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!

Pasta Carbonara

Carbonara with handmade fettuccine di uova

Note: about three years ago, I wrote this recipe on a forum that is no longer public. But it’s so frickin’ good, I had to publish it somewhere!

Ideally, you start with guanciale. I don’t think I’ve ever found it, though, so I use pancetta. (Edit: These days I use a local, organic smoked bacon, which I get in big chunks.) They’re very similar: unsmoked, salted bacon. Guaciale is cheeks (in Italian, it means “Cheeks”), pancetta is belly (in Italian, it means “Belly”. I think the separation of meat from animal in our language is very interesting, but a discussion for another thread).

You’re going to need a bunch of parsley, too. The fluffy part of the parsley is maybe 15cm in diameter. You might not need that much, but parsley is good, so use it in something else.

You’ll need a lot of black pepper. If you don’t have a pepper mill, you’re going to need one. I recommend one of these. If you can’t get a peppermill, make something that doesn’t require pepper. I don’t know any recipes like that, so you’ll have to ask someone else what to make for dinner.

You’ll need two to three cloves of garlic. Ideally, of course, they’re fresh, but whatever.

You need less olive oil than you might think. The bacon fat will provide a fair amount of fat, and even though it’s not an excellent frying oil, it’s very tasty and you’re stuck with it anyway.

You’re gonna need two eggs. Sometimes, that’s too much egg, so select some smallish ones. If you can, get ones from up the street. They’re tastier, better for you, and you’re more likely to find eggs the size you want.

You need a fresh hunk of parmegiano and a cheese grater. If you don’t have one (this is mine), you might be able to get the Count of Cheese (that is the guy at the cheese counter) to grind it for you. Go for the gusto. Grind up a quarter pound. Or grind up more and eat a lot of pasta in the next couple of days.

You’ll need a bottle of dry white to deglaze. I think pinot grigio is probably the way to go. This part of the experiment is ongoing for me since I don’t know much about white wines (headache, you dig.)

… and you’re going to need a pound (or 500g) of spaghetti. Linguine are OK, but spaghetti is both traditional and strong enough to not break up when it’s in a thick sauce.

So here’s what you do.

  1. Boil the water. If you’re at my house and the landlord won’t fix the stove, grumble about it while the pot takes 45 minutes to boil.
  2. Salt the water heavily. It should taste salty. I cup my hand and pour a pile in until it might fall out of my hand. Your hand is a different size from mine, so next time we meet, we’ll compare hand volume and compensate appropriately.
  3. While the pasta is boiling, slice up the pancetta. You want the chunks of meat to be about 5mm in cross section, so cut accordingly. If your pancetta is sliced thinly, you’ll have to stay on your toes. You don’t want it getting crispy.
  4. Put just a touch of olive oil in the skillet. Enough so that it transmits the heat to the pancetta you’re about to put in.
  5. Sauté the pancetta and crushed garlic. Make sure it’s not crispy! Grind a bunch of pepper in. The oil holds the flavor better than just putting it on later. Degalze a couple of times. This keeps the pancetta from getting sharp and the garlic from getting sticky. Also, yum.
  6. When that’s all done, put it in your serving bowl. Use a rubber spatula to get out all the goodies.
  7. When the oil isn’t hot enough to cook eggs anymore, break your eggs into the serving bowl and mix thoroughly with a whisk. If you’re not squeamish about raw eggs, snitch some. Man, that stuff’s good.
  8. Take a cup of the pasta water, boiling along happily, and mix it into the serving bowl. This is the crazy part! I know! But it makes a huge difference. Make sure you stir with the whisk while you’re doing this. Otherwise, you can cook it.
  9. Put enough cheese in so that, if you added more, it would actually start to get thick. You don’t really want thick, just a lot of cheese. Mmmm.
  10. Chop up the parsley pretty fine and add in maybe three quarters of it.
  11. Hey, I bet the pasta’s done! Dump it into the colander, then put it immediately into the serving bowl, stirring it all together. After a while, you’ll notice that the liquid is just disappearing. Where’s it going? The pasta’s cooking it right onto itself! It’s like magic!
  12. Dust with the remaining parsley.
  13. Eat it. Maybe you eat a little too much, like I do most of the time.


40:30 long & 37.1 MB big

In this episode, Robert Bohl (designer of Misspent Youth) and Joshua A. C. Newman (designer of shock: social science fiction) end it all. Just in time for your Dreamation 2010 drive/flight!

– You can’t cut a piece off something living unless it wants you to, like one of those happy cow-like aliens from Resturant at the End of the Universe or a German suicide
– The TV show Dollhouse by J.J. Abrams
– Rob’s a bad designer and Joshua doesn’t like people
Game Chef
Shock: Human Contact by Joshua, and In a Wicked Age…. and Apocalypse World by Vincent Baker of Lumpley Games
– Meguey Baker of Night Sky Games
Behavior-based questioning in interviews, and how it relates to game design
John Wick and Ed Healy also are doing a project like Oo!
– Another project: Ludic Jibber Jabber (no link yet)
The Podge Cast shows up on iTunes when you search for Oo!
– Our negative review on iTunes
– Our requisite Radio Lab reference
Sons of Kryos, Science Times, Brilliant Gameologists
– HOW TO FAIL!!!!!
– An NPR story referencing public administration and dead horses
– Kevin Smith’s The Mountain Witch

You can subscribe to the show (if you still want to) by plugging the RSS feed URL into your preferred podcatcher. You can also use the one-click iTunes button thingie:

The intro music is “Gotta Whizz” by Boris the Sprinkler, from the album Mega Anal. The outgoing music is a live version of “The End of the Tour” by They Might Be Giants from the album John Henry.

Old Sketch

I just found this while looking through old illustrations for materials for Human Contact. It’s not related, but I remember being really proud of this drawing. The original’s about 4″ tall.

If I recall, the deal is that these guys are herd animals, but their herds stretch really far apart. They stay in communication with natural radio that run along the top of their bodies inside their carapaces. They’re not naturally highly intelligent, but because of their distributed observational standpoint, have a complex communication system for predicting the weather on the barren, storm-ridden surface of their planet. As herbivores, they spend most of their time snuffling through the soil for little fungus-things, but they occasionally gobble up a little animal that secretes a toxin that has psychoactive effects on the enormous creatures. This pushes their nervous system into full-fledged creative intelligence, which they can only participate in when they’re large enough to not be poisoned by the toxin. Children are therefore little herds, incapable of creative thought. Only adolescence brings creativity.

They have a single eye, but it’s evolved to give them a limited form of depth perception.

They also have started realizing that, if they all point their antennae up, they hear some really weird stuff.

Reputation Servers

In Bruce Sterling’s 1999 book Distraction, interpersonal relationships are largely mediated by “Relationship servers” that keep track of reputations beyond your immediate circle. People will sign up to help someone according to their trustworthiness, and they’re given tongue-in-cheek ranks to indicate how trusted they are. It winds up being a powerful sociopolitical tool in the story, of course.

Facebook — particularly Facebook Login — promises to be that kind thing, with Google Buzz following hot on its heels. But they’ve both made a horrible, critical error: they confused their users with their product. Let’s ignore the fact that, in this age of forward thinking, world-shaking media, they’re treating Google and Facebook like fucking commercial television in that regard. Instead, let’s look at what could be done to make shit work right.

I’m envisioning an Open Source Facebook. You establish yourself as a real person, with relationships, shared activities, a face, a birthday, and so forth. But this is distributed, encrypted, and signed. I’m imagining something along the lines of DNS or BitTorrent. It would necessarily include links to your blog, Twitter, Gravatar, Flobber, and Gropnik accounts (at your request) and allow you rights to edit the accessibility of those items category-by-category and person-by-person.

Doable? Can you design or program such a thing? How do I help?

Human Contact Dreamation Preview Edition Front Cover

Shock:Human Contact 2010 Dreamation Preview
Cover of the Shock:Human Contact 2010 Dreamation Preview

I’m excited about running Shock:Human Contact at Dreamation 2010 (The Year We Make Contact) with folks! I’m getting the edition put together right now and I’m really happy with the way it’s shaping up. I’ll have copies of this edition for all players of the game, and depending on the cost of production, might have a few more for sale at the con.

Sculpture of a Humanoid

Humanoid sculpture, right hand with a walking stick

I’ve been back down in the basement, working with the Sculpey. It’s more fun than is really reasonable.

I decided to try something with anatomy that could be rationally interrogated this time. So I’m doing a dude. I don’t know what his story is yet. Sooner or later, he’s going to have clothes, jewelry, and that stick will gain some character, but I don’t know what the stuff is yet.

There’s more detail visible over in the little guy’s thread at Concept Art. I’m going to post over there with more detail, just posting highlights on the blog here.

As usual, click these images to see a larger slideshow.