Now I’m staring at the sun, waiting for it to explode. Because a day is gonna come,
don’t know when but it will come, and then we will finally know the way out of here.
SPOILER ALERT: I really like the musical Hamilton.
So what’s up guys? I’m going to write down my method for designing a game, and you get to be (figuratively speaking) in the room where it happens.
The room where it happens.
SPOILER ALERT: I might actually be said to have a Hamilton “Problem”.
My method is just my method. My method is not the best method. My method is not the only method. My method was arrived at by designing games, which means my method is informed by the 10+ roleplaying games* I have already designed.
(There is exactly one inaccurate word in the sentence “Devon Oratz has been actively engaged in game design for his entire adult life”. That word would be “adult”.)
I am able to give you this standing on the shoulders of giants: a tower of them, first Matthew Woodring Stover, next Ray Bradbury (link NSFW unless you work in an English department or library), who in turn is standing on the shoulders of George Orwell, and so on. I’m pretty sure it’s turtles, er, I mean…authors…all the way down.
Still, here, is a pretty cool little story by Devon Oratz. Take it. It’s free.
“If you are not into the wacky hi-jinks then
why the hell are you into this?
Information wants to be free
charged particles expand through space
then bleed through greedy fingers
and explode in your face
I can’t wait.“
Fuck yes, I went there.
What’s about 220 pages, full color, and available right here, for free and forever?
Sorry guys, I’ve been really fucking busy. The Kickstarter that is going to jump in about two weeks has been taking all my time getting ready for it. I am about excited enough to poop my pants. So I missed about two installments of Transmissions From The End, so I’ll try to make up for it by making this one triple length!
Guest Shit From Thom Caulfield:
I asked Devon if I could have a guest post and he was like “you can have a guest 1/8th of a post because I have a lot of shit to write get your own fucking blog man” and I was like “I will take what I can get!” so here goes.
I’m sad that I can’t post this to the big purple because fascism (hurray!) which we’ll probably have in real world American in about a month and five days (double hurray!) but here are the sample complications I came up with based on the movies that Fiasco abjectly failed to be the Roleplaying Game Version of.
* “What kind of trouble are you in, Jerry?”
* “This was supposed to be a no-rough-stuff type deal!”
* “Love ya, hon.”
* “There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Don’tcha know that? And here ya are, and it’s a beautiful day. Well. I just don’t understand it.”
* “… So maybe the best thing would be to take care of that, right here in Brainerd.”
* “You know these are the limits of your life, man! The rule of your little fuckin’ gate here! Here’s your four dollars, you pathetic piece of shit!”
* “Is this a fuckin’ joke here?”
* “That’s a– that’s a fountain of conversation, man. That’s a geyser. I mean, whoa, daddy, stand back, man.“
* “I need … unguent.”
/////IN BRUGES (2008)
* “One of the girls they murdered WASN’T a friend of mine. I just wanted to make you feel bad. It worked quite well.”
* “The little boy.”
* “He pauses, even though he should just hit the cunt, and he repeats, yes, I am talking to you.”
* “That’s for John Lennon, you Yankee fucking cunt!”
* “I’d hit a woman who was trying to hit me with a bottle! That’s different. That’s self-defence, isn’t it! Or a woman who could do Karate. I’d never hit a woman generally.”
* “Would you ever think about killing yourself because you’re a midget?”
* “Harry. I am totally in your debt. The things that’s gone between us in the past, I love you unreservedly for that. For your integrity, for your honor, I love you.”
* “The boy had to be let go.”
* “My wife was black. And I loved her very much. And in 1976 she got murdered by a white man. So where the fuck am I supposed to stand in all this blood and carnage?”
-HARRY (Raiph Fiennes)-
* “How can fucking swans not be somebody’s fucking thing? How can that be?”
* “I liked Ray. He was a good bloke, but when it all comes down to it, y’know, he blew the head off a little fucking kid.”
* “You fucking retract that bit about my cunt fucking kids!”
* “An Uzi? I’m not from South Central los-Fucking-angeles. I want a normal gun for a normal person.”
* “I know I shouldn’t, but I will.”
* “You’ve got the capacity to get fucking worse!”
* “Well obviously I’m not gonna go through you, am I, with your baby and that. I’m a nice person. But could you just get out of the fucking way, please.”
* “Don’t be stupid. This is the shoot-out.”
* “I do want the guy dead. I want him fucking crucified. It doesn’t change the fact that he stitched you up like a blind little gayboy, does it?”
* “You’ve got to stick to your principals.”
\\\\\PHANTASM IV: OblIVion (1999)
* “Mike, that Tall Man of yours didn’t take Jody away. Jody died in a car wreck.”
* “Small Man, your end approaches but it is not yet. Take great care how you play.”
\\\\PULP FICTION (1994)
* “Say ‘what’ again. Say ‘what’ again, I dare you, I double dare you motherfucker, say what one more Goddamn time!”
* “And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon you.”
* “Pigs are filthy animals. I don’t eat filthy animals.”
* “Well, I’m a mushroom-cloud-layin’ motherfucker, motherfucker!”
* “Oh man, I shot Marvin in the face.”
* “Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood.”
* “I don’t mean any disrespect, I don’t like people barking orders at me.”
* “I got a threshold, Jules. I got a threshold for the abuse that I will take. Now, right now, I’m a fuckin’ race car, right, and you got me the red. ”
* “The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That’s pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps.”
* “I specifically reminded her – bedside table! On the Kangaroo! I said the words, “Don’t forget my father’s watch.””
* “I’m American, honey. Our names don’t mean shit.”
* “…Marcellus Wallace don’t like to be fucked by anybody except Mrs. Wallace.”
* “The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That’s pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps.””
* “I’m prepared to scour the the Earth for that motherfucker. If [Butch] goes to Indochina, I want a nigger hiding in a bowl of rice ready to pop a cap in his ass.”
* “I ain’t through with you by a damn sight. I’ma get medieval on your ass.”
-MRS. MIA WALLACE-
* “Why do we feel it’s necessary to yak about bullshit in order to be comfortable?”
* “This fucked-up bitch is Marsellus Wallace’s wife! Do you know who Marsellus Wallace is? Do you? If she croaks on me, I’m a fuckin’ greasespot!”
* “I’m gonna get fuckin’ divorced. No marriage counselling, no trial separation, I’m gonna get fuckin’ divorced.”
* “Did you notice a sign out in front of my house that said “Dead Nigger Storage”?”
* ” If I’m curt with you it’s because time is a factor. I think fast, I talk fast and I need you guys to act fast if you wanna get out of this. So, pretty please… with sugar on top. Clean the fucking car.” (I am going to call out Devon on totally having this complication in real life, because it’s his favorite thing to quote when demanding that me or Mikaela or anyone else to do something in a completely unreasonable timeframe.)
* “You see that, young lady? Respect. Respect for one’s elders gives character.”
* “Just because you are a character doesn’t mean that you have character.”
* “I get my car back any differently than when I gave it, Monster Joe’s gonna be disposing of two bodies.”
* “I love rules! They make me powerful!”
I had more planned, but to be honest, the one-month ban from RPG.net made me feel like my sample complications would have less of a
If you had any questions about how any of those complications are supposed to work (in what situations would you bust them, in what situations would you raise them, etc, why are their so fucking many for In Bruges.), email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Worlds End. Heroes Die. Systems Malfunction.
I saw what you did there, Thom, and if Harvey Keitel wasn’t so fucking awesome, you’d never have gotten away with it.
In two and a half weeks, I will have been developing this game, this setting, and this world, for exactly 12 years of my life (add 2-3 years if you count the videogames too, which started development in 2001). For that entire time, I have been trying to make it a thing. I feel like I have finally “brought the thunder” enough that I feel like I actually have a chance of making that happen.
This is a very early rough of a single piece of promotional art. It might not be enough to get you hyped, but it gets me fucking HYPED.
I am hereby officially announcing that our Kickstarter for Systems Malfunction the tabletop roleplaying game is launching on Tuesday, October 18th, 2016.
Accompanying the Kickstarter will be an 80,000 word braided fiction featuring stories from yours truly, Mikaela Barree, Richard Kelly, John Jemmott, and others. While this will give our monowire sharp deadlines to contend with, our intention is to have the first story ready to launch by the 21st and to launch one story roughly every three days thereafter, on the KS main page. There will be 11 stories total.
Artificial Nocturne is a braided anthology set in the Systems Malfunction universe designed to show up why that universe is FUCKING AWESOME: smart, literate, literary, genre-savvy, morally ambiguous, violent, profane, beautiful, science-fiction like you’ve never seen it before, with vampires fighting robots in goddamn motherfucking space.
Most of the writers already know how awesome Systems Malfunction is because of having played the LARP it’s based on. Some of the writers already know how awesome Systems Malfunction is because of having played the amateur CRPGs it’s based on. The rest of them will have to learn as they go.
It is the year 556 R.T…
D-042 “Jersey City” is an artificial nocturne. It is a wretched hive of scum and villainy (our principal characters). It’s just as fucked up as they say. It’s an outsider’s escape for a broken heart. You can buy anything there. Anyone.
They hide out in the back. They are the YWY (pronounced like “Why” singular, or “whys” plural), a sleeper cell of the Fallen that is wide awake. They are kids, all, terrorists all — age 3 to 300. Some of them are 200 year old psychic aliens. Some of them are robot prostitutes. Some of them are psychic cyborg immortal posthuman teenage prostitutes with a grudge against the po.
They are all terrorists. They are all kids.
They are our heroes. This story is about them and the shadow of a life they eke out around and beneath a space station with 250.5 million souls on board and a million stories.
Artificial Nocturne is a braided anthology in the Systems Malfunction universe designed to introduce it while telling a COMPLETELY NEW STORY within it (believe me, I have a LOT I could have rebooted).
Artificial Nocturne is informed by and keys to the album Synthetica by the rock band Metric.
It’s Not Just A Job, It’s An Adventure
I’ve had a couple of DicePunk adventures planned for a couple of months. The first of these, “Escape From Cleveland”, a Psionics adventure set during the Republican National Convention, I was really excited about this fucked up and awesome idea. But the closer we’ve gotten to the general election, the more and more terrifying Trump’s inevitable rise to power has seemed compared to his merely possible rise to power and the less and the less fun this adventure has seemed to write and playtest. I might actually leave the country if/when Trump wins. I don’t know that I’m feeling as keen on statting the
fucktard giant douche in DicePunk as I was back in July.
Instead, what we have coming up for some point in the future is an adventure I like to call No Country For Great Old Ones. It’s southern-fried cops and robbers a la recent incredibly amazing film Hell or High Water only with a ‘dash’ of the supernatural thrown in. We plan on releasing it “quad-statted” for DicePunk (specifically, Phantasm), Delta Green, HERO System 5E (Revised), and Savage Worlds, assuming that we can get all the licensing lined up. It’s going to be the tits.
This Is Entertainment
The SPLINTER Quick-Start Rules are called SPLINTER: This Is Entertainment. It will be a free PDF booklet (some dead tree copies possible for Free RPG day) that will include everything you need to jump into SPLINTER including pregenerated players/Avatars and an introductory adventure. In other words, the world’s weirdest RPG just got a bit more accessible.
It’s currently on schedule for a Christmas season 2016 release thanks almost entirely to one Richard Kelly. Richard: TYVM for keeping this particular ETG assault vessel on track and on target.
I think that’s all I’ve got for now. Thanks everyone for listening to my blather and turn in next Thursday for another Transmission From The End.
TFW: You realize that a rule that you both wrote and published makes no fucking sense.
I think that Firefight came out in 2013 or 2014? I forget. Anyway, anyway, there’s this Combat Maneuver on p. 15, Defensive Roll, that makes literally no fucking sense.
The rule says “A character with this Combat Maneuver decreases the Difficulty Stage of all Evasion rolls made versus Splash Attacks by one, from Hard to Normal.”
This makes exactly 0 sense. In The Singularity System you do not ever ROLL an Evasion test versus a “Splash Attack” because that is NOT A THING. Instead, attacks have a BLAST Radius and you suffer damage based on how close you are to ground zero, your Armor, the attack’s Piercing, and nothing else.
In 2013 I published a rule that was goddamn nonsense. But that can’t have happened! I’m perfect!
Still, though…that…fucking…feeling…when. So, Errata, effective immediately:
For Firefight, p. 15:
- Replace the Description of Defensive Roll with the following text: “A character with this combat maneuver can make an Evasion or Athletics roll (whichever is higher) when caught in the Blast Radius of any attack with a Blast Radius. Each Hit achieved on this test reduces the damage of the Blast attack by one–after reducing Base damage by meters from target,but before applying Armor.”
The list of people who are not welcome to play our games includes and is limited to the following: anyone that I specifically and subjectively think is an asshole and/or a douchenozzle. If you are on this list, you already know right where you belong, because I have never been the type not to say what I believe, and chances are I have personally fucking told you to “fire yourself as my fan” (see below).
That said, it is literally impossible to be on this “not welcome” list for any reason except your (shitty) personal behavior and actions.
I have not, for instance, taken the incredibly shitty step that Posthuman Studios have of “firing” all of their fans that identify as MRAs, with a stated reason of “tolerance”. To me, “we are SO TOLERANT that everyone who identifies as this group can go die in a fire” is the very pinnacle of hypocrisy.
I was a huge Eclipse Phase fan, and am not and will never be an MRA, but I stopped supporting Eclipse Phase on that day, on principle. Because that was a shitty thing to do to a group of their fans, even ones whose beliefs I don’t share.
I also hold the radical belief that people I strongly disagree with are still the former (people).
I don’t want to repeat the giant sentence above, but I feel like I have to.
It is literally impossible to be on this “not welcome” list for any reason except your (shitty) personal behavior and actions.
Literally no one is unwelcome in the related group of tiny, tiny fandoms that constitute End Transmission Games’ content and nascent community on the basis of race, creed, religion, sexuality, etcetera, etcetera, et al.
Let me give an example of the above without explicitly naming any full names: for five or six years, M. Hunter and Jacinda M., two now-married queer women, were members of my core gaming group. For half a decade they were queer women and they were as welcome as possible: hell, they went beyond welcome: they had the best, most regular attendance of my LARP for four years running.
Then they were shitty assholes to me and now are banned for life. Their gender and sexual identity is irrelevant to the fact that they are not welcome to my content. Their douchebaggery is. (Regular readers: you will note, this paragraph will not help me mend that particular fence. You will also note I don’t give a fuck. I don’t care how many minorities they are, fair weather friends aren’t real friends at all, and anyone who cuts you out of their life for a brief glimpse of you at your saddest doesn’t deserve your friendship.)
In Short — Everyone Should Feel Welcome And Included In All Of Our Games Except For The People Who I Personally Think Are Assholes, And Those People DEFINITELY Know Who They Are
Now I am going to talk about feminism and the risky proposition of self-identifying as an anti-feminist.
One of the most radical beliefs I hold is that words have meanings (FWIW: I (obviously) don’t give one half of one fuck about the late Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinions, I just think it’s funny that Coheed put it to music). Holding the belief that words have actual, objective, applicable definitions is dangerously backwards in [CURRENT YEAR].
- If I say “feminism” or “I am an anti-feminist”, and the only definition of feminism you have ever been exposed to is the memetic and epigrammatic “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people”, you would be shocked, and confused, and offended that I could say anything against feminism.
- If I say “feminism” or “I am an anti-feminist” and you think of batshit crazy, completely toxic, radical feminazis publicly declaring that it is a “basic fact” we should “recall” that “all penis-in-vagina intercourse is rape”…well that tells us a few things. It tells us that we get some of our our news from the same sources. And it tells us that you know exactly the strain of feminism I’m talking about when I self-identify as an anti-feminist.
- If I say I’m an anti-feminist and you have no idea which feminism I’m referring or don’t even know that the second “feminism” really exists…then things get really complicated and you might assume the worst.
Spoiler Warning: For Certain Values of ‘Feminist’, I, Devon Oratz, am actually a feminist.
I wanted to find that clip from Versus (2002) here…you know the one…but the internet wouldn’t let me. Probably for the best.
Specifically, I am an ardent supporter of women’s suffrage (first wave feminism) and a supporter of second-wave feminism, which campaigned for legal and social equity for women.
When I say that I am an anti-feminist, what I mean is that I am an opponent of radical 21st century third-wave sex-negative white feminism (whew!) which seeks to go beyond second-wave feminism and establish women as a privileged class with more rights than men.
I feel like where this argument breaks down so that civility and coherency become impossible is in the following conundrum: modern, main stream feminism is primarily the latter (or at least the loudest VOICES in it are), but makes every effort to present itself as merely “the radical notion that women are people“. This is a textbook use of what is called in rhetoric or forensics (debate, not like, CSI) the bait-and-switch or to use the term I prefer, the “Motte and Bailey” doctrine and makes productive discussions about feminism almost impossible outside of feminist or anti-feminist echo chambers (which is therefore automatically not productive discussion at all, because it’s just jerks in a circle, doing what they do).
It disgusts me to say this on multiple levels, because I think gender studies degrees should literally be abolished (NO OFFENSE TO GENDER STUDIES MAJORS, DIFFERENT OFF TOPIC BLOG POST, DIFFERENT DAY, OKAY GUYZ AND GALZ AND PREFERRED PRONOUNZ?), but I think the way the Eskimo famously (and by the way, inaccurately) supposedly have a hundred words for snow, I personally need more words for feminism so that people don’t think I am, for instance, in favor of repealing women’s suffrage.
So, when I say that I am an “egalitarian feminist”, what is encoded in that is that I support first and second-wave feminism. Especially in the Middle East, which desperately needs a women’s rights movement. Like, 30 years ago, guys.
When I say that I am an “anti-feminist”, what I mean is that I am opposed to ” batshit crazy, completely toxic, radical feminazis publicly declaring that it is a “basic fact” we should “recall” that “all penis-in-vagina intercourse is rape”“.
I can hold these two conflicting ideas in my mind at one time. SO TOO CAN YOU.
Now, where I get into debates with my female friends who more strongly identify as (SANE) feminists than me is right here: I basically say that the toxic feminists have ruined feminism forever, and that they need to come up with a new word for the non-toxic feminism that they support. They often argue that no, it’s just a few bad apples (the bad apples are all screaming at the top of their lungs, to mix my metaphors), and they don’t ruin the bunch, so the name of the movement (‘feminism’) is salvageable, the radfems should just be kicked out of the feminist clubhouse and called something else.
In case anyone wanted to mention the “No True Scotsman” fallacy in any way related to any of the above wall of text, I have only to remind them that I am currently dating this bonny lass, and that she is the truest Scotsman of them all.
Postscriptum Editorius: Some of you infrequent readers might be all like…