Wednesday, July 30, 2014

All you extra terrestrials are going to prison, or how I'm dealing with aliens in Eclipse Phase

So I have been thinking a bit about Eclipse Phase ( and how I would like to run my personal game setting. For the most part I'm fairly happy with the setting as it's presented with a few exceptions. In this post I will talk about one of these exceptions. In theory I suppose this could work for pretty much any SF setting, so if you can glean something from it then feel free.

Aliens. I've talked about these pesky plot consuming parasites before, stating that I'd rather not include the "Factors" (The only aliens in the Eclipse Phase setting that humanity has encountered) into my games, but I never explained why. I do have a few reasons.

If they are used as they are presented, these Post Singularitarian ETs tend to act as nothing more than big bad bogeyman for the entire story. They distract from the feeling of the setting, as I see it, by creating a “goal” or a focus for the players to set their sights on. If this were a fantasy game aliens would be the dragons of this age. 

Different kinds of players will, of course, have different reasons for wanting to interact with these technologically superior aliens. I imagine that the “Hawks” will be raging at their restraints hoping to get their hands on some of that bad ass alien weaponry, the hacker types will want to use the far superior computer junk and of course there are the folks who think it'd be super awesome neat-o to eventually kick some alien ass as if these sapient beings were the boss at the end of some imaginary level.

Advanced alien civilizations also seem to exist only to serve as a counterbalance against the power and the threat of whatever runaway existential nightmare we've created for ourselves. As presented they seem to say that Humanity needn't worry too much about fucking shit up because there are aliens out there that know how to deal with these kinds of things and will help out if we screw up.

If I were to use aliens in game I could only see a couple of possibilities, either these aliens are on equal footing with humanity or they are somehow opposed to them.

If said aliens are on equal terms with humanity then their presence in game is merely one of flavor and personally I'd rather simplify the equation and state that there are no aliens. In that case I don't need to worry about players asking if they can play them or coming up with tons of pointless notes on the aliens history, origin and culture.

In the latter case this opposition could be as simple as the ETs needing our resources to survive or as complex as attacking humanity with the intent of destroying us because they came across the Titans and misconstrued them as weapons we had unleashed on the galaxy. I hear a lot of talk about how a sufficiently advanced and long lived culture would be more interested in peace than war. 

After taking a look at the Middle East and Africa however, I'm
 calling that one bullshit.

Monday, July 14, 2014

My thoughts on D&D 5 and the "Consultant Controversy"

Recently I have been giving this whole 5e thing a thorough introspective look. I've previously come out and said that I won't be buying it. For the same reasons many are, I didn't want to buy it because of the two names that are always getting brought up (and summarily giving them both more exposure. Way to go internet!) when people say they aren't buying them.

My reasons had nothing to do with any apparent homo/transphobia, sexism or whatever else everyone on the bandwagon is accusing them of. I don't care what either of them think about anything really, I don't find their opinions worth consideration. I just find them both to be abhorrent human beings. (No doubt some people feel the same about me, I can accept that).

I know many in my circles enjoy their "work" and that's cool, but (at least for me) "contributing to the scene" as much as they do doesn't make up for the self aggrandizing "I'm never wrong" attitude they display all the time, usually at the expense of others they disagree with. I don't enjoy being called Swine because I enjoy a different style of gaming than they do and I find it laughable to be asked to apologize for my opinions on matters to someone who only wants that apology to make himself look better, not because they are "right".

Anyway, to be honest, this isn't a post about them really. I just wanted to say I've had a change of heart, sort of. 

I have other avenues I could use if I wanted to play in a classical fantasy game, right now I'm using FATE to run my Eclipse Phase games and the last couple of sessions +Kevin Nugent has been using FATE (Freeport) to run a Fantasy game (Set as a Simulspace game inside our EP campaign). I could use Dungeon World as well because damn that game looks bad ass. I could buy any number of OSR products and I still have a bunch of Pathfinder stuff I can use. 

But those games are not D&D.

I grew up on D&D and I'm sure most of us have. I've played almost every edition (except 4th) and form of the game since the boxed sets, I've spent countless hours making maps and dungeons and characters. I've been a part of creating entire worlds and destroying them as well. I've made some good friends with it, and I've made a few enemies as well. Like it or not D&D is a part of who I am today. 

Up until recently I haven't had a group to play with, I'm too much of an anti social weirdo to go out and meet people. All that has changed though. Through work I've found a really good group of folks that I both get along with personally and who like games and I am happy with that. The thing is though, at least three of the five of us have many years of experience with D&D and a couple of us have never played it at all, but really want to. 

With that in mind, I've decided to go ahead and buy the starter set, or possibly wait and buy the core books when they are finally released. In either case however I have found the perfect utility to use to avoid having to see their names in my books when I open them.