Kefo Rn, the Language of the Academy

When I wrote Human Contact in 2010, one of the elements I lavished attention on was Kefo Rn, the language of the Academy. Now that Human Contact is out of print (though available as a PDF to patrons of my Patreon), I want to make sure that these ideas are here for everyone to play with.

When its creators, pioneers in linguistic cultivation, first designed Kefo- Rn two centuries ago, they invested the language with several core principles that have endured ever since.

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Take Your Time

Three years had gone by so quickly. And then four. Kutshife finished his gradual transformation, remapping his central nervous system to the 500 meter long, hydrodynamically sleek Meuuxmsrx shape, only to discover that five years had passed, and he had just barely begun to learn from the pod. Six years ago, he’d landed in this world-ocean. He’d first set out in his hominin shape, temporarily dressed in an insulating suit bearing gills, fins, and water jets.

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Proof of Concept

This story is funded by Patreon patrons like you! Thank you!

The Rectifier Dismissal of Belief sparkled in the blackness like a single raindrop that had escaped the blue sky that curved, convex, above Etshuzju’s head. With her right hand, she clung to a handhold on the outside of the cylindrical Messenger Metastatic Self-Importance, waiting for the moment to leap. In her left, she held a gyroscopic sphere the size of her fist. If she made the 32000 meters with no propellant, unable to make any course correction, she would find herself with an Academic record. Continue reading “Proof of Concept”

It’s Hard to Find Someone [Illustrated]

I posted this story a couple of weeks ago to announce my Patreon campaign, and I repost it here with portraits of three of the characters. One of them doesn’t get a portrait because he’s a jerk.

You’ll note that the orthography — the way the words are written — differs from the eReader version. Such are the travails of a typesetter who puts a diaresis over an ‘h’.

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The Climbers of Oehun

In this first, Patreon-funded issue of xenoglyph, we look through the eyes of the Academic Contactor Time Enough for the Meaning to Change as is presents its preliminary findings on the Climber people of the planet Oehun. We look at their physiology (especially their tongues), their families, we glimpse their self-motivated philosophical growth, we pick at some mysteries of their existence, and we look back at their tongues.

(Don’t forget to hover over the footnoted words!)

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Kodrek: Now in a Volume Near You

I’m very pleased to say that all Kodrek sets have now been sent! Some folks may have already gotten them.

I’m really looking forward to hearing about peoples’ games — video some and show me! — and how they house rule the game. It’s designed with some deliberate flexibility and commentary on what taking advantage of each piece of flexibility does.

Thank you, Human Contact backers, for encouraging me to finish this game. I’m really thinking about publishing it for real now.

Want to see how to play Kodrek?


Hurricane Irene really set me back on finishing up Kodrek. But I managed to get a video of play up in time to get it into the Thousand Year game Challenge!

Also excitingly, I’ll be printing up booklets and sending out games in the coming week!

Kodrek rules, version 1.0

The 1.0 rules of Kodrek are complete! I’ll be sending boards out to all the Kodrek-level Kickstarter backers just as soon as printing is complete.

The timing means that I’ll also be entering the game in the 1000 Year Game Challenge. It’s got some stiff competition!

Kodrek is a game with a funny background. It comes from an actual game of Human Contact. Because HC is about cultures and their expressions in contrast with other cultures, we needed a game that summed up the part of the culture we were soaking in during a particular scene. In this case, it was an Academic (a bit of a dick, that guy) who was gambling. Now, keep in mind, the Academy doesn’t have money; its members trade in ideas because of their post-scarcity environment. So the guy was gambling with money that he was manufacturing. But he considered all the marines and pirates around him murderers, so he figured it all came out it the wash.

My specification was that it be a three-way game with shifting alliances. Vincent wanted it to be a game where you committed to plans in secret and then revealed them to each other, then dealt with the consequences. You can actually see the scene in Human Contact on page 84. We described the triangular board, the move-slapping, and that was about it.

After the game, Rob had to go home and Vincent and I went for a walk. We kept going back to the board game idea and rough-sketched play. I’ve thought about it for a few months and have come up with these final rules.

The game has a lot of variables and the rules discuss some of the things you might do differently if you lived with a different clan. I look forward to seeing the variants that players come up with!

I’m considering publishing the game. For the time being, it’s Creative Commons, Attribution, Noncommercial, Share-Alike though I might loosen it up a little bit, allowing commerical products and derivatives once I’ve decided.

Download the rules here!

Connecticon is great fun.


I just spent the last weekend at Connecticon with Emily Care Boss, Robert Bohl, Epidiah Ravachol, and a ton of really awesome people. Thousands of them, in fact. We played some games, sat on a couple of panels, and sold some games.

Connecticon’s got a real concentration on making stuff. The costumes are ubiquitous, handmade, and amazing. There are drawing and sculpture classes. The Artist Colony has passionate and skilled artists who make funny, creative things. My favorites are the minicomic called Unpopular Species by Dandelion Studios and the prints of Chen (pronounced like “Chanukah” not “China”) from Botodesigns. Unpopular Species is a small field guide to animals that are ugly, poisonous, or grotty, while Chen’s work inserts robots, anthropomorphic cucumbers, and other cute critters into traditional prints, doing her own screen printing. She even custom printed me a shirt in the color combo I was after. I’m wearing it now. It’s quite silly.

My games of Human Contact were fantastic. One of them ended with the literal human sacrifice of the three Envoys. They were thrown in a volcano. The society in question had determined that human sacrifice was a real problem and had developed artificial intelligence for the purpose of sacrifice. Now, as capitalism took over the culture, they noticed that AI sacrifice wasn’t making their lives better. Fortunately, there were these new guys… This was about 6 months into their first encounter with the society, and the Envoys had determined that their hypercapitalism and problematic religion gave the society a decade or so before total economic collapse. The only tools they had were an underground of rationalists (who didn’t have to be underground before this monkey business started), a theocrat who was secretly atheist, and the leftover bits of technology that the Envoys had left. We had some hopes they’d be able to rescue themselves before the Contactor showed back up and everything went to crap.

Emily, Eppy, Rob and I also ran a panel on independent game design and publishing. We talked about a couple of RPGs, but there were multiple people with board game designs they were working on. It was a very exciting panel. One woman named Mary was in my breakout group and had three really powerful board game designs she was incubating. I hope she pursues them.

James Carpio invited us on a whim to his panel on GM issues and it was a really fun time. There were two kids in the front row, both high school aged, who I fully expect to be generating their own games and thoughtful articles in a couple of years. They were looking hard at their game of Dark Sun and thinking about both its social and technical aspects as related issues. They had some really thoughtful advice for other attendees, too.

Thank you my fellow players for making some really good science fiction, thank you to our panel attendees for being lively and smart participants, and thanks to James Carpio for making us so welcome to play our games, Rym and Scott for giving us opportunities to run panels, and Connecticon in general for its high energy and creativity. I had a great time and look forward to doing some really fun stuff with you next year.