Tuesday, 29 November 2011

We've only just begun

Yep, the Expanse is now a year old, give or take. Thanks to Whisk for the reminder and the fine singing, and to everyone for the ongoing encouragement, for all the reading and commenting, especially the tough guys who've kept coming back since the early days.

There's no plan for any competition or giveaway right now, but it has got me looking at a regular more tangible gift over the long term I'm hoping will cover the interests of most. More on that as I get it, and soon if my recharged batteries are a guide to progress.

I'll be honest and say the fact of it being exactly one year hasn't got me too excited, and I've been far too distracted by one thing or another recently to really take it all in. That said, I have been looking back at the various series and projects and getting fired up all over again. Measured in posts and even useable material it's been a wild enough ride.

I've been thinking about putting links to the major strands in a single reference post, but that will have to wait for a while. For now, I've done some quick tieing up of a few loose ends behind the scenes and written up a long list of things I want to get round to at last.

Of the changes, two are more practical. For those who remember, and maybe more for those who don't, I finally got round to labelling the Deep thought Fridays, a series we can expect more of soon. I've also added a row to the graphic menu at the top of the right-hand sidebar for what's been getting the love recently, or will in the near future.

One of the older ideas I'm reworking quite heavily is the triffle, which for me is up there with propluristemic content and strange new worlds as key to the Expanse. It has real potential as a tool and I want to simplify the format, expand the scope and do it justice.

In the meantime I'll be doing some reading and posting a strange new worlds roundup.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Plasma screams

I've got a lot of time for weird science, or science that isn't so popular, and a pretty good example of that is plasma cosmology. This is an approach to the nature of the universe which says electromagnetism is more important in large-scale phenomena than gravity.

The chief criticism I see come up is there's not been enough work on it, not surprising given that if it is accepted we could well be backtracking to the drawing board of 1916 and General Relativity. Don't forget Einstein himself wasn't happy with black holes, and a layman might even regard some of the work since as fudge, plugging leak after leak.

Could we be that wrong? In theory, yes. Challenging a majority view is hard, and we've likely all felt peer pressure or seen someone dig a hole deeper, especially when there's time, money or reputation involved. I wouldn't say that's what we have here, but it does seem within the bounds of human behaviour. And there is a clear historical precedent.

I recommend watching the vid and doing something we're usually pretty good at - saying 'What if..?' And if the possibility of physically verifying it is far off, and we personally have little chance to do it, maybe it's better to have more fuel for the mind, and new incentive?


Sunday, 20 November 2011

Trunk - bark - object

You approach the trunk, the drone of the voices rising. The body of the oak is so broad that to reach it you are forced to climb out from among the ferns and delving root arcs almost onto the curved flank of the tree itself, up under the thick lower branches.

The bark is weathered and worn, run through with fissures, and rippling with heavy folds. Tiny creatures flitter, alight and wander across the skin. Those voices... They draw your sight off. And then, there, beyond a large curtain fold of bark you see - what? A sharp edge, a dark form, an object perhaps soft in texture... You stare. Dare you reach in?

But there is so much else still to explore here... The paths run up and down from the clearing, and behind you, amid the undergrowth and the roots, lies the dark hollow.

Reach into the fold of bark   Blog One
Investigate the hollow   Blog One  Blog Two
Go down the hill   Blog One  Blog Two
Go up   Blog One  Blog Two

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The pay-as-you-go laser rifle

Have a read of this. Now there's a business plan, and a real piece of the action. But not necessarily for the taxpayers whose money is being spent, or the lives put on the line.

It makes me wonder why in games, books and films the protagonists so often team up with one power against another, whether it be a kingdom, a tribe of orcs, a cult leader with a private army or a rogue planetary governor and local forces. Surely if they were serious they'd supply both sides with arms, or set up a chain of armed interventions?

If the characters do have to use their fighting skills. they could always use the proceeds to support an expedition of their own. A one-two like that is nothing new in our world.

But then why wouldn't they go the extra mile - shift the suspicion and blame. How?

First, the 'heroes' could overthrow a corrupt power and set up a democracy. Next they could whittle the parties down to two and support both financially, then whichever guy gets democratically elected they have arm another power in the world - with weapons they supply - and make that power feel it has friends, comfortable enough to overreach.

Elections are held; eventually the first leader gets replaced with another. The suppliers then have that guy turn on the newly-armed power and remove the 'regime'. They top up the lost munitions on both sides and maybe diversify to pick up more of the spoils.

Sound familiar? Does a bit. Let's be honest, it is pretty old school, rather 20th century.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

40K OSR? (12)

Here goes with another full 40K OSR? update.

First things first - if you're wondering what a 40K OSR might be, potential definitions are here.

If you identify with the concept, and especially if you're coming up with new ideas, Colonel Kane's logo, which is here on the right, is ready to use.

If you do use it, consider giving him credit and adding Tales from the Maelstrom to your roll. The last post had a converted Rogue Trader crew member, and before that a set of four Zoats.

As ever, you can find all the most recent related posts using the 40K OSR? label.

        For the wild card this time there's more on scaling-down from 28mm, with Tabletop Fix looking at using 15mm substitutes for Mantic's Kings of War at BoLS; the discussion covered Epic and 40K too. If you like the idea and you haven't yet, you might want to check out the possible 6mm Necrons, Squats and imperials linked up at this post.

        As usual, feel free to suggest anything you think should be here, even your own posts.

        Update: I've just found Codicium Aeternum, where The March Rider is converting a good-looking Inquisition force, with one mini even using a Rogue Trader-era plasma gun. Also, Nick at The Dice Abide is looking to build alternative DE grotesques.


        Thursday, 10 November 2011

        The Grisly Grotto

        For last week's post at HoP Von recorded a video on what roleplaying is, and it's worth a look. When I clicked through I found it linked to a vid on Quake, a seminal first-person shooter from back in 1996, and watching more reminded me how good the design was.

        This is a walkthrough of the fourth map, the Grisly Grotto, built around a flooded cavern, one of my favourites for the character of the spaces and the clever setups. Quake never seemed especially complex in how it populated levels or reacted to events, but the bad guys and locations were arranged well to draw players on and keep them off balance.

        This is the PC version and as far as I can tell it's not using the DarkPlaces mod or any texture packs. Watch out if you don't know Quake - it's pretty gory, and could be scary.

        If you're wondering why all that infrastructure might be there, Callin at Big Ball of No Fun has a lot of options, and for more cavern inspiration check out the links at this post.


        Thursday, 3 November 2011

        Following the money, or not?

        Has anyone ever used inflation in a game world?

        Every time the party brings treasure out into the world there could be a knock-on effect, prices rising in the local area as the new money gets spread about, or those rolling in it get milked.

        Or when an army brings its guns and requisition orders and there are shortages of the basics.

        What new industries might spring up, and if there was a limited population, what might not get done? Where would the equilibrium be? Would everyone make for the caves and ruins in a new gold rush, or follow forces over the horizon for barter, auxiliary work or prestige? Would new centres of power and cliques appear, or a cargo cult form?

        How about a realm leaving the precious-metal standard? After all, if one of the functions of money is to store value, it ought to be a thing that loses little value over time, and the aim of the game could be undermining that. It needs to be a good medium of exchange and unit of account too, but in a fantasy world there might be many things to do it better.

        Even in our world there might be many things to do it better. How would our our own made-up money work in a fantasy world? Would it be laughed off, or be a scheme for a smart group to try? Could a pyramid get going, and would the lords and their lieutenants clamp down? Would the newly rich be allowed to take treasure into other realms?

        And why would treasure bring experience anyway? I guess it's just a short-hand for the process of development in getting it. Maybe a better basis for that would be number of decisions or dice rolls made, maybe with a bonus for failure or injury, for the reflection.

        Lots of questions. I didn't mention currency unions though. That could well be too raw.