Kickstart Update: Human Contact is funded in its first day!

At 11:57 last night, the Human Contact Kickstart was fully funded at $2400! That’s 15 hours, and it’s still going strong! I woke up this morning to find a larger list of Kodrek boards to make and several more copies of the book to send out. But I also discovered something else: you’ve put Human Contact on the front of the Discover page at Kickstarter, under Most Popular! As of this writing, at 8:00 this morning, Human Contact the sixth most popular project! (I imagine that’s a measure of something like “backings per hour”.) The projects ahead of it on that list are really amazing, and they’ve got great videos, so moving up will be hard, but I’d like to be in sight of that cool iPhone tripod mount and that amazing comic for a good while. And I think maybe we can pass the “I’m Not A Hipster” book that’s ahead of us to take spot #5. To be frank, the number of people wanting to prove that they’re not hipsters is very high, so it could be a fight. Plus, the graphic design is good.

So, OK! Objective #1 achieved! Thank you all! Objective #2 is next: a posting on a major geek blog. I can’t do that — the biggest geek blog I post on is my own — but maybe you can! So far, most of my backers are only one social network hop away (we used to call those “friends” and “relatives”), with a few people over the horizon another step away who got in early because they were excited about something their node-neighbors were excited about. But I’d love it if you could help spread the word further.

$2400 buys the project a shoestring. Help me get it some stout, sea-worthy cable!

Make Human Contact!

The Human Contact Kickstart is live! For the next 30 days, you can donate to the project to make it happen. If you help me reach my goal of $2400, it means I’ll be able to print the game book with the high production values that allow me to realize my vision for the book, and you’ll get a copy of the game.

Human Contact uses a version of the Shock: Social Science Fiction game rules, specifically focused for high-intensity meetings (and clashes) between cultures. It uses Transhumanist ideas and hard science as a backdrop for anthropological science fiction. (If you want to know more, ask in the comments or check out the Human Contact page!)

Every donor past $10 gets prerelease PDFs up through the final, and there are 25 hardcopies of the book at $25 for the first people to donate at that level. At the top donation level, $100 or more, I’ll also hand-make you a Kodrek boardgame set, complete with the ludo/anthropological study about the game! It’s a quick-playing, chess-like game of dirty, backstabbing space combat from a culture created with Human Contact.

Pass the word along to anyone who likes science fiction or roleplaying games! Tweet and post to Facebook with the hashtag #humancontact, and help me make this book real!

Last Chance to Order a Shock:Shirt

Thanks to everyone who’s ordered a Shock:Shirt so far! The shirt will go to press on Thursday, so if you’ve been thinking about getting one for yourself or someone else you think will want to alarm their co-workers, order quick like a robot bunny!

Size (remember that they’re a little tight)

Robert Bohl and I Talk About Science Fiction on the Jank Cast

Todd at the Jank Cast interviewed Rob and me a week ago, talking about science fiction. It’s a fun discussion! We talk about politics and how they’re expressed both in larger SF and our games, we talk about sociology, and we talk abut Punk music.

Give it a listen!

Shock: Your Co-Workers

click to embiggen!

Do you want reasons to talk about roleplaying games with your co-workers, but can’t get them to ask you about it? They’ll definitely ask you about this shirt. Inspired by a railway worker’s safety shirt, it’s 100% cotton and made domestically by American Apparel, so be forewarned that sizes run a little gay.

It comes it Caution Orange, just like Shock: does — a color that doesn’t exist in any natural environment; the color of astronauts bailing out of space shuttles and impending cyberpunk industrial disasters. It comes pre-marked with a robot-readable QR code that links to a special goody that will only be visible in October, when the Italian edition of Shock: premiers at Lucca Comics and Games, a convention that puts Gen Con to shame.

Orders are only open until the end of September, so order quick!

Size (remember that they’re a little tight)

Shock:Retroactive Bundle with Human Contact

I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to do this before: if you own Shock:, send an email to and I’ll send you freed PDFs of the two Human Contact preview editions, both the January one I made for Dreamation and the March one I made for PAX East!

Human Contact is inspired by Iain M. Banks’ Culture Novels — most notably, Player of Games, and Ursula K. Le Guin’s Ekumen novels, in particular The Telling.

It’s about what happens when a liberal, democratic society (called the Academy, in the game) encounters another one that probably doesn’t have its values. What do they explorers do when one of their core values is the inherent value of all cultures? What happens on the ground, between individuals, some inconceivably far from home, the others with a sudden new appreciation of the scale of the Universe?

The PAX edition is about black ops anthropology: the colony being visited will be irretrievably damaged if they Academy just shows up from the sky. Maybe they’ll attack the Contactor, or maybe they’ll attack each other. Maybe their economy will collapse catastrophically. Maybe they’ll spread disease or quarantine the Academics in a single society, preventing them from seeing what the cultures of the world are truly like. It’s the job of three select individuals to change the society as little as possible while subtly preparing it for the arrival of the Academy’s Contactor, seven years later.

If you’re going to be at PAX Prime, talk to Joel Shempert and Joe Macdaldno! They’ll be in room 304 at at The Dreaming in booth 1440!

The Jank Casters get Shock:ed

No, wait. The worst thing is that someone owns me.

The Jank Cast crew played Shock: and really dug it. Their game was Human Cloning vs. Aging and Reproduction. It got good and gnarly.

After Granther torturing Granther torturing Granther, I kinda needed a shower.


Brilliant scene there, guys. I’m glad you enjoyed it.


Penny Arcade just started a really neat Automaton story. As before, it’s largely about Carl, an automaton living in 1927 America, with the Issue of racial segregation. It’s got a lot of shout-outs to Caves of Steel, which is a good move, but says a lot more about the ugliness of humanity than Asimov could ever manage to say.

Self-Folding Origami


A little more Academic technology from the real world. If you were to put a 1200 dpi reflective/transmissive display on each of those planes, then increase the resolution to the point of imperceptibility, then pack it full of sensors and computation, you’d get their smart Paper.

Geek Nights Love Shock:

At Recess two weekends back, I had a chance to play Shock: with Terry Romero, Max Kushner, and Scott and Rym of Geek Nights. They just did a review and man, they totally get the game. Scott ordered it yesterday and I think they’ll have a really good time with it. Also, they seem to have a hard time telling Ben Lehman and me apart. It’s because we look so similar.

You can listen to it right here, but you should also go to their site and figure out if any of the rest of their four shows a week (!) twiddle your fancy.