridiculous HT stat, at least I can do something (vaguely) useful and write a bit.

http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/scientists-make-progress-development-one-size-fits-all-artificial-blood Exactly what it says on the tin, progress on making artificial blood.

http://www.iflscience.com/technology/new-type-computer-capable-calculating-640tbs-data-one-billionth-second-could and another step up in processing power, complete with a substantial power requirement reduction.

http://www.iflscience.com/technology/hologram-projectors-your-smartphone-could-be-close Portable mini-hologram projectors? Closer than you think.

http://elitedaily.com/news/world/scientific-breakthrough-may-laid-groundwork-human-teleportation/613912/ Teleportation of the "copy, reproduce, and destroy the original" variety has all kinds of ethical problems, but if you can just teleport without any of that? Not bad, not bad.

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/holy-crap-nasas-interplanetary-spaceship-concept-is-fr-1589001939 Warp drives and spaceship concept art.

http://www.iflscience.com/space/scientists-discover-smallest-known-star It's barely bigger than Jupiter

Saturday, June 14, 2014

"Project" guns

Friend and flatmate's father had some health problems, and it was discovered that his house had descended into Hoarderdom since they were last there. A substantial amount of guns and ammo have been rescued from the place, but many of the firearms are in seriously bad condition. Rust is rampant, and other such problems.

Presently I have hold of a revolver that was left soaking in oil until the oil congealed in it. I'm going to disassemble the thing, hose it out with brake cleaner, and see if I can get it halfway presentable. Might just get a near-free revolver out of all of it. Definitely going to take that and all the other guns to a professional for a judgement whether any of them are safe to use after they've been cleaned up.

Traffic Driving

Just took a glance back through some of my various posts up here. Average views were 0-3. And then there's one of the ones mentioned/linked by McThag. Which has about 70.

'Preciate the shout out!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Preparedness is a system


Being ready "just in case" requires the whole system to operate. If there's anything gunfighting with paintballs has taught me, it's that you will become intimately aware of every way your body isn't up to the rigors of battle very, very quickly. However far you can (or can't) run, how long you can hold yourself in the weird positions needed to take cover behind obstacles you'll actually find in the real world, instead of nice oddly shaped plywood cover analogues, how long you can carry all of the equipment you need for it, even little things like where your shoes rub that you don't notice during day to day wear.

When you make sure a car is ready for a big trip, you don't just check the engine. You check the tires, the brakes, the fluids. Any failures might not be anywhere near as major as the engine going, but will make the trip far less pleasant. Same for things really going wrong. The gun is the engine, you absolutely need it for a gunfight, but you're going to need the muscle strength and stamina and some training if you want to get through the whole event as well as can be managed.

Soon as I finish it up, I'll toss up a link to my Tactical Workout, developed based on what I've learned from major scenario games (a giant paintball war, waged over hundreds of acres. At Legends, which I still need to post up more about, I probably hupped 30-40 lbs of gear over ~10 miles, a lot of that at a full sprint)

No good to tell you to train your body and not do anything to help with it, right?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tech Tuesday: Too Varied To Bother With A Theme edition

Sorry for the lull in posting, to the few people who actually read me. Just had a serious case of "can't be arsed." Had these building up but just never could be bothered to actually write up the post.

http://gizmodo.com/fda-approves-first-prosthetic-arm-controlled-by-muscle-1574530219 Now approved for general consumption, a prosthetic arm that's controlled by muscle readings. We've got better stuff in the works, but this is still a substantial step up from a lot of what's around. I'd take muscle-reading hands to a hook, at least until "hooked into the brain and works/feels just like the old one, but easier to replace if busted" became available.

http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/the-solar-powered-fridge-of-1937-made-sunbeams-into-ice-1574174343 Solar, used to do stuff before we had solar panels. As someone in the comments says "imagine where we'd be if we actually built on what we already know, instead of reinventing everything every couple decades"

http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/the-futuristic-superhighways-of-1964-had-glow-in-the-da-1562397863 More retrotech, but relevant today as a more viable version of stuff being thrown about these days. Glow in the dark road markings would be darn useful, particularly in inclement weather. Wouldn't even have to be the really good high end glow in the dark stuff that can go all night on a charge, just has to glow for a bit and spit light back from headlights, to make up for the fact that when wet the headlights themselves wouldn't throw enough light back off the markings to make them visible (water makes it work like a mirror, so instead of hitting the ground and scattering to provide useful light back to the driver, it just goes on ahead)

http://www.iflscience.com/technology/new-dual-carbon-battery-charges-20x-faster-lithium-ion Improved batteries. We keep getting good advances but they aren't making it all the way to functional usability. Hopefully these will see use, and start making electric cars and other such things viable, with fast(er) charge times and higher capacity. Electric vehicles are great in theory, but battery tech just isn't ready to make them really workable... yet.

http://gizmodo.com/skype-to-launch-star-trek-style-real-time-language-tra-1582404890 Autotranslate. It'll still have the google translate problem, but it's a damn sight better than nothing for communication across a language barrier. Throw that together with google translate-or-equivalent's text reader, and a throat mic, and you could probably even converse with people you didn't share a language with in mostly real time.

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/scientists-think-there-may-be-wormhole-in-the-center-of-1582831794 I for one support throwing things into black holes, if we can get to them. For Science, and stuff. Still going to need some manner of faster communication or something to get word BACK as to whether it's a wormhole or a black hole (although a probe that can turn around and come back, assuming it works like that, would work)

http://gizmodo.com/soviet-doctors-cured-infections-with-viruses-and-soon-1587311881 If antibiotics don't work, why not infect the bacteria with a virus? Good to at least have options for getting rid of antibiotics when stupid people overuse them until they stop working.

http://www.iflscience.com/technology/hovercraft-coming-market-2017 It's a hoverbike. It looks like it might not be the ultra flying car of the future, but it certainly looks more controllable than modern hovercraft. I suspect it's either related to this, or is at least an offshoot. The Hoverbike seems designed to be more "flying motorcycle" than the AeroX.

http://gizmodo.com/the-armys-new-helmet-design-comes-with-built-in-a-c-1575643048 and lo, the Space Marine's gear gets one step closer to arrival. Looks futuristicy. Also futuristic helmet related, http://heartsracer.com/ Gimme a blend of the two and a space rocketbike.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Fight me for gun control

The way I see it, there are a few main reasons people support gun control. If you happen to be reading this and are one of them, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume you're just outside your area of expertise. You mean well, but you don't have any experience with the reality of combat, of fighting, of self defense. I've gotten lectured on the ins and outs of self defense by plenty of folks who couldn't throw a proper punch to save their life or figure out which end of the gun the bullets come out of without a manual and a committee.

I'm assuming, if you support gun control, your premise is that you and others are able to defend yourselves as well or better without firearms.The other option would be the belief that without guns, there wouldn't be any crime or need to defend yourselves, which is clearly wrong based on all of human history.

So prove it. If self defense is so much better when nobody has a gun, step into the ring with me. You'll have all the pads you want, and I'm a skilled martial artist so there's no risk of me actually harming you (I've practiced fighting without harming my opponent for around 15 years). I'm pretty well set for fighting. I've spent a significant portion of the better part of my entire lifespan training. Odds are pretty darn good that I'm bigger than you, tougher than you, better at fighting than you, and despite being incredibly out of shape due to surgery, I'm still likely stronger, faster, and probably more fit than you. All in all, I'm a good example of a believable-but-very-bad-case opponent.

I like sparring weapons, so I'll see what I can find in the way of foam padded or rubber or whatever ones, so you can attempt to use whatever you please against me after the first bout, if you'd like.

Either way, with or without weapons, the rules are simple. You must interact with a mock-phone for 30 seconds to represent a call to the police. You must then hold out against me for 3 minutes, assuming a very good response time on the part of the police. That's it.

If you step into the ring, I don't intend to go easy on you. To go any easier than absolutely necessary would be a disservice. I want you to understand the reality of a fight. If I've done my job well, you'll have nightmares about it. I do this because I want you to be safe. I've spent a significant amount of time dedicated to learning about fighting in its many forms. My pursuit of excellence has taught me that true melee combat is one of the most vicious, brutal things you can find, and tends to heavily weight the odds against anyone smaller, weaker and less willing to utilize violence.

If you have no prior training in self defense, I'll give you an hour long lesson. In that time, I've yet to find someone I couldn't get to be fairly competent with a firearm. Assuming you aren't like me and absolutely love to spar, you're unlikely to put in much time or effort, so that seems like a realistic amount for someone who took a self defense class once. And then you'll get to put those freshly trained skills to the test immediately, instead of waiting months or years to let them get rusty.

So how about it?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Sci Fi Friday: Ocean Arcology


~70% of the ocean is covered in water, while humanity fights for the tiny scraps of land. But what if there was a way around it? Just build some more, float a city on the water, use the considerable force of the ocean for power, use modern efficient farming and fishing techniques for food, zippy integrated transport as a key design feature rather than something of an afterthought.

But there's always going to be trouble in the big city. A floating, oceangoing city will have its own unique troubles to deal with. It's been touched on a few times, often in games and movies. Everything from Waterworld to the recent(ish) game Brink, feature big floating cities with a whole mess of trouble in them.

But what if it mostly worked? Despite having to button everything up for sea storms, the dangers of pirates and hostile foreign parties who might not consider the floating city to be part of a nation and therefore up for grabs, seedy businesses looking for places to do their thing outside of normal country's laws, it was more or less a reasonable place to live? Sounds like a good spot for some Player Characters to find work, stir up trouble, or both.