Friday, November 20, 2015

Scrap - an unfinished story seed

I'm finding myself pressed for time this week, typical for a week before I take time off of work. As such I'm going to post this scrap in place of a finished Story Seed. I have come back to this one more than a few times to try and finish it or "fix what's wrong" and haven't been happy with it. Since it seems unlikely I will "crack that nut" I figure I'll post it as is to fill what would otherwise be a hole in the schedule.

By the by, I'm taking next week off for Thanksgiving though I hope to queue up some stuff for the week after to avoid being rushed as I was with today's post.

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What passed for rain on the streets was little more than a fall of filth from above. That's how it was in the world; the filth flowed down from above to those below - figuratively and literally. The streets were washed in the runoff waste coming from the tall towers and flying terraces of the more privileged. Folks down here look up and see not the sky but the dirty underside of their supposed betters. You take small comfort from the that fact you know that they too did the same until at some great height those rich bastards who juiced the world for all its worth like some kind of fruit stood under clear skies and admired the view from the top.

I shrugged the hood on my coat up and hunched my shoulders. Stepping out into the gutter the dirty precipitate washed over me.  I bowed my head, ducking under my hood as best I could and pushed through it. I glanced across the traffic heavy road and spied a drug deal in progress, a woman practicing that oldest of trades, and a pair of gangers sizing up the occupants of the street for a shake down. This place was flooded with filth both literal and less so.

Ahead of me I saw a grocer, his wares precious in this dark stinking place of deprivation, slip a nutratube to a young homeless child. The little boy seemed stunned, but quickly tucked the gift into his rags and darted away, slipping into a crumbling edifice that was now boarded over and slipping ever closer to the tipping point between building and rubble.

I was so taken aback by this sight that I nearly collided with a scrawny young woman. I mumbled some half hearted apology, still amazed that decency and mercy managed to find foothold here. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Nuts & Bolts #55 - Good for a Laugh

OK, So technically this probably shouldn't be a Nuts & Bolts column since I won't be steering anywhere near game mechanics. On the other hand, I've been pretty liberal with my subjects already, and this is gaming related ... kinda.

Basically I want to point out a handful of comics I read regularly. Two of these are full on RPG related, and two are ... more tangential.

The Order of the Stick is the one webcomic I will never stop reading. At least until it reaches its final panel, which is something that may well happen. OotS focuses on a typical adventuring party in a D&D-esque world run with D&D-esque rules. Early on the humor came from the game behind the world as much as it did from in-strip developed humor. After 1000+ strips (!!) however it has shed most of its 4th wall breaking "poke fun at D&D" humor and uses the situations and character to develop the jokes instead. The characters have grown and changed as much as the intentionally simple artwork. Even if you don't play D&D (like me) I cannot recommend this one enough. Fair warning though, the irregular updates can get a bit frustrating for some.

Table Titans is a newer comic and lately has been rocking and rolling with four updates a week. This comic follows a GM and his group. The story is told in game and at table depending on the needs. There is probably a little less humor, but the stories as great, and this one is a great example of how I think most of us perceive our hobby.

Atomic Robo is a real comic turned webcomic that is still a real comic ... yeah, that sounds complicated, but basically after dealing with a small publisher the creators decided to turn Robo into a webcomic for free using Patreon to try and make their living. Atomic Robo is a non-linear tale of one Atomic Robo Tesla the nuclear powered "automatic intelligence" creation of Nikolai Tesla. The stories jump around to various points during Robo's life following his exploits as an "action scientist".  Also there is a FATE based game based on the comic now. It's a great read that is full of action and heart. If you like pulpy tales this one is for you.

The Last Halloween is the newest of these as far as I know. Told in all black and white, it's probably the least humor focused. The story of a little girl thrust into a world where monsters are not only real, but have taken action to take over the world it's a great "fish out of water" type tale on one side, and a wonderful "good monsters" tale on the other. Urban fantasy/horror that has a really different take.


I'm not getting anything out of promoting these comics. These already have pretty big followings as it stands, so it's not like some new indie thing I am trying to help stay alive.  No I wanted to single these out as examples of the kinds of storytelling that I strive for in my RPGs. They show that humor can have its place, that horror doesn't need to devolve into tropes, that high action can still have heart, and that a good RPG can bring together people in ways they didn't even know. It this the "good stuff" in my opinion. And if you aren't one who reads these already maybe check them out.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Story Seed - After the Fall

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Nobody ever expected this. We thought the enemy was desperate for resources and tech, we thought that we had the upper hand.

We were wrong.

When it started it seemed like any other conflict. Land grabs, tactical strikes, and men killing men. We saw what they had, their numbers, their tech, the weapons they had, and we thought that we understood them. We were confident that our analyses were right and that they couldn't sustain a lasting conflict. We were right.

And we were so very wrong.

The enemy saw our strength. They saw that their weapons and numbers were insufficient for the long term conflict. They retreated, pulled back and fortified, and enacted the plan they had all along.

They fled to the stars.

And before they left the released a kill agent. Probably they hadn't found a way to make to tactically compliant so instead they altered their tactics. The weapon, whatever it was, tore apart like at the molecular level. It unraveled DNA like unzipping a jacket and then moved on. It killed the world.

And it would have killed us, but it stopped short. There were no human casualties. It decimated plants and animals. It tore through the biosphere like a rock through wet paper. In the end we turned on ourselves to survive. Humanity, consuming itself in the dust of a dead world.