vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
A co-operative board game similar to "Sorry!" or snakes-and-ladders but where the goal is to endure as long as possible. Mostly inspired by Killing Floor.

I should probably rename my RPG tag... )
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
(Just as I attempt to start preparing this to post on DW, a courier comes in to pick up a cheque for these guys - the motto is, of course, a play on moving mountains, while "move mountains" is itself a priest spell from the original Exile series that... well, let's just say it gets you into houses to let you move things out of them.)

Context: I've got stewing in the back of my mind (and a few text files in my hard drive) for a while now an idea for a reboot of Jeff Vogel's Avernum setting, with a mind to play up all the wonderful and utterly missed and squandered opportunities at exploring the ecological and cultural ramifications of living in such a completely different environment as a magic-powered endless underground maze. The gameplay, if I ever got to that point, would be a very random roguelike with very little in the way of game-stat optimizing or trying to "win" things by clearing everything (in fact you would be ostracized by everyone for wiping out all large animals in a cave, for example) - the exact polar opposite of the sort of games Spiderweb make, so there would be no competition. (EDIT: And quite possibly Linux-only, to underscore the point.)

One recurring feature of the Exile/Avernum games' magic system is to have 2 classes of spells: "mage" spells that rely on your usual fantasy magic; and "priest" "spells" that... well, mechanically they are identical to mage spells except in the particular effects available, though they are described as prayers rather than incantations. You run into occasional NPCs who explain certain points of doctrine, but as far as I've ever played this has had no systemic effect on the spells available and the general feel is as though one bought a church, removed all the icons, replaced the crosses with ankhs and never opened the books except for a couple fake props where the viewer never even gets a fleeting glimpse of the contents.

I figure if I ever get this underground-roguelike-Avernum-knockoff game off the ground, I should probably do something along these lines, but with more meat to it. So... )
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
This grew from a passing thought that the Potterverse would make a lot more worldbuilding sense if Gryffindor and Slytherin were actually one and the same house. Added a side helping of a bit of an RPG thing that sprang up in my head on Friday.

Setting fluff )

Classes and mechanics, for explanatory value only )
vaecrius: A round squishy plush lobster bursts out of the blue. (cock lobster)
(these thoughts occurred to me after reading this post.)

People will follow this rule implicitly whenever the randomizers involves more than numbers: it may be a table with a hard list of possible outcomes, or a random name generator that prevents an unsyllabifiable mishmash of consonants and multiple consecutive apostrophes, or a random map generator that avoids spawning actors inside walls.

Three generally recognized sets of things that fall outside of desirable outcome range: absurdity, whiff factor and loss of agency.

Read more... )
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
A beautiful post about that which makes life worth living.
It certainly wasn’t a textbook example of how a dissection class should go. And even though I’m still improving as a teacher, there are ways in which this class if never going to look like the focused, guided classes I remember from high school and college. And if it ever does, I’ll be doing my kids a disservice.

So why am I ripping animals apart with the help of children as young as five? What could they be getting out of it?
The actual money quote isn't this at all, but rather the five enumerated points towards the bottom. But they should be appreciated in context, and the more people who do, the better a place this world may become.

That said, here's an alchemy kit.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
Also apparently strikethrough doesn't show up in titles, not even as the tags

So they did a study confirming what we all ought to know. Key: ought.

Related. Sometimes I guess even nature can take a high road.

Or all the roads.
All the roads.

The beetle always wins. In almost 400 face-offs, the amphibians only managed to get the larvae in their mouths seven times. Even then, they soon spat out the larvae, which quickly turned on them (first video below). One toad even managed to swallow a larva, which moved inside its stomach for two hours. For some reason, the toad eventually regurgitated its catch, and the larva, apparently unharmed, killed and ate the animal that had just eaten it (second video below).

And then nature comes up with the typical RPG player character.

With that in mind:

ABC monsters from La Pompadour on Vimeo.

vaecrius: A round squishy plush lobster bursts out of the blue. (cock lobster)
My work explores the relationship between first person shooters and the historiography of sado-masochistic religious homoerotica.

With influences as diverse as Robert Howard and Robert Halford, new paradigms are evolved through both noblesavage-pastoral and technocratic dystopias.

Ever since I was a little girl I have been fascinated by the transcendent hallucination of erotopathy. What starts out as sacrilege soon becomes fragmented into a sepulchritude of acedic lyser-jism, leaving only a sense of wounded schadenfreude and the remnants of a new culture of blasphemy.

As fractal spaces become synthesized through metallic and tellurinfernal practice, the viewer is left with a seedy aftertaste of the central lizard-brain impulses of our aspirations.

Meanwhile, [personal profile] furikku links to The World Peace Game, which is basically the polar opposite of the above link.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
While browing the RPGnet forums there was yet another discussion about reinventing the "stock" fantasy races - elf, dwarf and orc. This seems usually to take the form of taking something that looks like an elf, then pulling it completely out of the mythical role it had in Middle-Earth and/or D&D.

That gave me another idea: take a bunch of other species tropes and shoehorn them into these roles.


A long time ago the Atlanteans built a terrible race of sentient killer robots to conquer the world. They built very many and they scourged the planet, and Atlantis became the ruler of the known world for centuries. But eventually its expansion had to stop, and as Atlantis teetered between downsizing and stabilizing and collapse from its overreach the deathbots had nothing to do. So they settled down, raised families, and moved off to greener (or in their case blacker) pastures. People say that they fled to the caves and deep underground because humans distrusted them, or that it was part of a great tragic rift between the peoples above and the peoples below that drove them into exile, but really they're just down in the mines and caves and undermountains because that's where the fuel and ores are that they need to live.

Deathbots are stout and stubby, standing about 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide with a body covered entirely in metal with one to six yellow or red pupilless eyes glowing out of some impenetrable blackness within the "visor" of their heads. They can detach and replace parts voluntarily though for more important parts it stings a little as a protective security measure. (They tried making it not hurt at all but people kept disassembling themselves trying to do complex field repairs in stupid places in the remote tunnels and needing to be rescued.) They will very often be seen with only one manipulator, the other arm preoccupied with housing some tool or weapon, which are incidentally famous for being some of the best in the world. (They love making and selling weapons though no deathbot-led faction has started a real war in centuries.) A newly built deathbot AI core can usually last about 80-120 years before wear and tear warrant a permanent decommission.


Deep in the forests of every known world these vast insectoid beings flit silently across the canopies, drinking the dew and light in memory of some impossible antediluvian world. At first glance they appear to be beasts, slipping flawlessly among the leaves and branches, naked as Adam in their peculiar sort of primordiality. But in truth they guard some of the most formidable technologies ever seen on this planet, things that would make the finest machinery of Atlantis seem like the work of impatient children, thinly and perfectly disguised to our crude senses as the essence of nature and life itself.

Treebugs are tall and spindly, standing 6 feet tall with long arms like a gibbon and a long forked tail that acts as two independent grasping limbs. They have small heads with huge compound eyes under heavy eyelids, and they can turn their heads to look completely behind their own bodies. They can change colour at will, but are most often some kind of green and brown, reflecting a thousand blues when the sun hits them at the correct angle. But for the four limbs and lack of a separate abdomen they would appear very much like arthropods, but what at first glance appears to be an exoskeleton is really a pattern of scales and spikes and muscle tone - and equipment. Communications devices, telepathic nodes, medical equipment, cutting implements, wings, extra limbs, things just seem to spontaneously emerge from a treebug's incomprehensibly ornate body as needed. They weigh a fraction of a grown man of similar height, bearing the hollow bones of a bird. No one knows the full extent of a treebug's lifespan, and some purport to have personal recollections of Atlantis in its prime.


Vast regions of the world lie barren and uninhabitable by man, overrun with twisted forms of the hives that house these brutish beings. Their ancestors exiled those of the treebugs eons ago, naming them heretics and blasphemers against the the purity of their race and the sacred nature of life itself. Now they spawn by the dozen, cannibalizing each other from birth in a race where only the strong and ruthless survive, to live a short brutish life amidst the decaying land ravaged by their predecessors, or to suffer the stigma of being impregnated and locked up in the centre of a hive, barefoot and perpetually pregnant, every few days birthing another batch of fanged grubs desperate to find a place - desperate to find the top place - in their world.

Hivers are thick and coarse, about 5 feet tall with faces like those of treebugs but thickly muscled, with shaggy feathery manes around the neck and four long razor-sharp tusks sprouting from the mouth - and a pair of slit-pupiled yellow eyes long evolved to bear as much rage and hate and inspire as much fear as possible in the viewer. Their grey bodies bear little ornamentation beyond more shaggy fur in strategic places, and unlike their distant kin are quite visibly clothed and armed with shoddy but effective gear. Aggression and visible wealth are directly linked with status. Sexual dimorphism is minimal between males and virgin females, but once impregnated and enhived the females quickly become obese and hairless and glassy-eyed. Potential maximum lifespan is unknown, though life expectancy is typically around 4-24 years for a male or non-reproducing female (with almost all of these on the high end of the scale bearing a male gender identity) and around 15-32 years for a reproducing female.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
Post a line (or two) from as many of your WIPs as you want, with no explanation attached.
  • On the one hand, I really don't want to do the thing with the two combatants standing around taking turns poking each other until one of them arbitrarily falls down ten minutes later.

    On the other, I want a reasonably forgiving game and not another Hideous Destructor.

  • If there isn't any obvious reason why someone would suffer any incidental injury because of a winning outcome, no one suffers damage.

  • horror - causes you to spend the next 200 turns either moving in random directions, attacking yourself, attacking the nearest potential target, dropping an item, or vomiting. the whole time you are screaming incoherently alerting all nearby monsters to your location. disturbing, evil things appear in the message bar. when the effect is over, you are no longer able to identify the scroll of horror.

    lamentation - for the next 500 turns, all items will appear as cursed, no matter their true status; weapons get no accuracy bonuses; all food tastes "horrible" and is randomly vomited; all enemy assessments are at their most pessimistic.

    kingly lineage/forbidden secrets/death/changes - does nothing.
Please send letters of blame and other faulting to [personal profile] lienne for this.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
Two quest ideas for a Fallout-style CRPG.

When you enter one town, you might learn from a random townsfolk dialogue that they get their water from the nearby stream. There is a quest where the local eccentric is accused of something awful (no one died or anything, but it really was very Not Nice and We Just Don't Do That Around Here) and, guilty or innocent, you are to try to reconcile them with the rest of the town.

Upstream there is an older town that's full of crumbling buildings and a few morose people. The town is dying: it used to be this busy riverside trading post with great cuisine and nightlife, but the land accreted over the port a long time ago, the logging industry that replaced it died when the soil eroded and the forest was gone, and now the one thing that seems capable of saving the town, a newly discovered gold vein deep underground, has been taken over by monsters.

Once you beat the game, you get the following in the town epilogues:

Possible outcomes under cut. )
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
The following occurred to me on the way home tonight that could solve a lot of RPG issues.

All characters are cornball idiot antiheroes, preferably a wacky and possibly annoying NPC from a game the player previously GMed.

There is NO CONTINUITY between sessions unless someone casually brings up an event from a previous session.

Before the session begins, each player has 1) a Kicker for their own character; and 2) a Bang for at least two other characters.

There may be a text file floating around with prompts, including pictures and skeleton plots. Possibly involving literal skeletons of course.

When the players meet for the session, they draw straws or equivalent and thereby pick a GM at random.

That GM will start a scene with a player who introduces their character with whatever their Kicker calls for, then the GM will throw in the Bang and/or someone weaves their own character in and the game begins.

Of course the GM gets to run their own character.
vaecrius: The blocky spiral motif based on the golden ratio that I use for various ID icons, ending with a red centre. (Default)
A game idea that popped up in my head during dinner. Was originally conceived of as a videogame (platformer? dating sim? roguelike???) but from the looks of it it might make more sense as a tabletop.

the game. )
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
Someone posits stuff about marketing, pickup, ideologues, and the Meaning Of Life.
In the book "Hero Brand", I have explained the parallels between becoming a public hero and becoming a brand. One of the things we learn from heroes is that they rarely talk about how good they are. You never heard Superman say: “look at my biceps! I am so strong! I can lift a building!”. Nobody ever heard Einstein say: “I am much better at inventing theories about the universe than anybody else!”. Real heroes talk about something else. They talk about why. Why the things they do are important for a better world.
Sad that it works independently of truth value. :V

In other news, here's a thing from the game setting [ profile] kavitykrunch has authorized me to add, that I post because it might be relevant to a few other people's interests.

on biological privilege, the fungibility fallacy, and objectification of Othered persons' bodies )
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
When activists petition to remove Native American mascots from the logos of sports teams, the answer of traditionalists often boils down to: What’s the harm?

Newly published research provides an unexpected answer. It suggests exposure to one stereotype — however whimsical or benign in its intent — apparently activates others.

The testers had subjects evaluate anti-Asian stereotypes. Some were previously given some subliminal message of Chief Illiniwek, a fictional mascot character who looks like a cartoon sort of feather-headdressed "Indian chief", while others were given neutral or null messages in the same spot.

Subjects exposed to the stereotyped mascot were reported to be much more open to stereotyped ideas about a completely different* ethnicity. It's like the same part of the mind controlled all the different racist stereotypes one held, or at least they all responded in unison from the same triggers.

Additionally, while the stereotyped Native image the subjects were given was completely benign-looking in intent, the stereotypes about Asians were quite negative.

The article says that Asians were chosen as the target ethnicity because their stereotypes were maximally contrasted with those of Aboriginals. Dunno how much one can go in there about that, though there could be something else at play here, besides all racist stereotypes working together: it could be that by framing the discussion to cast a stereotyped native in a positive light, people become more sensitive about (even further) immigration and waves of "Old World" migrants taking over and destroying the local way of life.

I wonder, too, about the effect on gender stereotypes.

That all said, have a mental health break!

Fashion designers as Disney characters.

omg the sugarbees
vaecrius: The blocky spiral motif based on the golden ratio that I use for various ID icons, ending with a red centre. (Default)

This reminds me of how our family can instantly distinguish Cantonese-language shows produced in China but ostensibly set in Hong Kong, from Cantonese-language shows set and produced in Hong Kong: the HK material is constantly peppered with English phrases, seemingly independent of whether there is already a Chinese word for the thing discussed.

To an HK speaker the Chinese stuff sounds jarringly stilted, like an equivalent of somewhere between coming up with an English word for schadenfreude and saying cow and pig for beef and pork.

In other news, a neat review of one of the defining movies of my formative years and its sequels.
It is mentioned in the first film that it took the Judas Breed three years of living in the sewers (and occasionally wandering around dark subway stations, buildings, and city streets) to grow into camouflage-able, man-sized monsters without the outside world’s awareness. The suggestion here is that a population of giant carnivorous insects could grow under the very nose of America’s largest city but as long as the critters stay in the shadows and relegate their carnivorous diet to society’s outcasts (the homeless, stray animals, and larger vermin such as rats), no one would really notice. There’s an ample opportunity here for commentary on the public’s ignorance and apathy over scientific research and environmental issues, but neither del Toro nor the sequels provide that.
I would suspect that Del Toro didn't notice this - or, to sheathe Occam's Razor once more, deliberately communicated it through its absence.

"'But we need a reminder!' Well, leave a piece of fruit out for a couple days and nature will come visit you, lifestyle guru not necessary. You can’t get away from 'nature' as you breathe it in and shit it out."

I know this

if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.


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