Live, from New Jersey

A Nagra.

One of the nice things about Shock: is that it generates these artifacts from play; the Minutiæ, the Grid, and the *Tags. But those tell the stuff around the story, not the story itself. So I was very excited at Dreamation when Dan Ravipinto offered to record the game we were playing, Cannie Row (from a couple of posts back). He’s posted that recording (watch out! It’s 4 hours long!) along with the other games he played that weekend over at his new funspace, These are bound to be of greatest value to those of us who were actually in the games themselves, but if you want a full fleshout of how World Generation works in Shock: it’s a good way to get it. Dice hit the table at around 00:85 with a grouchy Orion dealing murderously with New Cannies. I haven’t finished listening to it yet, but we’re having a good time.

Canny Row


At Dreamation, I got to run two games of Shock: Social Science Fiction. In the first, the Shock was “Post-Scarcity”. It was a good game, but overbooked. I wound up sitting out and trying out an improvised “audience” role. It worked just fine. I wish there’d been four Protags instead of five with someone else playing the audience, but live and learn. In any event, it was enjoyable, but eclipsed by the second game on Saturday night, Canny Row.

But that was far from all. Here are the bands I got to play with:


  1. Mechaton with Ben Lehman. He’d finally gotten his mecha after they’d been lost in the mail on their way to him in China for months. He won. I made a bad strategic decision followed by a bad tactical decision and he didn’t make any bad decisions. That’s how that game works.
  2. Shock: with Matt, Jeff (a Son of Kryos), Luke Crane, Shane, and Phredd. Post-Scarcity highlighted issues of Unemployment, Deception, Duty, and Love. It featured rival economists (one of whom was an AI modeled on Yogi Bear), a nanobiologist trying to cure a disease brought about by the ubiquitous nanotech in the wold, and a universal personal integrity rating system being hacked for social currency by a broker and a rogue nanobiologist. The integrity network wound up playing heavily in the story, with the irony being that the highest integrity seemed to be gained by those with the least scruples, and the earnest losing their integrity as they fought it.
  3. carry, a game about war. This was played by me, Nathan Paoletta, Dave Cleaver, and Adam Dray. I’ll write more up about this later. The game’s about soldiers in Viet Nam and was pretty explicit.


  1. Burning Wheel with a pile of people, plus several other peoples’ worth of Luke Crane. This game sure does what it does. I’m pretty certain that this game’s not for me. If you want a traditional-looking fantasy game with lots of gnarly character stuff, where tactical thinking and dramatic conflict are both significant, though, this is one rockin’ game. It featured lots of lying characters and bigotry. Good stuff.
  2. Shock: Canny Row. See below.
  3. Verge. This was a very productive playtest with designer Adam Dray, Ben Lehman, Dave Cleaver, John (sorry, man, I don’t remember your last name), and me. The game uses a focused brainstorming process, the product of which is a game board on which you play the story. Weight is given to players whose ideas are best liked, which is important for a Science Fiction game. By the end, we’d eliminated the need for a GM, realizing that Adam was playing a part like anyone else. I eagerly anticipate its completion. I’ll be very happy to play this with my friends. This game started while Dave, Ben and I were coming down from Canny Row and we very excitedly leapt into another SF story. We stopped play around 4 AM. Ben and I talked about it until 5. Then we passed out cold.

Preview of Shock: Canny Row


  • Immigration
  • Xenophobia
  • 2nd Class Citizenship


  • Planetary colonization

The players were, from my left:

  • Dan Ravipinto (Who was nice enough to record the session)
  • Dave Cleaver (for whom I ran a Shock: demo via chat over at Story Games a few months ago and also played Carry with me a few hours before)
  • Ben Lehman (who wrote Who Art in Heaven, the fiction in Shock:)
  • Me (who wrote the game and was kind of sleepy)

I’ll have a full Actual Play up as soon as I can. That report will sell games. It was such a good time. We made a really good story about ethnic divisions on Europa and just how poorly people can get along. Plus, sex!

Dan recorded the whole thing. I look forward to listening soon! Dan, if you’re reading this, please contact me. You’ve got my card.At the end, we started speculating about a sequel. I think that’s how I’m going to consider “campaign” games from now on: distinct stories in series. We really wanted to check in a century later, around 24oo CE. If we’re together again, I’d really like to tell that story. Maybe we can arrange things that way?

The whole con was great for the indies. We were tremendously overbooked (I had twice the signups that I had space for. It’s a good thing people were sleepy by Saturday night and only three people showed for my three slots). Vinnie, one of the organizers of the con, said that we were the majority draw for RPGs this year as a group. He encouraged us strongly to spread the passion over to Dexcon, in July. We’ll have to see if we can do that.

100 Minutiæ Per Gallon

Efficient and sexy!
Hey, here are a bunch of people who build cowlings onto motorcycles and scooters to enhance their efficiency. They get quite a bit of energy back from the process. There’s a car that gets 7MPG — that’s more than 20% — better than its original version. Plus, they look bitchin’.
There’s a guy named Josh whose shop is downstairs from my dojo. His place is called Runabout Cycles. According to him, the experimental cowling that he made of aluminum sheet increased his efficiency by 50%. There seems to really be something to this.
So imagine Shock: The End of Oil.
Runabout Cycles
You know, most of the Minutiæ I’ve posted have been vehicles. I think vehicles are neat. But let’s try something else. Any suggestions for the bits and pieces of the future you want to see?

War Tank on One Wheel Operated by One Man

Fighting wars... with fun!
It’s been a while since I posted some Minutiæ from the real world, but I’m gonna get back in the swing of things with this awesomeness from the evercool Modern Mechanix weblog. This particular oddity makes it look fun to fight a war! The best part is that the thing is a giant wheel, but it has these legs in the front that it uses to vault over obstacles, presumably like barbed wire and trenches.
Big Wheel is unfortunately not interviewed in the article.
Hey, can you imagine how loud it must be in there? I mean, aside from being inside the cabin with the engine, your head is at the center of two parabolic dishes that focus the noise on your ears. Also, please note that you can steer or shoot. Why did it take so long to put the triggers on the steering apparatus of vehicles?

The Road Up


After getting Burt Rutan to finally get his spacecraft flying after dropping hints for a decade, the X-Prize organization is turning its all-enabling gaze to the Space Elevator. What’s interesting about this is not just the ambient interest in the Space Elevator and its nature as a bridge to the rest of the universe; this is citizen space exploration. “Space is a place, not a program,” as they say.

Imagine a world where these things are all over the place. Where taking an elevator to space is like a cruise, where manufacturing is done in orbit and you can just go up there and check out the facilities, where the Moon is a matter of time, not billions of dollars, away.

This is the universe next door.

The Ten Top Science Fiction Movies that Never Existed

Revenge of the Jedi

This is a funny and pointed article about the sad state of science fiction movies today. It talks to a great extent about how cynical and ignorant concerns took over the artistic concerns of movies that were never made but should have been, or were made much weaker than their conception would have indicated.

It’s a bit like sex.

Rudy Rucker sticks out his lip.

Rudy Rucker, author of the first science fiction book I read that featured sex and drugs, has started a new fiction blog called Flurb. Quoth the man, “Flurbbing is a bit like sex, and a bit like blending things together, an apt word for the off-kilter strange tales I hope to be printing here.”

It’s fun, Rucker-style stuff. Kooky stories about sentient math and psylocybes. I’ve only read the first story, Elves of the Subdimensions, and it’s just what I’d hope for.

It sounds like he’s going for a quarterly publication. I look forward to a steady stream of weird. Now, if only Chairman Bruce would get back to writing science fiction, too.