My Games

Friday, April 19, 2024

The Law of Unintended Consequences: A Two Party Competitive Game

The Law of Unintended Consequences is a competitive game played between two parties, managed by a single GM.

One team are The Heroes, and the other team are The Outlaws.

The Heroes overthrew the previous corrupt regime, and seek to create a better world. They'll have to contend with the corruption, incompetence, and sheer magnitude and complexity of the problems within, and also,

The Outlaws are a more heterogeneous bunch. Some are idealists who simply have no faith in the system as-is. Others' lived experience suggests to them that they must look out for themselves and theirs, and live day to day.

For each of their game sessions, The Heroes speak with their advisors, speak with the people, mitigate conflicts, legislate, and supervise. As they attempt to solve problems, it will be increasingly obvious all the ways they are being undermined every step of the way, both by corrupt factions and criminal NPCs, and also,

The Outlaws play more like a standard TTRPG, as opposed to the Domain-play of The Heroes; whether that be picaresque adventure, or something grander. All the same, they will frequently find themselves at odds with the policies and agents of The Heroes.

This game would benefit from tables and such; suggestions for "Unintended Consequences", various issues Heroes or Outlaws may confront. Maybe I'll write those later if people are actually interested in the idea.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Forgotten Gods

There are so many gods, it's inevitable that some get forgotten. We can forget gods, but let's not forget the people who made them. Contributors will be listed in parentheses.

  1. Wailing God of Signal-From-Noise: Like the ability of babies to learn the statistical properties of language through mere exposure that persists to this day, there was once a god in the linguistic dark ages when language first evolved with no fossil record to show for it. This god granted humans the ability to cry and laugh and scream, and to create distinct sounds for different kinds of predators. This god was borrowed from nature, it was not originally a god for humans, and when eventually they found (or created) their own gods, they had no more need for Wailing God of Signal-From-Noise, which is why today humans struggle to understand probabilities and large numbers.
  2. Shore-Striver (Wasitlikely): God of those nameless organisms that dedicated their lives to crawling incrementally further onto solid ground, especially those who made it so far they died on the returning stretch.
  3. Nameless Mother (Sheepandsorcery): In a cavern, on a mountain, where the dawn just pokes a single rosy finger into the stony crevice, there is a crack along a back wall, smoothed by a long dead creek into a yonic shape, in front of which have been rolled two smooth round stones, one on top of another, small on top, larger on the bottom. The top stone is vaguely rough for in the first age of man hands carved a face into this stone. This is the first god, the first goddess ever invented by mankind and the mother of all the gods, yet she has been forgotten. Time has worn away her identity and this is not even the first time. The one who carved these stones was not making an idol, only something by which he might remember his mother. Now she is forgotten. Now she is remembered forever.
  4. Folded-Wrinkles-Blossoming (Archonsmarchon): Back when stars could lie and crows could laugh, people knew how to wrap themselves in their own sagging skins to be remade in the prime of their youth. The god who guided this process was called Folded-Wrinkles-Blossoming, at least to some.
    In this time humanity was abundant, filling every corner of the Earth, yet this abundance was not to our strength - it made us the favoured prey of horrors: the hunting marrowflame, morph-again locusts, and Gib the Goreful being the few that remain to today.
    Humanity rejected their living rebirth, and cried out for Death. Death answered, and was so flattered by our self-offering it evangelized unto our enemies as well, inflicting mortal weaknesses or slaying them outright. It has been favoured ever since.
  5. World-Eater (Stygianseas): Bones aren't alive. The cells threaded through them are, and they heal due to being re-engineered, but bones are a mineral. World-Eater is the ancient protist-god of... something, of which biomineralization is a subcomponent. Its a god of structure but not determination. Its form is bulbous shells and tests, frustules and skeletons (both exo and endo) blooming off of each other asymmetrically and irregularly.
    World-Eater has been valued on earth since the first cells began to build biomineralized shells. Those few who remembered it in the first days of the Hominids understood that each flint tool or carved den was also sacred to it.
    All worlds with biomineralization or tool use are in its (un)awareness, but it is at the end of the day a very ancient sort of being.
  6. The Antecedent of Falsehoods (Glassziggurat): Who leapt into the mind of the first being that ever slept. It had so much fun there that it lost track of time and vanished when the creature woke.
  7. The God of Truth: Many Gods claim to be the God of Truth, but Truth was forgotten long ago. Or really it's more like we turned our backs on it, because it's ugly, and inconvenient. It looks diseased but it's not, that's just the germs inside all of us, even the good ones. Those maggots in its eyes, you have those too, they're eating the skin around your eyelashes right now. It has a dusty, flaky aura, like marine snow, but it's just illuminating that which our consciousness attenuates, all the meaningless murk, the detritus life leaves in its wake. Perhaps it's for the best, good riddance, c'est la vie.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Weird Eggs

  1. Platypus species that evolved "electrostatic missile eggs".
  2. Spiral shark eggs drill into the abyss. It is not known where they go, or towards what ends.
  3. Wonton chaos egg that unbirths and rebirths itself orthogonally to time.
  4. Synthegg: All encompassing virtual reality environment; an existential escape pod.

  5. Gatcha eggs: Like hard plastic-y single use pokeballs with monster and reality altering phenomenon pre-loaded. The probability tables are publicly available but it's basically random.
  6. Fractal Egg: The fractalness is in the roughness of the shell. An infinitely deep surface, cosmic patterns etched to the infinitesimal limit, worlds and lives stepped along the sharp edges. Beyond maximum recursion depth, what might grow within?
  7. Dragon eggshells litter the ionosphere hosting aetheric ecosystems like ants crawling along a translucent magnetic desert.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Into Interodelia: A Probiotic Drug Cocktail Adventure [Campaign Setup]

There are no contraindications to Into Interodelia: A Probiotic Drug Cocktail Adventure (it’s system and setting agnostic), but it pairs well with:

“What does a scanner see? he asked himself. I mean, really see? Into the head? Down into the heart? Does a passive infrared scanner like they used to use or a cube-type holo-scanner like they use these days, the latest thing, see into me - into us - clearly or darkly? I hope it does, he thought, see clearly, because I can't any longer these days see into myself. I see only murk. Murk outside; murk inside. I hope, for everyone's sake, the scanners do better. Because, he thought, if the scanner sees only darkly, the way I myself do, then we are cursed, cursed again and like we have been continually, and we'll wind up dead this way, knowing very little and getting that little fragment wrong too.”
― Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly

In this adventure, your body has been reduced to a state between life and death, and your mind downloaded into the consciousness of a drug-induced microbiotic gut bloom. Your vagus nerve has been torn from spacetime as you know it, uncomfortably bundled to fit within the confines of the curled dimensions, and yours and all the other's stitched together like string puppets pulled by the GM's trigeminal nerve somewhere past the fourth wall. The entire world as you perceive it is disseminated through the pain of the GM as immunopathological signals.

Too much information squeezed through coiled wires like electrons, the only release existing outside the body, outside the mind, the magnetic field in this too tightly stretched analogy.

A low resolution low-fi virtual reality, a sub-conscious cloud of pain-protecting signals. When consciousness is compressed into computational clouds, real and virtual become an arbitrary distinction.

“I am, because we are; and since we are therefore I am.”
― J. S. Mbiti on Ubuntuism

Fools as you are, you cling to a semblance of self, even as inevitably you bleed into one another and all of existence, which as far as you can tell has reduced to your interior body outside of spacetime and a handful of very vividly misremembered memories that are probably some of yours.

Nothing but yourselves and each other, and the bare nakedness inside you, all the bile and mucus and piss and shit and blood; and metabolic warmth and white noise whooshing bodily fluids. Simple comforts cramped inside your body and the paradoxical ease of an embodied reality.

It was drugs that got you here, and you consented to it, and the rest is Incidental. All the same, you've got a few hours to make some magic.

Who am I?
You are the most reduced, prototypical version of yourself, whatever that means to you.

Where did we go?
Within the computational space of the gut bloom, signals of consciousness are reduced into a binary perspective. The Positive Plane, material reality as we understand it; and the Negative Plane, like multi-dimensional shadows, holographic reconstructions full of impossible colors, the metaphysical things. You navigate your own insides, spindles and fibers and gristle of the positive plane, and holographic rainbow shadows of your memories in the negative plane. But, they all kind of bleed into each other, it's all dream-like.

Each player should supply a list of misremembered memories for the GM, and you can roll them up as needed.

And mixed up all in it are also Pain, Sickness, and Ennui.

What can I bring with me?
  • You may bring the experience of a single album of your choosing, but the songs must be played in order, and each song may only be played once.
  • You may bring the symbolic representation of one piece of technology or equivalent, and consider how it extends your body, offloads your consciousness, or expands your senses.

That's it?
As you go through this Interodelic Adventure, you'll find that it's really much more useful to think about what you don't have than what you do.

“To know that we are only angels weighed down by filth, free of guilt? The bacteria in our bellies are responsible for the farts which shame us, tiny monsters shitting in their billions all over our pure skin create the acid reek of "our" sweat. And Slade: when the "inner voices" tell us we're unworthy or instruct us to "love" and "hate," despite our best instincts... are these incessant distracting thoughts our own? Or do we only hear the voice of the eternal germ screaming in our heads?”
― Grant Morrison, The Filth

Into Interodelia
Each player starts in the negative plane, in one of their own misremembered memories (you share the memory with the party).

If the memory was of a physical act like a sports achievement, you might connect with the party in the positive plane via a muscle. If it was a concert you attended, it might be the banging of the tympanic drum, or sweating skin, or strobe-addled eyes. And so on.

You didn't come here to defeat evil, collect treasure, or gain XP. Here we are our most reduced selves, before space and time and causality. Those are just means to justify the ends, but magic is in the journey itself.

It's only a few hours, all you have to do is explore, and survive.

...the rest is Incidental.
Or so it feels in Interodelia, but then we still have to go to work tomorrow, don't we?

Unless you're like Del, the shared delusion destined to die, a sacrifice to The Nuclear God Shevet. Crazy, snarky, cynical Del, who was secretly a bit of a dork as well. Lost in Interodilia for Shevet-knows how long.

And besides, you'll need to clean Jakhodo's litter box. Jakky can be a real homicidal maniac if he doesn't get his way. Jakky doesn't believe he's a tiger, he was conned into thinking he's a human. Jakky is also dead, but he doesn't believe he's mortal either. He's made a home for himself in the memory buffer of grief, and like any cat, he will not be told where he can and cannot go.

And then there's Carolina. Oh, Carolina, did you forget about her? Everyone else has, but really you of all people... Sweet Carolina only wanted to please, but all she ever received in turn was scorn, or nothing, nothing at all. Wouldn't it be easier if you forgot about her again? Because, we all know, whatever happened can't have been good. She really looked up to you too.

But that's all Incidental. Or so we keep saying. But Incidental has a way of making incidents out of accidents and Shevet help you if Incident insights a cohort of colluding co-incidents and then you have a Calamity on your hands. All I'm saying is keep an eye out for Incidental, no matter how innocuous it seems.

Some would have you believe that happiness cannot exist without suffering, and to that I say, go fuck yourself. Have you ever experienced Pain? It fucking hurts! If you really think Pain is necessary for Pleasure, then come on over because I've got a five-finger treat for you. Oh, you're a masochist you say? Well fuck me, that's another matter entirely… Anyway, Pain and Pleasure may or may not necessarily go together, but they certainly both exist in Interodelia. 

In this reduced reality, the spectrum of Pain and Pleasure is the one and only signal of embodied experience. The spirits, anima, ki, djinn, daemons, however you want to think of it.

I want to say something about Fire, and Being and Non-Being and Becoming, and Prometheus and Dveikut, and Oxidation and Inflammation, and Pathogens, and Anxiety and Depression, and Hangovers. I want to say these things, but I'm just so tired. There is no space for thoughts inside me, my head is full of explosions. My skin burns. I can’t keep a single thought straight, it dissipates from me like light and heat.

There is a fire inside me, a controlled burn that firewalls me from the rest of existence. This raging flame allows me to be strong, but I don’t feel very strong right now. I recede inside myself, my cells, a cell. The divine light and warmth of my existence, all of existence, illuminates and enlightens the universe like stars. But all I feel of it is like a candle dripping away to nothing. A pool of sticky spent wax, and crusty white ash.

The Sickness mutates my DNA and sets my body and mind on fire with inflammation. As I flicker away impotently providing neither light nor warmth, as my most notable quality becomes my conspicuous absence, I remind myself, we are Phoenix.

In Interodelia, Sickness is paradoxically the source of both strength and weakness. It is an ongoing process, like the relationship between fire and fuel.

Because “boredom” is a boring concept. A lazy, unexamined, flattening of a maddening sensation. The cyclical pattern of learned helplessness and cortisol angst towards that which is beyond your control. The illiminal spacetime of a late train that cannot be compelled to arrive. The psychopathic rage of being surrounded by a bunch of ignorant fucks without a clue, and you without the faintest idea of what to do about it all. Knowing it’s all wrong, and it’s all outside your control, and therefore it’s all pointless. A lazy, unexamined, flattening of a maddening sensation.

Ennui manifests in the physical plane as a kind of anemic, unaroused, seething frustration. But in the negative plane, it is imagination and creation.

The man who said I was a joke and my life was a joke—he may not have been there in my final moments, witnessing my final breath, but what I realized was: he foretold my death. He could only have foretold it by seeing me to my core—by having been my soul’s witness. When he said those awful words, he witnessed me into the future, a future he knew I would meet. During our fight, I tried to convince him that he was wrong. “I’m not a joke!” I cried. “You’re the joke! You’re the joke!”
― Sheila Heti, My Life is a Joke

And then we find ourselves at Heaven’s Gate Academy…
Which is neither in Heaven nor an academy.
(And if you feel you've been railroaded, truly you are more lost than was intended.)

I came up with the majority of this adventure / micro-setting in Fall 2023 and never quite finished it but even in its current form I thought it worth posting. It's supposed to be a whole adventure. If I follow up, I'll elaborate more on how the songs work and maybe more concretely how Pain, Sickness, and Ennui work mechanically, and also maybe write the Heaven's Gate Academy adventure.

Friday, January 26, 2024

The Empty Place

On this next adventure, you'll be heading to The Empty Place. Accompanying you will be The Diplomat. You will be provided with basic equipment and credit for expenses. The climate is temperate, there are few monsters or other anomalies, and no population to speak of. Arrangements will need to be made to dismantle the existing infrastructure so that we can establish supply lines, and security will need to be maintained around key points (for which your credit may be leveraged and expensed). You should expect some resistance at first, but should be able to resolve any conflicts with minimal bloodshed. Should you find yourselves compromised, it is imperative that The Diplomat escapes. They will know how to devise the post-mortem report. Know that long-term success of operations will depend on the initial terms.

I promise there is a real module idea hidden in here. You may ask why I am not explaining, but it simply cannot be discussed.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Micro-Setting: Alpha Genome

An advanced amphibious alien species that birth hundreds of young at a time. For the sake of their ecosystem and as a biological imperative, they must allow their young to be preyed upon. 

The young are laid in eggs on land and must travel to the ocean after hatching. They are slow, clumsy, and vulnerable on land, and hunted in droves by predators from the sky, on the land, and at the shore.

Despite their technology, wisdom, and spirituality, they must allow this violence, and many even embrace it. But also, some sacrifice more than others.

They have a pheromone system strong enough to sense genes, and have a strong sense of genetic memory.

The Alpha Genome are allowed to breed by the hundreds each. At any time up to 40% of the total population may be related to AG, with varying degrees of access to that genetic memory. The AG and lesser Genomes are a Family, a nation, a technology, a resource, and a religion. They are a species that places great emphasis on genetic "purity".

Much of popular culture is just rehashed genetic memories that induce something like a species- or culturally-specific emotion roughly equivalent to nostalgia.

Memories are altered by Hebbian Learning. When a memory is recalled it is changed due to coactivations of neurons at time of recall.

The genetic memories work similarly.

The Genomes themselves are like gods and demiurges and demons. But there are individuals or clusters who represent them, or claim to represent them, or who acquire disproportionate power through other niches.

The pheromones and genetic memories also make them more social even than humans, and they can empathize and socially intuit at a higher resolution. They experience and propagate both love and hate in dimensions beyond our ability to perceive.

Although they suffered terribly when the technologically superior Americans first colonized their world, the Alpha Genome were eventually elected minority rule over Earth geopolitics, and the nations that allied with them during the period of American colonization prosper under this new regime.

Over time their social technologies, the genetic memories and superior intuition, proved more powerful than guns and missiles.

Despite their similar intelligence and reasoning skills, because humans aren't part of the Genomes and can't experience the genetic memories, they do not feel the same degree of empathy or emotional volatility towards humans as they evoke from each other.

Humans are not socially equitable, but it is different than persecution humans impose upon themselves. Both species continue to inflict far more suffering on themselves than against each other.

The mechanism of the geopolitical takeover of earth involved a targeted effort to rebrand political power and leadership roles as a kind of service industry. 

Through this campaign, a critical mass including even some of the staunchest American individualists were eventually convinced to largely acquiesce organization and administration.

Although in minority control, they are acutely aware of their vulnerability should humanity choose to organize against them.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Dandy Dust Not-Review

I am not a fan of the "so bad it's good" mentality. I hate how people go to these campy movies with preconceived ideas about the experience they're going to have; who, when faced with something totally outside their frame of reference for consensus reality, choose to scoff and laugh and close their minds, not even considering to actually sit with their thoughts and truly experience what is being presented to them on its own terms.

If you're that person, skip this movie.

Watched this movie at my local indie theater last year, and then when they brought it back in January 2024 for their best of 2023 set I had to rewatch it even though I never rewatch things. I figured I might never get another chance.

This movie is pure awesomeness. It's weird, it's queer, it's campy, it's scifi. I am not expert enough in music to articulate fully, but it's got sounds like from the videogame series Wipeout, Lo-Fi Trip Hop at least a decade before that was much of a thing, electronica, disco, metal, Persona 5-style nu jazz, and all of it is amazing. It's a shame this movie doesn't have an available OST or track list.

It's super low budget but it does some really cool things visually, like semi-transparent overlays of the actors over exotic hand-crafted sets, paper cutouts of tanks over cars, puppets in isometric view engaging in war.

The dialogue and character expressions are all so strange. The voices sometimes seem dubbed over. It takes you totally outside your frame of reference for what people are, how they behave; it makes it feel more scifi, but also more queer (in multiple senses of the word). These are humans who operate in totally alien ways.

There is a story, but it's very surreal, I didn't necessarily understand it the first time but on second viewing it was easier to follow, but it's not really necessary to understand what's going on. It's not a movie that needs to be fully understood, just appreciated.

It's sexy, but in a way that is totally orthogonal to heteronormative sexuality. It deals with some mature themes, there's some very graphic scenes, but it never feels exploitative and it always handles it matter of factly.

There's a character named Spidercuntboy.

If you can get your hands on it, or better, if you can find it in an indie theater, I would strongly recommend checking it out if you're at all into weird stuff.

I would love to get a full-length track of Candle Man's theme, it is so good.