Cyberpunk RPGs

I was going to ask those of you who are roleplayers for some cyberpunk game recommendations, but when I looked through my library I realised I had most of the recent offerings, which is depressing as none of them really appeal, at least not as a complete package.

For whatever reason Savage Worlds and me are destined never to get on, thus ruling out both the excellent Interface Zero from Gun Metal Games and Daring Tales of the Sprawl from Triple Ace Games. I have a selection of products from both ranges, and backed the Interface Zero 2.0 Kickstarter, so I have stuff to draw on for inspiration at least.

Both Remember Tomorrow and Technoir look interesting, but neither have grabbed me. I suspect that’s because I’m not really a big indie/story game fan and that would seem to be where their appeal lies. Again, more source material at least.

There seem to be a number of other games out there, but from browsing RPGNow nothing has jumped out as being outstanding. I could be missing a real gem but it’s very hard to tell and splashing out on every possibility is just not an option.

Oh, before you ask, no Shadowrun is not an option either.

So that all leads me to my two currently most likely system candidates: Fate (specifically Fate Accelerated Edition) and Cortex+. Now neither have a fully fledged cyberpunk offering, so there is going to be a certain amount of DIY required. How much depends on your starting point.

For Fate there are a couple of good places to begin: Nova Praxis and Edgerunner. Nova Praxis is a transhuman RPG that is closely based on Fate Core and Strands of Fate. As such it’s probably the easiest to hack into a FAE cyberpunk game. As a completed published product it’s also had the most work done on it, making it a hopefully solid foundation.

Edgerunner on the other hand is a fan produced work in progressed based off the Dispora iteration of Fate. Last updated in February 2013 it may actually prove to be the best place to begin. And as it’s all hosted on a web page, grabbing it and hacking it about should be a breeze. Just need to read the current version all the way through to make a proper judgement.

That just leaves Cortex+. Here things are far less formalized. The most logical place to start is a combination of the Leverage RPG and the forthcoming Cortex+ Hackers Guide (another backed Kickstarter). In actual fact the CPHG contains a sample cyberpunk hack, but that is based on a hack of the Smallville RPG, the engine of which is being included in the CPHG as the Cortex+ Drama System. Whilst I am sure it has a lot going for it, I’m not sure that’s the feel and direction I want from my gaming. So if I was to go down this route, I would need to undertake a fair amount of work. Tempting but not necessarily my strong point.

So for now it looks like my best best is to fully read through Edgerunner, work on porting it to FAE and then possibly adding elements from Nova Praxis as appropriate. This would never be a commercial endeavour, but I would intend to share as much as I could, licenses permitting.

Suggestions, comments and brickbats can be directed at me via Twitter.

BrightonPi Raspberry Jam – The Show Notes

So tonight I gave a brief talk at the inaugural Brighton Raspberry Jam organised by @BrightonPi and hosted by the wonderful people of the Brighton Hackspace, @BuildBrighton. Due to time constraints, I didn’t have the time to prepare a slide deck for my talk, instead I just stood at the front, enthused about the Raspberry Pi, Raspberry Jam and Young Rewired State. I promised everyone I would post links to all the stuff I talked about. So, here it all is.

Portable Pi
My amazon wish list for the various parts for a portable RaspberryPi web server – Amazon UK
The Field Studies Council hack day that started it all – FSCHackDay
Git Hub repository for FLAIR (Field Logging Analysis and Instant Resource), the web app – FLAIR

Raspberry Jam
Alan O’Donohoe’s (@teknoteacher) post explaining what Raspberry Jam is all about – Teach Computing Blog

Young Rewired State
The main site – Young Rewired State
Highlights video from last year’s event – Vimeo

Hack Days
Rewired State’s list of hack days – rewiredstate.org
The Dorothy Stringer School hack day page – Friday June 29, 2012

I think that’s everything I covered, but if it’s not, drop me comment and I’ll add things I’ve missed.

A big “Thank You” to everyone who came along tonight and politely listened to me enthuse and gesticulate like a mad man. Hopefully I wasn’t too scary.

  • Neil.

Ford’s Laws

My good friend Ken McGlothlen recently posted his “Ford’s Laws”, which had me in tears, so I had to repost them here.

I’ll let Ken explain the origins:

“For a while, I’ve been referring to Ford’s First Law, which you delivered to me the time you were kind enough to come out here and help set up some stuff. In short, “Don’t bugger with it any more than you absolutely have to” (this when referring to a custom kernel I’d created for a FreeBSD box). I’ve really tried to take this law to heart, only failing once in a while and for plausible reason.”

“Since then, however, I’ve been creating a list of laws which I’ve attributed to you only because I laugh when I think of hearing them in your voice, and I feel kind of odd about that. Like I should feel bad, but I’m still snickering madly to myself too much to feel bad yet. They’re all quite rational laws, just … not especially polite.”

So for your amusement, here are Ken’s “Ford’s Laws“:

Ford’s First Law: Don’t bugger with it anymore than you absolutely have to!
Corollary to Ford’s First Law: *&@#, if you insist on buggering with that thing, at least do it in a way that makes sense to someone else!
Second Corollary to Ford’s First Law: And don’t bugger with anything else if you don’t have to! Gah!

Ford’s Second Law: Quit touching that! It works already.
Corollary to Ford’s Second Law: Quit touching that, too! I didn’t mean THAT. That. That thing there. YES, THAT. QUIT TOUCHING THAT. AND the other thing. Look, DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING. It’s working already, so quit touching it!
Second Corollary to Ford’s Second Law: For *&@#’s sakes, if it works, quit touching it! In fact, go stand over there.

Ford’s Third Law: How the @&# can you possibly need that feature?
Corollary to Ford’s Third Law: Every feature you don’t need is a bloody bug waiting to happen.
Second Corollary to Ford’s Third Law: Are you out of your
@&#ing mind? Just use something that’s simple and that gets the job done, but still leaves you with enough flexibility that you aren’t trapped.

Ford’s Fourth Law: It was obsolete when you bought it.

Ford’s Fifth Law: Sometimes it’s just broken to begin with.

Ford’s First Law of Databases: You’re using a SQL database for WHAT? Are you MAD?
Corollary to Ford’s First Law of Databases: If you have one bloody table, you don’t need bloody SQL.
Second Corollary to Ford’s First Law of Databases: If you have less than 1000 records in three tables, why the bloody hell aren’t you using a text file?
Third Corollary to Ford’s First Law of Databases: If you really need fast key lookups and don’t need referential integrity between tables, why aren’t you using a key-value store?
Fourth Corollary to Ford’s First Law of Databases: Nobody serious about data thinks of MySQL as any of “My,” “SQL” or “a database.”

Ford’s Second Law of Databases: Why the hell are you importing this crap?
Corollary to Ford’s Second Law of Databases: If you don’t need it, then you don’t have to parse it or keep it, so stop importing that crap.
Second Corollary to Ford’s Second Law of Databases: For Chrissakes, stop already—I don’t care how anal-retentive you are, you don’t need that crap.
Third Corollary to Ford’s Second Law of Databases: Well, if you must import this crap, sequester it in quickly as possible into its own table, so you can drop all the crap at once when you come to your bloody senses.

Ford’s Third Law of Coding: What the &@# is this @#&?
Corollary to Ford’s Third Law of Coding: If it doesn’t make sense, burn it with fire.
Second Corollary to Ford’s Third Law of Coding: Then rewrite it.
Third Corollary to Ford’s Third Law of Coding: As soon as it makes sense and works, stop.

I’m sure more will follow in due course…

  • Neil.

Book reviews – short and sweet!

In my initial post I mentioned book reviews. Well I’m finally going to get around to this, but they are going to be a little different from the norm. No longwinded dissection of a book, no elaborate scoring system, just a paragraph or two saying why I liked the book and a link to Amazon so you can buy a copy if you like. Short, simple and to the point.

I may post them to Goodreads as well, I’m just not sure yet.

Welcome to my world

So once again I find myself starting a new blog. Given my past track record, I’m not sure how long this one will last before I carelessly abandon it, but I’m going to hopefully give it a fair crack of the whip.

What am I going to blog about? Stuff that interests me or I feel passionate about or just piques my interest. So that will include science fiction and fantasy books, role playing games, technology and gadgets at the very least and quite possibly a whole lot of other stuff too. One of the joys of having Attention Deficit Disorder is that what seems interesting this week, might be of absolutely no interest the next. Makes for a fun life.

I’m currently undecided if I’m going to use just one domain for my personal and professional web presences, so things may change a little around here as I get to grips with that, but on the whole I’m hoping to keep things nice an consistent.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a little more configuration to do to make this place feel like home.

– Neil.