Archives for: August 2009
August 29th, 2009
Published on August 29th, 2009 @ 01:18:58 am , using 181 words, 436 views
Writing ... Finished
Art ... Finished
Editing ... Finished
Layout ... Finished
Printing. Only one step to go. Right now, we are just seeing if our final draft fits in our allotted space. I will add that I was able to include several story segments from new novel to help flesh out the setting, something I know of you have been asking and hoping about. As stated, we are a little over budget but we are discussing ways to fit everything we want in.
Imagine pre-orders will be made available soon. What's soon? Couldn't tell you. I will say that many of the things we have learned with NeuroSpasta has been retrofitted back into Amethyst, including clearer burst fire rules and easier move and fire guidelines.
Also, me and Conan will be taking a group of experience 4th Edition gamers with NO experience in Amethyst and sending them through the paces of Hearts of Chaos with the final edition of Amethyst's rules. That will be recorded as a podcast. We hope this one will not be as insane as the techan podcast earlier this year.
August 26th, 2009
Published on August 26th, 2009 @ 02:34:25 am , using 6 words, 208 views
August 12th, 2009
Published on August 12th, 2009 @ 04:12:24 am , using 872 words, 387 views
For the past three weeks, I have been fielding comments that the damage output of our weapons is too low--that they should be way higher than a crossbow or longbow. Despite my simple arguments, people still seem to think that a 13 gram bullet should be doing more damage than a 450 gram arrow...and not a single increase in die damage (1d6 to 1d8). We are talking if a longbow does 1d10, then an M16 should be doing 3d6.
Firstly, you have to understand how much energy they carry. Bullets have a lot of energy in their release, but they are light. A knife or an arrow moves a lot slower, but they weigh a heck of a lot more. An arrow has its shaft to carry additional energy in a way your arm does when it pushes in a blade. This why arrows and knives can actually penetrate most bullet proof vests. If you have ever seen an arrow in slow-motion, you'll notice it flexing as it passes through the air. When it impacts, that stored energy in the shaft (flexional energy, I looked it up) causes it to straighten, transferring that power back into its tip. It's more than the fact that arrow tips are pointy and most bullets are not (or at least not as). In fact, mass can have as much or a greater impact on damage to the target than velocity. Expert bowman had seen the damage potential of their tools, penetrating deeper than even high powered rifles.
Consider this thought experiment. Fire a baseball to bowling pins and see if that ball can carry enough energy to knock all 10 pins...compare that to the slow speed of a rolling 16 lbs resin ball. And don't bring up the Hollywood effect of people being thrown off their feet. Anyone who watches Mythbusters knows...it all just wires. That being said, even though a baseball can hit harder with a baseball when thrown by a MLB pitcher than an archer's arrow, the baseball probably won't get through plate mail. The shape does matter.
Now, at some point, velocity does become an issue. For those still paying attention, it's called hydraulic force. This is the shock wave that resonates from a bullet hit in the soft tissue after impact. This causes the internal bleeding and bruising and what not. Arrows, though large, are never fired with enough velocity to create significant hydraulic shock (it actually deals with momentum, and yes, momentum and velocity is different). However, this depends on a variety of issues including range and point of impact. A bullet looses momentum quickly but we can't factor that in the rules. Additionally, we can't include body locations, which can also greatly affect the amount of tissue damage.
So we have a balance. Despite the bullet carrying amazing power, the arrow will penetrate further. That is fact. It's proven. The bullet can cause wound damage from hydraulic shock because of its velocity, which an arrow cannot replicate. This is also fact, also proven. We also balance this with the fact that a GREATSWORD does 2d6 damage. This is a gigantic chunk of sharpened steel that carries penetration and blunt force trauma. It can kill you without even breaking skin. Sooo...Pistols do 1d4-1d6, rifles do 1d8 to 1d10, and heavy weapons do 1d10 and up.
Here is an example I found online. If one fills a 5 gallon plastic pail with sand and fires both a .357 magnum and a heavy hunting arrow at it, the bullet will be stopped by the sand, while the arrow will penetrate the pail completely. The .357 magnum handgun has a 158 grain bullet traveling at 1250 fps, for a momentum of 0.83 slug-feet per second, and a kinetic energy of 520 foot-pounds. A 710 grain arrow at 183 fps has only 0.57 slug-feet per second of momentum, and a mere 52 foot-pounds of kinetic energy. These are actual combinations used to demonstrate the penetration power of a heavy hunting arrow. A major factor between the bullet and the arrow is the increased resistance force met by the higher velocity bullet. While the bullet has ten times more kinetic energy, and 37.5% more momentum, than the arrow, it's almost seven times higher velocity causes the bullet to be met by nearly fifty times as great a resistance force as that encountered by the arrow! Another major factor between the handgun’s bullet and the arrow is the longer time period of the arrow’s impulse; which results from its higher mass. Though the arrow is traveling much slower than the bullet, and has less momentum than the bullet, it derives a greater percentage of the momentum it does possess from its mass. It is "heavier". The heavier (and lower velocity) arrow “decelerates” more slowly than the bullet or, if one prefers, it has a longer time period over which the force acts. Force multiplied by the time it acts equals the impulse. The heavier arrow retains a higher percentage of its force for a longer period of time than does the bullet. The bullet’s total net disposable force, though very high relative to the arrow, is entirely dissipated in milliseconds.
Can I put this to bed now?
(Thanks to Ed Ashby for his science)
August 9th, 2009
Published on August 9th, 2009 @ 09:57:39 pm , using 1528 words, 402 views
Here is the third and final part in the series...
The overriding or augmentation of sensory input started increasing worldwide. The number of hackers employing it was rather low. The user would enter an area with a simulation marker, that marker would ask the user if it can present the simulation. The simulation carries an "invisible" ID tag that tells the brain the image is not real, regardless of the detail of the actual simulation. Users can be set to "auto-receive" or "auto-refuse" or selective prompt, not unlike cookies of computers. Most hackers, unable to crack that defense feature, have been forced to hack the simulations, which could always be turned off. Hackers able to break the GNOSIS defense protocols are extremely few. Beyond advertising, these open-simulated areas, or "Osim" expanded to dozens of applications, including sporting events (relaying driver information over the race cars as they circled the track), combat training (tracking enemy hits), and education (showing graphs and equations without worrying over eyesight and clumsy chalkboards). Photo realistic simulations were and still are extremely difficult to produce, preventing the home consumer from fabricating illusions on the fly. Programs could be purchased allowing one to hang great pieces of art from the walls of their home without the pesky complications of buying the art or nailing a frame to a wall. The program would install the image and display that image on a marker you place on the wall. With this technology, the only limit was the lack of tactile and olfactory response. Visual and auditory stimuli could be replicated with precision if given enough time and money. Tactile impute required a great deal of additional information and was only capable with total immersion experiences which shut down all external inputs for its own.
The newest craze to hit the digital age relating to Seeds are virtual cafes. These are real locations that allow the mingling of virtual and physical people. Users downloading to the location pay for access to the cafe while real people need only order food or coffee. The cafe creates a perfect representation of the individual you want to be (either from a template or from photos you provide) and generates the avatar in the cafe all other Seeds users there can talk and interact with. Virtual Cafes have expanded to also be virtual arenas, virtual schools, and virtual stores, where simulated people can access for a small fee (or no fee depending on the situation). This form of telepresence gave those afraid of the outside world access they had not previously believed. Eventually, these introverted individuals stopped leaving their homes altogether, refusing to interact with anyone unless through their virtual self. Total immersion simulations allows tactile interaction if necessary but most of the time, these simulated representations, known as "proxies" would occupy more than half of these real/virtual locations.
Archon has the highest number of V/P Sites (Virtual / Physical) in the world. UN policy prohibits any employee or diplomat from using a proxy in the work place. The UN buildings are limited in their Seed simulations, only making exceptions for dignitaries unable to attend certain events. It has been estimated that nearly 500,000 people telepresence into Archon from outside the city every day.
The variety of organic and synthetic representation has brought an examination of the definition of humanity and the mark of a civilized being. Philosophy classes around the world began specialized lectures dedicated to this new mindset. It was beyond the definitions of the soul but in the value of an intelligence wasted in comparison to an intelligence utilized. There were an increasing number of humans on the planet that were no longer being productive. This was not because of poverty or mental disability as this growing demographic had no such limitations, and many of them were wealthy. These individuals would stop generating new memories in exchange for experiencing the memories of others. In addition, those generating new memories are now able to transmit their likeness to other places in the world without ever leaving their home. They are going places without having travel, which cut heavily into the tourism market. Countries started attacking Memory Swap sites because of the damage being caused to their economy. Pay sites were making a modest profit but their traffic paled in comparison to the hundreds of free sites across the world. As the number of memories exploded in a matter of months, it was easy to download a lifetime worth of memories that were not your own. What defined a human being if it wasn't memory? Their personality? Personality is shaped by genes but also by life events. Memory was now an open domain for all to experience any event anyone else wanted to share...and share they did. Everything from sexual encounters, thrill sports, to crime could be found. At the same time, a person's heritage and race was also in question as a definition of one's self. Beyond plastic surgery and sexual identity operations, people could now change everything about them. Some did it via virtual imagery, some through a slave robot, but many allotted to swapping their body out altogether. The only part organic that remained was the brain. Sexual preference, racial profiling, and gender roles simply didn't matter in the wake of undefined human identity. Alarmists feared a growing insanity was about to burst--as individuals with no roots, heritage, or race would turn to anarchy. Although a few did, most...turned to Archon. A city with no heritage was the perfect refuge for those abandoning their old lives. This new demographic refused to envy the past, only learn the mistakes made then. National paranoia developed in many countries as what defined their sovereignty was also in question. Fanatics from nearly every religion accused those abandoning their flesh as renouncing god and dozens of prosthetics fell to hate crimes since emerging into the public. Even still, prosthetics could still be defined as human, as they had a human brain. But a human brain in an artificial body filled with synthetic and surrogate memories can hardly be considered human. Mankind had just learned to accept the growing nugenic population--people whose god-given genes were modified against nature's will by parents looking to improve upon the design.
Robots, on the other hand, were an easy target for hate. Few looked human and those that did could only barely simulate human responses. Even the companion robots, believable in almost every way, still lacked a certain spark. Despite the arguments of their owners, robots didn't have souls or personalities. Artificial Intelligence was just that, a simulated intelligence that mimicked behavior through programming rather than a soul. No matter how intelligent they got, or how human they appeared, they were not sentient. Then the virtuants appeared.
Virtuants are created in a program simulation similar to the basic building blocks of DNA and genes. The basic disposition is formed using algorithms meant to mimic a newborn. The synthetic personality is then grown with artificial and surrogate memories, shaped by their into the exact final form as ordered by the buyer. Virtuants are aware of their purpose and are raised with the desire to carry it out, forgoing the need of parameters and failsafes. Virtuants lived their youth with fake memories but, upon emerging into the real one, begin creating their own. Virtuants are generally not allowed to telepresence outside of the location of their central server and the majority don't wish to. They seldom want to experience synthetic memories. Even total immersions virtual experiences seldom excite them (although, since they are each as different as normal people, exceptions do occur). Virtuants use human-based prosthetic bodies which are indistinguishable from ones used by organic brains. Only visible marking allows others to tell them apart from prosthetics. They also have true personalities, not a series of programmed responses. They act human and look as human as most others encountered, yet society refuses to accept them as such. Unlike some organic humans living through the memories of others and producing nothing with their intellect, virtuants strive to earn their place. Despite their worth in society, they have yet to earn the same rights as their masters.
As this new consciousness grows and expands, newer extremes have emerged. This includes humans with no body, wired directly into a machine without a prosthetic, or humans that have implanted so many of their memories in digital storage, they have been able to swap out more and more of their own organic brain. If a human is able to transfer his or her intellect to a machine, would that intelligence have rights? What would define it as being human? In addition, it has been theorized that a cloned human brain with cybernetic implants may be implanted with a virtuant personality. Would that be a human? As the progressive side of humanity pushes further into future, the disparage between them and the traditionalist side widens. As this traditional segment of the popular grows more fearful and fanatical, it threatens to tear certain countries apart. Archon is seen as the flagship of this new self identity and the center point where like minded individuals congregate.
August 6th, 2009
Published on August 6th, 2009 @ 10:54:16 pm , using 547 words, 269 views
This is a reply post regarding weapons in Amethyst I made on the DnD boards...
"Returning to shamelessly plugging my product while simultaneously voicing my opinion on the matter, there are several approaches to handling modern firearms. Offering them large damage capacities is, in my opinion, the incorrect one. A first level character fire five shots with an auto power (using Amethyst jargon). That power inflicts 1[W] damage. In truth, a few of the shots may miss. A shot that does hit is absorbed by Kevlar or considered a minor wound brushing an arm muscle. An elite 20th level Special Forces Character has a multitude of encounter and daily powers which inflict up to an including 5[W] damage hits. The Special Forces and the base trooper have the same weapon firing the same bullets. The trooper wastes three of his shots and only two are effective while the Special Forces member strikes hard with all five bullets. It’s all about interpretation. Hit points can be reflective the same way. I think people need to think more abstract terms when trying to define a scaling power system like this. I would definitely say that 4th Ed is easier to a balance for Modern than D20. I know…because I did that to.
"As for rocket launchers, once again we have some ways around this. For one, rockets and other weapons use basic ranged attacks so then you CAN play with the damage output but carefully…as you cannot allow epic damage items in the hands of heroic tier characters. If I was to cut any tier out, I wouldn’t start the game at epic; I would start it at heroic and end it at paragon. If there is any unbalance in Amethyst, it regards the fact that you cannot legally acquire a laser gun until paragon and epic. Those wanting to make a high technology game will have to contend with that. I would either rename the lower weapons lasers and the actual lasers “focused” lasers or whatever, or star the game at that tier.
"NeuroSpasta throws most of that away, keeps the basic rule set put down in Amethyst, and goes on its own tangent. It ignores enhancement, trims hit points appropriately, and incorporates hardness and armor penetration. Amethyst is more compatible to those wanting their own magic/technology setting.
"So…how do you make this realistic? Well, for one, we have similar enemies at multiple challenge ratings. You can have a tank at first level and a tank at 20th level. Similar hit points, same hardness, much better attack and AC because of the half level bonus of its crew. Special Forces will not be fighting 1st level minions if they are 10th level. They are fighting 10th level minions with oddly similar weapons. It’s how you scale things. The Grounder with the heavy machine gun doesn’t do a lot more damage at later levels (They top out at 5W I think) but he does have status effects and blast radius powers which get increasingly larger as level progress. One power allows you to put down three area bursts in weapon range, immobilizing anyone hit underneath. I mean, come on, it’s not 30d10 but you gotta admit that’s kinda cool."
August 4th, 2009
Published on August 4th, 2009 @ 01:52:57 am , using 50 words, 1298 views
You think I would be used to praise but I get so little in life from workers...friends...family....sigh
August 3rd, 2009
Published on August 3rd, 2009 @ 02:50:53 am , using 94 words, 167 views
Last word on NeuroSpasta, we had polished up most of our opponents. Suffice to say, I know we are after the deadline. I know I said we were selecting playtesters at the beginning of August and it looks like it may still be another week. Apologies, once again. Although I know a few of these may not make it to the final book (put off for the second one), currently we have over 50...
...Well...because of a little rule we are implementing...that 50 actually increases to 130. And no, we won't go into that yet.
August 1st, 2009
Published on August 1st, 2009 @ 11:20:59 pm , using 57 words, 175 views
Amethyst: Hearts of Chaos opened at #58 at RPGNow. Two days later, it moved up to 28...two hours later, it was 27. I really hope word carries around and we can get that into the top ten. The first Amethyst game opened at #5.
Those who purchased the game, I hope you will post a review...hopefully a good one.
August 1st, 2009
Published on August 1st, 2009 @ 02:26:39 am , using 1118 words, 141 views
The eventuality that did occur was not expected. Although millions of people would download memories daily, most of the time, the memories they preferred to experience were their own, which they would replay from home servers. Many times, instead of downloading new memories, they would repeat older ones personally experienced over and over again. This new addiction was unforeseen and psychoanalysts attempted to classify this dependence. It was easy to identify why an individual would prefer their own memories over others, but to spend their lives repeating those over and over confounded many of them. Even today, vast numbers of people world-wide stopped forming new memories, merely reliving events of their youth. This addiction was eventually called Pervasive Reminiscence Replication Disorder (PRRD).
Oddly enough, this addiction is much more prevalent in lower-class communities, and especially in nations with a lower quality of living. In Archon, this addiction is only noticed in areas like the REZ. In A3 and Loka, it is virtually nonexistent. That being said, the downloading of "foreign" memories is more popular than ever in more advanced nations.
The drawback with recorded memory, of course, is a complete lack of control over the experience. The user would see the face of the real source of the memory in a mirror and have no influence over his or her actions, even to the point of being unable stop actions that go against the moral fortitude of the downloader. This introduced another psychological condition: Cognitive Proxy Separation Anxiety (CPSA). CPSA had its roots over a century ago as experts analyzed the effect of violent visual and auditory stimuli on children, namely with the introduction of violent television and movies. It was discovered that a small percentage couldn't separate the anxiety encountered by characters on a screen from their own. Further, these stimuli influenced their behavior as it exposed them to actions they found a compulsion to replicate. Even more found the experiences desensitizing. However, the vast majority were able to detach experiences seen on a screen with those actually experienced. Downloadable memories, unfortunately, circumvent that barrier the human psyche places on stimuli received from a TV/movie screen or from a radio. The event feels completely real and is regarding as a true memory by the one streaming it, despite the jarring shifts in self-image and attitude. CPSA occurs in individuals that develop other deep-rooted psychological conditions from viewing other people's memories. They develop post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias as well as social anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders. Some patients went further and had complete emotional and psychological breakdowns from which they never recovered. This is in despite of the emotional state of the person originally experiencing it. For example, a popular choice for memory downloads were experiences by soldiers in armed combat. These were tempting and were streamed by the millions, especially by teenagers addicted to simulated combat via computer games. But the soldiers recording those memories were trained for months if not years to handle such stresses and with no such padding, the streamed memories caused significant emotional damage, especially since, with the advent of the TCA protocol, the entire memory could be downloaded and experienced in minutes before the brains desire for food or sleep overrode the reproduced memory. When experiencing a memory, a person is emotionally connected to it and most people can't terminate the experience once it begins unless certain fail safes kick in, including any stimuli from the outside world meant to jostle the subject. Those that have no such event occurring, and place no such fail safes themselves, are often forced to experience the memory until its conclusion. Websites where memory systems were exchanged became known as Memory Swaps, while the actual memories themselves were nicknamed ProMs (Proxy Memories). Soon after, ProMs were defined specifically as real memories created by one source and downloaded by others. Syms, or Synthetic Memories are nearly identical except the memory has been intentionally modified or is fabricated from the ground up to alter realty. Synthetic memories are not as popular as real memories as users want the authenticity of reality. If they wanted something completely fabricated, another type of virtual experience was waiting to cater to that desire. Those addicted to these experiences, including sufferers from CPSA, have been called proxiphiles, loose strings, and sometimes just zeros.
While memory swaps were gaining in popularity, other aspects of the SEED were quickly maturing. This included reversing the recording sensors of the Seed, overriding sensory input to a body. This was a feature always included as it allowed users to access built in music and video players. They could make phone calls and surf the net without ever requiring a screen or keyboard. Beyond this, companies started developing passive spam simulations, which involved creating advertisements in one's visual field when they enter a certain area. These features could be suppressed but, soon after, it expanded into the entertainment industry. Instead of clumsy and unrealistic holograms, gamers would simply tie into the Seed network for the simulation. It was then easy to fabricate an artificial environment using direct sensory input, leading into two distinct experiences, virtual recreation and total immersion experiences. Virtual recreation involves matting virtual images into real backdrops. This includes simulated people and even sets. This makes the experience feel more real and also makes rendering cheaper as the backdrops don't need to be digitized. Several large recreation facilities offer day-long virtual adventures in hanger-sized sets with little more than a few boxes, a handful of buildings, and rows of artificial plants. Total immersion, a far more expensive option, disengages the subject's motor functions and overrides all sensory input. In these sceneries, there is no limit on the extremity of the event. Several corporations install catheters and food tubes for immersion experiences that can last for days. Total immersion allows the use of time compression, allowing a dozen hours of gameplay in only two, unlike virtual recreation, which must be in real time. Both of these experiences allow direct user input to change events and circumstances. The players can look like themselves or anyone else they wish. There was still, however, the problem of CPSA, as the experiences were direct and unavoidable, meaning the target believed they were in that situation. Though the vast majority of users could separate fantasy from reality, those susceptible to CPSA could not as the barrier the human mind places on traumatic images and stories relayed by an external device was circumvented. It became even more prevalent the detachment felt by those experiencing someone else's memory was no longer present, and the number of global CPSA cases grew. Society, unfortunately, was unwilling to wait for treatments or tolerances before moving on.